It was a select group of discerning birders who met up for the 3rd November Swanpool walk … maybe an early Sunday morning start and the poor weather forecast over the weekend meant that we were relatively few in number, however this didn’t daunt us.
We started off with a quick scan of the main pool whilst we waited to see if anyone else would arrive and then started to make our way around the western side of Swanpool – it was relatively quiet however and it wasn’t until we reached the northern end that we encountered the first slightly more interesting birds – a couple of Chiffchaff in the sallows in the sunshine. Not long after a nice female Great Spotted Woodpecker flew in and showed well in a dead tree.
It was decided to head up through the cemetery, as this might give us another chance of birds such as Firecrest. Almost immediately upon entering, some of us did indeed briefly see a Firecrest in the conifers. Once through the cemetery and along the top path we had good views looking down on Swanpool, and added a Grey Heron and 2 Pochard, a male and female, to our day list. Whilst watching them we picked up the distinctive overhead call of Skylarks moving, and indeed, managed to espy 9 flying high and westwards.
Hitting the coast path we encountered a good sized House Sparrow flock and picked up the small flock of 4 Common Scoter which had been present a couple of days in our bins. The tide was up and Swanpool Point was still mostly under water. Back at Swanpool Beach and another squally shower was coming in, so instead of heading around to the rocks and scoping the sea we got straight back into our cars and headed for Pendennis Point at the other end of the Falmouth coast.
Here another shower forced us into ‘Little Pendennis’, a small fortified outpost guarding the Carrick Roads from the time of the Napoleonic Wars. This was somewhat fortuitous, because just outside one of the open stone windows a tidy flock of 9 Turnstone were busily grazing the seaweedy rocks for invertebrates. Out again when it had passed, and we managed to pick up a distant Great Northern Diver below St Anthony’s Lighthouse; aside a few Gannets passing the sea was pretty quiet. A Common Gull and a fly through Little Egret graced the Carrick Roads. A pair of Stonechat was nice in the bramble scrub just behind us, and we enjoyed good views of both Rock and Meadow pipits working the rocks.
Final stop was Castle Beach, nestled in at the base of Pendennis. 2 Mediterranean Gulls were on the sea with a few Black-headed Gulls, and a Little Egret entertained ‘paddling’ the shallows; disturbing small invertebrates and sea life in a rockpool ready to be snatched up. Otherwise it was quiet (no Black Redstarts unfortunately), but very seaweedy and slippery on the rocks.
An enjoyable morning walk and bird, with some interesting winter birds seen, even if not all of the hoped-for species were to be seen on the day. We hope to do another Swanpool/Falmouth Coast walk later in the winter.
Leaders Dan Chaney and Lucy Mooney.