Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Seabirds and Waders

I started my first day of birding on my week off at Trevose Head hoping for some left over seabirds from yesterdays big storm ( I really wish I had yesterday off!) , the very first bird I saw was a Great Skua but the seawatch didn't really get going and although I had a nice list of species after 3 hours I was ready to go and have a look at the Camel Estuary as the tide was dropping and it would be the perfect time to check for waders...

Pale phase adult Arctic Skua ( 5 Arctic Skuas where seen this morning)

I walked down to the confluence of the two rivers and waited patiently for the tide to drop, a juvenile Marsh Harrier ( presumably the bird from last Saturday) was quartering the saltmarsh and flushing the waders as it went, so although it was making my life difficult to see the waders well, I wasn't about to complain at the presence of this stunning raptor. All in all the estuary was fairly quiet and the hoped for rarity from America didn't appear ( although a small Caladris wader which at times reminded me of Bairds Sandpiper was watched with a single Dunlin and two Turnstone but I couldn't be sure of the ID , hopefully I will see it again during the week, although it is probably just an odd Dunlin).

Marsh Harrier

Continuing in my search for an American wader I then went to Davidstow Airfield , I was surprised that no other birders where  up there checking it ( the only people up there where picking shrooms!) but to be honest it was pretty dire , not a single small wader to be seen , however a rather odd double act of a Ruff and a Bar-tailed Godwit ( scarce here) made for nice photography....

Bar-tailed Godwit & Ruff


My last stop of the day was a quick look at Walmsley Sanctuary for an hour or so , 2 late Swift's , 8 Cattle Egrets and a Ruff rounded off an enjoyable day nicely... Hopefully tomorrows storm will produce more interesting birds...

Todays counts: Trevose Head: 1 Black-headed Gull, 57 Kittiwake, 13 Great Skua, 5 Arctic Skua, 8 Sandwich Tern, 2 Arctic Tern, 8 Common Tern, 1 Grey Phalarope, 3 Dunlin, 1 Sooty Shearwater.
Camel Estuary: 3 Knot, 3 Turnstone, 2 Dunlin, 1 Whimbrel, 24 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 33 Redshank, 1 Marsh Harrier. Davidstow Airfield: 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Ruff, 4 White Wagtail. Walmsley Sanctuary: 8 Cattle Egret, 1 Greenshank, 1 Ruff, 2 Swift

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Southern Turkey 2017

Turkey is a brilliant place for birding and in 5 days I saw an impressive 173 species of bird including 14 I had never seen before. What surprised me most about the country was how lush and green it was , especially in the hills... I will certainly go back in the next couple of years to do the eastern part of Turkey , don't be put off by the media , Turkey is very safe and the people are all very friendly , we had no problems at all when we where out there. Highlights of the holiday where seeing the recently re-discovered Brown Fish Owls ( one of the rarest birds in the world) and taking a trip up to the top of the Aladag mountains to see Raddes Accentor , Caspian Snowcock and Wallcreeper.

Black headed Bunting- very common in Turkey and easy to find

To see the Brown Fish Owl you must take a boat along a canyon and look up at their roosting site at dawn before they dissapear, which meant getting up at 3:30am! 

Photographing the Owl was difficult in the half light, but I'm happy with what I got

Eastern Black Redstart

Egyptian Vulture

Lesser Kestrel

Lesser Spotted Eagle, the surprise bird of the trip and a new Eagle for me! Just Steppe Eagle and Verreaux's Eagle left for me to see in the Western Palearctic

Olive Tree Warbler , very difficult to find as they had stopped singing, spent hours looking for them until this one shoed very well, a large warbler with a striking wing panel, shouldn't be too difficult to ID if it ever turns up in Cornwall

Red Fronted Serin, very common in the mountains, up to a hundred seen each day 

Upchers Warbler 

White-tailed Robin , bit of a dream bird! But up in the hills they seem to be quite common and if you went for a walk in the right habitat you would see one . I saw at least 6 males, 1 female and a juvenile during the week. 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Butterflies at Penhale and a White Stork on the Goss Moor

Today I met up with a friend from work and joined up with a Cornwall butterfly field trip at Penhale Sands near Perranporth. I was hoping to see Grizzled Skipper ( this is the only site in Cornwall for this species) but they are very scarce even here and are so small and difficult to locate that I wasn't sure we would see them. However after only 5 minutes of searching the group had found several of these smart little butterflies, even a couple of Taras individuals, a rare variant that has much more white in it's wings. The rest of the morning was spent exploring the dunes and learning from the experts about different moths and butterflies and seeing a stunning Emperor Moth which was my highlight. I was also keeping an eye out for birds and saw several Common Whitethroats, a singing Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Chiff chaffs , 2 Willow Warblers and 2 Swifts. 

Brown Argus

Grizzled Skipper

Dingy Skipper

Emperor Moth

Grizzled Skipper (Taras)

Garden Tiger Moth catterpillar , somewhat Porcupine like!

After lunch I met up with Pete to do some more ringing on the Goss Moor, we decided to set up at Tregoss and as we where putting up the first net  up we could hear a lot of commotion from a flock of gulls feeding in a ploughed field . They where really shouting and as they spiralled I could see a large bird just above them, foolishly I had left my binoculars with the rest of the ringing gear so I started to sprint back towards the car as this was certainly going to be something good ( A Crane or a Stork?)! I quickly picked up my binoculars and after getting my bearings I locked onto a large bird flying just above the skyline with deep slow wing beats, as it turned side on I shouted White Stork! This stunning bird however didn't stop for long and was soon heading east and gaining height, we jumped in the car and headed back towards Roche, checking any vantage point to hopefully see it again but sadly we did not, it was the first White Stork I have found in the county and a new bird for Pete! And a day we will remember for a long time....

