Weekly Sightings Roundup 17th -23rd April 2017

As per recent weeks it seemed to be a case of being in the right place at the right time for the lucky observers of most of the good county birds again this week. However, it seems as if Spring migration is really in full flow, with a good range of species seen, a few decent falls and good numbers of birds in the balmy spring weather.

The headline birds this week would again be a good selection of scarcities; nothing exceptional and the pick of the bunch probably being a female Red-footed Falcon which was seen briefly on the evening of the 22nd, and again first thing on the morning of the 23rd at Caerthillian on the Lizard, a high flying White Stork over Penzance on the 21st, and probably most accessible of all a smart Subalpine Warbler on Sunday 23rd at Lands End.

A Purple Heron was seen on the 18th mid-county flying north over the A30 near Indian Queens. The Lizard also hosted a Purple Heron from the 19th, generally seen in flight towards Crousa Downs on the east side, along with a Woodchat Shrike still present around the Old Lizard Head area and a Wryneck on the 23rd. Another good passerine rarity on the Lizard was Siberian Chiffchaff with birds reported from two locations near the point on the 18th.

A Red-rumped Swallow was reported from Nanjizal on the 23rd, with one Little Bunting remaining at Goss Moor most of the week at least.

Drake Garganeys graced both Marazion and Walmsley Sanctuary, whilst the Lesser Scaup was again reported from Sibleyback Reservoir – few other waterfowl featured in reports this week.

Cattle Egrets were still scattered around the county, accessible birds reported included a bird at Ryan’s Field again, with up to 5 at Bude, 3 at Maer Lake and 2 at Marazion on one date. The immature Spoonbill was still on the Hayle, although it appears the adult has moved on.

The first Swift of the year was at Polgigga on the 20th, with another (or even same) bird over Marazion Marsh RSPB on the 22nd.

The 18th saw a good fall of migrants at Rame Head with 3 male Pied Flycatchers with 25 Willow Warbler and 20 Wheatear (the same day as the first major fall of the year at Portland Bird Observatory in Dorset some 80 or more miles to the east, where they recorded 23 Pied Flycatchers and 500 Willow Warblers!).

Elsewhere, the first Whinchats of the year were recorded with 4 on territory on Bodmin and a single bird on the lizard on the 22nd, Lesser Whitethroat at Porth Joke on the 19th, with a more unusual Wood Warbler adding itself to the county year list on the 21st at Rame Head.

Good numbers and multiples of the commoner migrants were too many to mention, with a selection including 30+ Wheatear at multiple sites or coastal locations, more Common Redstarts and Tree Pipits.

Notable were a good number of singing Lesser Whitethroat records. Ring Ouzels at a selection of new sites, with 5 at Buttermilk on 2 dates possibly relating to different groups of birds.Turtle Doves were over Marazion on the 20th and Porthgwarra on the 18th. A Yellow Wagtail was at Dodman Head on the 19th.

A Hooded Crow was seen over Lizard Village and the hybrid Hooded Crow (showing some Carrion Crow influence at least) was seen in the far west of the county again. And a calling Lapland Bunting in flight at East Pentire on the 17th.

Seawatching at the Lizard seems to be responsible for half the interesting wader records this week, with 2 Little Stint and 2 Avocet on the 23rd the most notable. The first Wood Sandpiper of the year was at Walmesly on the 21st, with 2 there on the 23rd, a Ruff was at Marazion Beach with 5 Whimbrel on the 19th, and flocks of Whimbrel continued to be encountered, with 45 and 43 respectively at Marazion and Hayle and perhaps being the same flock the highest number encoutered on the 21st . A fall of 27 Common Sandpiper and 1 Dunlin were encountered at Drift on the 21st. The odd Little Ringed Plover reported elsewhere..

A Hobby was seen at Caerthillean on the 17th, another at Wadebridge on the 18th, and potentially 9 Red Kites were seen in the county on the 19th, with 4+1 in the west, with 1 and then 3 later in the day in the Stithians area.

Iceland Gulls remain scattered, with a slight drop in numbers, whilst 76 Black-headed Gulls and 1 Common Gull at Devoran on the 23rd the only gull sighting of note, aside a Yellow-legged Gull from Lizard Point on the 17th and the odd Mediterranean Gull.

Mallard duckling broods can now be seen at many accessible water bodies, with a juv Song Thrush at Carnsew Pool on the 21st

Grass Snake, Adders and Bottlenose Dolphins were all reported, whilst twitter saw the first Clouded Yellows, Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, Small Coppers and Dingy Skippers on the 21st, with Wall Butterfly near Falmouth on the 20th. Most of the common butterflies will be on the wing now in small numbers – after a mild winter and presumably a good it remains to be seen how they do this year.

As for the birds, light northerlies are forecast to predominate, so perhaps no major surprises in store this week …


Weekly Sightings Roundup 10th -16th April 2017

The migrants didn’t quite pour in, but there was interest for those out looking for the commoner migrants, especially in the latter half of the week as Spring continued.

For one lucky (or well-placed) observer however, it was a rather better week, with multiple Hoopoes and a shoreline Squacco Heron photographed somewhere in Cornwall.

