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.
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