Saturday 25th May 2019

Late news, 24/5, Downderry: 9 Great Northern Diver (6 on the sea and 3 flying west) early morning. Also 5 Common Scoter and 4 Sandwich Tern. (A Payne)

Late News, 24/05, Ryan’s Field RSPB: 1 Little Egret, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Wren, 3 Goldfinch, 3 Sedge Warbler, 1 Shelduck. (K Bowers)

Little Egret - Ryan's Field RSPB - Kevin Bowers Grey Heron - Ryan's Field RSPB - Kevin Bowers Wren -Ryan's Field RSPB - Kevin Bowers

Little Egret, Grey Heron and Wren – Kevin Bowers

ConstantineBee-eater flew over mid-morning. (D Collins)

Goss Moor: 4+ Willow Tit, plus Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Bullfinch, Buzzard. (S Marquis)

Croft Pascoe/Goonhilly: 6 Cuckoo calling, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Siskin, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 4 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 4 Blackcap (J Evans)

Truro: 4 Swift screaming over Bosvigo School am. (D Jenkins)

St Blazey Gate: 9 Red Kite over west to east. (S Wheatley)

Kenidjack: Iceland Gull on the sea at the bottom on Kenidjack Valley this morning Also Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary on the wing at the bottom of the Valley. (P Locker)

Stithians Reservoir: pair Canada Geese with 2 newly hatched young, Meadow Pipit feeding young at nest, 1 Cuckoo (D Eva)

Hayle Estuary RSPB: 10 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 juv Pied Wagtail, 11 Canada Goose goslings, 1 drk Gadwall, 5 Wigeon, 2 Curlew, 1 Siskin. (R Veal)

Tregonetha Downs: 1 Cuckoo, 1 Raven, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Yellowhammer, 5 Linnet, 2 Buzzard, 1 Common Whitethroat, 5 Stonechat. (S Grose)

RAF St Mawgan: 1 Corn Bunting, 3 Skylark from Spitfire Corner. (S Grose)

Bodmin Moor, Bowithick: 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Nuthatch, 1 Redstart, 1 Cuckoo, 10+ Swallow, 2 Swift, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Coal Tit, 3 Buzzard, 1 Robin, 3 Willow Warbler, 1 Blackcap. Also 1 Beautiful Demoiselle dragonfly. (H Kendall & B Bryne) Bolventor to Brown Willy: 4 Red Kite (west late pm), 2m Whinchat, 1 Mistle Thrush, 3 Willow Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler, 6 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk, 3 Cuckoo, 1m Reed Bunting, 1 Spotted Flycatcher. (S Rowe) Temple: 4 Canada Goose, 1 Buzzard, 1 Moorhen, 1 Cuckoo calling, 2 Swallow heading north, 1 Wren, 1 Robin, 1 Goldfinch (RB Girling)

Red Kite – Steve Rowe

Windmill Farm: single Heron, Cuckoo, Reed Warbler & Sedge warbler. 3 Broad-bodied Chasers, 2 Black-tailed Skimmers, Blue-tailed Damselfly & 2 Azure Damselflies. (J Horkey & K Dalziel)

Housel Bay, The Lizard: 7 Dunnock, 1m Blackcap, 1 Song Thrush, 4 Wren, 20+ Jackdaw,
1 Whitethroat, 4 (3m 1f) Stonechat, 1 Raven. (M Webb)

Stonechat and Song Thrush – Martin Webb

Downderry: birds moving west before 0750 included a Great Skua, 6 Common Scoter, 4 Shelduck, 7 Manx Shearwater and 2 Great Northern Diver (also 7 of latter on sea). (A Payne)


Red Moor Spring Walk 11th May 2019

Red Moor Spring Walk 11th May 2019

A fine spring morning, albeit with a keen NW wind, brought a record 18 Cornwall Birds and CWT members out for the annual stroll around the northern end of Red Moor, led by Phil McVey. The walk takes in a variety of habitats – from wet willow carr, broadleaved woodland and encroaching birch through to remnant heath and ponds. We were lucky to have expert geologists and botanists amongst the group, which added to the overall experience!

Sand Martin – B Sharples (File photo)

Meeting at the grass triangle at Tredinnick Pits, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Song Thrush were in song before we began the walk proper and as we entered the CWT reserve a very quiet Goldcrest could just be heard in the treetops. A glorious carpet of Bluebells covered the verges and made up for a quiet section before we reached the (very deep) ‘lake’, which is a remnant of the extensive tin streaming in the area. A couple of Sand Martins were skimming the surface, but the resident Moorhens were neither seen nor heard. Plenty of toadpoles were feeding in the shallows and a couple of Red Damselfly caught our eye. Walking out into the more open areas, we could hear a distant Skylark – the only one of the morning – and Linnet flew over.

