Thursday, 29 September 2016

Par at high tide tonight

A visit to Par this evening produced 2 smart  drake Common Scoter , 60 Oystercatcher , 12 Turnstone and 4 Knot

Baird's Bounty

The fresh pleasant morning air made me miserable yesterday morning! Why can I not be birding or ringing on such a lovely day I asked my inner voices? The envy demons continued to moan about the unfairness I have to endure sacrificing such mornings to go to work, yet there are so many retiree's and benefit birders that don't deserve it nearly half as much as me! As the afternoon progressed the weather deteriorated and so did my green eye'd thoughts. To add to this depressing concept my place of employment required me to stay overnight, leaving time limited.

Meetings and jobs finished early and I had a "bugger it" moment, "I am going birding". My location plan was simple and easy to get to from work, not far from home and I had a sneaky feeling would throw up an object of my desire! The object in question was a colour ring and the location, The Gannel Estuary at Newquay. Bob had excelled this year in finding several ringed species and I was jealous! I needed to even the balance, re-earn my crown as colour ring king and earn back my nickname, "Ringo".

I sped from work in a bid to increase my birding time and managed to get stuck behind Grandpa Slow Coach three times. Finally I arrived at the Estuary and disaster! The tide was right in and bigger than I thought and hardly a Gull in sight! I contemplated driving off and writing the day off as one of envious misery! A small group of Black-headed Gull's settled on a grassy knoll just beyond binocular range so in a bid to salvage my sanity I got the scope out and prayed for darvic glory. No such luck! I started scanning the far shoreline and picked up a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Grey Plover. Not the saving grace I needed, but pleasant enough to put a smile on my face. I continued to scan and picked up some more common wader species, albeit after cursing at paddle boarder's who decided they needed to be in the same spot as the roosting birds!

I was working my way back thorough the waders and came across a Calidris type, this looked interesting! Hard to judge size as it was on its own, but boy it looked long winged! "What else could I ascertain" I asked myself? The bird looked low and very parallel to the floor with no sign of a rotund shaped belly as you would expect on a Dunlin. The flanks and belly were clean and showed no signs of dark fleck marks. A distinct breast band was easily visible. I could also see what appeared to be a darkish cap to the head and a discreet supercillium. The scapulars and back plumage seemed to consist of bold dark feathers with broad pale edges. Boooomm baaabbbyyy! I had a juvenile Baird's Sandpiper in my scope.

I carried on admiring the transatlantic vagrant and made notes of its behaviour to accompany my plumage observations. It behaved so different to a Dunlin. It seemed erratic whilst feeding and far less purposeful than its commoner cousin. Twisting and turning whilst irregularly probing the sand in a machine gun like fashion with its bill.

Gee wiz that didn't that half make up for the doom, gloom and misery endured during the rest of my day! A quick phone scope photo session and back to work I trudge, elated. A short while later a phone call from Bob confirmed my belief that it was indeed a juvenile Baird's and that he had connected with it too. A staggering record for me and delighted to get one on the self found list. Fingers crossed the rest of the autumn is as generous.

Birds of note on the Gannel were 1 Baird's Sandpiper, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Grey Plover and 22 Curlew.

Very poor image of the bird due to the distance and poor weather

Monday, 26 September 2016

New Ventures and Osprey Odyssey's

With a stiff southerly breeze forecast and moderate to heavy rain showers due to accompany it, Sea watching had to be on the cards! Having recently moved house a new spot a little closer to home that I always thought should throw up more than it currently does was my plan for the morning, St Anthony's Head near St Mawes was my chosen location.

St Anthony's Head

Arriving at the headland at dawn I was greeted by a Barn Owl quartering the valley adjacent to the car park, a great start! I was parked up, equipment packed and waterproof suit on (Bob thinks this is really an excuse to wear a onesie), and traipsing my way along the coastal path in a bid to find my morning spot. A few hundred meters from the car park I found a sheltered seat that was going to be comfortable enough as an experimental spot although higher than I would have really liked.

Snug as a Bug in a Rug in my new waterproof overalls (Onesie)! 

