Weekly Roundup 6th – 12th March 2017

The main event this week was the sighting of a Baillon’s Crake at St Levan for one lucky observer. The bird was seen to fly in to Porthchapel beach in the morning of the 10th for a brief while before then flying off towards Porthgwarra. As far as in-off records go that has to be a pretty amazing record, irregardless of whether the observer was engaged in a proper seawatch at the time. Although the bird was subsequently looked for there was of course no further sign – one small bird in a mass of potential habitat (for a tired migrant).

This represents the sixth county record, the last being of a one day bird at Stithians Reservoir on the 6th May 1995; an adult male. Prior to that it was previously recorded in 1877, 1858 and with two undated records prior to 1858.

Unfortunately only the very lucky observer can count this one as their personal bird of the week, but just goes to show what can turn up..

Still no news of either the Pacific Diver or Hudsonian Whimbrel this week, although don’t think anyone should be complaining too much – it rather looks as if Spring has arrived instead. Aside the Baillon’s Crake, the second half of the week saw the first Wheatears, with Sand Martins into double figures, and an impressive flock of 6 Garganey;  5 drakes and a female at Par Beach Pool on the 10th. And even some sunshine (especially on the Sunday), when a flurry of Sand Martins hit widely scattered locations throughout the county.

The Bonaparte’s Gull was reported daily from Helston Boating Lake, except for the Wednesday, and possibly not present that day; it had been seen to fly distantly south on Tuesday, and has also been reported from Loe Pool (to the south). A report of a possible 1st winter from a moving vehicle in Penzance on the 9th could well relate to an exploratory foray by the Helston bird or not.

The Penzance Bay Little Gull remained largely faithful to the Long Rock area all week, a Yellow-legged Gull was at Hayle on the 9thand the Ring-billed Gull remained on the Gannel  Estuary. With a Glaucous Gull at Cape Cornwall on the 10th and another at Hayle. Iceland Gull reports dropped a little, with birds still at Hayle amongst other places.

A Sandwich Tern was at Gorrangorras on the Penryn River on the 6th, perhaps the same at Gyllyngvase Beach on the 11th, with another at Penzance on the 10th. Presumed early migrants, or possibly a wandering UK winter bird.

A Manx Shearwater was seen off Swanpool on one date; put into context we understand that they have been regular in small numbers throughout the winter months from Lizard Point. Few other seawatching records received this week.

A Bittern was seen at Marazion after a relatively long period of no reports, the Spoonbill still at Hayle, but no reports from Walmesly. Cattle Egret reports were down, with 6 on the Gannel Estuary, 2 on West Penwith, 5 on Bude Marshes, 5 at Caerhays Castle and 1 at Millbrook.

Waders on the move included a handful of Black-tailed Godwits perhaps, 15 Grey Plover at Hayle and 500 Golden Plover flock over Connor Downs. 65 Turnstone and 9 Purple Sandpiper were at Penzance with 50 Sanderling along the beach at Marazion including a dutch-ringed bird.

12 Great Crested Grebes were at Porth Reservoir (a good count for a single Cornwall location), offshore 5 Slavonian Grebes were seen near Pendower Beach, 1 Black-necked Grebe at Drift still and 16 Black-necked Grebe in the Carrick Roads on the 9th.

Aside the Garganey flock mentioned there were few other notable wildfowl records beside the long-staying drake Lesser Scaup on Dozmary Pool and Greater Scaup at College Reservoir; 2 Mute Swan on Dozmary Pool, with 4 Goosander still at Hayle. Most dabbling ducks reducing with Wigeon still hanging on in reduced numbers at most sites, although 155 were still at Hayle. Offshore there were still 2 Velvet Scoter off Long Rock and 27 Red-breasted Merganser in the Carrick Roads mid-week.

The first Swallows were 3 together at Polzeath on the 11th, with 1 at Polgigga the same date. Two House Martin were seen over Newquay on the 10th, with 1 at Longrock Pool on the 12th. There were 3 Sand Martin at Long Rock Pool on the 10th; up to 30 there on the 12th, and then scattered widely across the whole county by that date (the Sunday), with 35 at Drift the highest count.