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Lands End

I had half a day birding at Lands End today before heading home to catch up on work....

It was nice to see a variety of common migrants and to hear and see my first Lesser Whitethroat of the year. Wheatear's where in better numbers than usual with 25 spotted , I also saw the hybrid Crow x Hooded Crow which is a good learning bird and definitely not pure when compared with the Hoody seen at Trevose Head earlier in the spring...

Grey on the mantle would extend further down the back if it was a pure Hoody

It has the oak leaf pattern on the breast but in a pure bird the grey would extend beyond the breast all the way to the undertail coverts, I have seen similar birds in central Scotland in the past...

Spring Birding on The Lizard

It's been too long since I've written on the blog but now I've finished writing the Gull section of the CBWPS bird report I have my life back! And some spare writing time....

I have a long weekend off so I wanting to make the most of the fine weather I headed to the Lizard today. It was so picturesque down there and whilst I had to work hard for the birds I saw it was a pretty good day. Numbers of common migrants are still very low though , maybe they are just moving straight through in the fine weather?

Dartford Warbler in the distance

Despite it being an hours drive from home I was birding by 6:45am and started my day at Lizard Point. Most of the decent sightings I had were over the sea with 2 Great Northern Divers and a variety of waders moving through early on. Even though the land was quiet I enjoyed watching a Woodchat Shrike perched up on a hedgerow and at times it was swooping down and hovering over the ploughed field next to the village. They really are stunning birds and after a few years without seeing one I have now seen two Woodchat's this spring. It only showed for 10 minutes in the early morning and despite a fair bit of searching I couldn't track it down. Interestingly I bumped into Tony Blundon and he thought it could be a new bird in ( as the Woodchat from earlier in the week hadn't been seen for a few days), hopefully he saw it later in the day but my gut was that it moved straight through.

The rest of the morning was slow but in the fine weather it didn't matter, it was just nice to be out walking, I visited Caerthillian Cove, Kynance Cove and Windmill Farm without seeing too much. On the way to Goonhilly I chanced upon a female Redstart near Ruan Minor which was a nice year tick...

I spent the whole afternoon scanning for raptors at Goonhilly Downs and whilst I only saw Buzzards, Kestrels and Sparrowhawks I was still lucky with other birds. My first two Cuckoos of the year where calling all the time and I had some flight views too, it's always nice to see one.  Last but not least a Little Ringed Plover flew over Croft Pascoe Pool calling. On the walk back I guess it was nice to see an Adder even if I did nearly stand on it! There where a couple of frustrating moments today too , a large raptor at Windmill Farm was probably a Red Kite but in the heat haze I couldn't be sure enough to claim it, also a darter type Dragonfly at Croft Pascoe was probably a Red-veined given the time of year but again the views were not good enough to claim it, still I saw a fair bit and it was a lovely day out so no complaints!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Saturday 18th Feb

I haven't done so much birding in the week as work has been crazy but I did see a ringtail Hen Harrier  on Caerhays Estate and a Siskin at Penwithick when I've been out driving vans . Today I spent some time birding and the rest of the day chilling with my family .

14th Feb

Ringtail Hen Harrier near to Rosevine on the Caerhays Estate quartering a set aside field .

16th Feb

Penwithick - 1 Siskin

18th Feb

Carnanton Woods - 5 Treecreeper , 2 Nuthatch , 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker , 1 Marsh Tit , 40 Redwing , 2 Mistle Thrush , 1 Dipper , 1 Chiff chaff

St Columb Sewage Works - 1 Yellow-browed Warbler , 10 Chiff Chaff , 1 Siberian Chiff Chaff ( got some nice photos of this bird , will post tomorrow ) , 23 Goldcrest , 2 Fieldfare , 18 Redwing , 1 Grey Wagtail .

Pinkson Creek - 50 Little Egret and 2 Cattle Egret roosting tonight ( I hoped for more Cattle Egrets but seeing all the Little Egrets was a lovely sight ) . Also 1 Peregrine and 4 Adult Med Gull .

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Sightings this week

Pete and myself have been out a bit this week around work and on the weekend , I have been doing some of the Willow tit survey on the goss moor whilst Pete has also done some ringing... Highlights have included:

Wednesday 8th February


8 Woodcock

Thursday 9th February

Goss Moor

1 singing male Dartford Warbler

Friday 10th February

Rosenannon Downs

2 Merlin
3 Tawny Owl
1 Short eared Owl

Saturday 11th February

Goss Moor

2 Willow Tit ( 1 ringed by Pete )
1 Marsh Tit ( ringed by Pete )
1 Waxwing - seen near to Belowda at 9:20 am , relocated at castle caravan park opposite Castle An Dinas at 12pm but no sign since.

Hayle Estuary

1 juv Spoonbill
1 1st winter Ring-billed Gull
1 Avocet
1 Peregrine

Sunday 12th February

Walmsley Sanctuary

1 Barnacle Goose
2 Spoonbill
4 Water Pipit
1 Peregrine Falcon
3 Ruff