A steady stream of Balearic Shearwaters and Gannets was apparent from the get go and things were looking hopeful. Sadly the forecast rain showers did not materialised which meant that the bird passage was distant and all most impossible to pick up smaller sea faring species. The morning did not provide the variety that I had hoped for but did prove to me that there is great potential for the headland if conditions and the formula are right and after a bit of exploring later in the morning I think I have a new spot lined up! My totals for the morning (3 hours) were: 1 Sooty Shearwater, 71 Balearic Shearwater, 5 Manx Shearwater, 1 Storm Petrel, 9 Auk's, 39 Shag, 1 Cormorant, 444 Gannet, 108 Herring Gull, 67 Great Black-backed Gull and 3 Turnstones. 

Shags roosting on the shoreline rocks at St Anthony's Head

From here I headed to nearby Portscatho and had a quick scan of the beach and bay. Very little of note was present but I did pick up 5 Turnstone in amongst the Herring Gull roost which consisted of 72 birds.  

I then actioned plan number 2 for the day and headed to Ruan Lanihorne in a bid to see Osprey for my year list. On arrival I was blown away by the large numbers of Great Black-backed Gulls that were roosting at the site with 156 present. Annoyingly I could see at least 4 birds with colour rings (as you  may have guessed Bob and I are obsessed with these darvics) but they were to far away to read! There were also 8 Bar-tailed Godwit ,4 Greenshank and 4 Roe Deer present of note. After a heavy downpour and whilst finishing my lunch the Gulls and Waders went berserk! I quickly bolted out the car and scanned the sky for a raptor. Then Bingo, a sublime Osprey was gently gliding back towards the river in which it had came. A brief but fulfilling view was obtained, sadly I did not see it again but could now go home feeling successful about both of my morning missions. 

Roe Deer at Ruan Lanihorne

After a spot of lunch and a discussion with the better half we needed to head west to run some errands. Miraculously I managed to negotiate a bit of time to give Hayle a quick Scan. It was persistently heavy rain whilst in the area but I persevered and picked up some odds and ends. After a thorough check of the main areas of the estuary I had noted: 28 Dunlin, 31 Ringed Plover, 6 Grey Plover, 18 Greenshank, 36 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Whimbrel. I was also delighted to find a roost of 35 Sandwhich Tern and a single Common Tern amongst them. A pleasing way to end the day. I was very content considering the weather conditions and lack of knowledge at this mornings headland.      

Yesterday I too manged to see the Dalmatian Pelican that has been frequenting Cornwall in recent weeks, on the Camel Estuary. A most exquisite and bizarre bird that I am delighted I have seen on the local patch and indeed in Cornwall. It was my Dad's 60th birthday and I bought him along to take a look (he is not really a birder) and he was amazed at its sheer size and presence. Not a bad birthday present if you ask me! 

Dad's 60th Birthday Present 

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Dalmation Pelican on the Camel Estuary!

This afternoon before I headed over to my friend's birthday I took my family down to see the Dalmation Pelican at Padstow . My mum and dad couldn't believe how big and comical it looked as it loafed about on the beach at Porthilly View! My nephew Ben tagged along too and enjoyed the scope views of this incredible creature looking so out of place amongst the local gulls and waders... I doubt there will ever be a Dalmation Pelican again in Cornwall and even if you aren't into birding you will get a thrill at seeing this fantastic bird! Take a trip to Padstow before it heads on ... it's well worth it....

Also on the Estuary today in addition to Wednesday were 37 Grey Plover, 6 Knot, 1 Ruff, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank and 7 Sandwich Tern...

