Saturday, 2 February 2013

Patching (2nd February)

A day with Dan and Greg around the patch and little beyond.  We stopped of for a couple dozen minutes at most spots before quickly moving on to incorporated as many sites as possible before midday   First up Gylly Beach were Greg soon put me on to a our first Slavonian Grebe of the day.  Next, on to Castle Beach were Gannets were diving offshore but nothing much more of note to be honest.  Round to Pendennis for our next sea-watch which produced the first Great Northern Diver of the day, 2 Purple Sandpipers on the rocky point, 1 Great Crested Grebe on the sea and a flypast Common Gull (which came as a big surprise given their tendency to be much scarcer in Cornwall than in the rest of the UK).  In fact, this was my first one for the Falmouth local patch.

Penryn River was next on the agenda and together we picked out 4 Little Egrets, Greenshank, Redshank and roosting Curlew at high tide.

A couple minutes drive and we pulled up in Mylor Churchtown in the hope of connecting with the day before yesterdays report of a possible Little Auk in the Carrick Roads.  Admittedly, this was a very long shot and unsurprisingly we dipped but at least 9+Black-necked Grebes and another Slavonian Grebe did provide partial compensation (the former being a nice year tick!).  Soon after arriving I picked out the grey nape of a probable Black-throated Diver not too far offshore but before it decided to turn its head it dived without reappearing unfortunately.  9 Common Scoter in total in the roads as well as 9+ Red-breasted Mergansers and another 2 Great Northern Divers.  The Common Gull flew past again and several Razorbills were dotted around on the place.

Next stop, Loe Beach (a site first for me!) were I reconnected with the 2 Great Northern Divers but dipped on Gregs Black-throated as the sun soon came out from behind a cloud creating a strong glare on the water making it impossible to refind the bird.

Carnon Down Sewage Farm was also a new site (our next stop) and as I went up the road leading away from the sewage works, I could only count a grand total of 1 Chiffchaff, hardly anything to be impressed with.  Dan on the other hand (with the correct footwear)  had been able to walk around the sewage works properly and had clocked up no fewer than 40 times my total!  I quickly had a peak around the sewage farm myself and soon nominate Chiiffchaffs were swarming though every hedge.  There were lesser numbers of Goldcrest and other tits but still enough to drag in a female Firecrest and most exciting of all, a SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF!  The plumage was all one might expect on this subspecies with a significantly paler mantle, back and head made up of pale grey tones (with no trace of any olive colouration).  The chest was even more extreme with only a faint buffy/beige colour.  The wings and tail, on the other hand, contrasted well with a more olive-coloured tinge and the tertails and retrices appeared to have darker centres compared to the accompanying nominates.  Both species and subspecies perched conveniently close together for ideal comparison.  The only fundamental problem being that it remained quiet throughout the time I watched it.  This alone raised the question as to whether I can tick it or not, is topography enough to claim it etc. etc. etc.

We discussed the above for some time in the car journey to our next site, Devoran but didn't come up with a definite yes no answer, after all it's probably best to leave each to their own!  As Chiffchaff races escaped our minds, waders became our next focus.  Our visit was timed well to coincide with the high tide and as a result we managed to get at least a dozen Bar-tailed Godwits with fewer numbers of Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank.  Dunlin were clearly the most numerous and totaled into the hundreds.  Another big Common Gull surprise, this time we counted a total of 13 bird! Definitely a new local record that I'm going to have trouble beating in the future!

In an attempt to get back to Dan's by midday, we only made a brief stop of at the stream next to Tremough Campus but he immediately picked out both Dippers still on the stream and together we enjoyed good views for a while before finally heading back for the day.

Well, nearly finally, whilst Greg and Dan went for home, I squeezed in my last effort to cover Swanvale, Swanpool and Pennance Point.  The day was now at it's best (in terms of the weather) but the bird scene was beginning to calm down.  Swanvale hosted a single Water Rail (only the back end visible unfortunately, hardly a year tick!).  Swanpool Bay on the other hand had a further 2 Slavonian Grebes but my main aim was for Pennance Point, were I enjoyed a rather relaxing and sunny ending to the day.

Feeling rather smug with myself basking in the sun at the top of the cliff with no disturbance and not a worry in the world, I only managed to count 2 very distant diver species and instead stared aimlessly down at the shore watching the mood break as a Herring Gull gruesomely ripped the legs of a helpless Starfish!

Many many thanks as always to Dan for the lift without whom my Falmouth patch list would only be half the size.

Falmouth! definitely the nicest I've ever seen it and in my opinion one of the most beautiful local patches In the UK!

1 comment:

  1. Hello lad, very enjoyable read about your latest birding trip around your local patch. I am so glad you are so near to the most beautiful birding patch.
    From Ephraim's blog you probably know where we went birding yesterday. We all had a nice time and my favourite was to visit Stowe. Can't wait to go back there. As we speak Dad will be enjoying a bird's eye view now. He is up in the air in a light aircraft for 90 minutes with Percy. I am sure he will tell you when you speak next. Lots of love mum