Weekly Sightings Roundup 3rd -9th April 2017

There were no extra-special headline birds this week, but a good variety of incoming migrants were available towards the end of the week (for those in the right time and place only unfortunately), especially the Sunday 9th, with Red-rumped Swallow, Night Heron, Serin and a spring Wryneck being pick of the best; none were available for the masses.

The Woodchat Shrike remained at the Cot Valley. No news on the Lizard bird at Kynance after the 4th until the weeks end, although there were issues with folk going off the footpaths in the area and wandering farmer’s fields without permission (please take the time to read the guidelines on the website if you haven’t done so already). Unfortunately the hierarchy of importance comes in the order – birds first, landowners second, birders/photographers third! At this site the bird was actually viewable from the public access moorland side, so there wasn’t really any need to go off-piste in any case.

The 9th saw 2 Woodchat Shrikes in the West Penwith area, with a bird at Kynance again.

At Old Lizard Head a Hoopoe was seen to fly in off the sea and land in the field behind the old wooden lookout post on the 8th for one lucky observer.

A drake Garganey was at Hayle and a female at Amble Marshes on the 8th, regular non-migrants included the Pink-footed Goose still at Drift, along with a Greylag Goose and Goldeneye still. The Long-tailed Duck was still at Porthcurno to the 8th, and 4 Brent Geese were on the Gannel. A drake Eider was seemingly at home on Loe beach during the week, with a smart drake Pintail pitching up on Helston Boating Lake on the 9th.

What would be bird of the week, month or year even if it were to be proven wild would be the Fulvous Whistling Duck seen on the Hayle on the 9th, with presumably the same bird seen circling Marazion early that morning. The species does wander and has a good April/September track record with historical records from Morocco (12 in April 1971), Southern Spain and France. Unfortunately with one seen around Gwithian last year too, the odds, already low, remain stacked in favour of it being a feral/escaped bird from somewhere about.

Pendower beach saw 2 Black-throated Diver, 1 Slavonian Grebe and 23 Great Northern Diver on the 4th.

Two Spoonbill were still at Hayle on the 7th The (or more than one?) Great White Egret was again seen around the county; Crousa Downs on the 5th, Sennen on the 6th , and Amble marshes on the 7th.

The Camel Estuary saw 7 Cattle Egret and an impressive 56 Little Egret at the evening roost on the 7th, with birds reported daily in the county; Gannel 4, Clapper Marshes 6, St Clement 5 and St Erth with 2. No reports from the Lizard. Big news this week was of a Night Heron on a private lake (no public access) near St Ives on the 8th. With Purple Herons and a Little Bittern on the Isles of Scilly we are entering into prime time for overshooting/migrant herons from the continent

Jack Snipe at Stithians Reservoir on the 3rd was the first there for some years, although as a species probably vastly overlooked in the county as a whole, considering the amount of damp habitat they can (and do) hide in. There were 27 Purple Sandpiper at the high tide roost and 71 Turnstone at Penzance on the 8th, with 14 of the former at Lizard Point on the 8th. 1 Avocet remained at Kingsmill Lake from the wintering flocks with 14 Black-tailed Godwit, and there were 150 Golden Plover on Bodmin still. Migrants included 3 Little Ringed Plover at Amble Marshes on the 3rd and 3 Common Sandpiper at Stithians on the 8th. Walmesley also held 1 Ruff and 146 Black-tailed Godwit on the 4th, and there were 3 Whimbrel at Porthgwarra.

The Ring-billed Gull was seen at Hayle on the 3rd, 4th and 6th (1st winter on latter date), with a Yellow-legged Gull at Hayle on the 8th, and good numbers of Iceland Gull still; less scattered, but 3 birds seen at Hayle and Mousehole. No Glaucous Guls.

There was a reasonable amount of Red Kite activity, with single birds seen at Wadebridge, Nanquidno, Winnards Perch, Sancreed, Marazion, Plusha and Dobwalls, with doubles/two birds seen over Newquay, Land’s End and Polgigga. But possiby just a handful of birds accounting for all records?

An Osprey showed well, including with the catching of a fish, on the Hayle Estuary on the 7th, and was seen to go to roost that evening, with passage birds also seen on the Gannel on the 6th and Buttermilk Hill, St Ives on the 9th. A possible White-tailed Eagle was seen flying over very high at Tregorrick near St Austell on the 6th. An immature female Marsh Harrier was at Marazion on the 5th, with a female on the Lizard near Kynance.

Peregrine and Merlin records were received around the county, but no Hobbies this week after the early records in the last few weeks. Trevose Head hosted both a roosting Long-eared Owl and a passing Short-eared Owl on the 9th.

A Water Pipit was at Clapper Marshes on the 3rd. A change in the Sand Martin stakes saw Walmesley top the table with 250 on the 4th, with Bude scoring with 151+ Swallow flying over during a half hour period on the 6th the first notable count this year.

The first Red-rumped Swallow of the year was reported with a single briefly at Penberth on the afternoon of the 9th. Not quite in the same rarity bracket, but sadly becoming increasingly uncommon, an early Turtle Dove was at Trevose Head on the 9th on what was a good day for variety of migrants at that location.

Yellow-browed Warblers were in a Falmouth garden on the 3rd, with a bird in heavy body moult still at Little Trethewey on the 7th, a Firecrest the same date was in Liskeard, and the Siberian Chiffchaff at Marazion was heard singing during the week. A smart male Lapland Bunting was still at Trevose Head.

Spring passerine migrants continued to build up in numbers and variety; the first Reed Warbler on the 3rd at Hayle, Sedge Warbler at Drift and Common Redstart at Caerthillian on the 5th, and Tree Pipit at Sennen moors on the 7th.  Reed Warbler were at Marazion on the 5th, with further Sedge Warblers at Walmesley and Harlyn Pools on the 8th, and the first Grasshopper Warblers on the 9th at Trevose Head and Nanquidno.

See the First Spring Arrival dates section on the website for full details of the new migrants to Cornwall this year.

3 male Ring Ouzels at St Ives on the 8th would have been very nice, with another at Sancreed on the 7th, with another possible continental Stonechat at Porthgwarra (a nice male on the 9th), and there were 10+ Yellowhammer in the Newmill area, along with good numbers of Corn Bunting at a regular site. A Lesser Redpoll was at Trevose head on the 9th.

Birders in the Stithians and Penryn area (and possibly further afield) should keep an eye out for colour-ringed Jackdaws – part of a study by a University of Exeter student there. A hybrid Hooded/Carrion Crow was again seen near Lands End.

Nest building Goldcrests were seen, reed-bed nesting Grey Heron (slightly more unusual than the more expected tree-nesting sites) too, and spring continues apace.

The first Wall Brown butterfly report of the year was at Rame Head on the 6th, and Vagrant Emporers continued to be seen with one at Windmill Farm on the 7th; 2 Emporer Moths seen there too on that date. The first Hummingbird Hawkmoth of the year was reported from Dobwalls; presumably from the small resident population as opposed to a continental migrant.

An Otter was seen at Marazion on the 6th, with the commoner cetaceans offshore at various sites.

The forecast is for continued nice weather; whether that means the migrants pile in or not remains to be seen …

djc

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