We've had a couple of days of cold, gale force south/westerly winds and heavy rain showers. This weather in May always gets me thinking of one species - Pomarine Skua.
Regular readers/friends will know that I'm often grumbling about the lack of decent facilities for seawatching down on the peninsula. Fortunately, the problem is solved if one heads east to Cricieth where two touristy beach shelters are found on the west side of the castle. Late afternoon, after the latest pulse of heavy rain had pushed through, I found myself wrapped up and wedged in the corner of one and began scanning the turbulent sea. Immediately I picked up a flock of six superb pale-phase adult Poms riding the waves just a couple of hundred metres offshore then occasionally flying up before settling back down, as they often do in such conditions. Eventually, as the winds eased a little, they were off - heading strongly west and almost clipping the shoreline at times. I followed the birds as far as I could before they presumably cut inland and out towards Caernarfon Bay. They are such weird and wonderful looking birds with their almost Peregrine like jizz and crazy long tail spoons!
My systematic count between 1607-1815 hrs was interrupted somewhat when a rather random but lovely young woman decided she was going to chat up the strange bloke with the telescope - although I did manage to keep one eye open while engaged in polite conversation and saw another flock of 18 Poms powering past before dropping on the sea in front of the shelter! These were mostly magnificent pale-phase adults, plus a couple of swarthy dark-phase birds.
Later I picked up a group of three Arctic Skuas (again riding the waves) by the castle, plus a few auks, Northern Gannets, Manx Shearwaters and Great Cormorants with a trickle of Arctic' and Sandwich Terns.