Weekly Review 25th – 31st December

The year didn’t quite end with a bang. Christmas Day in particular was a rather quiet day for bird news; other priorities perhaps?! The weather was also fairly rough, although good for the spot of interesting seawatching. No new major rarities this week, and the county list remains on or around 300 for the year – potentially a record year, although the final tally will depend on submissions of certain rarities of course.

The drake Lesser Scaup remained at Dozmary Pool. The 2 Surf Scoter remained off Porthpean. The putative Cackling Goose (or small Canada Goose), was again seen at Sancreed on the 31st with 96 Canada Goose, and 2 single Pink-footed Goose were again seen, at Lostwithiel and sites near Drift.

Cattle Egrets were seen at a handful of sites on the Lizard with up to 8 at Newtown on the  29th; a single was also at Porthilly on the Camel Estuary the same date. The Glossy Ibis was seen at Kingsmill on the 30th.

A first winter Ring-billed Gull was at Newquay on the 31st – probably new bird of the week. Caspian Gulls were at Lizard Point and Dozmary Pool on the 27th and 28th. A Little Auk was off St Ives on the 27th

Hawfinch sightings were up with some settled birds continuing to show; 2 at Feock, 6 at Egloshayle cemetery on the 31th, with 1 at Wadebridge on the 27th, 1 at Lands End and 1 still at Saltash n the 30th. A Little Bunting was again seen at Nanjizal on the 29th . Siberian Chiffchaff were reported from 4 sites; 3 being sewage farms in the county with the fourth in a private garden in Downderry

2 Velvet Scoter were off Porthpean on the 28th, with 50 Common Scoter off Penzance on the 30th.

Single Spoonbill were seen at Walmsley and the Hayle Estuary.

Manx Shearwaters were seen off Godrevy and Penzance, with 6 at the former site on Christmas Day and 1 at the latter site on the 30th; unusual for this time of year, when Balearic Shearwater tend to be the more regular species. Up to 2 Great Skua were again in Mounts Bay, with singles also off Newquay and St Ives; single Pomarine Skuas were also off Mounts Bay and St Ives in the week too.

An immature Glaucous Gull was at Newlyn from the 29th, with a juv Iceland Gull there too from the 28th, both seen on the fish market roof, 1 Iceland Gull at Coverack still and a juvenile flying north at Cape Cornwall on the 27th. 8 Yellow-legged Gulls were reported from 6 sites around the county

Firecrest numbers and reports continued to tail off, with the highest count being 3 in Swanvale on the 27th. 5 Common Crossbill were at Ninestones on Bodmin on the 28th. Water Pipits were seen around the county with 2 each at Marazion and Walmsley, a single at Downderry and 3 at Mawgan. Black Redstarts were seen at 7 sites around the county, with 5 at Falmouth on the 27th the highest count. Only a single Yellow-browed Warbler was reported, calling in Swanvale on the 27th, and a single Brambling was at St Levan.

Winter thrushes were present with 95 Fieldfare at Colliford and 200 Redwing near Indian Queens. 65 Chiffchaff were at Gwennap Sewage Works on the 28th.

Hopefully in the next week or so we will be setting up a section on the website for county listing leagues. The main sections will probably be a Green Challenge for the year, Garden Listing and County Listing proper. More to follow, but have a look at bubo or other listing platforms if you haven’t done so already to input species seen, and be ready to send in your totals.This can be as competitive as you want it to be; however it’s the taking part as much as anything that counts, as well as something of a focus for improving your own birding.

If you wish to take part please email updates to webmaster@cbwps.org.uk ; the address can be found on the ‘contacts’ page in any case.

djc 4th Jan

Weekly Review 18th – 24th December 2017

The headline bird this week again was the Snowy Owl in the west of the county on the 18th at least and showing (rather) well from midday onwards off Carn Glose Road, Cape Cornwall. There was also an unconfirmed record the following day at first light. Unfortunately there has been no further sign since.

Snowy Owl – Linton Proctor

There were no Pacific Diver reports this week.

The adult male Lesser Scaup was reported from Dozmary Pool on the 19th and 21st, with the 2 Surf Scoter at Porthpean on the 20th, but only 1 reported on the 21st.