Seawatching at Trevose Head today


I was up bright and early this morning , with heavy rain overnight and 20-30mph westerly winds forecasted I was very hopeful of a good sea watch. In fact I was probably too keen as when I arrived at Trevose it was still fairly dark! Still it gave me time to walk down to the headland and set my telescope up and get comfortable . I started counting at 7am and for the first hour things were fairly quiet except for masses of Gannets heading west and a few Balearic Shearwaters . Then at around 08;05 A.M I picked up a Shearwater trailing a typical Balearic that looked very interesting and my gut instinct was that it could well be a Yelkouan Shearwater . In the lovely neutral light and at a close enough distance that I didn't need to zoom in with the scope I had already noted it's sleeker profile than the 'pot bellied' Balearic in front and what had made me really start to concentrate was that I had seen a few Manxies in the last few minutes that showed typically blackish upperparts and yet this bird was showing a distinct brown tinge to the upperparts. My mind switched on to all the I.D features I could remember and in particular to the excellent talk I had listened to at this years Birdfair from Mike Langman and how he recalled Britain's first Yelkouan in the field. Like Mike I was more inclined to rule out an odd Manx Shearwater, this bird didn't remind me of Balearic in structure or flight style at any point ( the Balearics were powering through whilst this bird gluided through on stiff wings like a Manx and yet when it did flap it's wings , the wing beats appeared to be slightly more purposeful than the butterfly like Manx Shearwater). I knew viewing time would be short so I zoomed up to get more on it. Undertail coverts , definitely dusky and contrasting with it's white belly. It had a nice set of wing linings too! They joined up with the dark leading and trailing edge of the wing , which in itself showed no noticeable difference to a typical Manx in thickness ( I always think that these thicker dark patterns on a Balearic are very noticeable and even on a pale Balearic it makes the whiter middle part of the wing look much smaller than on a Manx type Shearwater, this sounds long winded but it's a great way of picking the paler birds out). I couldn't see the feet projecting which was a shame and I can't say for sure I noticed much with the face pattern so in the last 10 seconds or so I tried and failed to video it through the scope! I'm happy it was a Yelkouan though, the second one I have claimed, but understand that without pictures I won't get that far with BBRC.

Still I was buzzing and things where heating up! Much more Gannets were moving and at last a bit of variety had started to come though... Boom! A juvenile Sabines Gull with 10 Arctic Terns ( both year ticks ). A late Great Shearwater followed immediately by a Little Auk tagging along with it's larger cousins. A few Sooty's powering through in the distance , you can't beat a good sea watch! In a flash my 4 hours had passed and it was time to pack up , an excellent morning with the only disappointment being a lack of small Skuas... Although I was on my own so I could've missed them....

Final totals in 4 hours were:

1 Drake Common Scoter
1 Fulmar
1 Great Shearwater
2 Sooty Shearwater
113 Manx Shearwater
1 Yelkouan Shearwater
29 Balearic Shearwater
3654 Gannet
6 Shag
2 Oystercatcher
1 Bar-tailed Godwit
5 Great Skua
1 Little Auk
1 Juv Sabines Gull
1 Juv Common Tern
14 Arctic Tern

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Colour rings and waders, today on the Camel Estuary

I had a very enjoyable 3 hours on the Camel Estuary today , the variety and number of waders feeding as the tide went out was brilliant! 6 Grey Plover, 1 Lapwing, 10 Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 18 Black-tailed Godwit, 78 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Knot, 186 Dunlin, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank and 6 Redshank were busily feeding away on the exposed mud.

I also bumped into the local bird group that organize a walk every Wednesday along the estuary. It was nice to catch up with a few birders that I hadn't seen in several months , Allen , Jack and Pete's pasty mate Bernard ( only Pete Roseveare will know what I am on about! It involves a ' discussion' about the best pasty in Cornwall , all I will say is don't argue with Pete when it comes to food and particularly pasties! He gets emotional and you are risking your life!).

As I walked  towards Wadebridge I noticed a large group of small gulls resting and loafing on the mud and waters edge , keen to find some colour rings I started to scan through and read a 1st Winter Meditteranean Gull from the Czech Republic ! ZKN2 was ringed on the 5th June as a chick this year at Senov,Volensky Fishponds and has also been seen on the River Caen in Devon. To think that in just a few weeks it has traveled more than 2000 miles is quite staggering!

There seemed to be more small waders showing as I walked back to the car but they were incredibly shy and skittish , I soon found the reason why this was so... A juvenile Peregrine motored across the Salt marsh and downed a Bar-tailed Godwit but it was too naive to kill it's prize and the Godwit made a lucky escape. As much as I love Peregrine Falcon's ( I monitor several nest sites under license ) there does come a time in the Autumn when they do my head in as I try to search through the waders! This time however it was lucky it did flush the flock of Dunlin as when they landed closer I could see one was colour ringed! I have had a reply from the ringing group already about this bird:

Hi Bob,
great to hear that one of the Dunlin we ringed recently is now in Cornwall. Whilst I'm sure that this is a bird ringed on the Dyfi Estuary just north of Borth, Ceredigion in September this year I'm afraid the inscription you read is not correct so I cannot tell you which bird it was exactly! The ring would have been alpha,number,number reading down the leg. So far we have only used H**, and N**.

Any chance you might be down there again in the near future? Is so please have another go at getting the code.

We only started colour-ringing Dunlin here this month and yours is only the second sighting and the first away from the Dyfi.

