If you blinked then you may have missed it but that was June and this is the end of #30DaysWild. I’ll gather my thoughts on the experience over the weekend but as a fitting tribute to what’s been a fantastic month we thought we’d end where it all began, with a picnic overlooking Rhossili. Much like on that first day conditions were rather grey but this time we also had the added bonus of gale force winds to contend with! Even we thought that might make for a slightly challenging meal so it was a case of wolf down our snacks in the car before donning coats and fleeces and heading out into the wilds.
Rhossili Bay stretched out before us as a seething mass of white horses whilst on the cliffs below any birds were having a tricky job of staying grounded let alone attempting flight. This led to some great views of a male Linnet in full breeding plumage as well as a noisy Chough just about managing to hover before being whisked away. This was starting to feel promising so we headed out to the headland, found a modicum of shelter and settled down to sea watch. Almost immediately we picked up the first of what would turn out to be hundreds of Manx Shearwaters, part of a constant stream heading west. Barely skimming the waves their distinct flight and alternating flashes of dark upper and white undersides was unmistakable and a joy to observe. Hunting from slightly higher altitudes were at least eight Gannets, a mixture of adults and juveniles, not forgetting of course one lone auk at such distance that it was impossible to call as either Razorbill or Guillemot. Then came a trio of Common Scoter, again heading west, before every single Gull roosting before us took flight as one. This clearly hinted at some sort of predator having been spotted and it didn’t take long for me to zero in on the culprit. Through the thronging masses a bulky dark shape appeared, menacing and clearly not at all welcome. My instincts screamed Skua and as the light shifted I could confidently call Bonxie (Great Skua) thanks to its characteristic white wing patches. Conditions were hardly conducive to photography but I just had to try, probably my best bird of the month by far.
The Bonxie stuck around for another five minutes, circling the area and taking the occasional dive at a still panicked flock of Gulls. Eventually though it seemed to tire of such games and slowly drifted off back up the channel leaving two very happy people in its wake. What a way to sign off on June.