5 Cattle Egret were in fields at Newtown St Mary on the 22nd, with 3 on the 24th. 14 were seen flying in to roost on the evening of the 23rd at nearby Frenchman’s Creek on the Helford; a minimum amongst 40 egrets seen at dusk, so there could have been more. Single Spoonbills were seen at Hayle and on the Camel Estuary, with 3 again at St Johns Lake.

A Pink-footed Goose was seen at Marazion and Drift on the 19th and 21st.

Hawfinch, John St Ledger

After the late report of up to 7 Hawfinches having been present at Feock Churchyard near Truro for much of November and into December, singles were reported on most dates this week, with 2 on the 22nd. A single was also seen at St Austell sewage works on the 24th.

Juvenile Glaucous Gulls were seen at St Ives and in ploughed fields near the CWT headquarters inland at Allet on the 18th and 21st, with an Iceland Gull at Coverack still and a juv at Red River mouth, Marazion. Yellow-legged Gulls were at Hayle and St Ives on the 23rd and 24th.

A Lapland Bunting was recorded over Caerthillian on the18th. Siberian Chiffchaffs of varying degrees of certainty were recorded from 5 sites, with 3 at St Austell Sewage Works the only multiple count.

Some high counts of waders around the county include 100 Black-tailed Godwit at Walmsley, 140 Lapwing at Stithians, 2000 Golden Plover and 15 Grey Plover on the Camel Estuary and 198 Oystercatcher at Porthilly Point. A Jack Snipe was at Hayle Kimbro on the 22nd, with 9 Woodcock at St Merryn the same date.

Marsh Harrier was recorded at 3 sites on the Lizard, with a Red Kite also on the peninsula .

Pomarine Skua, Rupert Kirkwood

Great Skuas were seen at a handful of sites; up to 2 at sites in Mounts Bay on 3 dates and a single at Downderry, with a single juvenile Pomarine Skua also in Mounts Bay on the 18th. Two Sandwich Terns were recorded at St Johns Lake in the east of the county on the 22nd, with 1 a few days earlier. 2 Red-necked Grebes were at Porthpean on the 20th.

Firecrests were recorded at 16 sites, with a maximum of 5 in Penzance; Goldcrests were only recorded from 6 sites (probably reflecting on their less noteworthy status), however the sewage farms in the county are starting to come into their own as winter birding destinations with 30 and 40 at St Austell and St Columb sewage works respectively on the 24th.

Brambling were recorded in small numbers from 6 sites, and a single Water Pipit was at Downderry on the 1st. A roost of 400 Pied Wagtails was recorded in Penzance on the 22nd; a good count, although roosts in Cornwall tend to be under-reported. Up to 6 Black Redstarts were in Falmouth on the 19th/20th with a max of 3 birds at a single site in town. Fieldfare and Redwing maxima were 80 at Stithians on the 24th and 40 at Loe Pool on the 19th.

Brambling – Stephen Williams

A potential ‘Nordic’ Jackdaw was seen in Newlyn on the 20th (with the caveat that a small percentage of nominate Jackdaws appear to show the same characteristic white collar and other features); an argentatus Herring Gull was on the Hayle Estuary on the 24th and a leucistic (nearly white in this case) Black-headed Gull on the Gannel. A probable Lesser Whitethroat was seen fleetingly at St Austell Sewage works on the 24th; odds good of an eastern race but not totally guaranteed, and a Mandarin drake was again seen at Stithians Reservoir in the week.

Noteworthy non-bird bits from the county this week included a Hummingbird Hawkmoth at RNAS Culdrose, with 10 Atlantic Blue-fin Tuna amongst good numbers of the smaller cetaceans seen on a kayak trip off Penzance on the 18th, 168 Grey Seal off Mutton Cove, Godrevy on the 20th and an Otter at Walmsley Sanctuary on the 24th.

We’re coming up to the end of the year; are there any new good birds still out there undiscovered to add to the county yearlist? A week to go and hopefully plenty of birding opportunities, if a little unlikely that any major cold-weather movements will take place.