Many thanks again,

Tony Cross

It was a shame I couldn't read the digits properly but it was virtually impossible. Anyone birding on the estuary should keep a look out and I would love to hear from you if you manage to read the ring combination properly!

After birding on the Camel Estuary I had a quick look from the hide at Walmsley Sanctuary but it was pretty dead here, in fact I only noted 31 Wigeon and 1 Shoveler amongst the Mallard,teal and Canada Geese...

This Kingfisher livened things up for a while but it was soon time to pack up and head home....

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Recent Ringing Results

After several days feeling sorry for myself due to a Chest Infection and Sinusitis, the "Man up" tablets kicked in and by Sunday morning I could take it no longer and wanted to see and ring some birds! I couldn't commit to a morning at Nanjizal as I was worried that I would buckle under the pressure and end up back in the sick bed mopey and suffering. I opted for a small number of nets on my local "bread and butter" site, the Goss Moor.

Bob was parked up raring to go well before dawn and I was on schedule despite the serious nature of my symptoms (if anyone sees my other half please let her know how close to death I was). The forecast was promising and I was hopeful of some migrants passing through.

As soon as the first nets were opened I thought we could be in for a good morning as we seemed to catch a steady trickle of Blackcap from the get go, ending the morning on 41. Several of these birds had good fat and muscle scores, the heaviest weighing it 22.5 grams. A good 3 grams over the average of 19 grams that most of the others weighed in at. Another interesting observation was that only 12 of the total caught were female birds. I would be delighted to learn why the sex ratio is not a little more even? A steady stream of Chiffchaff was also apparent with a total of 13 ringed. I was also pleased to pick up 6 new Goldcrest, the first significant catch of new birds I have had since last Winter. A re trap that I ringed last September also turned up. I find these long term absentees often leave me asking more questions about its time away than I ever find the answers for. I was pleased with the first Reed Bunting of the Autumn and I hope to work with this species more throughout the winter. (Any info on roost sites would be greatly appreciated). A re trap Marsh Tit also added variety and seemed to be doing well and in good condition. We finished the morning on 72 new birds and 5 re traps.

A Male Blackcap topping the scales at 22.5 grams

One of only 12 females caught during the morning session


Female Goldcrest

The first Reed Bunting of the Autumn

Re trap Marsh Tit doing well

Wren, a regular on the Moor.

Bob and I also had a little evening session on some farmland near to his house last night. An area we knew to be good for birds, but unexplored and time needed to work out net locations etc.

We opted for a line of 3 x 60 ft nets and experimented with Linnet and Yellowhammer on the speakers. This resulted in the successful catch of 3 of each species. As the evening drew on we changed the speaker and tried for Swallow. Ending the evening with a grand total of 2! Not the greatest number ever caught but it was nice to process all 3 as I do not currently ring many of each species. We also had the chance to discuss net placement and feel that next time we try the area some gentle tweaks will optimise our catching potential. We will keep you posted on our progress within the area.



Colour ringed Common Ringed Plover from Norway @ Davidstow

I always love finding colour rings on any bird but when I saw a Ringed Plover at Davidstow I was itching to find out where it had come from , amazingly it was ringed in Norway ( 1465 km away! ) . It just shows how far all birds travel and we shouldn't take for granted how amazing migration is!

 Hi Robert,
Thank you very much for the report about Common Ringed Plover NSU. Its 
life history you find in the attachment. In the end of the attachment 
you find information about other colour ringing projects we work with, 

Best wishes
Kjell Mork Soot

Thank you very much for taking the time to report to us details of the sighting of a flagged Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula). Information about this bird and its movement is given below:

Ring no: Stavanger 8B45217
Yellow flag NSU (Left tarsus metal ring. Left tibia: red colour ring. Right tibia: yellow flag with three black letters NSU engraved). :LAR:LBM:RAYN(NSU)F
Age/sex/biometric: M2K+ ( male, hatched 2013 or before).Wing134 mm. Weight: 47,4 g.
Ringing date: 31.08.2014, 10 hrs.
Ringing place: Makkevika (62*30'N-006*02'E) Giske, Giske, Møre & Romsdal, Norway.
Remarks: Caught in mist net at our wader station (Giske Ornithological Station).
Ringer: Kjell Mork Soot / Sunnmøre Ringing Group.

