Sunday, 3 March 2013

Rosenannon Downs (2nd March)

A full days birding up at 4am and returning at 12am (20 hours on the go in total, maybe a bit excessive).  All the same, it was still definitely worth it and since it was the weekend I thought I might as well take the opportunity for a good break in a beautiful scenic landscape before returning to the books.

The day was rather enjoyable but delays on the train meant I had a two hour to wait at Par.  Not such a disaster as it may seem as I spent the time going down to the nearby beach bypassing the football pitch to check the 100's of Black-headed Gulls.  There was in fact 1 ad. win. Mediterranean Gull among them.  It was ringed but it seemed the metal ring itself had slipped slightly over the upper part of its foot, causing it considerable discomfort as it was hobbling about on the grass, not such a nice sight to see and a note to all ringers to please make sure the ring is attached appropriately to ensure this does not happen in future!  Anyway, 1 diver sp. offshore at the beach and at least 7 Great Crested Grebes also on the sea (including 1 pair in courtship).  There were barely any birds on the beach except for 3 Rock Pipits and a Stonechat due to a lot of disturbance by dozens of dogs.  I count myself lucky that only one came to piss on my bag and coat (slight hint of sarcasm).

Sea or Portland Spurge

Rosenannon Downs

I finally arrived in Roche but there was still a couple miles by bike between the station and the downs, made a little more enjoyable by the sight of dozens of Fieldfare and Redwings.  Eventually arriving at Rosenannon Downs by late morning, I noticed a flock of c.20 passerines fly over and land in some long grass near the road.  I wondered over to check it out but accidentally flushed them before they all flew some distance up the downs near the top of the hill.  A bit of walking ensued but together with a small group of other assembled birders, we located the LAPLAND BUNTINGS feeding and scurrying about on the ground!  It certainly wasn't all as easy at it sounds, as getting any glimpse or view at all of them on the ground was extremely difficult and most of our views were restricted to flight views.  All the same I managed to enjoy watching the flock for the better part of the day and afternoon and managed to pick out at least 1 stunning male whilst in flight and briefly perched on the ground.

typically obscured view of one of the Lapland Buntings

Other birds of note at Rosenannon included a Peregrine making a brief attempt at harassing on of the many Snipe.  Also about were plenty of Skylarks, a couple of Meadow Pipits3 Stonechats and a Tawny Owl calling throughout much of the late morning.

Unfortunately I dipped on my next target species, Willow Tit, which I had been hoping to locate in the nearby woodland but all I could find were 2 Marsh Tits, and a Nuthatch.  Once again I headed back up onto the downs, this time to the far northern end where the occasional Snipe and even a Hare suddenly shoot out from where I was stood, both giving me a massive shock!

On my walk back across the downs again I suddenly stumbled across a very confiding female Lapland Bunting which provided relatively excellent views for some time, allowing me to try my best at digi-scoping it through the dense grass.

female Lapland Bunting, showing down to a couple of meters!

As dusk fell, and the number of birders gradually ebbed away, I was left standing on the downs alone in the dark.  Not as spooky as it may seem but still a great experience when an adult male HEN HARRIER came flying in to quarter the section of moorland near the road!  It stayed for about five minutes performing amazingly and was nothing short of an absolutely incredible and stunning bird!  Another short wait in hope of Woodcock was in fact rewarded with a brief appearance of a flyover SHORT-EARED OWL which headed in the direction of Rosenannon.

Last birds of the day were 2 calling Tawny Owls at Roche station before another long bike ride back to Tremough.


  1. Either Sea or Portland Spurge.

  2. Thanks Dave, I was planning on IDing it later this evening when I have the time but thanks a lot for the help