Cattle Egrets remained scattered throughout the county, the highest number being of 9 along with 40+ Little Egrets at Dinham Flats on the 13th and 12 at St Clements on the 16th with cattle at Menadews Farm. 2 Spoonbills remained at Hayle.

Gull reports are still declining somewhat, although we’re certainly not done yet. 3 Iceland Gull following a plough in fields near Camborne on the 13th the highest number, others scattered, but as usual mainly in the west of the county. A Glaucous Gull was reported from the Hayle on at least two occasions, and there was also a late report of a Caspian Gull from there on the 9th. However, you could well ask yourself when you last saw a Black-headed Gull … very few about now as they have moved out to their breeding locations. The only reports received of Mediterranean Gull were of singles at Sancreed and St Ives on the 15th.

A drake Garganey was seen at Walmesly Sanctuary on the 13th and 14th , but no yank duck reports anywhere now. Two Velvet Scoter were seen at Par on the 10th.The Pink-footed Goose was again seen at Drift on the11th, 2 Brent Geese remained on the Gannel and the drake Pintail was still present at Helston Boating Lake.

Wader interest centred on the start of a trickle of Whimbrel records. From 2 at Perranuthnoe on the 10th (possibly still local birds) we then had 1 on the Hayle on the 12th and 13 at the Hudsonian Whimbrel site again of Boat Cove on the 14th and 17 at Lizard Point on the 16th. Common Sandpipers continued to trickle in and a single Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit was reported from the Hayle.

A Black Kite was seen at Goonhilly Downs on the16th with an Osprey there the same date. Osprey sightings continued; either 1 bird doubling back on itself or 2 seen over Truro and Chacewater on the morning of the 11th, with another N over the latter site on the 14th., and birds seen over Hayle again on the 12th and 13th. A female Marsh Harrier was again seen on the Lizard, along with Hen Harriers on Bodmin, the Lizard and at Gurnard Head

Only a single Red Kite report was received this week, of a bird which flew over the Lynher Valley on the 12th.

Offshore, seawatching highlights from west to east included  c15 Manx Shearwater per minute passage, with c30 Sandwich Tern, 4 ad Kittiwake east.at Porthkidney on the 12th.

Pendennis Point, Falmouth  saw 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Black-throated Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Sandwich Tern, c50 Manx Shearwater, 1 Puffin on the 13th

Pendower Beach –  1 Slavonian Grebe moulting into summer plumage, 16 (7 sum plum) Black-throated Diver, 9 (6 sum plum) Great Northern Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, 4 (1m) Common Scoter. (R Veal) 13th.

Downderry – 41+ Great Northern Divers, along with 1 Red-throated Diver, 8 Common Scoters, 1 Great Skua and 2 Sandwich Terns on the 14th.

Back inland again, at least one Woodchat Shrike was still present at Cot Valley on the 10th, with another, presumably a new migrant, behind Lizard Point on the 16th.

The first Cuckoos of the year were reported, with a slightly belated report of one near Penallow on the 9th and birds at St Just on the 13th and Padstow on the 16th.

Swallow migration has finally picked up, with a greater chance of birds being randomly picked up and some good passage noted, eg at Bude on the 15th, with 120 north in an hour. An impressive count of 300 Sand Martin were again seen at Drift Reservoir.

Still to leave, however, was a Yellow-browed Warbler again at the south side of Swanpool on the 14th; presumably one of the overwintering birds there. 2 Little Buntings on Goss Moor on the 15th were also presumably birds which had overwintered hitherto unobserved; both birds were still present the following day.

Up to 3 Ring Ouzel were again seen at the traditional site of Buttermilk Hill near St Ives, with a male also encountered at Kit Hill on the 12th .Wheatear started arriving in greater numbers with 19 around Porthgwarra on the 14th and good counts elsewhere along the coast.

This week saw the first Whitethroat of the year on the 11th at Sharrow Point in the east of the county, a Yellow Wagtail on the 13th at Porthgwarra, and the first Garden Warbler on the 15th on Goss Moor

A handful of Common Redstarts (a bird that can brighten up any otherwise uninteresting birding day in an instant) were seen, with one at Porthgwarra, and another on Bodmin. 16 Willow Warbler, 9 Chiffchaff and 1 Tree Pipit were seen at Stithians on the 10th.

Fledged birds included a juv Mistle Thrush being fed 2 worms a minute by its parents at Lansallos NT.

The main excitement this week, perhaps more so than the birds in the general media at least, was of the Humpback Whale (we won’t be referring to its media nickname of Doris here) which has been spending much of the last few months off Start Bay in Devon passing through our waters.

This beast was seen in Falmouth Bay and the east side of the Lizard on the 11th, initially off St Anthony’s Head around 2pm, and later just off Kennack Sands that evening. (The writer of this article is especially galled at the news as he was being a tourist on the north Cornwall coast that exact same time). Otherwise cetacean numbers in Falmouth Bay have dropped considerably over the last few weeks; c20 Common Dolphins there on the 12th, elsewhere 9 Bottlenose Dolphins were off Lizard Point on the 16th.

A Painted Lady was at Porthgwarra on the 11th, with other butterflies including Holly Blue and Orange Tip at Whitsand Bay on the same date, with an Emperor Moth again on the 16th at Windmill Farm.