Finding date: 10.09.2016.
Observed: Davidstow Airfield (50*39'N-004*36W) Cornwall, England
Remarks: Observed by Robert Bosisto.
Distance:1465 km SSW. Direction: 211 deg.Time : 2-0-10 (2 years-10 days after ringing).

Sunday, 18 September 2016

This afternoon at Colliford Lake

After ringing this morning Pete and I decided to spend the afternoon at Colliford Lake on Bodmin moor . Despite it being a rather daunting place to check ( it is Cornwall's second largest lake at around 900 acres) it has been kind to us in the last few years with records of Caspian Gull, Ring billed Gull, Common Crane, Lesser Scaup, Buff-breasted Sandpiper's and American Black Duck. So we arrived in high spirits and ever hopeful of finding something good.

Starting at the dam car park we soon noticed a large gathering of gulls on the opposite bank and quickly noted a Colliford speciality:

Adult Yellow-legged Gull : The yellow legs aren't the best thing to check or look for. Mantle colour is key; a bluish grey ( almost Common Gull like in colour) which is slightly darker than a Herring Gull's and lighter than a Lesser black backed Gull's mantle. Structure is also vital to learn, they tend to be large birds with a big square shaped head and a powerful hook tipped bill.

                               There is a Yellow -legged Gull in this picture, can you spot it?

Yellow-legged Gull is still a scarce bird in Cornwall but I think over the last 10 years their numbers have increased markedly . I would say Colliford is the best place in Cornwall to see one ( we had 3 adults and a second summer today) but any flock of gulls is worth grilling and once you get your eye in you will start picking the odd one out. A good tip is that Lesser black Backed Gull's seem to be a good carrier species rather than Herring Gull , possibly because of their more migratory instincts.

Whilst I was still scanning the gulls ( I have a problem! I am gull crazy!) Pete was busy scanning the shoreline for waders and soon picked out 2 Turnstone, 5 Dunlin and 5 Ringed Plover as well as 14 White Wagtail amongst the scores of Pied Wagtails. We also watched in awe as a juvenile Peregrine powered across the water in pursuit of a Dunlin only to be mobbed itself by a smart juvenile Hobby! Birding can be all or nothing sometimes!

                                                          Record shot of the Pec Sand

Continuing around the lake with little else to note we arrived at Loveney and began to walk down to the waters edge. This has been the best place for waders all Autumn and after an hour or so of hard searching we had our yankee reward! A stunning juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper , a year tick for Pete and the bird of the day . Other waders included a Greenshank, 12 Ringed Plover and 4 Dunlin. All in all we spent 3.5 hours at Colliford and if you put the time in here you get a reward , a great afternoon's birding!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Waders on the move at Maer Lake and Camel Estuary

After some shopping and a haircut in Wadebridge I decided to have a drive up to Maer Lake in Bude. I have to say it is looking really good here . There is an extensive muddy shoreline which is perfect for waders at the moment, something good will turn up here soon!

                                                                     Maer Lake

Plenty of common waders were on show and I was delighted to see 7 Ringed Plover, 2 Curlew, 13 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Knot, 4 Ruff, 1 Juv Curlew Sandpiper, 15 Dunlin and 18 Common Snipe. A Kingfisher added some colour and an eclipse drake Shoveler showed well. 

I then had a look at Davidstow Airfield and Crowdy on the way back through but both where very quiet and I didn't see a single wader , just birders , motorbikes , dog walkers and radio controlled planes! I think it's best avoided in the middle of the day, unless its raining... Still it's always worth a quick check and I was more keen to get to Tregunna and watch the tide in on the Camel Estuary...

I timed the tide at the Camel pretty well , it had just turned and I sat happily watching the waders moving up river as the tide came in . 9 Grey Plover, 5 Ringed Plover, 17 Black-tailed Godwit, 76 Bar-tailed Godwit, 15 Knot, 1 Curlew Sandpiper and 40 Dunlin were noted busily feeding up before the mud was covered . 

