A Summary of this week’s birding news in Cornwall.
Milder than recent weeks, with some pleasant sunny days amidst the greyness.
No change on the major rarities this week with both the nationally rare birds in Cornwall still present, the Pacific Diver reported on the 18th and the Hudsonian Whimbrel reported most days. Interestingly two more individuals of the mega rare Pacific Diver have surfaced in the last week or two, one up north somewhere (a reservoir in Northumberland), the other off Broadsands in neighbouring Devon. But why have they seemingly just arrived? …
The Cattle Egret situation still remains largely unresolved, but flocks of 14+ and 16 at Loe Pool and Ruan Lanihorne on the 17th indicate that a minimum of 30 are definitely involved. Counts of 6 and 7 nearby could have related to the same birds, but the odd birds scattered elsewhere in the county were not reported over that same 3 day period; absent or unreported?
The two adult Spoonbill were at Walmsley still on the 15th, with the juv Hayle bird on the same date.
The Green-winged Teal on the Hayle was reported throughout, whilst reports of the Dozmary Pool Lesser Scaup were received on 3 days, but there was no news of the American Wigeon. Scarce ducks included the drake Scaup remaining at College Reservoir (along with 2 Goldeneye still), 2 Velvet Scoter off Marazion mid week, with a drake Eider off Penzance, with 3 more Goldeneye at Dozmary Pool. Goosander reports include a pair in flight over Stithians on the 13th, with a pair at nearby College Reservoir 2 days later. Two were at Hayle still, with a massive 36 at Lower Tamar Lake. The Long-tailed Duck was at Portscatho still, along with a late report of 2 at St John’s Lake in the east of the county, along with a female Eider and 5 Brent Geese (4 dark and 1 pale-bellied).
Potential escaped/exotic wildfowl include the Mandarin pair still at Drift Reservoir; the normal male and the white variant female, a Bar-headed Goose with the Canada Geese at Sibleyback, and now 2 Egyptian Geese at Millbrook (previously down to 1 after the loss of a mate); a second bird of unknown origin having just recently materialised. The Barnacle Goose of unknown origin remained at Walmsley and there was a more tickable Greylag Goose at Drift, so as long as it’s appearance (ie without the fat posterior rear end of a farmyard goose) is in alignment. The hybrid Greylag/Canada Goose also there is definitely no good to anyone however. Muscovy Ducks are also around and about and maybe under-reported, with birds seen at Drift and College Reservoirs.
Little controversy to be had on the waders though – the Avocet remained at Hayle, with no reports received of the Tresillian birds. 100 Sanderling at Marazion beach, roost of 37 Purple Sandpipers at nearby Jubilee Pool and a sprinkling of Green and Common Sandpiper the other interesting reports; overwintering birds perhaps as opposed to spring migrants; although an apparent increase in Grey Plover numbers may represent some movement. 1500 Lapwing, 1100 Golden Plover and 195 Black-tailed Godwit at Walmesly Sanctuary were good numbers.
Two Iceland Gulls at Helston were again reported on one date, with 3 at Ardan-Sawah Farm and odd birds scattered elsewhere. 1st winter Ring-billed Gull, 1st winter Caspian Gull, juvenile Iceland Gull and 2 (ad/2w) Yellow-legged Gulls were at Hayle on the 13th with similar on the 14th. The Ring-billed Gull on the Gannel Estuary was also seen again.
An unseasonal Great Skua was reported past Towan Head, Newquay on the 16th, and an Arctic Skua off Mount’s Bay on the 19th.
Other seabird records included a notable upturn in Red-throated Diver reports, mostly in the east of the county with 53 in Mother Ivey’s Bay, 7 in Newquay Bay and 20 west past Towan Head, and scattered records elsewhere. A good auk passage (c20/minute) was noted off Tintagel.
Otherwise it remained seasonally quiet; no reports from the Carrick Roads, although a Red-necked Grebe was seen off Falmouth, and inland a Black-necked Grebe at Stithians still (none reported from Drift this week), Great Crested Grebe numbers would seem to be building up, with displaying birds to be seen at multiple sites.
Female Marsh Harrier at Windmill Farm, a roadside Merlin near Praze, and a ring-tailed (female or imm) Hen Harrier at Men-an-Tol comprise the most interesting raptors reported.
The hoped-for Waxwing invasion sadly never took off – no reports received this week. However, rarer nationally at least (and the rarest passerine this week in Cornwall), the Nanjizal Little Bunting remained throughout and showing rather well at times.
Yellow-browed Warbler reports dropped slightly, although the Falmouth area still remained the hotspot for this species with the Swanpool bird (or one of them) showing well and another at College Reservoir a good find (or re-find) for the CBWPS bird walk there. Another bird was seen at Tehidy Country Park. Siberian Chiffchaffs were seen at Swanvale and Bude Marshes, with 3 Firecrest at Gwennap Sewage Works and 1 at Ryan’s Field.
Trevose Head hosted 20 Lapland Bunting, 4 Corn Bunting, 6 Yellowhammer, and good flocks of c.300 Linnet and c.150 Skylark. A Water Pipit on the Hayle, another Lapland Bunting reported (Sennen), the garden Brambling still and further reports of Willow Tit were received along with a Woodlark at Trevilley.
Long-tailed Tits with nesting material in a private garden, with bird song all around now, including garden Blackcap. Two Yellowhammer in a Rock garden (a garden in the village of Rock) were good.
The earliest Adders ever at the Windmill Farm reserve were recorded on the 16th, with 2 seen. Harbour Porpoises were recorded with 5 at Towan Head and 6 off Swanpool, a good record there, along with 15 dolphin sp.; whilst a huge school of Common Dolphin and Harbour Porpoise were off Mount’s Bay at the weeks end.
Mild and mizzly weather to come …