Single Wheatears were at St Gothian Sands and Towan Head on the 11th, and Colliford Reservoir, Treen and Predanack areas on the 12th, with a White Wagtail on the moor at Porthgwarra (perhaps chanced upon by crake seekers) on the 12th.

Yellow-browed Warblers were still at Swanpool (2 mid-week), Tehidy Country Park and 2 still on Penryn University campus. 3 Firecrest at Kenidjack on the 11th the only record. There were more Siberian Chiffchaff reports dotted about.

Black Redstarts continued to be reported from a variety of locations.

35 Siskin and 1 Lesser Redpoll in Morrisons Carpark on 8th at Bodmin were noteworthy; birds are known for wandering a little more widely at this time of year prior to reaching breeding sites as natural food sources dry up.

The normal cetaceans were reported in the Falmouth area, along with a Risso’s Dolphin amongst the commoner species (an offshore report from AK Wildlife Cruises),  Mounts Bay held 12 Bottlenose Dolphin on the 6th, and an Otter was seen at Drift Reservoir (also note that they have been regular at College Reservoir over the last year, based on carp casualties).  On the butterfly side there were a couple of Small Tortoiseshells on the south coast and 2 Painted Lady butterflies were encountered in the Treen Cliff/Logan Rock area on the Sunday – certainly early migrants. More to come?

Spring not quite here with a vengeance yet, but certainly starting to happen; Skylarks singing, nest building from our resident species and the very first waves of migrants appearing.

Not going to make any predictions bird-wise for the coming week – who would have predicted an early Baillon’s Crake as the headline bird this week gone?

Weather looks to be a bit milder, gloomy and a bit blustery from the west for the coming week. Guess that is what we call Spring.

Weekly Roundup 27th Feb – 5th March 2017

A Summary of this week’s birding news in Cornwall.

The headline bird this week was certainly the first winter Bonaparte’s Gull found at Helston Boating Lake late on Sunday morning. With the last accepted bird in Cornwall being of an adult at Siblyback on the 15 & 16th of May 2013, this was always going to be a popular bird and it performed very well indeed to a steady stream of birders in the slightly incongruous setting of a popular toddler and dog walking park (the boats will come into use when the weather warms up a little perhaps). Only slightly incongruous  – rare birds such as these seem to favour such sites at times – and plenty of gulls and waterfowl to draw a rarity in. And coming to bread not a problem either. If this bird stays it could prove popular … a cracking little bird.

Back to the rest of the weeks news and there were no reports of the Pacific Diver received this week, and none of the Hudsonian Whimbrel since Monday; could that really be it for this winter? Previous winters have seen the last reported date for the Pacific Diver being between 3rd and 25th March, with a few outliers, so hope is not totally lost.

Gulls did seem to be the main interest this week with a couple of records of first winter Little Gull proving popular with one at Coverack and one off Marazion and area from Monday onwards; the latter still lingering to the weeks end.

The 1st winter Ring-billed Gull was again reported from the Gannel, with Glaucous Gulls reported from Newtown St Martin and Falmouth Docks, and with Iceland Gulls at Polgigga, Porth Reservoir, Sennen, Nanjizal, Trevilley, Hayle, Coverack and 3 together at Lamorna. Although with some degree of overlap presumably; a fair few birds still involved. The odd Yellow-legged Gull was also reported.

A second year Kumlien’s Gull was also seen at Trevilley, with the rarest of all (and maybe the most interesting for larophiles) of course being the American Herring Gull (1stw) at Polgigga on the Sunday too.

Cattle Egret numbers have risen back again with maximum of 16 at Loe Pool (after the roost seemed to disperse after disturbance by helicopter last week), 7 on the Gannel Estuary and an impressive 18 at St Clements. One at Tehidy Country Park was at a new site during the week. 14 were  at Loe Pool on the Sunday and 12 at Frenchman’s Creek on the other side of the Lizard the same day. Same or different … ? You’d like to think different …

The Spoonbill was still reported from the Hayle, with the 2 Walmsley birds still reported midweek. Spotted Redshank also reported from there, with 3 Greenshank at Gorrangorras

The Red-necked Grebe was seen intermittently in Falmouth Bay, with 2 Slavonian Grebe on one date also, 17+ Great Northern Diver off Penzance, with odd divers elsewhere.

