A quiet week on the whole in terms of new birds and remaining Cornwall rarities as we move into the winter. Pacific Divers were reported from Gerrans Bay and Mounts Bay on the same day again, with both reported on the 4th; no other reports received of either although viewing conditions have not been great since with rough weather continuing.
The Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Duck remained at Dozmary, with the 2 Surf Scoter seen at Porthpean on the 4th. 4 Barnacle Geese of unknown origin were seen at Polbathic Creek on the Tamar on the 10th.
3 Cattle Egret remained at St Erth on the 4th, dropping to 1 on the 8th and the Glossy Ibis remained at Kingsmill Lake on the Tamar Estuary. A single Spoonbill remained on the Hayle Estuary.
The American Golden Plover remained on the Hayle until the 9th at least.
A first winter (1w) Caspian Gull was on the Hayle Estuary on the 9th, with single Yellow-legged Gulls seen at 4 sites around the county.
A Little Bunting was at Nanjizal again on the 9th. Only 3 Hawfinch were seen in the county, with one at China Fleet Sailing Club at Saltash on the 8th and 9th. Finally, in terms of Cornwall rarities, a Rose-coloured Starling was at Mullion on the 4th.
Up to 30 Common Scoter were seen in Mounts Bay, with single Eider remaining off Penzance and Hannafore. Goosander were at 4 sites, with 13 at Helston Loe Pool the highest count. Long-tailed Ducks were at Porthpean and in St Austell Bay.
The highest Great Northern Diver count was of 20 in Gerrans Bay on the 5th, with 6 Black-throated Divers there on the 4th. Good news this week that the area including Gerrans Bay, from Falmouth to St Austell has been officially designated a ‘Special Protection Area’ (Falmouth SPA),with extra protection for the wintering seabirds along the coastline and in the Carrick Roads.
The Iceland Gull at Coverack was last seen on the 4th. Seawatching saw a single pale-phase Arctic Skua past Pendeen on the 7th, with a pale-phase Pomarine Skua in Mounts Bay on the 10th.
Single Red Kites were seen at Goonhilly Downs, Lizard and Columb St Major, with a Merlin and Short-eared Owl on the Hayle Estuary and at Crugmeer near Padstow.
Firecrests continued to be widely scattered, with the highest count being of 6 at Swanpool on the 7th. There was also a Yellow-browed Warbler at Swanpool on two dates and another at Illogan, Redruth on the 9th. The Lesser Redpoll flock was reported again on the 4th with 7 birds seen. Six Lapland Buntings were on the Penwith Moors and a single Water Pipit remained at Lamorna.
Swallows were reported at Hannafore again and Crowlas on the 4th and 9th respectively. A recently fledged Woodpigeon, accompanied by two adults, was noted in Penzance; they are one of the few British species known to breed throughout the year but it is nice to have a definite record now and then to verify.
An unseasonal Minke Whale off Newlyn on the 4th would probably be the non-avian highlight of the week.
Finally, Blackcaps were reported from 6 sites – do continue to look out for colour-ringed birds – over 50 birds have been colour-ringed so far this winter in the Falmouth area. See the Blackcap page for more details of the study if you haven’t done so already.