Pausing only for a brief skirmish with a dog-walker whose Jack Russells were running wild, we searched for Yellowhammer in an area where we had found them last year and were instead rewarded by a pair of Bullfinch. Continually returning to the same spot, we assume they were feeding young but couldn’t verify this. By this time, we were into Willow Warbler country and we heard 12 singing males (16 last year); a sharp-eyed member of the group also picked up a pair of Treecreeper collecting food. Rounding a corner in the track a male Yellowhammer was in song, for some this was their first sighting in 2019 of this declining species.

Marsh Tit – K Bowers (File photo)

In the lee of Helman Tor, the highlight was watching a pair of Marsh Tit carrying food to their nest in a coppiced Ash, a site they also used last year. As we turned to leave, a Reed Bunting began its monotonous song. Sadly absent were Cuckoo, once a stalwart of this part of the reserve, and Tree Pipit, another regular. Butterflies were showing well, including Orange Tip, Speckled Wood and a Painted Lady.

Returning along the path we heard Great Spotted Woodpecker young calling and an adult voiced its alarm at our presence.

So, a pleasant morning’s walk in the sunshine. It was a pleasure to see faces old and new and introduce several of the group to this under-visited site.

Full species list (entered on Birdtrack):
1. Canada Goose
2. Pheasant
3. Buzzard
4. Great Spotted Woodpecker
5. Jay
6. Carrion Crow
7. Coal Tit
8. Marsh Tit
9. Blue Tit
10. Great Tit
11. Skylark
12. Sand Martin
13. Long-tailed Tit
14. Willow Warbler
15. Chiffchaff
16. Blackcap
17. Goldcrest
18. Wren
19. Treecreeper
20. Blackbird
21. Song Thrush
22. Chaffinch
23. Bullfinch
24. Linnet
25. Goldfinch
26. Yellowhammer
27. Reed Bunting

Tuesday 21st May 2019

Late news, 20/5, Trevothan, nr Coverack: 1 Turtle Dove. (D Beadle)

Late news, 20/5, Loe Pool: Great Crested Grebe with single young. (A Witheywood)

Great Crested Grebe, A Witheywood

Tywardrearh: 7 Siskin (male and female) feeding 5 young from garden feeders at 07:40. (R Barlow)

Marazion Marsh: Glossy Ibis, Hobby, 1 Whimbrel. Beach: 30 Sanderling, 6 Dunlin, 4 Eider, 4 Common Tern, 2 Sandwich Tern mating on the Long Rock. (S. Rogers) Glossy Ibis still at 17.15 from viewing area, before lifting to settle out of sight further to right, in line with fencing. (M Spriggs) 6 Linnet, 1 Whitethroat, 3 Dunnock, 1m Stonechat, 1 Glossy Ibis, 3 Mallard, 4 Canada Geese, 2 Grey Heron, 1 Little Egret at 11.45. (M Webb)

Dunlin, Steve Rogers

Whitethroat, Martin Webb

Linnet, Martin Webb

Hayle Estuary: 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Dunlin at 13.40. (M Webb)

Black-tailed Godwit, Martin Webb

Plain-an-Gwarry: Red Kite drifting over Marazion bypass at 09.40. (J Hawkey)

Ludgvan: Red Kite over. (R Menari)

Truro: 1 Red Kite west at 17:30. (D Eva)

Dobwalls: 1 Red Kite over at 12:00, Orange tip. (C and J Duffy)

St Just: (City Limits) Turtle Dove in field opposite Land’s End turning at c 09.20.(P Clarke)

Par Beach: 1 Ringed Plover, 5 Eider, 6 Reed Warbler. (B Bosisto, L Payne)

St Andrews Pool: pair Mute Swan with 6 Cygnets, 1 Reed Warbler. (B Bosisto, L Payne)

Bude Headland (7am-8am): 2 Gannet, 4 Great Black-backed Gull, 30 Herring Gull, 8 Fulmar, 4 Cormorant, 2 Whitethoat, 6 Linnet, 6 Stonechat, 20+Swallow, 6 Sand Martin, 4 Skylark, 9 Rock Pipit, 4 Meadow Pipit. (N Bastin)

Rock Beach: 3 Sandwich Tern. (S Grose)

Porth Reservoir: 512 Herring Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 7 Great Crested Grebe, 4 Coot, 1 Little Grebe. (S Grose)