2 Barnacle Geese of unknown origin were at Polbathic Creek and a female Mandarin was at Porth Reservoir (approaching anglers). Other wildfowl records included a drake Gadwall at Marazion, 2 female Pintail and 1 Goldeneye still at Stithians, and 11 Pintail and 15 Gadwall at Walmsley. Ten Goosander still on Loe Pool. The Lesser Scaup was still reported up to the weekend, with the Greater Scaup still at College Reservoir.

Offshore, 2 Velvet Scoter and 1 Common Scoter (all female) remained off Marazion, with 8 Common Scoter on the Saturday off Longrock, a female Eider off nearby Penzance, and a drake also on at least one date.

Seawatching reports were down, although a Balearic Shearwater was reported from Lamorna Cove, a Great Skua from Falmouth on the 3rd, with 1 Great Skua and 1 dark phase Arctic Skua from Pendeen on the 28th  and 1 Pomarine Skua reported from Jubilee Pool and Mousehole area again.

And so to the passerines and another would-be bird of the week, a rather early House Martin.

This, the first spring migrant proper of the year, was recorded at Coverack on the 3rd and 4th. There have been a few other February records of House Martin in the UK; but still very unusual to have records this early, with the species usually being a later migrant than both Sand Martin and Swallow. Data from the BTO indicates spring migrants are arriving earlier, but the suspicion would have to be that these House Martins have wintered in Spain or North Africa as a few do, rather than being genuine sub-saharan migrants??

There were c.500 Chaffinch in a weedy field next to Bickland Trading Estate in Falmouth, with 2 Woodlark over Lanhydrock golf course on the afternoon of the 27th and a Water Pipit at Trevilley.

Yellow-browed Warblers were seen at Helston Sewage Works on the Sunday, with birds still on UoE campus in Penryn, Tehidy and 2 at Swanpool. The latter site also hosted 2 Firecrest, 1 Siberian Chiffchaff, 2 Nuthatch and a Treecreeper on one occasion. 150+ Redwing at Loe Pool were the only sizeable number reported recently, with singing Cetti’s Warblers there and at Marazion.

Black Redstart reports came in from a range of locations and possibly represent an increase as birds start to move.

Grey Herons on nests at Marazion and garden birds included Bullfinch, with the Crowlas Brambling now into its second month (we’ll stop mentioning it soon perhaps), 2 Siskin at Penwithick and a Firecrest in Truro.

Harbour Porpoises continued to show in Falmouth Bay, with 3 adults and 2 calves on one date, with a few other reports of cetaceans elsewhere. No other interesting mammal or invertebrate records. Completely unrelated to this report the first Crocodile Shark for the UK (a tropical water species from Brazil and the like) was discovered on a Devon beach this week. Things are out there …

More wet and wild weather to come … spring still seems a way off at times.

Some more gratuitous Bonaparte’s pics – we received a fair few on the day …

 I Maclean 1  I Maclean 2  Dougy Wright
Phil Taylor M Spicer 2  M Spicer 1

Bonaparte’s Gull – from top left, clockwise – Ilya Maclean (2), Dougy Wright, Mike Spicer (2), Phil Taylor, below – Dan Chaney

d chaney


Weekly Roundup 20-26th February 2017

A Summary of this week’s birding news in Cornwall.

Milder than recent weeks, with some pleasant sunny days and blustery at times..

A quieter week again, birdwise. No surprise in that the Hudsonian Whimbrel and Pacific Diver were both still reported, the diver only reported once midweek though. Sea conditions may well have partially contributed to that (or it decided to hang out further offshore) – as the nearby Hudsonian was reported almost daily for a change.

There were fewer Cattle Egrets reported this week, with one completely egret-free day midweek. However numbers on Sunday were back up, with reports of 7, 12 and 15+ being reported at weeks’ end on the 26th, on the Gannel Estuary, Truro, and the Helford. Fairly widely spaced …

The Spoonbill remained on the Hayle, with the two birds still at Walmesley on the 23rd.

