03 January 2012

Kittiwakes and other seabirds

I spent most of the morning waiting for the rain to pass and hoping that the weather forecasters had got it right! They had and I was able to spend the afternoon sheltering from the wind watching the seabird action in Oxwich Bay. I was a bit like a kid in a sweet shop and didn't know where to look next!
I urge anyone who hasn't yet been to see the action to go do down and fill your boots. A telescope would certainly help obtaining better views of some of the action but even without one, if you go along the path to Oxwich Point and look out from near the Church the Kittiwakes (shown above) are energising the area right in front of you. Cormorants in good numbers, Shags, Razorbills, Guillemots and Gannets can been watched from here, as well as some Grey Seals. The Gull numbers are in their thousands and an immature Iceland Gull is often on view from here among them. The photos and descriptions don't do this spectacle justice and you need to see it with your own eyes. With strong westerly winds in the forecast until the weekend I would say it is unlikely that numbers will drop dramatically before then but it might not last for weeks? If you get a chance go down soon, go you won't be disappointed! I'm going again tomorrow.....

4 comments:

Barry Stewart said...

I asked some fishermen today if they knew what fish the birds are likely to be feeding on? I was told that Sprats migrate up the Bristol Channel at this time of year and are often followed by predators such as Cod, Pollack and Whiting. The obvious question is what's attracting the Sprats?

Cardiff Clive said...

The attraction is the oxygen rich water which comes from the many rivers and being freshwater has less density than saline and remains on the surface (this week excluded)and the Sprats are closer to the surface,and so on.Some years there are huge influxes of Sprats,we have caught Cod up this end bursting at the seams and spewing all over the deck.As far as i know Sprats eat very little in winter,probably Copepods and feast on Zooplankton other times.
Not an obvious answer Barry.

badger said...

Yes i would agree that sprats are the probable source of food, it's been a good cod year this year for fishermen. The question is why oxwich? Mark is right you've got to go down oxwich to witness all these birds feeding, i've never ever seen oxwich bay with so much action, and how any one can count these birds beats me, because your binocular view is just riddled with all species flying in all directions AMAZING.

Barry Stewart said...

Thanks guys. I have also been told second hand that good numbers of Herring have been caught. Perhaps that would explain all the Herring Gulls!