The weather looks set to remain settled the coming week; what that means in terms of the birds remains to be seen.



Weekly Sightings Roundup 3rd -9th April 2017

There were no extra-special headline birds this week, but a good variety of incoming migrants were available towards the end of the week (for those in the right time and place only unfortunately), especially the Sunday 9th, with Red-rumped Swallow, Night Heron, Serin and a spring Wryneck being pick of the best; none were available for the masses.

The Woodchat Shrike remained at the Cot Valley. No news on the Lizard bird at Kynance after the 4th until the weeks end, although there were issues with folk going off the footpaths in the area and wandering farmer’s fields without permission (please take the time to read the guidelines on the website if you haven’t done so already). Unfortunately the hierarchy of importance comes in the order – birds first, landowners second, birders/photographers third! At this site the bird was actually viewable from the public access moorland side, so there wasn’t really any need to go off-piste in any case.

The 9th saw 2 Woodchat Shrikes in the West Penwith area, with a bird at Kynance again.

At Old Lizard Head a Hoopoe was seen to fly in off the sea and land in the field behind the old wooden lookout post on the 8th for one lucky observer.

A drake Garganey was at Hayle and a female at Amble Marshes on the 8th, regular non-migrants included the Pink-footed Goose still at Drift, along with a Greylag Goose and Goldeneye still. The Long-tailed Duck was still at Porthcurno to the 8th, and 4 Brent Geese were on the Gannel. A drake Eider was seemingly at home on Loe beach during the week, with a smart drake Pintail pitching up on Helston Boating Lake on the 9th.

What would be bird of the week, month or year even if it were to be proven wild would be the Fulvous Whistling Duck seen on the Hayle on the 9th, with presumably the same bird seen circling Marazion early that morning. The species does wander and has a good April/September track record with historical records from Morocco (12 in April 1971), Southern Spain and France. Unfortunately with one seen around Gwithian last year too, the odds, already low, remain stacked in favour of it being a feral/escaped bird from somewhere about.

Pendower beach saw 2 Black-throated Diver, 1 Slavonian Grebe and 23 Great Northern Diver on the 4th.

Two Spoonbill were still at Hayle on the 7th The (or more than one?) Great White Egret was again seen around the county; Crousa Downs on the 5th, Sennen on the 6th , and Amble marshes on the 7th.

The Camel Estuary saw 7 Cattle Egret and an impressive 56 Little Egret at the evening roost on the 7th, with birds reported daily in the county; Gannel 4, Clapper Marshes 6, St Clement 5 and St Erth with 2. No reports from the Lizard. Big news this week was of a Night Heron on a private lake (no public access) near St Ives on the 8th. With Purple Herons and a Little Bittern on the Isles of Scilly we are entering into prime time for overshooting/migrant herons from the continent

Jack Snipe at Stithians Reservoir on the 3rd was the first there for some years, although as a species probably vastly overlooked in the county as a whole, considering the amount of damp habitat they can (and do) hide in. There were 27 Purple Sandpiper at the high tide roost and 71 Turnstone at Penzance on the 8th, with 14 of the former at Lizard Point on the 8th. 1 Avocet remained at Kingsmill Lake from the wintering flocks with 14 Black-tailed Godwit, and there were 150 Golden Plover on Bodmin still. Migrants included 3 Little Ringed Plover at Amble Marshes on the 3rd and 3 Common Sandpiper at Stithians on the 8th. Walmesley also held 1 Ruff and 146 Black-tailed Godwit on the 4th, and there were 3 Whimbrel at Porthgwarra.

The Ring-billed Gull was seen at Hayle on the 3rd, 4th and 6th (1st winter on latter date), with a Yellow-legged Gull at Hayle on the 8th, and good numbers of Iceland Gull still; less scattered, but 3 birds seen at Hayle and Mousehole. No Glaucous Guls.

There was a reasonable amount of Red Kite activity, with single birds seen at Wadebridge, Nanquidno, Winnards Perch, Sancreed, Marazion, Plusha and Dobwalls, with doubles/two birds seen over Newquay, Land’s End and Polgigga. But possiby just a handful of birds accounting for all records?

An Osprey showed well, including with the catching of a fish, on the Hayle Estuary on the 7th, and was seen to go to roost that evening, with passage birds also seen on the Gannel on the 6th and Buttermilk Hill, St Ives on the 9th. A possible White-tailed Eagle was seen flying over very high at Tregorrick near St Austell on the 6th. An immature female Marsh Harrier was at Marazion on the 5th, with a female on the Lizard near Kynance.

Peregrine and Merlin records were received around the county, but no Hobbies this week after the early records in the last few weeks. Trevose Head hosted both a roosting Long-eared Owl and a passing Short-eared Owl on the 9th.

A Water Pipit was at Clapper Marshes on the 3rd. A change in the Sand Martin stakes saw Walmesley top the table with 250 on the 4th, with Bude scoring with 151+ Swallow flying over during a half hour period on the 6th the first notable count this year.

The first Red-rumped Swallow of the year was reported with a single briefly at Penberth on the afternoon of the 9th. Not quite in the same rarity bracket, but sadly becoming increasingly uncommon, an early Turtle Dove was at Trevose Head on the 9th on what was a good day for variety of migrants at that location.