The Lesser Scaup at Dozmary Pool was still present throughout (although no news on the Mute Swan there), but no reports of the other rare wildfowl. The drake Scaup was still at College Reservoir, with 15 Red-breasted Merganser in the Carrick Roads and 11 Pintail at Walmesly comprising the most interesting non-seawatching records. There were also 135 Wigeon at the latter site.

The Avocet was still at Hayle for the first part of the week at least, with Spotted Redshanks at Kingsmill and Tresillian. A singe Purple Sandpiper at Pendennis Point the first there this year, with the 2 Ruff at Walmesley still; 160 Golden Plover there included a full summer plumaged male.

The only gull of any real note was the Ring-billed Gull on the Gannel Estuary midweek. However, Glaucous Gulls increased from 1 to 3 at least, with juveniles seen at Mousehole, Coverack and St Austell, with a slightly higher number of Iceland Gulls seen at various locations. Common Gull numbers were up, with 19 at Padstow, and Mediterranean Gulls also starting to be increasingly reported; 18 on the Tresilian River on the 23rd a site record, along with good numbers of Black-headed Gull counts (a fair few now acquiring their dark chocolate brown hoods);

1 Slavonian Grebe and 7 Black-necked Grebe were in the Carrick Roads, with the Red-necked Grebe off Falmouth still and 2 Black-necked Grebes reported at Drift on the 24th only.

Seawatching was productive for some, with 7 Common Eider past Falmouth on the 23rd and 2 Velvet Scoter, 2 Common Scoter, 5 Red-throated Diver, 10 Black-throated Diver and 2 Manx Shearwater past Lizard Point on the 24th.The 23rd was the best day for reports from traditional sites on the north-facing coast, with 1 Great Skua and 622 Fulmar in a 2 hour seawatch from Cape Cornwall, 4 Great Skua, 4 Red-throated Diver, 1 Manx Shearwater and a significant passage of c7500 Fulmar in a 4 hour seawatch from Pendeen, with 4 Balearic Shearwater from Godrevy Point completing the picture.

Pomarine Skuas were seen from Lands End and Penzance, with 2 at the latter off Jubilee Pool on the 26th.

Merlin, Short-eared Owl and Hen Harrier were all reported once, as was Sparrowhawk. It has been reported that this has been a very poor winter for Sparrowhawk records; the situation in Cornwall reflecting a genuine problem, or birds just being under-reported?

A Water Pipit was at Hayle, with 3 Lapland Bunting at Polgigga. Six Willow Tits at Lower Tamar Lake a heartening count, but few other notable passerine species reported this week. c70 Pied Wagtails reported pre-roost from St Ives the only sizeable gathering reported recently.

Yellow-browed Warblers were still reported from Tehidy Country Park, College Reservoir and Swanpool, with Siberian Chiffchaffs at the latter site and at Helston Sewage Works.

14 Chough over Cape Cornwall is a good count for Cornwall by any standards.

Signs of spring were apparent with displaying Great Crested Grebes (including a pair at Argal Reservoir making Birdguides pic of the week), singing Blackcaps (including 5 in Truro), drumming Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a flock of c50 Redwing singing/in sub-song pre-roost at College Reservoir.

The mammal highlight was of a Minke Whale not far offshore from Pendennis Point, Falmouth on the 23rd, an interesting winter record. No other cetacean reports received, although interestingly a Humpbacked Whale was off the south coast of Devon the same day. Early butterflies included Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell in Malpas and Truro, presumably brought out of hibernation by the warm sunshine on the day.

Highlight for some this week will have been the joint CBWPS/BTO/Univeristy of Exeter seabirds conference in Penryn this Saturday, ‘Above and Beyond the Cornish Coast’. Thanks to all who worked towards organising this, the speakers, and attendees. An excellent event by all accounts, photos and some interesting snippets highlighted on the cbwps twitter feed (direct link from the cbwps pages twitter feed; you don’t have to be on twitter itself to view) or using the #cornishbirds17 hashtag.

