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

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Divers and Grebes on the south coast

I spent the day checking St Austell Bay , Veryan Bay and Gerrans Bay . It was pretty good to be honest and I ended up with a nice variety of birds :


2 Grey Wagtail

St Austell Bay

33 Great Northern Diver
6 Black throated Diver
1 Red throated Diver
2 Great crested Grebe
3 Slavonian Grebe
39 Common Scoter
1 drake Velvet Scoter ( view from Polkerris )


1 adult Med Gull


4 adult Med Gull
1 Grey Wagtail

Hemmick Beach

1 Grey Wagtail


22 Med Gull ( 3,2,17)
2 Common Snipe

Veryan Bay

12 Great Northern Diver
15 Black throated Diver
1 Red throated Diver
3 Slavonian Grebe


2 adult Med Gull
1 Porpoise

Gerrans Bay

39 Great Northern Diver
1 Black throated Diver
1 Red-necked Grebe
7 Common Scoter
1 Long-tailed Duck ( off of Portscatho )


15 Med Gull
1 Whimbrel
1 Chough ( feeding in sheep field above the beach )
1 Grey Wagtail
1 Bottle nosed Dolphin


1 Whimbrel
1 Common Redshank
5 Dunlin
52 Turnstone
8 Med Gull ( 1,1,6 )
1 Cirl Bunting

Ruan Lanihorne

129 Wigeon
1 Great spotted Woodpecker

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Lapland Buntings and Glaucous Gull

I started today at Mawgan Porth looking for Chough's near Bre Pen Farm but the only sighting of note was a group of 11 Rock Pipits feeding together in a sheep field, they were all nominate Petrosus but I will look here again in the spring for a Scandinavian. On the marsh at Mawgan Porth there is finally a bit of water with 40 Wigeon, 139 Teal, 38 Curlew and 2 Oystercatcher feeding in the shallow water.

I had a quick look at Park Head for Chough but again I lucked out, also rather disappointingly there are no set aside fields here so no flocks of finches and buntings this year. Porthcothan is always a good spot for wintering passerines, especially around the car park and this year I was pleased to find a nice Siberian Chiffchaff feeding around the tamarisk and small gardens. I noticed in last years Cornwall bird report that CBWPS don't separate records of Abietinus (  northern Chiffchaff ) and Tristis ( Siberian Chiffchaff ) stating that they are too similar to seperate safely. This bird was 100% Tristis and I think it is straightforward enough to claim a true Siberian Chiff chaff if you are familiar with them and you listen for calls. A grey brown Chiffchaff with some green colouration in the wings ( especially tertials) a nice strong supercilium, thin wing bar and best of all a bullfinch like soft call are features I look for. Abietinus Chiffchaff is very clean grey and white looking with a Swee-oo type call. I will try and do some sound recording in the next month to show what I mean.

Today was calm enough to check Trevose Head properly for the first time and I set out to walk all of the stubble fields and do a proper count. I was staggered with the amount of Lapland Buntings that are here this year and I finished with an impressive 84 birds! I also counted: 386 Skylark, 18 Meadow Pipit, 381 Linnet, 11 Corn Bunting, 40 Chaffinch, 7 Yellowhammer, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 1 Manx Shearwater, 1 Red-throated Diver and a 1st Winter Glaucous Gull.

Amazingly these are nearly all Lapland Buntings

Lapland Bunting zoomed in

Corn Bunting

You don't need to walk the fields to see the Lapland Buntings, some of the flock feed on the road towards the top car park and perch on the wire fence, I'm going to count them every 2-3 weeks to avoid disturbing them too much.

Meadow Pipit

I spent the rest of the afternoon in the hide at Chaple Amble sheltering from the heavy rain, 3 Shelduck, 2 Green Sandpiper, 1 Common Redshank, 2 Little Egret and 2 Stock Dove were notable amongst the waders and wildfowl. Last stop of the day was the Camel Estuary with 1 Spotted Redshank on show amongst hundreds of winter waders...

Thursday, 2 February 2017

This weeks birding so far

31st January :

Trevithick East , 1 dipper
Tregoss Moor , viewed at night with a high power torch : 19 woodcock , 1 Jack Snipe , 5 Common Snipe ,1 Bar tailed Godwit ( flew over calling )

2nd February :

Porthpean , 1 adult Little Gull in the gull roost this evening

Goss Moor , 1 Barn Owl

Sunday, 29 January 2017

10 Cattle Egrets at Coswarth and Iceland Gull

With all the rain and wind today we where in no rush to go birding, so Pete and myself headed out at lunchtime to search for Cattle Egrets as it would be a year tick for him. We drove around farmland between Indian Queens and Newquay and found 10 Cattle Egrets feeding in a kale field at Coswarth. If you drive towards St Columb Road from Newquay , turn right at Mountjoy, go over the level crossing , past a farm on your right and from the next gateway the birds are happily feeding amongst cattle. Maybe they are the birds that are roosting on the Gannel ? It was nice to solve the puzzle as to where the Cattle Egrets are in the day time and it's worth visiting if you wanted prolonged views as they are a joy to watch and a special find in Cornwall even if we are in the middle of an influx...