Yellow-browed Warblers were in a Falmouth garden on the 3rd, with a bird in heavy body moult still at Little Trethewey on the 7th, a Firecrest the same date was in Liskeard, and the Siberian Chiffchaff at Marazion was heard singing during the week. A smart male Lapland Bunting was still at Trevose Head.

Spring passerine migrants continued to build up in numbers and variety; the first Reed Warbler on the 3rd at Hayle, Sedge Warbler at Drift and Common Redstart at Caerthillian on the 5th, and Tree Pipit at Sennen moors on the 7th.  Reed Warbler were at Marazion on the 5th, with further Sedge Warblers at Walmesley and Harlyn Pools on the 8th, and the first Grasshopper Warblers on the 9th at Trevose Head and Nanquidno.

See the First Spring Arrival dates section on the website for full details of the new migrants to Cornwall this year.

3 male Ring Ouzels at St Ives on the 8th would have been very nice, with another at Sancreed on the 7th, with another possible continental Stonechat at Porthgwarra (a nice male on the 9th), and there were 10+ Yellowhammer in the Newmill area, along with good numbers of Corn Bunting at a regular site. A Lesser Redpoll was at Trevose head on the 9th.

Birders in the Stithians and Penryn area (and possibly further afield) should keep an eye out for colour-ringed Jackdaws – part of a study by a University of Exeter student there. A hybrid Hooded/Carrion Crow was again seen near Lands End.

Nest building Goldcrests were seen, reed-bed nesting Grey Heron (slightly more unusual than the more expected tree-nesting sites) too, and spring continues apace.

The first Wall Brown butterfly report of the year was at Rame Head on the 6th, and Vagrant Emporers continued to be seen with one at Windmill Farm on the 7th; 2 Emporer Moths seen there too on that date. The first Hummingbird Hawkmoth of the year was reported from Dobwalls; presumably from the small resident population as opposed to a continental migrant.

An Otter was seen at Marazion on the 6th, with the commoner cetaceans offshore at various sites.

The forecast is for continued nice weather; whether that means the migrants pile in or not remains to be seen …


Weekly Roundup 20th – 26th March 2017

Mostly a quiet week, with the return of some old favourites, and springs inexorable progress; a bit more variety but not particularly the numbers yet.

The Bonaparte’s Gull was still to be seen on occasion at Helston Boating Lake (22nd and 24th), with a similar aged bird on the Hayle Estuary on the 26th. The Hudsonian Whimbrel put in a surprise re-appearance on the 24th too, after an absence of several weeks, and still there on the 26th.  It has wandered before – doing a recce, or perhaps spooked further along the coast for some reason?

A Great White Egret seen flying into the pines to roost on the evening of the 25th was seen by those assembled the next morning to fly off north east at 7:20am; no reports since. After the big effort to count Cattle Egrets last weekend, numbers reported were down slightly this week, although still daily. Quite possibly down to observer effort, but with birds such as the 6 on the Gannel Estuary still being there this week. A juvenile and near adult Spoonbill were on the Hayle, with 2 birds seen to fly into Maer Lake on the 21st.

130 Golden Plover at Trevedra Farm near Sennen still on the 23rd, 60 Sanderling along the beach at Marazion, 3 Greenshank and a Whimbrel remained on the Penryn River at Gorrangorras. Green Sandpipers were seen at Chapel Amble and St Erth.

2 Grey Partridge were seen at Winnards Perch on the 24th, with 2 Red-legged Partridge on the Wednesday Camel Trail Walk. Porth Reservoir saw 11 Great Crested Grebe still, with displaying birds to be seen throughout the county at suitable sites.

An immature Glaucous Gull at Portholland beach near Mevagissey had been feeding on a beached dead dolphin for about 2 weeks with another 2nd winter bird at Swanpool on the 24th.  The latter site also hosted an Iceland Gull the following day, with records again scattered throughout the county; up to a dozen birds perhaps? Caspian Gulls were seen at Par on the 20th and 22nd and a Little Gull was seen past Lizard Point on the 21st.

It looks like last weeks Pink-footed Goose may have eventually pitched up at Drift, with a bird there on the 26th, with a European White-fronted Goose seen feeding on a factory roof (!) near Par in the first half of the week; but it did spend more time in the slightly more traditional location of Par Beach Pool itself.

The Lesser Scaup was still at Dozmary Pool. A pair of Mandarin turned up at Marazion Marsh on the 24th. 120 Wigeon and 1 drake Goosander (with an apparently damaged bill) remained at Hayle. 3 Greylag Geese were seen at Stithians on the 22nd, 2 at St Gothian Sands on the 26th, and a Garganey was at Lanreath on the 23rd. The drake Velvet Scoter remained off Marazion.

An early Osprey was seen sat on top of a tree between Bissoe and Cross Lanes on the 20th by a passing motorist, with Red Kite and Merlin at Bartinney on the 25th, more Merlins elsewhere and an early report of a Hobby hunting Sand Martins on the 21st at Sibleyback before being chased off by a Kestrel. This would be one of the earliest ever Hobbys reported in the county, although it should be noted that the first arrival dates of our visiting migrants are getting earlier and earlier. Birdtrack records show a scattering of birds around the country from this date onwards last week. Another 3 Red Kites were seen flying west on the morning of the 26th by egret watchers at Marazion.

