Stithians Reservoir Walk 17th March 2019

SWLakes / CBWPS Cornwall Birds walk – Leaders Beth Cross and Dan Chaney

Firstly it should be stated that Stithians can be quite exposed and bleak in windy conditions. Secondly we are still in the aftermath of Storm Gareth… Thirdly apparently we are not – we’re now into Storm Hannah. So we were rather concerned that we would have to cancel or move to an alternative venue. However, the forecast the evening before was for sunshine in the morning, with rain in the afternoon, lighter winds in the morning but increasing in the afternoon. So it looked on! It had to be anyway, as there was apparently going to be one person possibly attending, as per a Facebook like on the SWLakes Facebook page …

The forecast on the day had changed however, as it usually does – with 80% chance of rain mid-morning. At around 9:30 at the Watersports Centre pretty heavy rain pelting down seemed ominous for the day. With 1, then 3 then 6 folk turning up it was decided that we would definitely go ahead, but concentrate on heading down the West side to the hides. To start with we headed back the other way to the Golden Lion Hide to see if the rain would ease off. Which it eventually did! We also recorded some birds – a Little Grebe, Coot and a pure white Aylesbury Duck. Coming out of the hide and we met another 4 participants and heard that another late couple had been looking to join us – we didn’t come across them but did gain one extra person later on, making a grand total of 11 (or 13 including ourselves). A distant bounding Great Spotted Woodpecker alighted in the trees at the back of the cutoff, which was nice as we regrouped.

And so to the walk proper – apart from a few showers and (mostly continuous) wind we managed to get away with it, and even enjoyed some bright sunshine for the second half. The Western side of the reservoir passes through some more sheltered wooded spots, and we connected with more birdlife. A stop for possible Adders under some corrugated iron (unsuccessful – wet mud the highlight) was good as we were able to hear and then see a distant Skylark hanging high above the clouds. We also saw a couple of jinkiing Snipe in flight and had some great views of a male Bullfinch alongside the path. Another highlight was a flock of 15 Fieldfare and 100 Starling rising up from behind a nearby farm, and another woodpecker species on a telegraph pole – a rather immobile Black Woodpecker and sadly just a lifesize model, put up presumably to dissuade their Great Spotted cousins from having a go at the wooden pole! After a short stretch on the road, and it wasn’t too long before we reached the hides. The wind was coming rather briskly into the Stuart Hutchings Hide but we were able to pick up a Great Crested Grebe and a subadult male Goldeneye not far out, with another 5 distant Goldeneye and a couple of Tufted Ducks amongst other commoner species. The Southern Hide proved productive on the passerine front, with up to 12 Chaffinch, a Greenfinch, 3 Goldfinch and 5 Reed Buntings, including 1 rather smart male. It’s not that easy to catch up with this species randomly in Cornwall – Stithians is a good regular site locally. Another unexpected highlight was the arrival of a pair of Bullfinch on the closest feeder just outside the hide window – staying for a good couple of minutes and giving great views. A pair of Ravens above the opposite skyline entertained us too and wrapped up the excitement for this stage of the walk.

Male Bullfinches and Reed Bunting, CBWPS file photos (J St Ledger)

Time was marching on, and the party now split into two, with half continuing on around the reservoir to complete the round walk, the other half returning to the Watersports Centre or home. Highlights were a couple more brief Reed Buntings, Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the water and a few windsurfers in trouble. Walking across the dam is always fun too. This side was windier, and certainly less birdy, but the sunshine was nice and it was a pleasant brisk walk back to the start point.

A very enjoyable morning around the Reservoir was had and it was great to get out there and see some familiar and new faces.

