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 

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