Weekly Review 4th -10th December 2017

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.

American Golden Plover, Mike McKee

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.

Dan Chaney

Weekly review – 27th November to 3rd December 2017

This week again saw no new major rarities in the county. However, Pacific Divers were seen at two sites for the first time this season, with both the bird off Penzance, Mounts Bay and the bird off  Pendower (Gerrans Bay) present on the 2nd December. With no evidence, or much suspicion even, of a bird commuting between the two sites this is a good confirmation of two birds being in the county again this winter.

The adult male Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Duck remained a firm fixture at Dozmary Pool on Bodmin Moor throughout. The Surf Scoters at Porthpean were again reported on the 3rd December. An interesting small Canada Goose of unknown origin was also present at Drift Reservoir for a couple of days at least.

Two Ring-billed Gulls were found this week – an adult on the Hayle Estuary on the 1st and a 2nd year bird at Crean for 2 days from the 1st.

Cattle Egret sightings are on the up again, with 4 seen on the Helford, 2 at St Erth and up to 3 at Kingsmill Lake. The Glossy Ibis was also seen at Kingsmill Lake from the 27th -29th November. Great White Egrets were seen at 2 sites on the 29th – whether it was the same bird or not depends on the timings; one was seen in flight heading East over Hayle at 13:30, with one at Stithians earlier that day from 10:00. Unless it disappeared by early afternoon more likely scenario is that 2 birds were involved.

Alan James

Bob Sharples

The Stithians bird represents the 3rd report from that site, although it is probably the first confirmed report.

Two Long-eared Owls, a county rarity, were encountered, one at Lanner near Redruth, with the observer being alerted by the mobbing behaviour of small birds in the vicinity and the other at Walmsley Sanctuary; presumed to be the first known record for the reserve.

The American Golden Plover on the Hayle Estuary was seen on the 2nd and 3rd December at least.

Two Little Buntings were reported on the 2nd of December, the long-staying bird at Old Lizard Head again and a single bird trapped and ringed at Nanzjizal. Hawfinches were only reported from 4 sites, all singles apart from two seen at Ninestones, Bodmin Moor.

Another late Wryneck was reported in the county this week, with one at Newlyn on the 2nd December. A late Red-breasted Flycatcher was also present for two days midweek at Bosistow Lane near Porthgwarra near the horse paddocks .

A Mealy Redpoll was seen with a flock of 10 Lesser Redpolls on the 3rd; all redpolls are unusual in the county on the whole – Lessers are rare breeders on the moors and rare/very local at other times and Mealy Redpoll was unrecorded in the county in 2013-14 at least.

Only a single Yellow-browed Warbler was reported in the county this week at Bissoe in the Carnon Valley. A Siberian Chiffchaff was also reported, with a bird trapped and ringed at Nanjizal.


The only Scaup reported was the first winter male at Stithians, with a bird reported at Porthpean again on the 3rd and a bird seen in flight past cape Cornwall on the 29th. Goosander numbers started to build up, with 12 at Loe Pool on the 2nd and 7 on the Tamar Lakes. 

Divers reached maxima of 5 Black-throated and 18 Great Northern Divers in Gerrans Bay, with the ony Red-necked Grebe seen there too. No seawatching reports of note received this week; the only auk record received was of 1 Guillemot in Newlyn Harbour!

Yellow-legged Gulls were reported from Colliford and Hayle, with up to 3 at the first and 4 at the latter site. Only a single Iceland Gull was reported, at Coverack again. A Spoonbill remained on the Hayle, with 3 seen roosting on the Tamar at Jupiter Point on the 28th. A Grey Phalarope was seen offshore from Lizard Point on the 28th.

A Scandinavian Rock Pipit was reported from Castle Beach, Falmouth, with 3 Water Pipits around the county. Black Redstarts were only reported at 8 sites in the county, with 4 at Castle Beach, Falmouth on the 2nd the highest count. Firecrests were recorded at 12 sites, with 5 at Lamorna the highest count.

A Swallow was seen at Hannafore Point, Looe on the 1st and 3rd; no other potential late migrants or lepidoptera were noted.


Finally, please look out for Colour-ringed Blackcaps in the county, especially in the Falmouth/Penryn area as the BTO in conjunction with the University in Penryn are currently engaged in a study to try and learn more about where our Blackcaps are coming from. More on this will follow later.

Dan Chaney, 07/12