Monday, 10 October 2016

Day 3 - Autumnal Arrivals, Departures and a Filthy Twitch!

Bob and I arrived at Lands End at dawn and were both keen to get out the car and make a start. Conditions were good with a light easterly breeze greeting us with a cold nip that helped us speed along to our chosen spot.
Our chosen vantage point at Lands End
A steady passage of Chaffinch, Meadow Pipit and Skylark was apparent and continued in dribs and drabs throughout the morning. Accompanying these were Redwings, Song Thrush, Linnets , Pied Wagtails and an assortment of migrants and resident birds alike. We picked up a couple of Chough looking radiant in the morning sun but perhaps the star corvids of the morning came in the form of 3 Jays, a bird that is seen rarely in the area during the autumn months. The stars of the show came in the form of a Yellow-browed Warbler, a year tick for us both and we also had a late Common Redstart which is a fantastic record so late in the year and another new bird for our week of birding. It was lovely to be out in such beautiful weather and our totals for the morning were:173 Chaffinch, 66 Linnet, 9 Goldfinch, 9 Siskin, 98 Meadow Pipit, 47 Skylark, 15 Pied Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 Reed Bunting, 14 Song Thrush, 18 Redwing, 9 Goldcrest, 6 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 1 Swallow, 67 Starling, 22 Woodpigeon, 3 Jay, 2 Chough, 1 Redstart, 2 Common Gull, 1 Balearic Shearwater, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Water Rail and a Yellow-browed Warbler.

Late Common Redstart at Lands End
From Lands End we headed to Nanquidno and after an hour we had seen 1 Green Woodpecker (another new bird for the week), 1 Yellow-browed Warbler, 1 Fire Crest, 6 Goldcrest, 1 Blackcap and 2 Chough. We stopped and had an hour at Cot Valley but very little was recorded here of interest!

Yellow-browed Warbler at Nanquidno 
We then headed back to Drift to catch up with another bird we wanted on our week list and indeed our Chough Junior list! I decided that I needed a kip in the car so Bob set off to check the Reservoir on his own. It wasn't long before my walkie talkie was alarming and news came that he had found the long staying Mandarin Drake and that it was showing well below the car park. Superb, our target was on the list! After a walk around and thorough check Bob was heading back to the car and noted that the Mandarin had flown out of the Western Arm of the Reservoir. He thought this seemed strange having seen it at the other end just a little while before but carried on and giving it very little thought on his return journey. Once back below the car park he was shocked that the Mandarins plumage seemed so much more advanced than half an hour before. It was at this point he realised that a 2nd bird was present! Drift totals consisted of: 2 Mandarin, 2 Pintail, 31 Wigeon, 2 Common Sandpipers and colour ringed Cormorant TBT as reported a few weeks ago.     

2 Drake Mandarins at Drift Reservoir
I needed to pick up a few bits from the Supermarket so stopped at Sainsburys in Penzance. Whilst doing my shopping Bob had a little internet troll to see if there was any news on the Dalmatian Pelican? We had really hoped and prayed this bird would stay in Cornwall for our ever growing annual list and were both devastated when we had learned it had departed for pastures new in Devon. Bob excited exclaimed when I got back to the car that "it was back on the Camel". Before he could say anymore I said " we need to go now"! After a perfectly safe and speed limit respectful car journey (if you believe that you will believe anything), we arrived at Padstow were it seemed to spend most of its time before departing. Absolutely no luck whatsoever! My stomach was starting to churn, "is this going to be a disaster and are we going to end up morbid and disheartened after making such a snap decision? Bob suggested we head to Dinham Flats further up the Estuary where we could see more of the Estuary. I got optics ready and was off to the best spot I could think of before the engine of the car was off. A quick scan with the bins and bingo! There it was in all its massive glory. A huge relief and a bird we both feel we will never see again during our birding week in October. Although we did not have time to do full counts due to time constraints we also noted 1 Ruff, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, around 150 Dunlin and 40 Ringed Plover.

Distant Dalmatian Pelican
Tomorrow we hope for much of the same and more and are heading to the Lizard and nearby areas. Watch this space for more news.........................................

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