Ringtail and male Hen Harriers were seen at  Amalveor, with another ringtail at Men-an-Tol on the 20th, a female Marsh Harrier at Windmill Farm again, and a Short-eared Owl was seen to fly in-off the sea at St Ives on the 25th.

The RSPB Scillonian Pelagic to St Mary’s and back on the 24th saw reasonable numbers of Manx Shearwater (100+), with 2 Great Skua, Puffins and a small numbers of the smaller cetaceans (Common Dolphins and Harbour Porpoises).

Swallows and House Martins continued to be reported from scattered locations, usually in ones and twos only. Sand Martins, as to be expected this early in the season, were more widely reported, with the greatest numbers again from Drift, with 220 on the 24th.

A party of Red-rumped Swallows were reported off the coast at one location – if verified and pinned down at an accessible location they would certainly have been birds of the week. Although multiple birds have occurred in autumn there has yet to be a multiple spring occurrence in the county.

The first Ring Ouzel of the year was at St Ives on Buttermilk Hill on the 25th.

Yellow-browed Warblers remained at Swanpool and Penryn UoE campus until the 25th at least, with new birds heard in Hayle on the 23rd and at St Erth in willows alongside the lake on the 22nd. A Siberian Chiffchaff was at Marazion on the 24th.

The first Willow Warblers of the year were 3 ringed at Nanjizal on the 23rd, with the next the following day at Porthgwarra. Wheatear and Black Redstarts were reported in small numbers; no double figure counts of the former yet. A Stonechat showing features of the continental race was seen at Morvah on the 26th. A Cetti’s Warbler in song and showing well at times at Swanpool, Falmouth was apparently the first in the area since November 2001.

6 Lapland Bunting (including a nice male in summer plumage) were seen at Trevose Head on the 26th, a Corn Bunting was seen at Whipsiderry, St Enodoc Golf Course held 3 Yellowhammer  and the Brambling remained at Crowlas. 2 Redwing were at St Erth.

There were 70 occupied Rook nests at Church Cove on the Lizard and Mute Swans were observed sitting, with the first eggs now laid.

The society received news of Peregrine Falcons at a number of locations, along with other Schedule 1 breeders such as Goshawk and Dartford Warbler, so they are still out there, although specific locations withheld for obvious reasons – please keep the reports coming.

Butterflies seen this week included Speckled Wood and Painted Lady. The big invertebrate news this week is the continuing sprinkling of Vagrant Emperor dragonflies with a couple of records from the Lizard and Windmill Farm in particular on the 25th. A successful reptile walk there on the 26th saw 3 Adders (2m, 1f), along with 5 Slow Worm and 2 Common Lizard.

The first week of April should see numbers and variety of summer migrants increasing; what  else is on the way? It’s set to be windy again this coming week, with south westerlies and rain later.


From around the globe; Siberian Chiffchaff and Hudsonian Whimbrel – Rob Creek


Weekly Roundup 13th – 19th March 2017

After last weeks’ crake excitement it was mostly back to normal, with a scattering of early migrants continuing to enter the county, with some of the regular rarities and wintering birds hanging on.

An attempt to survey the county’s Cattle Egrets was arranged for Sunday the 19th; suspicions that a larger number of birds were in Cornwall than were being reported on any one day were confirmed with, despite incomplete coverage of the county, an impressive 77+ birds counted. The majority of these were on the Lizard, roosting at Helston Loe Pool and Frenchman’s Creek the other side of the peninsula on the Helford, with a good count also at St Clements near Truro. That not all sites elsewhere in the county were counted means the true number could well be higher yet.

The Spoonbill remained on the Hayle, with a Bittern at Long Rock pool. An adult Shag on Carnsew Pool was slightly unusual away from the coast proper, whilst a flock of 30 presumably continental migrant Cormorants were seen flying north inland near Maenporth.

There was a Little Ringed Plover at St Gothian NR on the 16th. Rarity is of course relative; a Red-legged Partridge at Sancreed Beacon perhaps only the 2nd record there in 23 years.

The Bonaparte’s Gull remained at Helston Loe Pool throughout; enjoy it whilst you can.

Iceland Gulls sightings continued at a number of sites around the county, including at Marazion on the 13th, an adult at College Reservoir on the 14th, and presumably the same seen a few days after on farmland nearby, a first winter at Hayle and a juv off Marazion, a juv at Porth Res on the 15th, an adult and juv at Drift and so on throughout the week. Maybe an Iceland Gull survey needs to be organized next?! No Glaucous Gulls reported however.

Gulls continue to move through (waves of Lesser Black- backs noted, and Black-headed Gulls likely to become increasingly scarce over the next few weeks), Mediterranean Gulls also passing through and the Long Rock Little Gull now gone. Marazion hosted a 1st w Caspian Gull and an adult Yellow-legged Gull on one date, with a 3rd winter YLGull on the Gannel on the 17th.

The odd Sandwich Tern began to be reported towards the end of the week, with 15 at Newlyn on the 19th the only sizeable number.