Following on from mentioning the scarcities to be recorded in Cornwall on the Bird Sightings page, here is a list of the ‘blue-grey’ scarcities which may be encountered in the bird news pages:

>>Scarce Cornwall Birds<<

Finally, if you can find the time this holiday period please have a look at the listings of rarer birds seen in the county in 2015 and 2016 (click to view) please read and contact us or the county recorder if you can help with a description or provide further details for publication in BiC and the county record. It would be a great shame to lose these records.

Dan Chaney, 25th Dec

Weekly Review 11th – 17th dec 2017

The major event of the week was an all-too brief (one afternoon) Snowy Owl at Chapel Carn Brea on the Penwith Moors in the west of the county, presumably making bird of the month for those who were able to connect in the area. The bird was last seen to fly off towards St Just before dusk, hotly pursued by corvids, having been flushed by local ponies.

Snowy Owl, Alex McKechnie

The hope of course is that the bird will be re-located – there is plenty of habitat and with fairly poor weather at the moment it still pretty much likely to be out there (spoiler alert for next week – see the recent sightings page!!) This bird, a female, is thought to probably be the bird reported on Bryher, Scillies a few days previously.

This follows on from a good run of birds in recent years making Cornwall something of a hotspot for this species now that birds are no longer regularly to be found breeding in the past in the far north of the British Isles (Fetlar in the 60s/70s) and regular wintering birds being short of late.

A single record of Pacific Diver was received this week of the one bird at Mounts Bay on the 16th.


The Lesser Scaup was again reported from Dozmary Pool on the 11th and 16th, along with the Ring-necked Duck on the 11th only, with the 2 Surf Scoter again at Porthpean on several dates. A Velvet Scoter was briefly seen in Penzance Harbour on the 17th.

Cattle Egrets put in appearances with 2 still at St Erth on the 12th, 1 at Dinham Flats on the Camel on the 15th, and 8 in a cattle field at Newtown St Mary on the Lizard on the 17th

A single Great White Egret was seen flying over Walmsley Sanctuary on the 15th, and the Glossy Ibis at Kingsmill Lake in the east of the county was reported at least twice during the week.

The American Golden Plover was again seen on the 11th and 12th at Hayle

An un-aged and near-adult Caspian Gull were recorded at Hayle on the 11th and 16th, with what was presumed to be the same bird as that of the 16th seen by Jubilee Pool, Penzance the following day.

Caspian Gull, Dean Nicholson

A Ring-billed Gull was at Hayle on the 12th, with a hybrid Lesser Black-back/Herring Gull on the 16th.

A probable Ring-necked Parakeet (aka Rose-ringed Parakeet) of unknown origin was reported from Penlee Gardens in Penzance on the 17th – previous records this year include a known escape from Paradise Park near Hayle and a presumed ‘genuine’ bird in the east near Plymouth

A single Hawfinch was recorded at Feock on the 17th (along with an impressive 200 Greenfinch in the area.)


Pink-footed Goose was seen at Treraven Meadows on the Camel on the 15th and near Lostwithiel on the Fowey on the 11th (same bird?).

A Glaucous Gull was at Gillan Creek on the 15th, whilst the Iceland Gull remained at Coverack.

A single Snow Bunting was seen at Lizard Point on the 15th. Siberian Chiffchaffs (or presumed Siberian Chiffchaffs) were seen at College Reservoir, Lizard Point and Sandy Cove, Newlyn (2) during the week, with the only Yellow-browed Warbler in gardens at the latter site on the 12th.

Pink-footed Goose – Rupert Kirkwood

tristis-type Chiffchaff, Tony Mills

Waterfowl continued to trickle into the region, with 9 Pintail at Walmsley and 4 at Stithians, the Scaup at the latter site also being seen again on the 16th, with the Siblyback bird (same as previously?) on the 11th.

A high count of 7 Water Rail was noted at Swanpool on the evening of the 16th, with 102 Sanderling off Marazion and 76 Avocet at Wacker Quay other interesting counts. In seawatching news, 2500 Kittiwake and 2 Great Skua were reported past Lizard Point on the 15th. Porthpean hosted 21 Great Northern Diver on the 17th, with a Pomarine Skua feeding and on the sea there too on the 17th

There were 2 Red Kite sightings on the lizard, with the only Hen Harrier reported recently being at Chapel Carn Brea on the 11th.