Mevagissy: 4 Fulmars on cliffs adjacent outer harbour and 1 Shag on rocks below. (K & J Mortimore)

Lizard Point: 2 Whimbrel. (D Flumm)

Whimbrel, Dave Flumm

Cathillian, Lizard: Blackcap, Sedge Warbler’s, Greenfinch’s, Goldfinch and Willow Warbler. (A Wtheywood)

Sedge Warbler, A Witheywood

Blackcap, A Witheywood

Torpoint, St John’s Lake: Black Swan off Marine Drive at 20.40. (Tor Elm)

Trebah Gardens: 3+ Swallows, 2 Goldfinches, 4+ Blackbirds, 3 Great Tit and 1 Song Thrush. (K Money)

Song Thrush, Keira Money


Middle Amble Marsh Update – May 2019

The background to this was reported to members at the AGM. The Society and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust are involved in a dispute with a neighbouring landowner. The neighbouring landowner with whom the dispute arises has made an application to the Land Registry in which he claims a possessory title to strips of land on the South and East of Middle Amble Marsh – that is to say, against the River Amble and against the Northern boundary of Walmsley Sanctuary. One of these strips lies between the Marsh as shown on our Land Registry title and the position where the hide was erected.

Disputes of this kind are referred to the First Tier Tribunal – a court in other words – and that has occurred here.

The board have been very well aware throughout that, within reason, settlement would be far more attractive than spending a lot more money on running the case through to a Court hearing, but settlement of course depends on both parties being willing to settle. At the time of the AGM both sides had agreed to a mediation meeting to be arranged by the Tribunal. Before that stage was reached the Trust and Society had tried to settle the matter by direct “without prejudice” proposals to the claimant, but the claimant rejected those proposals and made no counter-proposals. He did, however, agree to the mediation, at which an experienced mediator attempted to move the parties towards settlement of their differences. There is a duty of confidentiality over the proposals offered in the mediation meeting, but I am able to say that all proposals offered by the two organisations via the mediator were rejected and no counter-proposals have been made, either at the mediation or subsequently.

Having engaged in the unsuccessful mediation – which in itself added considerably to the ever-increasing legal charges – the board have had to take a decision based on the assumption that there is no realistic possibility of a settlement, and that going to trial or discontinuing the case are the only options available.

The Society’s half of the legal costs is already in the region of £22,000 and rising. The Tribunal case, having been paused pending the mediation, is as yet only in its early stages. The Society does not have large cash reserves and continuing to trial could exhaust the Society’s funds. Even if unlimited funds were available, the board could not justify the expense of continuing to trial as being proportionate to the value and importance of the strips of land in dispute. Your board have therefore taken the decision to discontinue the Society’s involvement in the Court case.

The Cornwall Wildlife Trust, as joint respondents to the Court case, have taken the same decision.

In the light of this the hide and the bridge leading to it have been dismantled and laid aside. This is with a view to its being re-erected in a different position, off the disputed strips, subject to a final decision of the Society and the Trust as to that position, and the grant of a new planning permission.

Greg Adams, May 2019

Books for Sale

The following books are currently offered for sale as the birding library of a recently passed on Cornish birder. Books can be arranged to be collected from N Cornwall (Newquay area) or posted at cost. Please contact Bob Bosisto at 

Books For Sale

Rare Birds in Britain and Ireland TAD Poyser Very Good £5
The North American Bird Guide by David Sibley Helm Very Good £5
Swallows and Martins by Angela Martin and Chris Rose Helm Excellent £5
Birdwatching in Britain a Site by Site Guide Helm Excellent £5
Rare Birds in Britain and Ireland J.N Dymond P.A Fraser S.J.M Gantlett TAD Poyser Excellent £5
Shorebirds an Identification Guide Helm Excellent £5
Gulls A Guide to Identification by P.J Grant second edition TAD Poyser Very Good £5
Wildfowl An Identification Guide by Steve Madge Helm Excellent £5
Seabirds An Identification Guide by Peter Harrison Helm Excellent £5
Flight Identification of European Raptors 3rd Edition TAD Poyser Very Good £5
The Birds Of Cyprus Peter R Flint and Peter F Stewart Very Good £5
The Macmillan Field Guide to Bird Identification by Harris, Tucker and Vinnicombe Macmillan Very Good £5
The Birdwatchers A-Z of Alan J Richards David & Charles Very Good £3
The Seabirds of Britain and Ireland Collins Very Good £2
The Popular Handbook of Rarer British Birds Witherby Very Good £5
The Popular Handbook of British Birds Witherby Very Good £5
Birds Of Southern Africa Sasol Very Good £2
Birds Of Europe with North Africa and the Middle East by Lars Johnson Helm Very Good £3
A Field Guide to the Nests Eggs and Nestlings of British and European Birds by Colin Harison Collins Very Good £3
A Field Guide to the Sea-Birds of Britain and the World by Herman Heizel Collins Very Good £2
Birds Of New Zealand Collins Very Good £2
A Field Guide to The Rare Birds of Britain and Europe by Ian Lewington Very Good £5
Handbook of British Birds Volume 2 Warblers to Owls Witherby Very Good £5
The Bird Watchers Guide to The Wetlands Of Britain by Ogilvie Batsford Very Good £2
Birds Of Prey their Biology and Ecology by Leslie Brown Hamlyn Very Good £3
The Atlas of Breeding Birds In Britain and Ireland Poyser Very Good £5
British Warblers by Eric Syms (paperback) New Naturalist Very Good £5
British Birds of Prey by Leslie Brown New Naturalist (hardback) New Naturalist Very Good (faded spine) £5