Now that the water had covered the mud I dashed over to Walmsley Sanctuary to see what would come in on the high tide and I was joined with Pete Roseveare and Stan Christophers. Pete's eagle eyes picked out a smart juvenile Whinchat which was a year tick for me , thanks Pete! Whilst Stan quickly spotted 3 Pintail; my first for the Autumn. Also on show was the long staying juvenile Garganey, 5 Gadwall, 1 Shoveler, 9 Curlew, 5 Dunlin, 1 Common Snipe, 1 Greenshank and 1 Kingfisher . I left early to see if any waders had been pushed up into Treraven Meadows but it was dead there with just 1 Common Sandpiper of note... and a quick catch up with local birder Pete Maker in the hide. So all in all a pretty good days birding and I still have tomorrow to look forward to with some ringing in the morning followed by a trip up to Bodmin Moor hopefully!


Friday, 16 September 2016

Davidstow Delight's

Yesterday I was a poorly boy 😩! A visit to the doctors confirmed a chest infection and sinusitis! I am tired, weak and to top it off the worst person in the world for sitting or lying in bed and taking it easy!

Davidstow was just up the road from the doctors and I felt an hour sat in the car was no different to an hour in front the TV, and surely healthy fresh air was better for me than stale sick bed air?

On arrival at the airfield it was apparent there were good numbers of Northern Wheatear present. I never try and take this species for granted as they are just beautiful and are one of our longest travelling passerines, wintering in sub-saharran Africa.

                                                 Northern Wheatear

I then pursued the waders and soon encountered some Ringed Plovers and Dunlin. In this small flock the Buff-breasted Sandpiper was foraging and fantastic to see on the ground as my previous encounter with it was far too brief. 

Ringed Plover
Buff-breasted Sandpiper

A Ruff was also present around the control tower pool despite visiting birders and dog owners walking around. It always baffles me the lack of commonsense so many birdwatchers seem to lack when visiting the airfield. You can get so close to the waders if you drive carefully and are respectful on your approach. It is a real mix of emotion when you see people who have been birding for decades acting so foolish and then wonder why birds disappear so soon after discovery, frustration mixed with hilarity! I also watched a Sparrowhawk hunting Linnets and Wagtails offering close views and some exciting explosive manoeuvre's! A juvenile Whinchat was also a pleasing discovery briefly seen on the boundary hedge near the old buildings.



My final count of the visit were 1 Buff-breasted Sandpiper, 1 Ruff, 5 Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin, 1 Male Sparrowhawk, 1 juvenile Whinchat, 39 Wheatear and 2 White Wagtail. 

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Spotted Redshank @ Tresillian

At high tide this evening at Tresemple Pool there were 124 Common Redshank , 1 Spotted Redshank ,  16 Greenshank, 16 Black tailed Godwits, 2 Bar tailed Godwits, 35 Curlew, 1 Knot and 2 Kingfishers .

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Back to reality at Par

After yesterday's brilliant after work trip to Davidstow I had little time for birding today . A quick visit to Par for an hour produced : 45 Oystercatcher , 2 Redshank , 1 Turnstone , 1 Bar tailed Godwit , 2 Sandwich Terns , 1 Tufted Duck and a Kingfisher . I can only imagine what I missed in the south easterlies today :( I hate working !

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Yanks and Dung Dabblers!

Bob and I discussed our after work options for today, last night and with forecasted conditions struggled to make a solid plan. Wind and weather were poor and with only 2 hours of bird able light we couldn't travel to far. My gut feeling was that Davidstow should harbour a wader or two and with little else to go with this became the game plan. Chips down and both ready on time (a rarity in itself), we excelled at pace in Bobs silver bullet (aka the little Kia car) arriving at Camelford in good time. Grey and dreary but nevertheless some moderate visibility "we may find some birds" I thought! Then Disaster! As we turn off the main road near the airfield a thick blanket of fog engulfs us, the car and our hopes of finding any noteworthy waders . Bemused and disheartened we proceed steadily up the run way. We both pick up distant Wagtails and Wheatears, "well we are on point, there is still a chance of finding something" I muttered. Our first few hundred yards were relatively quite and it seemed to take forever to locate anything noteworthy. Then a couple of Ringed Plover made their presence known by calling to one another as we approached. Then we found our first goody in the shape of a juvenile dung dabbling Turnstone. Not the rarest bird in the world but only my 2nd and Bobs 1st on the airfield (20 years combined total checking it). We spent some time admiring it foraging in the horse dung before carrying on our wader quest.

Turnstone in Davidstow Fog!

