Headline news this week would be that it is still spring, with a couple more Hoopoe and a brace of Woodchat Shrikes at the weekend. A perhaps more unexpected spring migrant would be the Dusky Warbler caught and ringed at Nanjizal on the 27th. However, with seemingly increasing numbers of Siberian and ‘eastern’ species visiting or passing through in the autumn (last autumn especially, although perhaps not in Cornwall itself) something that will come to be slightly more expected as a SW Europe/N African wintering strategy for these species perhaps increasingly pays off?
The Hudsonian Whimbrel was again reported, on the 30th and 31st at Perranuthnoe, with a migrant visiting Little Ringed Plover on Lelant Saltings at Hayle on the 31st. Other waders included a handful of scattered Green Sandpipers, with 2 Ruff, 103 Black-tailed Godwit and 170 Golden Plover at Walmesly Sanctuary on the 1st April. 8 and 5 Purple Sandpipers were at Lizard Point and Towan Head respectively.
A Great White Egret was again reported on the 28th; west from the boardwalk at Marazion first thing in the morning with another reported from Carnhall Green just before midday; same or different? Presumably the same … There were 2 Spoonbill on Ryan`s Field still and although daily reports were received, reduced numbers of Cattle Egret in the county; no records from the Lizard peninsula for example, but there were 6 at a relatively ‘new’ location at Hayle on the 1st and small numbers at other previously used sites again around the county, such as 6 on the Gannel still.
The Lesser Scaup remained at Dozmary Pool, with the Pink-footed Goose still at Drift up to the 1st April. The Gannel Estuary held 4 (2 pale-bellied, 2 dark-bellied) Brent Geese on the 31st, with another pale-bellied Brent Goose at Pridmouth, Fowey on the 2nd. Wigeon at Hayle dropped from 120 to 57 at Hayle; with a report on twitter of a group seen to actively leave; ‘Group of Wigeon just left Copperhouse Creek and flew off high to the East, fading into the distance at dusk. Fantastic!’ on the 1st . Walmesly still held good numbers of waterfowl with 12 Shelduck, 2 Tufted Duck, 63 Wigeon, 40 Teal, 19 Shoveler, 20 Gadwall and 2 Pintail on the 1st.
A couple more early Hobbys were reported, one over the church at Rame Head on the 27th and another in off the sea and hawking Sand Martins at Marazion on the 2nd.
What would have been the headline bird of the week was an intriguing report of a Sea-Eagle off the coast near Nare Head on the Roseland Peninsula on the 27th reported by a dogwalker. If pinned down and confirmed. As it is it just has to remain an intriguing unconfirmed record – no relocation from local birders and no further reports elsewhere. A Marsh Harrier was at Goonhilly Downs on the 28th and a migrating Osprey flew north-east over Liskeard on the morning of the 31st.
A Short-eared Owl was seen from the approach road to Porthgwarra, on the 2nd, with another and 3 Tawny Owls at Roseannon Downs earlier in the week.
The Bonaparte’s Gull was again reported; although only on the evening of Monday the 27th at Lelant Saltings on the Hayle. Little Gulls continued to be seen, with two 1st winter Little Gulls were by the Red River mouth, Marazion on the afternoon of the 29th with one the following day and one through Ryan’s Field on the 2nd. To contrast barely single reports of Mediterranean and Common Gull were received.
Iceland Gulls were down in number too somewhat, with 1 imm at Tresillian on the 28th, a 2nd w at St Gothian Sands on the 31st along with an unaged bird at Drift, and juvs at the Hayle Estuary and Pendeen on the 1st with another at Coverack on the 2nd. A 1stw Glaucous Gull was at Nanquidno on the 30th with a Ring-billed Gull at Marazion on the 28th and a near adult/adult Ring-billed Gull at Hayle on the 30th, 31st and 1st; a single bird representing all reports?
9 Sandwich Terns flew west past Falmouth on the 29th, with 38 reported from St Ives on the 30th; smaller numbers were seen scattered elsewhere.
The RSPB Scillonian III Wildlife Cruise was not quite as productive as last week, with 2 Puffin and 11 Manx Shearwaters the highlight.
Other offshore records include 16 Great Northern Diver off Pendower, summer plumage Slavonian Grebe off Falmouth and a Great Skua successfully harassing a Herring Gull and landing on the sea at Marazion giving excellent views.
Drift again beat everywhere else hands down with c320 Sand Martin on the 31st; College Reservoir came a poor second with 100 passing through on the 1st. The first (and only) double figure report of Swallow concerned 14 at Trevose Head on the 27th, and the only House Martin record was of one at Crowlas.
Hoopoes were to be found at Manaccan, Helston and a slightly belated report from St Minver, with Woodchat Shrikes at Carn Goose, Kynance on the lizard and at Nanquidno/Cot Valley arriving over the weekend. The Hoopoes were undoubtably popular, with the reported birds from mid-week on.
Other migrants included Walmsley hitting the jackpot with an impressive 8 Water Pipit in summer plumage on the 1st. Otherwise incoming migrant passerines were still a little thin on the ground, but multiple Willow Warblers were at Stithians and Walmsley on the 1st, with 2 and 4 respectively, with 3 at Marazion on the 2nd along with birds at the Upper Fowey Valley.
The last Yellow-browed Warbler report received was of one still at Penryn campus on the 28th, with a singing Firecrest there too on the same date.
An overwintering Black Redstart was on the shrubberies estate at Porthleven, with another in Falmouth; birds were also reported from Kenidjack Head (2), Nanquidno and Morvah. 3 Fieldfare were still at Sancreed on the 31st
Other snippets of interest involve a leucistic Starling in Sainsbury’s car park at Newquay and a Sparrowhawk above the Asda superstore at St Austell. The Luxulyan Valley Walk on the 2nd included highlights of Marsh Tit, 2 Grey Wagtails, 2 Dipper, a Treecreeper and a Mallard with a single duckling; the earliest this year.
Spring moves on apace; an early female Stonechat was feeding young in the nest at Kynance on the 27th March, with sitting Shags and Cormorants with large chicks at traditional sites on the coast.
2 male Brimstone butterfly were feeding on Aubrieta plants in a private garden in Rock (think there’s an inadvertent mineral theme going on there?), with Speckled Wood near Argal Reservoir, and Peacocks at the south and north end of Stithians on the 27th. According to http://butterfly-conservation.org/52/first-butterfly-sightings-2017.html 15 species of butterfly have now been recorded in the UK up to the 30th March this year.
Mammal reports included 2 Stoats chasing Rabbits at Marazion (anyone who knows Marazion would expect this to involve reasonably good views as the rabbits there generally show well) and 3 Risso’s Dolphins off Pendennis Point, Falmouth associating loosely with a small pod of Common Dolphins on the 30th, with a Grey Seal with a freshly caught ray sp and c20 Common Dolphin in Falmouth Bay on the 27th.
The only other fish report received involved that of 2 large Pike spawning in shallows below the car park at Porth Reservoir.
The weather looks to be typically changeable, although presumably numbers and variety of migrants will both continue to increase as they arrive from the south irregardless.