Dan Chaney, 17th March 2019

Full Species List –

1 Canada Goose
2 Mallard
3 Tufted Duck
4 Goldeneye
5 Pheasant
6 Little Grebe
7 Great Crested Grebe
8 Grey Heron
9 Little Egret
10 Cormorant
11 Buzzard
12 Moorhen
13 Coot
14 Snipe
15 Black-headed Gull
16 Herring Gull
17 Lesser Black-backed Gull
18 Rock Dove
19 Woodpigeon
20 Collared Dove
21 Great Spotted Woodpecker
22 Magpie
23 Jackdaw
24 Rook
25 Carrion Crow
26 Raven
27 Blue Tit
28 Great Tit
29 Skylark
30 Wren
31 Starling
32 Blackbird
33 Fieldfare
34 Song Thrush
35 Robin
36 House Sparrow (heard only)
37 Dunnock
38 Meadow Pipit
39 Chaffinch
40 Bullfinch
41 Greenfinch
42 Goldfinch
43 Reed Bunting

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March 2019 News Page

BTO Rookery Survey: The BTO in Cornwall are running a local Rookery Survey and are looking for counters. If you are interested in counting a Rookery or have records with a six figure grid reference, please email Simon Taylor at

Watch your valuables! Just to let people using the Ryan’s Field parking know, a car was broken into on Saturday morning – brick through the window. Please make sure that you take all valuables with you or keep them out of sight.

Sensitive Data: Now that the breeding season is close upon us again, we will shortly be resuming our policy of witholding reports of sensitive breeding (and potential breeding) birds in the County. Where appropriate, we will endeveavour to release news of “interesting” birds, but our first duty is to protect the birds themselves. Please keep sending in your reports, even though they will not appear on the website, as they will still go into the county database and thus be available for the annual report, research and conservation. Remember, the welfare of the birds comes first! Thanks for your understanding.

Please do bear this in mind when sharing information on social media too. As way of a reminder, here are a few key links to bear in mind:

 The Birdwatchers Code  The Nature Photographers Code  Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981  Schedule 1 Birds

Monday 4th March 2019

Walmsley Sanctuary: We have an educational access group visiting the tower hide on Friday 8th March from 10:00 till 12:30. All hides will still be open but it may not quite be the peace and quiet you expect!

Late News, 28/02,St Columb Major: a probable Yellow-browed Warbler in private garden at Trekenning end of St Columb Major between Penmellyn Vets and roundabout. Supercilium easy to see, wing bars visible, indistinct crown stripe. Hovered frequently but no bright yellow rump, excluding Pallas’s Warbler.
2 Goldcrest nearby. (P Spong)

Devoran: Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, plus c90 Redshank, c60 Dunlin, 20 Black Tailed Godwit, 40 Curlew this afternoon on rising tide. (A Nicholson)

Hayle Estuary RSPB:  1 ad Ring-billed Gull 1 2w Caspian Gull. (M Ahmad) Plus 8 Ringed Plover in the river and 4 Grey Plover in Carnsew Pool, also with a colour-ringed Curlew, (one yellow LW ring and one red ring). Also 1 Spoonbill, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Turnstone, 2 Mediterranean Gull. (J St Ledger & D Cains) Ryan’s Field: 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 35 Redshank, 2 Shelduck, 18 Teal, 40+ Wigeon. (M Webb, N de Freitas)

Ring-billed Gull, Mashuq Ahmad

Curlew, John St Ledger

Curlew, David Cains

Spoonbill, Jen Witheywood

Shelduck, Jen Witheywood

Mousehole, St Clement’s Isle: 1 ad Kumlien’s Gull. (P Clement) Also 3 (2ad+3CY) Yellow-legged Gull, 2CY Mediterranean Gull and a drake Eider. (T Phelps) Mousehole: 8 Turnstone, 2 Pied Wagtail, 1 Rock Pipit. (M Webb)

Turnstone, Martin Webb

Turnstone, Martin Webb

Par Beach Pool: 2 presumably hybrid Ring-necked × Tufted Duck (drake has hint of a crest and female’s head pattern incorrect for pure-bred RND). (J Rance, D Hastilow)

Male Hybrid Ring-necked/Tufted Duck, DavidHastilow

Female Hybrid Ring-necked/Tufted Duck, DavidHastilow

Sancreed: 4 Cattle Egret, 65 Canada Geese, 20 Redwing. (D Flumm)