CBWPS/RSPB Local Group Walks – Lizard & Respryn with Roger Hooper

Vastly different weather conditions for two April field meetings …

The Lizard, April 13th

A mid- April walk around the Southerly Point area of the Lizard should have been something to savour but unfortunately a strong easterly wind made it both cold and hard work.
As a dozen or so hardy souls set off from Lizard Green it seemed only chirpy House Sparrows and the odd Starling were brave enough to be active in the chilly wind. Any Swallows were sensibly staying in shelter somewhere.
Things cheered up though when we dropped down into Caerthillian Valley where it was warm and the east wind was passing overhead. The air was filled with songs and calls of Blackcap, Wren and lots of immaculate male finches. Greenfinch, Linnet, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and the odd Bullfinch were all on show and certainly lifted the spirits on a windy, though sunny, day.
We headed down toward the sea and found a small group of Turnstones and a pair of Rock Pipits on the boulder-strewn shore. When we climbed up out of the cove again the wind really hit us and only Meadow and more Rock pipits were seen on the way to Southerly Point. That stretch is usually a nailed on certainty for Wheatear but they must have been sheltering as we didn’t see any.
With the sea so rough even the Gannets and Fulmars were getting battered and around at Housel we had little chance of picking out the Iceland Gull in the gale.
It was a wind-battered group that returned to Lizard Green. Sometimes the conditions are just too much for birding but it was an exhilarating morning in bright sunshine.

Respryn, Lanhydrock, April 20th

What a difference a week makes! Conditions were perfect for a riverside walk when we assembled in the Respryn car park. The air was full of the calls of Nuthatches and singing Blackcaps and the whole area was alive with birds.
Any walk along the wonderful Fowey here is likely to reward you with a Dipper and we saw the first of half a dozen sightings just a couple of hundred metres towards the station from the car park. A little further on we had a gorgeous male Siskin and after crossing the drive to Parkway station we saw Chiffchaff and a Garden Warbler by the pond. Just as on last year’s walk here we started seeing Marsh Tit around the area of the bridge though sadly no repeat of the redpoll some saw last year. All the usual woodland species were seen on the way back to the car park before we crossed over Respryn Bridge and walked the river bank as far as we could go. More Dippers and some beautiful Grey Wagtails carrying food for youngsters were seen and those members who had never been here before were in raptures over the beauty of this walk, which was very nice to hear.
We left about midday, which is when the dog walkers start to become a complete pain so we had the best of the day and lots of birds!

Roger Hooper, RSPB Cornwall Local Group

CBWPS File photos of Grey Wagtail and Dipper in Cornwall (Grey Wag – T Mills)

N. Roy Phillips, 1930 – 2019

A tribute from Viv Stratton and others.

Roy in Yemen, 1979

I first met Roy when I was 8 years old in 1954 when he came onto our farm to ask my father if he could walk the hill and the fields. While he was talking to my father I was handling some 400 to 500 day old chicks, which was my main job at that time. He commented to my father about the ease with which I handled the chicks, and nonchalantly remarked that he could do with someone to take the birds out of his nets when he was ringing down at Clodgy Point. My father said that I was very interested in birds and that I had recorded all the breeding birds on the farm, and that Roy could walk the farmland if he would take me out birdwatching, and so it came to pass on weekends that he would take me down to Clodgy Point to help trap and ring birds with Philip Pearce and Robin Khan.

