If there is anything in life to make the heart sink, it is seeing pouring rain out of the window on the morning of a field meeting you are leading. It was, however, very much a case of showers, so with fingers crossed I made my way to Helston. As luck would have it the weather improved all the way and I was delighted to see around ten members keen enough to turn out on a blustery morning when many would have stayed home. Quite a few familiar faces were among the attendees and we soon got down to making the most of a pretty uninspiring dose of weather. Unlike this meeting last year, where Firecrests outnumbered Goldcrests, neither species put in an appearance. The ever reliable wintering Chiffchaffs were abundant though, especially in the lane running up the side of the sewage works. No Siberians this year though, at least not picked up by us, despite determined looking.
We couldn’t ignore the Glossy Ibis of course and it was very showy, feeding away with male Blackbirds and showing just how big they are when next to a familiar species. This was a new tick for some, which is always a treat for a leader. Apart from the common woodland species we had a beautiful Grey Wagtail (never anything but!), a few Song Thrushes and a singing Greenfinch hanging on in the wind at the top of a tall tree. Nothing remarkable in that, save for the comments on how long since people had seen one in their gardens, after the awful canker disease that has sent numbers crashing.
Given that Helston Boating Lake has such a reputation for turning up rarities we couldn’t miss a walk around. There were lots of pristine Tufted Ducks of both sexes and we had a nice look at a very sleepy drake Ferruginous Duck that has been on the lake for months now. What a fantastic, dark chestnut colour he is too. Presumably an escape, but still a very nice bird to see.
With raindrops trying to turn into a shower and the breeze picking up we agreed to call it a day a little early but we left cheered by the sight of one or two Black-headed Gulls in breeding plumage. Spring is on its way!
Roger Hooper, 12th Feb
CBWPS File Photos – Glossy Ibis in Cornwall 2019 – Marlene Rouncefield, Steve Rowe