St Clement: 5 Cattle Egret. (M Jones)

Wadebridge, Camel Estuary: 16 Cattle Egret opposite Sewage Treatment Works. (S Grose)

Truro, Idless: 1 probable Lesser Redpoll (m) arrived on feeders yesterday morning and returned today. (J Kennett)

Porth Ledden: 1 juv Iceland Gull again. (N Wheatley)

Marazion Beach: 7 Common Scoter, 45+ Sanderling. (J St Ledger)

Porth Reservoir: 1 m Goosander, 6 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Wigeon, 14 Coot, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Raven, 1 Tawny Owl heard. (S Grose)

Porthpean: 11 Great Northern Diver, 14 Black-throated Diver, 2 drake Common Scoter. ( B Bosisto)

Newquay: c5000+ Starling above the zoo, 1 Peregrine Falcon hunting them. (S Grose)

Penzance: ad m Black Redstart adjacent Jubilee Pool also 2 Turnstone, 9 Cormorant, 1 Shag. (M Webb) ; Also f-type Black Redstart at Victoria Square. (R Farnes)

Black Redstart, Martin Webb

Black Redstart, Martin Webb

St Ives: 9 Great Skua in the bay.

Looe: 3 Slavonian Grebe off West Looe and 10+ Great Northern Diver. Hannafore:  2 Chiffchaff, 2 Stonechat, 6 Rock Pipit, 3 Slavonian Grebe, 8-10 Great Northern Diver, the pair of Eider and on Looe Island beach at 12:30 the 1w Glaucous Gull (M Beer, C Buckland).

Porthgwarra: 3 Black-throated Diver offshore.

Lizard Point: 6 Manx Shearwater past.

Lostwithiel, private garden: Female Blackcap on suet feeders, presumed the bird that has regularly visited over the winter. (E Mayhew)

Pendeen Lighthouse (13.45 – 16. 15): 15 Manx Shearwater, 3 Great Skua all going W; 1 Minke Whale fairly close offshore. (P Clement)



Saturday 2nd March 2019

Hayle Estuary RSPB: ad Ring-billed Gull (11:00 and again 16:00), 4 (2 4cy and 2 1w) Yellow-legged Gull, 2 Lesser-black Backed x Herring Gull hybrids. (M Elliott, R Veal) Spoonbill still. (S Lane)

Chapel Amble: Temminck’s Stint still, 3 Water Pipit. (M Ahmad)

Walmsley Sanctuary: 45 Cattle Egret, 2 Spoonbill, 4 Sand Martin, 2 Ruff, 1 Ringed Plover. (P Roseveare) 100+ Black-tailed Godwit, 48 Cattle Egret, 1 Cormorant, 8 Teal, 5 Tufted Duck, 4 Long-tailed Tit, 6 Red-legged Partridge, 25 Canada Goose, 2 Chaffinch, 2 Coot, 3 Little Grebe, 1 Little Egret, 15 Shoveler, 2 Moorhen, 1 Spoonbill. (K Bowers) 140 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Ruff, 8 Sand Martin, 12 Cattle Egret. (S Marquis)

Shoveler, Red-legged Partridge and Cattle Egret – Kevin Bowers

Drift: 3 Great Crested Grebe, 4 Cattle Egret, 4 Gadwall, 55 Canada Goose. (D Flumm)

Millbrook: 5 Cattle Egret still at Radford Lane this afternoon. (AC Robinson)

Lizard Point: 22 Puffin and 9 Manx Shearwater between 11:00 and 13:00. (L Langley)

Pendennis Point: 1 pale juv Glaucous Gull briefly then headed toward Gyllyngvase beach. (P St Pierre)

Newlyn: 4 Eider still off Wherrytown Rocks. (S Grose)

Penzance Harbour: 24 Purple Sandpiper on rocks outside of the Lighthouse Quay. (S Grose)

Penzance, Penlee Park: 1 Mistle Thrush. (S Grose)