A pair of rare geese (most geese are rare in Cornwall) featured with 1 albifrons White-fronted Goose in a field with Canada Geese at Par Beach on the 17th with a late report of a Pink-footed Goose at Marazion on the 17th which flew in from the NE with 5 Greylag Geese, circled the reserve and flew back NE towards Hayle that morning.

A report of a Barnacle Goose in the county perhaps relates to one of the dodgy hybrids about, or if genuinely of the species, doubts would still have to remain over its true, wild provenance. The tame Mandarin remained at Porth Reservoir.

A drake Scaup at Helston Boating Lake would appear to be a new bird with the College Res bird still being present in the first half of the week at least.  Three Garganey were at Walmesley on the 16th, with a pair on the sea off Marazion that evening With a sprinkling of Long-tailed Ducks about offshore. The Lesser Scaup on Bodmin remained.

A Barn Owl was rescued from a house chimney in Millbrook and released. Bit sooty but otherwise seemingly ok. Maybe it thought it wanted to be a guttata (Dark-breasted Barn Owl), but never a good move. A Short-eared Owl was at St Agnes Head on the 15th. Sparrowhawks and Merlins were reported more widely than of late. Peregrines too, but breeding will certainly have started for some pairs by now; as noted elsewhere we won’t necessarily be reporting specific reports of bird such as these from now on.

Seawatching results included, from  Lizard Point: 67 Manx Shearwater, 2 Red-throated Diver and 1 Puffin on the 13th with 35 Puffin, 1 Great Skua and 200+ Common Dolphin on the 15th , with 2 Balearic Shearwater, 31 Manx Shearwater, 52 Fulmar, 505 Gannet, 310 Kittiwake and auks, including 10 Puffin, seen at Porthgwarra on the 18th.

A hybrid Hooded x Carrion Crow was seen at Sennen, with 15 Chough reported from Carn Gloose.

Gerrans Bay finally came into its own after very few records this winter so far, with 40 Black-throated Divers reported on the 14th , along with 16 Great Northern Diver and 2 Slavonian Grebe, with c.60 BTDivers on the 19th and a massive 112 diver sp (presumed to be three quarters Black-throated) midweek.

The Black-necked Grebe was again seen at Stithians Reservoir, now onto its 3rd official WeBS count, but apparently not reported otherwise. The Drift birds were unreported this week.

What would make many a birders day, week or year even? For many it coud well be a Hoopoe, with one seen on the 16th at Seaview International Holiday Park, Boswinger near Gorran Haven and again still to the 19th. Not especially rare, but that’s not what it’s all about. More the funky hairdo and touch of Mediterranean exotica.

Swallows may make a summer (swallows have been seen, although presumably not at traditional breeding sites yet), but Sand Martins make a spring if you happen to be birding at one of Cornwall’s lakes or reservoirs. Drift saw the highest numbers, with 95 on the 14th and 130 on the 17th, other counts included 40 at College Reservoir on the 18th. The odd Swallow and House Martin were reported too. Regular watchers of any lakes or waterbodies will be keeping their eyes peeled in the hope of an overshooting Red-rumped Swallow perhaps over the next few weeks …

2 Yellow-browed Warbler remained in Swanpool, with the Tehidy bird still present Chiffchaff were on the move in small numbers. Wheatears continued to be reported in small numbers; 6 Wheatear on Looe Island the only sizeable number reported.

Chiffchaffs singing more, Blackcaps too (presumably our winter birds still), and Rooks amongst others seen nest-building,

Of winter birds, 9 Fieldfare were at Sancreed on the 15th; still a few weeks to go before the changeover is in full swing.

Late news from last week (Sun 12th) was of 2 Little Bunting still at Nanjizal, although presumably not visible from public areas

In other groups, the cetaceans from the Lizard aside, the only notable sighting was of a Female Vagrant Emperor dragonfly in a private garden at Newlyn on the 15th. With another seen on the Scillies and a large movement of this migratory species noted from Africa (where they occur normally), something to keep an eye out for perhaps.

Looks like we may be in for some sunnier weather than of late; although a bit of a drop in temperature with winds from the north east.


Weekly Roundup 6th – 12th March 2017

The main event this week was the sighting of a Baillon’s Crake at St Levan for one lucky observer. The bird was seen to fly in to Porthchapel beach in the morning of the 10th for a brief while before then flying off towards Porthgwarra. As far as in-off records go that has to be a pretty amazing record, irregardless of whether the observer was engaged in a proper seawatch at the time. Although the bird was subsequently looked for there was of course no further sign – one small bird in a mass of potential habitat (for a tired migrant).

This represents the sixth county record, the last being of a one day bird at Stithians Reservoir on the 6th May 1995; an adult male. Prior to that it was previously recorded in 1877, 1858 and with two undated records prior to 1858.

Unfortunately only the very lucky observer can count this one as their personal bird of the week, but just goes to show what can turn up..

Still no news of either the Pacific Diver or Hudsonian Whimbrel this week, although don’t think anyone should be complaining too much – it rather looks as if Spring has arrived instead. Aside the Baillon’s Crake, the second half of the week saw the first Wheatears, with Sand Martins into double figures, and an impressive flock of 6 Garganey;  5 drakes and a female at Par Beach Pool on the 10th. And even some sunshine (especially on the Sunday), when a flurry of Sand Martins hit widely scattered locations throughout the county.

