The main event this week was the sighting of a Baillon’s Crake at St Levan for one lucky observer. The bird was seen to fly in to Porthchapel beach in the morning of the 10th for a brief while before then flying off towards Porthgwarra. As far as in-off records go that has to be a pretty amazing record, irregardless of whether the observer was engaged in a proper seawatch at the time. Although the bird was subsequently looked for there was of course no further sign – one small bird in a mass of potential habitat (for a tired migrant).
This represents the sixth county record, the last being of a one day bird at Stithians Reservoir on the 6th May 1995; an adult male. Prior to that it was previously recorded in 1877, 1858 and with two undated records prior to 1858.
Unfortunately only the very lucky observer can count this one as their personal bird of the week, but just goes to show what can turn up..
Still no news of either the Pacific Diver or Hudsonian Whimbrel this week, although don’t think anyone should be complaining too much – it rather looks as if Spring has arrived instead. Aside the Baillon’s Crake, the second half of the week saw the first Wheatears, with Sand Martins into double figures, and an impressive flock of 6 Garganey; 5 drakes and a female at Par Beach Pool on the 10th. And even some sunshine (especially on the Sunday), when a flurry of Sand Martins hit widely scattered locations throughout the county.
The Bonaparte’s Gull was reported daily from Helston Boating Lake, except for the Wednesday, and possibly not present that day; it had been seen to fly distantly south on Tuesday, and has also been reported from Loe Pool (to the south). A report of a possible 1st winter from a moving vehicle in Penzance on the 9th could well relate to an exploratory foray by the Helston bird or not.
The Penzance Bay Little Gull remained largely faithful to the Long Rock area all week, a Yellow-legged Gull was at Hayle on the 9thand the Ring-billed Gull remained on the Gannel Estuary. With a Glaucous Gull at Cape Cornwall on the 10th and another at Hayle. Iceland Gull reports dropped a little, with birds still at Hayle amongst other places.
A Sandwich Tern was at Gorrangorras on the Penryn River on the 6th, perhaps the same at Gyllyngvase Beach on the 11th, with another at Penzance on the 10th. Presumed early migrants, or possibly a wandering UK winter bird.
A Manx Shearwater was seen off Swanpool on one date; put into context we understand that they have been regular in small numbers throughout the winter months from Lizard Point. Few other seawatching records received this week.
A Bittern was seen at Marazion after a relatively long period of no reports, the Spoonbill still at Hayle, but no reports from Walmesly. Cattle Egret reports were down, with 6 on the Gannel Estuary, 2 on West Penwith, 5 on Bude Marshes, 5 at Caerhays Castle and 1 at Millbrook.
Waders on the move included a handful of Black-tailed Godwits perhaps, 15 Grey Plover at Hayle and 500 Golden Plover flock over Connor Downs. 65 Turnstone and 9 Purple Sandpiper were at Penzance with 50 Sanderling along the beach at Marazion including a dutch-ringed bird.
12 Great Crested Grebes were at Porth Reservoir (a good count for a single Cornwall location), offshore 5 Slavonian Grebes were seen near Pendower Beach, 1 Black-necked Grebe at Drift still and 16 Black-necked Grebe in the Carrick Roads on the 9th.
Aside the Garganey flock mentioned there were few other notable wildfowl records beside the long-staying drake Lesser Scaup on Dozmary Pool and Greater Scaup at College Reservoir; 2 Mute Swan on Dozmary Pool, with 4 Goosander still at Hayle. Most dabbling ducks reducing with Wigeon still hanging on in reduced numbers at most sites, although 155 were still at Hayle. Offshore there were still 2 Velvet Scoter off Long Rock and 27 Red-breasted Merganser in the Carrick Roads mid-week.
The first Swallows were 3 together at Polzeath on the 11th, with 1 at Polgigga the same date. Two House Martin were seen over Newquay on the 10th, with 1 at Longrock Pool on the 12th. There were 3 Sand Martin at Long Rock Pool on the 10th; up to 30 there on the 12th, and then scattered widely across the whole county by that date (the Sunday), with 35 at Drift the highest count.
Single Wheatears were at St Gothian Sands and Towan Head on the 11th, and Colliford Reservoir, Treen and Predanack areas on the 12th, with a White Wagtail on the moor at Porthgwarra (perhaps chanced upon by crake seekers) on the 12th.
Yellow-browed Warblers were still at Swanpool (2 mid-week), Tehidy Country Park and 2 still on Penryn University campus. 3 Firecrest at Kenidjack on the 11th the only record. There were more Siberian Chiffchaff reports dotted about.
Black Redstarts continued to be reported from a variety of locations.
35 Siskin and 1 Lesser Redpoll in Morrisons Carpark on 8th at Bodmin were noteworthy; birds are known for wandering a little more widely at this time of year prior to reaching breeding sites as natural food sources dry up.
The normal cetaceans were reported in the Falmouth area, along with a Risso’s Dolphin amongst the commoner species (an offshore report from AK Wildlife Cruises), Mounts Bay held 12 Bottlenose Dolphin on the 6th, and an Otter was seen at Drift Reservoir (also note that they have been regular at College Reservoir over the last year, based on carp casualties). On the butterfly side there were a couple of Small Tortoiseshells on the south coast and 2 Painted Lady butterflies were encountered in the Treen Cliff/Logan Rock area on the Sunday – certainly early migrants. More to come?
Spring not quite here with a vengeance yet, but certainly starting to happen; Skylarks singing, nest building from our resident species and the very first waves of migrants appearing.
Not going to make any predictions bird-wise for the coming week – who would have predicted an early Baillon’s Crake as the headline bird this week gone?
Weather looks to be a bit milder, gloomy and a bit blustery from the west for the coming week. Guess that is what we call Spring.