Toad’s Hole, Goss Moor: 7 Goldcrest, 2 Raven, 1 Chiffchaff, 18 Long-tailed Tit, 3 Bullfinch, 2 Reed Bunting, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker. (P Ash)

Goldcrest – Paul Ash

Towan Head: 8 Red-throated Diver flew west, plus another 1 in the bay. (M Lammas, S Rowe)

Newquay: Yellow-browed Warbler still in St George’s Road car park. (S Rowe)

Stithians Reservoir, southern cut off hide: 7 Reed Bunting (4 male 3 female), 5 Long-tailed Tit, 1 pair of Bullfinch, 3 Greenfinch, 2 Goldfinch and lots of other Tits, Chaffinches, House Sparrows. (S Williams)

Trevose Head: 8 Corn Bunting, feeding in ploughed field with Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Chaffinches. (J St Ledger)

Corn Bunting – John St Ledger

Downderry: 3 Great Northern Diver, 1 f Common Scoter, 20 adult and 1 1w Gannet, 4 Fulmar. (P Kemp)

Looe Island: 1 1w Glaucous Gull roosting on beach on view for an hour from 14:00. (P Kemp)

Wadebridge: 1 Shag, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Green Sandpiper on the river behind Co-op. (B Bosisto, L Payne)

Carne Creek, Gillan: Med Gull, 6 Little Egret, Greenshank, 8 Redshank, Common Sandpiper, 2 Shelduck. (A Witheywood)

Camel Estuary: 2 Spoonbill, 1 Spotted Redshank from the bird hide. (R Bullman)

Coverack: 1 Med Gull, along with good numbers of Gannet, Fulmar and Shag. (S Lane)

Porthleven: 2 Med Gull. (S Lane)

Tater Du Lighthouse: 1 Green Woodpecker in sycamore trees. (S Grose)


Friday 1st March 2019

Cowlands Creek: Lesser Yellowlegs at c13:15 then flew downriver towards Coombe. (P Fletcher)

Marazion Marsh RSPB: 1 ​Glossy Ibis​ flew into field next to Longrock Pool, then back to its usual spot in front of the marsh look-out. Still showing well when I left at 09:45. (S Douglas)

Lower Tamar Lake: 3 Wilow Tit, 1f Ring-necked Duck, 1 Marsh Tit, 1 Redwing, 1 Reed Bunting,1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Jay. (R Mudge)

Sancreed: 4 Cattle Egret, 2 Little Egret, 14 Canada Geese. (D Flumm)

Penzance: 1m Black Redstart still at Jubilee Pool, fly-catching on the rocks and adjacent sea wall. Also a flock of 26 Sanderling sheltering on a small piece of beach as the tide came in. (S Douglas)

Zennor Hill: Hen Harrier (m). (C Madden)

St Ives, The Island: 6 Rock Pipit, 20+ Cormorant and 5+ Gannet. Barnoon Cemetery: 1 female Black Redstart. (K Money) Also pair of Stonechat just below St Nicholas Chapel. (S Lane)

Hayle Estuary RSPB: Yellow-legged Gull on the estuary. (S Lane) Ryan’s Field: 8 Teal, 1 Spoonbill, 24 Redshank, 2 Shelduck, 1 Cormorant, 2 Herring Gull, 1 Wigeon, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Little Egret, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Black-tailed Godwit. (K Bowers) Spoonbill, Kingfisher and a Sparrowhawk flushing the Redshank. (S Lane)

Spoonbill, Black-tailed Godwit and Teal – Kevin Bowers

Cadgwith: f/1w Black Redstart. (C Piper)

Porth Reservoir: 2 Tawny Owl heard. (S Grose)


College Reservoir Walk 17th February 2019

A mixed group of 19 keen souls braved the Falmouth area to join us on our regular CBWPS Cornwall Birds/SW Lakes birding walk at College and Argal Reservoirs, led by Dan Chaney and Beth Cross.

