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...

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