The Brambling flock near the Helford was relocated with a flock of 200 feeding near Trebah Gardens on the 15th, with 30 there 2 days later, and 6 Corn Bunting were at Whipsiderry.

Firecrest sightings remained high, with the highest count of 6 in pines near Truro on the 11th

Blackcap sightings continue to increase, up from 6 last week to 16 sites this week; there do genuinely seem to be a lot about this winter. Is recording being slightly skewed by the current Blackcap survey and people being on the lookout for them, or is it a genuine increase?  See the CBWPS page dedicated to Cornwall sightings and behavioural observations on the website Here , for more on Blackaps and behavioural notes (accessible in the drop down ‘Recent Sightings menu), in addition to the BTO Blackcap Colour-ringed Survey page .

Dan Chaney, 20th December


Weekly Review 4th -10th December 2017

A quiet week on the whole in terms of new birds and remaining Cornwall rarities as we move into the winter. Pacific Divers were reported from Gerrans Bay and Mounts Bay on the same day again, with both reported on the 4th; no other reports received of either although viewing conditions have not been great since with rough weather continuing.

The Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Duck remained at Dozmary, with the 2 Surf Scoter seen at Porthpean on the 4th. 4 Barnacle Geese of unknown origin were seen at Polbathic Creek on the Tamar on the 10th.

American Golden Plover, Mike McKee

3 Cattle Egret remained at St Erth on the 4th, dropping to 1 on the 8th and the Glossy Ibis remained at Kingsmill Lake on the Tamar Estuary. A single Spoonbill remained on the Hayle Estuary.

The American Golden Plover remained on the Hayle until the 9th at least.

A first winter (1w) Caspian Gull was on the Hayle Estuary on the 9th, with single Yellow-legged Gulls seen at 4 sites around the county.

A Little Bunting was at Nanjizal again on the 9th. Only 3 Hawfinch were seen in the county, with one at China Fleet Sailing Club at Saltash on the 8th and 9th.  Finally, in terms of Cornwall rarities, a  Rose-coloured Starling was at Mullion on the 4th.


Up to 30 Common Scoter were seen in Mounts Bay, with single Eider remaining off Penzance and Hannafore. Goosander were at 4 sites, with 13 at Helston Loe Pool the highest count. Long-tailed Ducks were at Porthpean and in St Austell Bay.

The highest Great Northern Diver count was of 20 in Gerrans Bay on the 5th, with 6 Black-throated Divers there on the 4th. Good news this week that the area including Gerrans Bay, from Falmouth to St Austell has been officially designated a ‘Special Protection Area’ (Falmouth SPA),with extra protection for the wintering seabirds along the coastline and in the Carrick Roads.

The Iceland Gull at Coverack was last seen on the 4th. Seawatching saw a single pale-phase Arctic Skua past Pendeen on the 7th, with a pale-phase Pomarine Skua in Mounts Bay on the 10th.

Single Red Kites were seen at Goonhilly Downs, Lizard and Columb St Major, with a Merlin and Short-eared Owl on the Hayle Estuary and at Crugmeer near Padstow.

Firecrests continued to be widely scattered, with the highest count being of 6 at Swanpool on the 7th. There was also a Yellow-browed Warbler at Swanpool on two dates and another at Illogan, Redruth on the 9th. The Lesser Redpoll flock was reported again on the 4th with 7 birds seen. Six Lapland Buntings were on the Penwith Moors and a single Water Pipit remained at Lamorna.

Swallows were reported at Hannafore again and Crowlas on the 4th and 9th respectively. A recently fledged Woodpigeon, accompanied by two adults, was noted in Penzance; they are one of the few British species known to breed throughout the year but it is nice to have a definite record now and then to verify.

An unseasonal Minke Whale off Newlyn on the 4th would probably be the non-avian highlight of the week.

Finally, Blackcaps were reported from 6 sites – do continue to look out for colour-ringed birds – over 50 birds have been colour-ringed so far this winter in the Falmouth area. See the Blackcap page for more details of the study if you haven’t done so already.

Dan Chaney

Weekly review – 27th November to 3rd December 2017

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.

Alan James

Bob Sharples

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