The forecast on the previous evening was for sunshine from around 9am after drizzle overnight which sounded good; however at 9:30 as we assembled in the car park at Argal it was still pretty grey and damp.

With most of the birdlife to be found around College Reservoir we decided to do this first for woodland birds and the regular ducks, Coot and waterbirds, and save a quicker march for Argal after as time permitted. As it was, we had no time at all for Argal Reservoir. Crossing the dam at the north end of Argal and taking our lives in our hands crossing the road bisecting the two, we hadn’t been going for long before we were rewarded with some of our first birds of the day; a smart Buzzard preening and re-arranging itself on the edge of the woods and a vocal group of Chiffchaff showing reasonably well in the treetops ; 4 in total, with 2 also singing. Great Tits calling ‘Teacher’ ‘Tea-cher’, with Robins and Blue Tits in song contributed to the ambience amongst the massive moss and lichen covered oaks.

We continued alongside the reservoir and headed up to the North end to look at the waterfowl. Unfortunately the birds were distant and we were mostly looking into the sun. Matters weren’t helped by the brisk cold wind funnelling across the reservoir. What had happened to the forecast sunshine?! However, a Goldcrest singing as it flitted next to the path and distant Great Crested Grebes were nice to see.

A spot of confusion reigned as the group spread out into two parties with some trying to see a Goldeneye which had been seen against the far shore, whilst the others pressed on. All was resolved however, as the majority of the group carried on around and under the Penryn bypass to check out the two ponds and leat below the Reservoir – unfortunately not many more species to add (Dipper and Yellow-browed Warbler have been seen here on previous walks), but it’s always good to explore new spots and give it a go. Returning back along the other side of the Reservoir gave a better opportunity to catch up with the Goldeneye – there were now two female-type together (one showing more white, so presumably a first winter male), with their distinctive triangular head and squat body form, diving almost continuously but hopefully all enjoyed good enough views in the end! The ‘golden eye’ was also nice to see.

An opportunity to see Lesser Black-backed and Great Black-backed Gulls on the water alongside each other could also be had, with Cormorants on the platforms and good numbers of washing Herring and Black-headed Gulls rafting out on the water. We could also now see more of the dabbling ducks at closer range – Wigeon, half a dozen Shoveler and Teal the more unusual. The sun was now out, and it felt positively springlike!

Highlights on the return for the select few were a Treecreeper engaging in a bit of song and a silent Nuthatch – unfortunately most of the group had already passed the former when it was picked up, and the latter was very difficult to spot in the tangled morass of twisted oak limbs.

Returning back to the car park at around the designated finish time of 1pm, and a satisfactory mornings birding completed. Thanks to all who came along, and hope to see you on another walk soon. We will be at Stithians in a months’ time, but do keep an eye on the calendar on the website for other walks in the program.

Dan Chaney, 17th Feb

Species List –
1 Canada Goose (4)
2 Mute Swan (3)
3 Shoveler (6+)
4 Wigeon
5 Mallard
6 Teal (4)
7 Pochard (1m)
8 Tufted Duck
9 Goldeneye (2)
10 Great Crested Grebe (4)
11 Cormorant
12 Buzzard
13 Moorhen
14 Coot
15 Black-headed Gull
16 Great Black-backed Gull
17 Herring Gull
18 Lesser Black-backed Gull
19 Woodpigeon
20 Magpie
21 Rook
22 Carrion Crow
23 Blue Tit
24 Great Tit
25 Long-tailed Tit
26 Chiffchaff (4)
27 Goldcrest (1)
28 Wren
29 Nuthatch (1)
30 Treecreeper (1)
31 Blackbird
32 Robin
33 Meadow Pipit (10+)
34 Chaffinch
35 Goldfinch

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Field Meeting at Helston, Sunday February 10th 2019

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

Glossy Ibis, Ian Boreham Glossy Ibis - Steve Rowe

CBWPS File Photos – Glossy Ibis in Cornwall 2019 – Marlene Rouncefield, Steve Rowe

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