Review of the Week Monday 23rd – Sunday 29th October/ Weekly catch up
Following on from attempts to write a regular weekly review earlier in the year (ill-fated – it was too time-consuming to produce that depth of information on a weekly basis from scratch) the plan is to write a briefer weekly ‘editorial’, highlighting new or interesting birds in the county (both rarities and changes in the commoner birds), along with any other information or comment which needs to be passed along or that seems interesting enough.
New birds this week centred on a rather obliging White-rumped Sandpiper at St Gothian Sands LNR, Gwithian – the first in the county since 3 together on the Hayle in November 2013 (with 2 others earlier in that autumn) and the 23rd White-rumped Sandpiper overall for the county. This cracking little bird has been showing very well, and certainly proving a popular draw for local as well as visiting birders. It’s been a fair autumn for American vagrants, this being the 8th yank shorebird of the year (if the Hudsonian Whimbrel from earlier in the year is included), but not touching on the epic year of 2011 quite yet (the reservoirs having underperformed this year – high water levels presumably playing a part.)
The other main birding event this week seems to be the national influx of Hawfinches really having kicked off in Cornwall as the week has progressed, with overflying birds, small groups and flocks at a number of locations. A notable (description required) county bird, with only c180 previous records, the last major national influx was reported as being in 1978, when 8 reached the county (with good numbers on the Scillies too). Since then there have been notable occurences of Hawfinch in Cornwall in 1988 and 1993 (high single figures) with 18 in 2005 and then 19 in 2008. Almost half of the previous records were recorded in the month of October.
It seems that at least 87 have been seen in the county so far this week although a large proportion do seem to have been flyovers at one site.
Although temperatures haven’t really dropped yet, autumn has really kicked off with the first big influxes of winter thrushes – as with the Hawfinches, most of the big numbers were seen on visible migration (viz mig), with 2252 Redwing recorded from the university at Penryn on the 27th, with a scattering of other species seen, such as the first Fieldfares, Brambling and Siskin, and large Woodpigeon flocks passing through on their way, presumably, to wintering grounds in south western Europe.
The other new birds recorded in Cornwall for the year were Olive-backed Pipit on the Lizard and a Radde’s Warbler at Nanjizal – both good quality eastern vagrants, the former the first since 2014 and the 14th for the county, the latter the 17 or 18th, with birds in 2014 and 2015. There was an unconfirmed report of a Twite from the beach at Chapel Porth – quite the rarity in Cornwall, with only 10 previous records (some of multiple birds), and without further information perhaps seems an unlikely occurence, with the last accepted record being back in 1988.
A Red-throated Pipit was the only BBRC rarity reported this week, with one briefy at Lower Bosisto. Good scarcities and county rarities included Ortolan (1 or 2 overflying Cape Cornwall), Common Rosefinch and 2 blythi Lesser Whitethroats at Nanjizal, up to 3 Richard’s Pipits and the Short-toed Lark near Porthgwarra and a couple of Wryneck in the far west of the county. Moving slightly east there was a juv Rose-coloured Starling at Marazion Marsh (along with a leucistic Starling), and there was an American Golden Plover over Lizard Village. The Red-breasted Flycatcher was still at Rame Head at the beginning of the week, and a Glossy Ibis was at Chapel Amble. The Ring-necked Duck from last week continued to show at Dozmary, with a Long-tailed Duck and a female Scaup discovered in the vicinity on the 25th – both good birds anywhere in Cornwall. Two Quail on the Lizard were an unusual late record.
Finishing off the scarcer birds, a couple of Spoonbill continued to show well and a mobile Great White Egret was seen in the west of the county. The Purple Heron was not reported, and no Cattle Egrets either.
A few Swallows continued to be reported, with Wheatears, a single House Martin and a late Common Redstart the remnants of summer perhaps. The Firecrest invasion seems to have slown down marginally, but still plenty of birds about, with 9 at Maenporth on the 26th, and Yellow-browed Warblers perhaps starting to settle slightly too.
Following on from the first Whooper Swan of the year last week, the corpse of an adult Whooper Swan was found on the tide line at Gwithian, with live birds also seen elsewhere.
Those who follow us on twitter (@cbwps1, or viewable from the link to the right, heaven forbid) should have picked up that the number of species recorded in the county has broken through the 290 barrier for the year so far. It looks as if we are set to experience a record-breaking year in the county, with the previous best having been 2011 when 293 species were recorded in the county. If the various birds which have been reported (and are as yet unconfirmed) are included, the number is already fast approaching 300 – see here for the current county yearlist on the website.
With 16 new additions already for October, what will November bring? Are there even any possible new additions left?!
The autumn Palores magazine is now out – all members should have received their copy by now. Don’t forget that if you subscribe to the digital (paperless) copy this will save the society a considerable sum in publishing and postage costs – some hundreds of our members already do so. Please consider if you haven’t done so already.
Lastly, as per the daily sightings page, you will have noted that there are a number of rare birds (both national and at county level) which were seen in the county for which no description has yet been submitted. Please check through – it would be a real shame if some of these quality birds remain unsubstantiated and fail to make BiC (Birds in Cornwall) or the county record. If you require help or assistance please contact the county recorder email@example.com
As usual, if you have any comments or suggestions please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Dan Chaney, 29/10/17