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!

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