Back outside, and with the first spring migrants proper (Wheatear, Sand and House Martins) being reported elsewhere in the country, it feels like the first summer migrant could turn up any day now, although spring proper should still be a way off …

A bit of a return to winter on the cards for the following week, with wintry showers and blowy conditions forecast.


Weekly Roundup 13 -19th February 2017

A Summary of this week’s birding news in Cornwall.

Milder than recent weeks, with some pleasant sunny days amidst the greyness.

No change on the major rarities this week with both the nationally rare birds in Cornwall still present, the Pacific Diver reported on the 18th and the Hudsonian Whimbrel reported most days. Interestingly two more individuals of the mega rare Pacific Diver have surfaced in the last week or two, one up north somewhere (a reservoir in Northumberland), the other off Broadsands in neighbouring Devon. But why have they seemingly just arrived? …

The Cattle Egret situation still remains largely unresolved, but flocks of 14+ and 16 at Loe Pool and Ruan Lanihorne on the 17th indicate that a minimum of 30 are definitely involved. Counts of 6 and 7 nearby could have related to the same birds, but the odd birds scattered elsewhere in the county were not reported over that same 3 day period; absent or unreported?

The two adult Spoonbill were at Walmsley still on the 15th, with the juv Hayle bird on the same date.

The Green-winged Teal on the Hayle was reported throughout, whilst reports of the Dozmary Pool Lesser Scaup were received on 3 days, but there was no news of the American Wigeon. Scarce ducks included the drake Scaup remaining at College Reservoir (along with 2 Goldeneye still), 2 Velvet Scoter off Marazion mid week, with a drake Eider off Penzance, with 3 more Goldeneye at Dozmary Pool. Goosander reports include a pair in flight over Stithians on the 13th, with a pair at nearby College Reservoir 2 days later. Two were at Hayle still, with a massive 36 at Lower Tamar Lake. The Long-tailed Duck was at Portscatho still, along with a late report of 2 at St John’s Lake in the east of the county, along with a female Eider and 5 Brent Geese (4 dark and 1 pale-bellied).

Potential escaped/exotic wildfowl include the Mandarin pair still at Drift Reservoir; the normal male and the white variant female, a Bar-headed Goose with the Canada Geese at Sibleyback, and now 2 Egyptian Geese at Millbrook (previously down to 1 after the loss of a mate); a second bird of unknown origin having just recently materialised. The Barnacle Goose of unknown origin remained at Walmsley and there was a more tickable Greylag Goose at Drift, so as long as it’s appearance (ie without the fat posterior rear end of a farmyard goose) is in alignment. The hybrid Greylag/Canada Goose also there is definitely no good to anyone however. Muscovy Ducks are also around and about and maybe under-reported, with birds seen at Drift and College Reservoirs.

Little controversy to be had on the waders though – the Avocet remained at Hayle, with no reports received of the Tresillian birds. 100 Sanderling at Marazion beach, roost of 37 Purple Sandpipers at nearby Jubilee Pool and a sprinkling of Green and Common Sandpiper the other interesting reports;  overwintering birds perhaps as opposed to spring migrants; although an apparent increase in Grey Plover numbers may represent some movement. 1500 Lapwing, 1100 Golden Plover and 195 Black-tailed Godwit at Walmesly Sanctuary were good numbers.

Two Iceland Gulls at Helston were again reported on one date, with 3 at Ardan-Sawah Farm and odd birds scattered elsewhere. 1st winter Ring-billed Gull, 1st winter Caspian Gull, juvenile Iceland Gull and 2 (ad/2w) Yellow-legged Gulls were at Hayle on the 13th with similar on the 14th. The Ring-billed Gull on the Gannel Estuary was also seen again.

An unseasonal Great Skua was reported past Towan Head, Newquay on the 16th, and an Arctic Skua off Mount’s Bay on the 19th.

Other seabird records included a notable upturn in Red-throated Diver reports, mostly in the east of the county with 53 in Mother Ivey’s Bay, 7 in Newquay Bay and 20 west past Towan Head, and scattered records elsewhere.  A good auk passage (c20/minute) was noted off Tintagel.