Also seen today were:

Porth Reservoir - 1 Juv Iceland Gull, 1 Kingfisher, 7 Great crested Grebe, 6 Tufted Duck, 1 Great spotted Woodpecker

Gannel Estuary- 1 Water Pipit, color ringed Great Black Backed Gull from the Thames Estuary.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

North Coast Birding

Really good day out today , made it to 150 for the year already ....

St Merryn

2 Cattle Egret - feeding with cattle opposite the Atlantic Bay holiday resort
1 Yellowhammer

Trevose Head

641 Kittiwake, 2 Manx Shearwater, 1 Balearic Shearwater, 2 Red-throated Diver, 4 Great Skua, 4 Yellowhammer, 2 Lapland Bunting


1 Grey Wagtail

Maer Lake

178 Wigeon, 107 Teal, 9 Dunlin, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 15 Common Snipe, 562 Golden Plover, 30 Curlew, 1 Water Rail

Bude Marshes

2 Cattle Egret, 2 Shoveler, 2 Water Rail


1 drake Goosander - on the pool next to the cafe near to the A39


1 Grey Wagtail

Walmsley Sanctuary ( too many birds to concentrate on - a real spectacle)

1 Cattle Egret, 2 Little Egret, 3 Spoonbill ( 2 Adult , 1 Juvenile), 1 Barnacle Goose
408 Wigeon, 234 Teal, 27 Gadwall, 22 Shoveler, 13 Pintail, 40 Mallard, 2 Ruff, 75 Curlew
115 Black-tailed Godwit, 120 Lapwing, 700 Golden Plover, 1 Greenshank, 78 Common Redshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 10 Common Snipe, 432 Dunlin,1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Chiffchaff

Goldcrest return!

I had some very welcome mail waiting for me in my inbox today! It was the return information of the Goldcrest that I controlled way back in November.

Looking very healthy considering the colossal journey that it had just undertaken!

It was first ringed at Grimston, East riding of Yorkshire on the 25th of October. 19 days later on the 13th of November it had turned up at the Goss Moor, Cornwall.

A remarkable long distance movement of 312 miles! To put that into perspective it is only 123 miles from the Goss Moor to the shores of France, with Nantes actually being closer in a straight line!

All of this from a bird that weighs less than 6 grams, it never fails to amaze me that such a tiny bird can travel such incredible distances.................

Sunday, 22 January 2017

East Cornwall

Still neglecting the blog a bit , my computer time being tied up with writing a section of the bird report. However the birding is going great and I'm up to 145 species for the year in the county!

Today's sightings with Pete:

Lynher Estuary

Sconner Farm

2 Avocet , 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Red breasted Merganser, 134 Wigeon, 1 Dark bellied Brent Goose , 2 Little Grebe, 50 Redwing

Wacker Quay

6 Avocet, 9 Great crested Grebe, 1 Pintail, 466 Teal, 8 Wigeon, 146 Shelduck, 1 Little Grebe, 1 Common Sandpiper


14 Shelduck, 35 Teal , 2 Wigeon, 1 Whimbrel, 11 Redshank, 3 Common Gull

St Johns Lake

2 Dark bellied Brent Goose, 5 Pale bellied Brent Goose, 2 Long-tailed Duck ( male and female),  2 Red breasted Merganser, 6 Great crested Grebe, 1 Sandwich Tern, 2 Adult Med Gulls, 20 Turnstone, 3 Ringed Plover, 1 Kingfisher, 


18 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank, 1 Dunlin, 37 Redshank, 1 Whimbrel, 76 Teal, 7 Wigeon, 6 Med Gull, 1 Kingfisher, 2 Egyptian Goose, 20 Little Egret

Kingsmill Lake

24 Avocet, 47 Black tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 89 Dunlin, 1 Pintail, 150 Wigeon, 79 Shelduck, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Barnacle Goose


1 Black Redstart, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 Little Egret, 1 Turnstone, 1 Ringed Plover


1 Barn Owl


1 Tawny Owl

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Bodmin Moor 21st January

Sightings today on Bodmin Moor:

Upper Fowey Valley

1 Siskin
8 Greenfinch
20 Chaffinch
1 Linnet
2 Common Crossbill
3 Bullfinch
12 Goldfinch
1 Fieldfare
20 Redwing
1 Mistle Thrush
1 Green Woodpecker
3 Great spotted Woodpecker
1 Willow Tit
1 Treecreeper
1 Common Snipe

Golitha Falls

1 Nuthatch
1 Treecreeper
1 Grey Wagtail

Siblyback Lake

29 Common Teal
1 Wigeon
1 female Goldeneye
4 Tufted Duck
1 Bar-headed Goose
1 3rd winter Caspian Gull
2 adult Yellow legged Gull
2 Nuthatch

Caspian Gull - 3rd winter (?) 

