Sunday, 16 October 2016

Silent Sea watching and Perfect Pink Feet

Strong south westerly winds were forecast and Bob and I hoped for a decent sea watch at Porthgwarra to boost our weeks species count. We both managed to scrape ourselves out of bed bright and early, despite feeling a little tired and tender from a full on week in the field. We arrived in the car park at first light and were a little surprised to see some other birders already in-situ. I suspected that they also were hoping for some late sea birds on the move. After exchanging pleasant chit chat we found out that a Red-eyed Vireo had been found in the toilet block the previous day and had showed well! We decided to stick with our plan and carry on up to the headland and have a sea watch and try for the Vireo on our return later.

From the get go we knew something was wrong! The birds were heading in the wrong direction and all that could be seen was a steady trickle of Gannets and Great Black-backed Gulls. We persevered for two hours and by-jove was that enough! All we had to show for our effort was 1 Balearic Shearwater, 3 Manx Shearwater, 4 Common Scoter and 6 Wigeon. If anyone can let me know why it was so bad this morning I would be grateful for the knowledge?

Dawn at Porthgwarra
It was a stunning morning and we were comfortable, warm and sat down so our spirits were high and we had other plans to fulfil during the day. Plus a Red-eyed Vireo could still be in the vicinity and we would both like a peek at that! Before we left a flock of 9 Choughs passed us over head, a record flock number for Bob and I and a sight that always makes me feel rather patriotic and proud of my Cornish heritage! We made our way to the car park and caught up with several familiar faces and was a lovely way to spend an hour sharing lots of laughter and catching up on latest exploits and ventures. It was apparent that the Vireo was not showing so Bob hatched a plan and we flogged the wooded area of the valley but sadly to no avail! We did however have amazing views of a Firecrest and Chiffchaff, and also heard a distant Yellow-browed Warbler.  

We had done all we can to find the Vireo and decided that we would cut our losses and head on. We opted for a quick look at Sennen where we noted 15 Mediterranean Gulls and 1 Common Gull. It was also apparent that some sea birds were passing the cove and amongst these Bob picked out a Balearic and 2 Manx Shearwater. We then headed back to Mounts Bay and had a little tour around but were struggling in the strong winds to pick anything up noteworthy.

We were both tired from our week and were starting to flag. We needed a plan to rejuvenate energy levels and I knew just the thing, a Pasty and Jam doughnut should do the trick! Hayle was our next destination and Phillips was open. After some satisfying sustenance our energy levels were refreshed enough to do some more birding. We checked the Estuary and Carnsew Pool as best we could and species of note included 1 Spoonbill, 26 Mediterranean Gulls, 9 Grey Plover, 3 Greenshank, 33 Bar-tailed Godwits and 4 Dunlin. 

Pink-footed Goose at Gwithian Pool
Our final destination for the day was Gwithian Pool. We have wanted to check this spot all week and only really found the time today to fit it in. Lots of Geese and Gulls could be seen as we broke the brow of the hill and peered from a distance. As we got closer we both had a long hard scan for colour ringed Gulls to no avail! 9 Tufted Ducks were feeding and added some interest. During my third sweeping scan I picked up one of my birds of the week! Not the rarest of birds but one I always appreciate seeing an adult Pink-footed Goose amongst the Canadas. We headed home after this deciding to end this cracking bird filled week on a high. It is sad that is another year done and dusted and I have enjoyed every minute. The only bit of happy news is that my alarm will not be going off at stupid o'clock tomorrow morning and I get a lie in! What will I miss?

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