Otherwise it remained seasonally quiet; no reports from the Carrick Roads, although a Red-necked Grebe was seen off Falmouth, and inland a Black-necked Grebe at Stithians still (none reported from Drift this week), Great Crested Grebe numbers would seem to be building up, with displaying birds to be seen at multiple sites.

Female Marsh Harrier at Windmill Farm, a roadside Merlin near Praze, and a ring-tailed (female or imm) Hen Harrier at Men-an-Tol comprise the most interesting raptors reported.

The hoped-for Waxwing invasion sadly never took off – no reports received this week. However, rarer nationally at least (and the rarest passerine this week in Cornwall), the Nanjizal Little Bunting remained throughout and showing rather well at times.

Yellow-browed Warbler reports dropped slightly, although the Falmouth area still remained the hotspot for this species with the Swanpool bird (or one of them) showing well and another at College Reservoir a good find (or re-find) for the CBWPS bird walk there. Another bird was seen at Tehidy Country Park. Siberian Chiffchaffs were seen at Swanvale and Bude Marshes, with 3 Firecrest at Gwennap Sewage Works and 1 at Ryan’s Field.

Trevose Head hosted 20 Lapland Bunting, 4 Corn Bunting, 6 Yellowhammer, and good flocks of c.300 Linnet and c.150 Skylark. A Water Pipit on the Hayle, another Lapland Bunting reported (Sennen), the garden Brambling still and further reports of Willow Tit were received along with a Woodlark at Trevilley.

Long-tailed Tits with nesting material in a private garden, with bird song all around now, including garden Blackcap. Two Yellowhammer in a Rock garden (a garden in the village of Rock) were good.

The earliest Adders ever at the Windmill Farm reserve were recorded on the 16th, with 2 seen. Harbour Porpoises were recorded with 5 at Towan Head and 6 off Swanpool, a good record there, along with 15 dolphin sp.; whilst a huge school of Common Dolphin and Harbour Porpoise were off Mount’s Bay at the weeks end.

Mild and mizzly weather to come …



Weekly Roundup 5 -12th February 2017

A Summary of this week’s birding news in Cornwall.

Turning a touch colder but less windy than of late. Some clear skies and frosty nights.

Both headline nationally rare birds, the Hudsonian Whimbrel at Perranuthnoe and the Pacific Diver only a handful of miles away in Penzance Bay remained, although the former reported only a couple of times and the latter just once, on Saturday 11th

The Cattle Egret influx continued to engage and mystify as birds seemingly moved around at random – just how many birds are involved? All Little Egret flocks, random cattle fields and even isolated trees should seemingly be checked! It would seem that at least a couple of dozen birds are involved (it could conceivably be twice that many, although perhaps unlikely) but with birds not remaining settled we shall have to see. Numbers down a little this week, with birds reported this week including 10 or 11 (with cattle!) at Ruan Lanihorne and 5 at St Clements, presumably accounting for most of the 12+ seen at the Devoran roost, with up to 2 at St Erth, and up to 2 at Millbrook.

A Great White Egret was reported at Bude Marshes on the 8th the only other heron of note, with up to 4 Spoonbill at Kingsmill and the immature bird still on the Hayle Estuary

The American Wigeon on Kingsmill Lake was reported on the 6th and 8th, with a first winter drake Green-winged Teal on the Hayle on the 11th – presumably the same bird as a few weeks earlier but having gone missing somewhere betweentimes.

The long-staying (and returning) Lesser Scaup at Dozmary Pool was again reported. Much rarer in local terms was the immature Mute Swan on the WeBS count there on the 12th – the first since November 1985 apparently!

Gulls are always a big pull in Cornwall, and Ring-billed Gull continued to tick the boxes in the national scarcity stakes, with a 1st winter on the Gannel and an adult at Hayle on the 7th. Almost rarer in Cornwall (probably increasing, whilst also having been overlooked in the past), both Yellow-legged Gull and Caspian Gull were found at the gull metropolis of the Hayle Estuary, a second winter Yellow-legged on the 7th and the immature Caspian on the 9th/10th. Another (or same) Caspian Gull was at Mousehole on the 12th, along with a Kumlien’s Gull (a proper rare bird anywhere) the same date.