We trundled on a little more hopeful of finding some more species despite weather conditions. We maintained our usual route and cautiously checked as we went. A short while on another birder was stopped and waved us over. We trained our bins on the area he was studying and bingo!           "Lesser Golden Plover Bob" I exclaimed. " I am certain its a yank". The Plover was a cracker, it was an adult and showed a large, strong supercillium. Sported extstensive black feathering and showed the elongated primaries going someway beyond the tail. Sadly we failed to get any pictures in the poor weather and when we went back to try a short while later it had departed. 

A short way down the run way we encountered another group of waders. Oddly the main species in this bunch were Curlew Sandpipers with 4 observed and 2 Dunlin and another Ringed Plover. 

Curlew Sandpiper 

Little else was found as we checked the remainder of the airfield until, in the dying light as we were about to leave a group of 10 waders flew in front of the car. We could here Ringed Plovers and Dunlin and something else that was a whole lot more interesting! Knot like in tone and style, but a little lighter and more sporadic. Then the light bulb moment! Buff-breasted Sandpiper. A great bird to end on and a much desired year tick for me😁! 

Our totals for the evening were 1 Adult American Golden Plover, 1 Buff-breasted Sandpiper, 1 Turnstone, 4 Curlew Sandpiper, 16 Ringed Plover and 9 Dunlin. Not bad considering weather and time constraints. 

Monday, 12 September 2016

W:140 Colour ringed Great Black Backed Gull from Skokholm Island

I had a nice reply back from the Warden at Skokholm Island regarding the GBB me and Pete saw at Padstow on friday :

Thanks for this record Bob.
W:140 (HT94995) was ringed as an adult female on 18/5/16 here on Skokholm Island. She bred successfully this year but has not been seen since.
The majority of our adult birds stay locally, so this is a slightly more unusual record (only three adults have been seen away from Pembs, all in Cornwall). However over 25% of our juveniles are seen in Cornwall. The 2015 seabird report giving more details of this project is free to download here:
Thanks for the record and all the best

Rings and Wrynecks

An early morning jaunt for Bob and I, from North to West Cornwall was a necessary evil to ensure we were in deepest darkest Nanjizal before dawn. With turbulent weather of late, migrant passerines have been thin on the ground. This mornings forecast looked much more promising! Little wind throughout the night and some cloud cover all appeared to good too be true, could a goody be lurking out there? And more importantly, were our British migrants going to have a chance to part from our shores for sunnier climes?

Thank fully the first net round rewarded us with a much needed year tick in the form of a juvenile Pied Flycatcher, and a cracking Spotted for comparison.

The nets were also providing a good support cast of warblers and we finished the morning with 7 species. These were: 

Common Whitethroat

Garden Warbler (showing fault bar in the tail, common in juvenile passerines')


Reed Warbler

Sedge Warbler 


A Great spotted Woodpecker added some variety to the morning.

The icing on the cake came in the last net round as the nets were being furled for the day. A juvenile Wryneck was caught and it was sublime in all its cryptic glory. Bob and I will remember this bird for a long time to come. It really is the type of species that makes you want to get up in the depth of the night and make the effort!

We also took this video of the bird demonstrating how it obtained its name.

We ringed a grand total of 94 during the morning and this was made up of 1 Wryneck, 1 Pied Fly, 1 Spot Fly, 1 Great spot, 1 Garden Warbler,1 Willow Warbler, 35 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest, 22 Blackcap, 6 Sedge, 4 Reed, 5 Robin and 11 Whitethroat.

After our morning at Nanjizal we stopped off for a look at Drift Reservoir. The long staying drake Mandarin was present in eclipse plumage doing his best to blend in with the resident Mallards. We also observed 2 Common Sandpipers and singles of Ringed plover and Dunlin, a little disappointing as it looks good for more species! A Kingfisher was a welcome sight as it flew over the reservoir. 2 Tufted Duck and 2 Teal were also present. We did observe a young Cormorant sporting a Red leg ring, digits reading TBT. 

This bird was ringed on Mullion Island, just off the Lizard peninsula in March, 2016 by West Cornwall Ringing Group.

Our final stop of the day was Hayle Estuary. Despite good numbers of Herring and Black-headed Gulls I could only locate 1 colour ring and this was a local Gull ringed at St Ives once again by West Cornwall Ringing Group.

Adult Herring Gull W:186

On the wader front we were pleased with the Bar-tailed Godwit count of 56. Other totals included 1 Ruff, 6 Ringed Plover, 54 Dunlin, 4 Greenshank and 3 Redshank.