During periods of North Westerly gales we would go down to the St. Ives Island to study seabirds, something very new to me and to the rest of us because very little had been done on Seabird Migration. The results of a good seawatch in a North West gale eventually spread, and from just the four of us seawatching for some years, other birders began watching the BBC Weather Charts and would arrive at St. Ives by train. One of the many birders who arrived at St. Ives was Peter Harrison. He was one of the boys, Victor Tucker, Stephen Madge, Ted Griffiths, Bobby Burridge and myself, that would regularly meet up to seawatch at St. Ives on weekends to study seabirds. Inspired by Roy Phillips we would look for the rare Sabine’s Gulls, Long-tailed Skuas, Leach’s Petrels and the like.

In 1966 members of the group, which now included Roy’s son John, started birding and then ringing at Porthgwarra. This site was chosen on the basis of David Lack having done some migration studies there back in the 1940’s-50’s, in conjunction with its geographic location, with such mouth-watering American passerines as American Redstart and Veery.turning up. There was a feeling at that time that a bird observatory could be started in Cornwall and a meeting was held at Roy’s house in St Ives to discuss it. Details of this initial meeting appear in the 1966 Annual Report of the CBWPS, in an article by Roy entitled “First report of the observatory sub-committee”. Unfortunately it never came to fruition.

In 1970 Roy joined an overland expedition to Afghanistan and Kashmir, as part of the support party for an Oxford University study of bird migration. It took 6 months and was fraught with difficulties such as being held up by bandits more than once, running out of money on several occasions and one member holding everyone at gun point.

From 1976 to 1978, Roy worked in Saudi Arabia taking advantage of the wonderful bird-watching opportunities there and making his customary careful notes. A species he took a particular interest in was Steppe Eagles. Although a number of other raptors in the area were already known to be migratory, this was not proven for Steppe Eagles at that time. Roy’s observations in Saudi, showed a sharp drop in numbers between autumn and winter and he became convinced that the Steppe Eagles were also migrating. He predicted that they would follow the same presumed, but unconfirmed, route as the other birds, across the narrow straits between Yemen and Djibuti. He longed to be able to establish this and the chance came in 1979, when he was a awarded a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to visit Yemen to look for this anticipated migration. Roy was overjoyed to find there the evidence he had been seeking: hundreds and hundreds of Steppe Eagles and, alongside them, many other species, all heading for the Bab al Mandab and the Great Rift Valley of Africa. The experience is movingly described in Roy’s novel “The way of an Eagle”.  The main difference is that in the fictionalised version there are four birdwatchers; in real life Roy was alone.

Roy was a close friend and a good friend to very many. He will be greatly missed .

Viv Stratton, with additional input from John Phillips and Liz Tregenza

Today, 13th May 2019, I attended Roy’s funeral and was surprised, and then, not surprised, at how full the crematorium was, apart from the 100 or so seated there were also another 40+ standing at the back. Roy was clearly very well-respected and loved, not only for his birding skills and enthusiasm, but also for his many other exploits, author, mycologist, his arts and crafts, (wood carving, pottery, painting) and budding musician. He was a proud Cornishman and apart from those times working and studying abroad always returned to west Cornwall, and in 1974 Roy was made Bard of the Cornish Gorseth for his contributions to Cornish ornithology. His other accolades include winning the TSB Peninsula Prize for the finest new author (for his first book, The Saffron Eaters, published in 1987).

I only met Roy eight years ago, and he introduced me to some of the less watched parts of west Cornwall, always the pioneer. I really enjoyed my walks with Roy for his wit, intellect and enthusiasm. My only regret is that I didn’t spend more time in his company. I last spoke to him just 2 weeks before he died, I visited him and Liz at their home. Roy was avidly watching the Robins nesting at the bottom of his garden, hoping their nest would not be discovered by a Magpie or Squirrel. The last report he submitted to CBWPS was that the Robins fledged.

Tony Mills, with background contributions from the Phillips family


Roy Phillips: It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Roy Phillips on 22nd April 2019 after losing his fight with cancer. He was well-known to many local birders and was well-respected for his birding skills and reports. He was a regular contributor to CBWPS and his most recent report on the 12th, announced the fledging of robins in his beloved garden. He will be greatly missed.

The funeral of Roy will be at Treswithian Downs Crematorium, TR14 0BX, on Monday 13 May at 2:30pm. Family flowers only please, donations if if so desired for The Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society may be sent to Burroughs and Kearey Funeral Directors, Penzance. Everyone is invited to tea and snacks afterwards at Trevithick Inn Table Table, Treswithian Rd., Camborne TR14 0TR, about 2 mins drive from the crematorium. We ask that, if possible, you let the family know if you would like to come, so that they have an idea of numbers to cater for. Please contact, or phone 01736 351793.