Iceland Gulls in general put in a good showing this week, with 8 or so birds seen, including 2 birds together at Helston Boating Lake, although only one Glaucous Gull was seen, at Mevagissey.

The Hayle also hosted an Avocet from the 5th onwards, a major rarity away from the far south east of the county. Having said that, 3 near Tresemple Pool in the Truro area on the 5th themselves were noteworthy. 3 Ruff were at Walmsley sanctuary on the 12th, along with a Barnacle Goose (of unknown origin?).

On the sea, Gerrans Bay held 39 Great Northern Diver,1 Black-throated Diver, 1 Red-necked Grebe, 7 Common Scoter, and 1 Long-tailed Duck on the 5th. In more sheltered waters a Red-necked Grebe was also on the Helford, with Black-necked Grebes still at Drift Reservoir (2) and the Carrick Roads (11). A 2 hour seawatch off Rosemullion Head returned 310 Gannet, 23 Mediterranean Gull and 1 1st winter Iceland Gull flying south on the 6th. There were few other reports of interesting seabirds this week.

In terms of non-rarities, the winter has remained a good one for certain species, most notably Woodcock reports; 8 at Gluvian on the 12th this weeks offering. Owls and raptors were represented with both Hen Harrier and Marsh Harrier on the Lizard, with the former at both Sancreed and Can Orchard Station, and a couple of Merlin and a Short-eared Owl at Roseannon Downs, with a Peregrine seen flying over the A30 near Bodmin proving that you should always be on the lookout for interesting birds.


In terms of Cornwall rarities, the other big news was that this years Waxwing influx may just now be creeping into Cornwall, with a handful of birds reported, each only seen by the initial observer unfortunately. Following on from the Penzance bird seen by a non-birder a couple of weeks ago, single birds were at Devoran on the 9th and at Cooksland, Bodmin on the 11th on red crab apples, with a third bird at Belowda near Goss Moor discovered by a birder taking part in the CBWPS Willow Tit survey. The birds could be well be relocated nearby … and in any case all birders should be keeping their eyes peeled for odd birds turning up anywhere a potential food source can be found! (berries or red fruit especially).

Another Cornwall rarity, a Great Grey Shrike, presumably the bird seen a couple of months earlier only 400m away at Windmill Farm in November popped up again down on the Lizard on the 5th – plenty of cover and poor weather and presumably it has remained hunkered down away from view betweentimes, although they can range widely.

At the tail end of the week a Little Bunting was at Nanjizal, with 4 Lapland Buntings also nearby. Other interesting passerine sightings include the 12 Lapland Bunting with 60 Linnet and 200 Skylark at North Cliffs, up slightly on earlier weeks, with 4 Water Pipits at Walmesly Sanctuary on the 12th.

Sewage works are good for warblers and crests, with multiple Yellow-browed Warblers seen and ringed, whilst Carnon Downs Sewage Works produced a Chiffchaff that was originally ringed at Portland Bird Observatory, Dorset on 19th October. 5 Siberian Chiffchaff at Gwennap Works is a high count for anywhere. Firecrests were also scattered about. Two Yellow-browed’s at Swanpool were noteworthy;with 3 on the Univeristy of Exeter (UoE) campus at Penryn being much more so; perhaps down to birder density? and although tree/shrub diversity is good, makes you wonder how many more could be out there in the county at large … another being seen in a Porthleven garden on the 12th increases the tally by one.

Surveyors taking part in the CBWPS Willow Tit survey came across 2 Willow Tit and 1 Marsh Tit and managed to ring one of each.

Garden birds included Blackcaps and Long-tailed Tits photographed on members garden feeders, with a Brambling in a private Crowlas garden being a rather good bird this year.

There were no interesting mammal or lepidoptera sightings, aside a handful of Porpoise and Bottlenose or unidentified dolphins, but a spate of dead dolphins (cause unknown) washed up over the last week or so is obviously worrying (per Twitter).

Looks like we are still in the grip of winter, with more stormy weather on the way, although temperatures look to rise. We wait to see what the coming week will bring … next week is National Nest Box Week, spring is apparently on its way …