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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