The Bonaparte’s Gull was reported daily from Helston Boating Lake, except for the Wednesday, and possibly not present that day; it had been seen to fly distantly south on Tuesday, and has also been reported from Loe Pool (to the south). A report of a possible 1st winter from a moving vehicle in Penzance on the 9th could well relate to an exploratory foray by the Helston bird or not.

The Penzance Bay Little Gull remained largely faithful to the Long Rock area all week, a Yellow-legged Gull was at Hayle on the 9thand the Ring-billed Gull remained on the Gannel  Estuary. With a Glaucous Gull at Cape Cornwall on the 10th and another at Hayle. Iceland Gull reports dropped a little, with birds still at Hayle amongst other places.

A Sandwich Tern was at Gorrangorras on the Penryn River on the 6th, perhaps the same at Gyllyngvase Beach on the 11th, with another at Penzance on the 10th. Presumed early migrants, or possibly a wandering UK winter bird.

A Manx Shearwater was seen off Swanpool on one date; put into context we understand that they have been regular in small numbers throughout the winter months from Lizard Point. Few other seawatching records received this week.

A Bittern was seen at Marazion after a relatively long period of no reports, the Spoonbill still at Hayle, but no reports from Walmesly. Cattle Egret reports were down, with 6 on the Gannel Estuary, 2 on West Penwith, 5 on Bude Marshes, 5 at Caerhays Castle and 1 at Millbrook.

Waders on the move included a handful of Black-tailed Godwits perhaps, 15 Grey Plover at Hayle and 500 Golden Plover flock over Connor Downs. 65 Turnstone and 9 Purple Sandpiper were at Penzance with 50 Sanderling along the beach at Marazion including a dutch-ringed bird.

12 Great Crested Grebes were at Porth Reservoir (a good count for a single Cornwall location), offshore 5 Slavonian Grebes were seen near Pendower Beach, 1 Black-necked Grebe at Drift still and 16 Black-necked Grebe in the Carrick Roads on the 9th.

Aside the Garganey flock mentioned there were few other notable wildfowl records beside the long-staying drake Lesser Scaup on Dozmary Pool and Greater Scaup at College Reservoir; 2 Mute Swan on Dozmary Pool, with 4 Goosander still at Hayle. Most dabbling ducks reducing with Wigeon still hanging on in reduced numbers at most sites, although 155 were still at Hayle. Offshore there were still 2 Velvet Scoter off Long Rock and 27 Red-breasted Merganser in the Carrick Roads mid-week.

The first Swallows were 3 together at Polzeath on the 11th, with 1 at Polgigga the same date. Two House Martin were seen over Newquay on the 10th, with 1 at Longrock Pool on the 12th. There were 3 Sand Martin at Long Rock Pool on the 10th; up to 30 there on the 12th, and then scattered widely across the whole county by that date (the Sunday), with 35 at Drift the highest count.

Single Wheatears were at St Gothian Sands and Towan Head on the 11th, and Colliford Reservoir, Treen and Predanack areas on the 12th, with a White Wagtail on the moor at Porthgwarra (perhaps chanced upon by crake seekers) on the 12th.

Yellow-browed Warblers were still at Swanpool (2 mid-week), Tehidy Country Park and 2 still on Penryn University campus. 3 Firecrest at Kenidjack on the 11th the only record. There were more Siberian Chiffchaff reports dotted about.

Black Redstarts continued to be reported from a variety of locations.

35 Siskin and 1 Lesser Redpoll in Morrisons Carpark on 8th at Bodmin were noteworthy; birds are known for wandering a little more widely at this time of year prior to reaching breeding sites as natural food sources dry up.

The normal cetaceans were reported in the Falmouth area, along with a Risso’s Dolphin amongst the commoner species (an offshore report from AK Wildlife Cruises),  Mounts Bay held 12 Bottlenose Dolphin on the 6th, and an Otter was seen at Drift Reservoir (also note that they have been regular at College Reservoir over the last year, based on carp casualties).  On the butterfly side there were a couple of Small Tortoiseshells on the south coast and 2 Painted Lady butterflies were encountered in the Treen Cliff/Logan Rock area on the Sunday – certainly early migrants. More to come?

Spring not quite here with a vengeance yet, but certainly starting to happen; Skylarks singing, nest building from our resident species and the very first waves of migrants appearing.

Not going to make any predictions bird-wise for the coming week – who would have predicted an early Baillon’s Crake as the headline bird this week gone?

Weather looks to be a bit milder, gloomy and a bit blustery from the west for the coming week. Guess that is what we call Spring.

Weekly Roundup 27th Feb – 5th March 2017

A Summary of this week’s birding news in Cornwall.

The headline bird this week was certainly the first winter Bonaparte’s Gull found at Helston Boating Lake late on Sunday morning. With the last accepted bird in Cornwall being of an adult at Siblyback on the 15 & 16th of May 2013, this was always going to be a popular bird and it performed very well indeed to a steady stream of birders in the slightly incongruous setting of a popular toddler and dog walking park (the boats will come into use when the weather warms up a little perhaps). Only slightly incongruous  – rare birds such as these seem to favour such sites at times – and plenty of gulls and waterfowl to draw a rarity in. And coming to bread not a problem either. If this bird stays it could prove popular … a cracking little bird.