Dozmary Pool

1 drake Lesser Scaup
6 Tufted Duck
4 Goldeneye 
2 Teal

Colliford Lake

4 red head Goosander
1 drake Pintail
13 Teal
2 Great crested Grebe
1st Winter Yellow legged Gull
1st winter Yellow legged Gull

Sunday, 1 January 2017

January 1st, Bob's bird count !

Its been a few years since I've been sober enough to get up early and spend a whole day out on new years day so I thought I would have a drive along the north coast and the Camel estuary and see how many different birds I could find to start my year list. As I left my house and got into the car my first species of the year was a Robin singing it's little heart out followed quickly by 2 Redwing , Carrion Crow, Blackbird and Song Thrush. It was still pitch black when I stopped at Mawgan Porth ( I was a little keen today!) and in the heavy rain I heard Wren, Dunnock,  Pheasant, Oystercatcher, Rook , Meadow Pipit, Jackdaw, Magpie and Pied Wagtail. Finally when I could see the beach I scanned through the large flock of 300 Black-headed Gulls picking out 3 Common Gull in amongst them.

I drove along the coast road and stopped off at Constantine Bay next, the weather was still miserable but from the car I saw Blue Tit, Great Tit, House Sparrow, Collared Dove, Woodpigeon , Linnet and Rock Pipit. A quick dash to the rocks in between the rain gave me 2 smart Purple Sandpipers. As I drove across Trevose golf course on my way to the headland I noticed a small flock of corvids on the edge of the road and would you believe it! In amongst them was a Hooded Crow! It was not long past dawn and I was already happy with my day having found a county rarity. It stayed around for long enough for me to get a rubbish photograph but at least you can see what it is. I also added a Raven in the same field. It was miserable at the headland so I didn't get out of the car but scanning with my scope at the sea yielded Shag, Great black backed Gull, Kittiwake, Herring Gull, Gannet, Fulmar, Red-throated Diver, Common Scoter, Razorbill and Guillemot. Whilst checking the fields from the car I also saw Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Stonechat, Skylark, Chaffinch and Corn Bunting. Next stop was Harlyn Beach and 2 stunning Med Gulls ( an adult and a 1st Winter) plus Buzzard, Moorhen, Little Grebe and Goldcrest in the valley. 

Hooded Crow; the grey mantle and black oak leaf shaped marking on the breast surrounded by grey are important features when ruling out a hybrid Carion x Hooded Crow.

Now it was time to have a good look at the Camel Estuary and in less than favourable conditions I found 42 Grey Plover, 16 Knot, Redshank, Turnstone, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Mallard, Shelduck, Teal, Siskin, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Lesser-black Backed Gull, Red-legged Partridge, Mute Swan and Greenshank. I also had a search for any Cattle Egrets that may be around and despite finding some likely places I could only find 26 Little Egrets feeding in the fields surrounding the estuary. Still I did see a smart Firecrest in St Issey whilst looking for Egrets so not a complete waste of time. 

From here I drove to Chaple Amble and saw 2 Fieldfare, Kingfisher, Water Rail,  Kestrel and Long-tailed Tit. Still keen to add more species I scanned from the car at Clapper Pools and saw a Green Sandpiper, Reed Bunting and Grey Heron. With a few hours of light left I went to the tower hide at Walmsley Sanctuary and whilst it was busy for birds the wind kept a lot of the smaller birds out of sight. Still I did see 248 Wigeon, 105 Teal, 126 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Pintail, 9 Shoveler, 4 Gadwall, Common Snipe, 2 Ruff, 1 Barnacle Goose, Canada Goose, Feral Pigeon, 1 Cettis Warbler ( rare here; it was calling from the reeds in front of the hide.) Jay and Sparrowhawk. Closer to home and with the light fading I stopped off at Trevithick East and noted a Treecreeper and a Tawny Owl. 
Ruff - Walmsley

Phew it was a manic day! Doing a bird count is great fun but once a year is enough! Still I was really pleased with my 92 species and if the weather was nicer I would have gone way over 100!