Tuesday 25 August 2020

Tuesday 25th August

Storm Francis struck today and became the second named storm to hit this month.  Maximum gusts here topped 50 mph in the afternoon, with winds in the early morning from the SSE later veering W; the rain mostly stopped after 08:30. These conditions sound promising but in reality six hours of seawatching effort was poorly rewarded, much to the chagrin of observers learning of fantastic sightings elsewhere in Devon and Cornwall.  Possible reasons are that the storm was isolated and not preceded for long enough by persistent winds from the western quarter to push seabirds into the English Channel and Lyme Bay; and also Storm Francis took a quick left turn up the Irish Sea, instead of continuing on a trajectory straight along the Channel, which relatively few storms do. Dawlish Warren, geographically situated as it is, needs a particular set of conditions to perform and this was not in evidence today.  

That said, it's done a lot worse - counts were of 315 Kittiwake, 215+ mixed small wader flocks (Dunlin and Ringed Plover); c.105 Gannet, c.100 Sandwich Tern, 72 Common Tern (plus 4 'commic' tern), 56 Common Scoter, 15 Manx Shearwater, 13 Fulmar, 7 Arctic Tern, five Whimbrel, three Storm Petrel, a single Great Skua, plus a skua sp.; an immature Great Northern Diver and a Great Crested Grebe. Most birds flew south.

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