Back to the rest of the weeks news and there were no reports of the Pacific Diver received this week, and none of the Hudsonian Whimbrel since Monday; could that really be it for this winter? Previous winters have seen the last reported date for the Pacific Diver being between 3rd and 25th March, with a few outliers, so hope is not totally lost.

Gulls did seem to be the main interest this week with a couple of records of first winter Little Gull proving popular with one at Coverack and one off Marazion and area from Monday onwards; the latter still lingering to the weeks end.

The 1st winter Ring-billed Gull was again reported from the Gannel, with Glaucous Gulls reported from Newtown St Martin and Falmouth Docks, and with Iceland Gulls at Polgigga, Porth Reservoir, Sennen, Nanjizal, Trevilley, Hayle, Coverack and 3 together at Lamorna. Although with some degree of overlap presumably; a fair few birds still involved. The odd Yellow-legged Gull was also reported.

A second year Kumlien’s Gull was also seen at Trevilley, with the rarest of all (and maybe the most interesting for larophiles) of course being the American Herring Gull (1stw) at Polgigga on the Sunday too.

Cattle Egret numbers have risen back again with maximum of 16 at Loe Pool (after the roost seemed to disperse after disturbance by helicopter last week), 7 on the Gannel Estuary and an impressive 18 at St Clements. One at Tehidy Country Park was at a new site during the week. 14 were  at Loe Pool on the Sunday and 12 at Frenchman’s Creek on the other side of the Lizard the same day. Same or different … ? You’d like to think different …

The Spoonbill was still reported from the Hayle, with the 2 Walmsley birds still reported midweek. Spotted Redshank also reported from there, with 3 Greenshank at Gorrangorras

The Red-necked Grebe was seen intermittently in Falmouth Bay, with 2 Slavonian Grebe on one date also, 17+ Great Northern Diver off Penzance, with odd divers elsewhere.

2 Barnacle Geese of unknown origin were at Polbathic Creek and a female Mandarin was at Porth Reservoir (approaching anglers). Other wildfowl records included a drake Gadwall at Marazion, 2 female Pintail and 1 Goldeneye still at Stithians, and 11 Pintail and 15 Gadwall at Walmsley. Ten Goosander still on Loe Pool. The Lesser Scaup was still reported up to the weekend, with the Greater Scaup still at College Reservoir.

Offshore, 2 Velvet Scoter and 1 Common Scoter (all female) remained off Marazion, with 8 Common Scoter on the Saturday off Longrock, a female Eider off nearby Penzance, and a drake also on at least one date.

Seawatching reports were down, although a Balearic Shearwater was reported from Lamorna Cove, a Great Skua from Falmouth on the 3rd, with 1 Great Skua and 1 dark phase Arctic Skua from Pendeen on the 28th  and 1 Pomarine Skua reported from Jubilee Pool and Mousehole area again.

And so to the passerines and another would-be bird of the week, a rather early House Martin.

This, the first spring migrant proper of the year, was recorded at Coverack on the 3rd and 4th. There have been a few other February records of House Martin in the UK; but still very unusual to have records this early, with the species usually being a later migrant than both Sand Martin and Swallow. Data from the BTO indicates spring migrants are arriving earlier, but the suspicion would have to be that these House Martins have wintered in Spain or North Africa as a few do, rather than being genuine sub-saharan migrants??

There were c.500 Chaffinch in a weedy field next to Bickland Trading Estate in Falmouth, with 2 Woodlark over Lanhydrock golf course on the afternoon of the 27th and a Water Pipit at Trevilley.

Yellow-browed Warblers were seen at Helston Sewage Works on the Sunday, with birds still on UoE campus in Penryn, Tehidy and 2 at Swanpool. The latter site also hosted 2 Firecrest, 1 Siberian Chiffchaff, 2 Nuthatch and a Treecreeper on one occasion. 150+ Redwing at Loe Pool were the only sizeable number reported recently, with singing Cetti’s Warblers there and at Marazion.

Black Redstart reports came in from a range of locations and possibly represent an increase as birds start to move.

Grey Herons on nests at Marazion and garden birds included Bullfinch, with the Crowlas Brambling now into its second month (we’ll stop mentioning it soon perhaps), 2 Siskin at Penwithick and a Firecrest in Truro.

Harbour Porpoises continued to show in Falmouth Bay, with 3 adults and 2 calves on one date, with a few other reports of cetaceans elsewhere. No other interesting mammal or invertebrate records. Completely unrelated to this report the first Crocodile Shark for the UK (a tropical water species from Brazil and the like) was discovered on a Devon beach this week. Things are out there …

More wet and wild weather to come … spring still seems a way off at times.

Some more gratuitous Bonaparte’s pics – we received a fair few on the day …

 I Maclean 1  I Maclean 2  Dougy Wright
Phil Taylor M Spicer 2  M Spicer 1

Bonaparte’s Gull – from top left, clockwise – Ilya Maclean (2), Dougy Wright, Mike Spicer (2), Phil Taylor, below – Dan Chaney

d chaney