Monday, 18 November 2013

Winter birding begins in Falmouth (9th-17th November)

I've been out patching a couple times recently and it's quite evident that numbers of winter visitors are flooding into the county.  It was a slow start on the 9th with only a couple of noteworthy species including Mediterranean Gulls, 1 Whimbrel and 5 Great Northern Divers on the seawatch.  2 auk sp. also flew westwards.

I didn't feel like repeating last weeks dip of the WRSands at Hayle so went patching again (surprise surprise).  It was still relatively rewarding and I encountered my first 2 Purple Sandpipers on patch for the winter down at Pendennis Point.  4 Great Northern Divers were also distributed around the bay and 2 Red Admirals were still on the wing!

1 of 2 Purple Sandpipers at Pendennis Point

The 12th experienced an increase in auk movement with 26+ flying west past Pendennis.  2 Common Gulls (ironically, an uncommon bird for the area) also flew up the Carrick Roads and there were good numbers of Gannets offshore.

A quick check of the patch again with Matt.  We were lucky enough to encounter 3 littroalis Rock Pipits on Swanpool Beach (despite considerable disturbance).  One of which still had remnants of a pinkish chest although this isn't noticeable in the picture.  A Kingfisher at Swanpool was also an exceptional sighting as it's the first one I've seen since patching the area.  After the original adults on site died out over a year ago, they haven't been replaced until now so fingers crossed this one sticks around and finds a mate. 

littoralis Rock Pipit on Swanpool Beach.  This one did have the remains of a pinkish chest but unfortunately this isn't visible in the pic.  The obvious supercilium is though

The 16th was somewhat more exciting as I was out volunteering on board the AK Wildlife cruises.  We headed for Gerrans Bay, where we encountered an impressive 14+ Great Northern Divers, 1 Black-throated Diver (no Pacific unfortunately).  I also picked up on a male Black Redtstart perched on one of the tug boats in the docks just as we casted off.  2 Purple Sandpipers at St Anthony's Head along with a Peregrine added to the days total.  We also encountered 8+ Grey Seals and even a Common Seal, in the Carrick Roads (a very unusual record for this part of Cornwall).  Lots of Mediterranean Gulls also between Pendennis and Gerrans along with good numbers of Kittiwakes, 2 Balearic Shearwaters west through the bay and a Guillemot on the sea.

one of my utmost favourites, Great Northern Divers!

From the entrance of the Carrick Roads, we worked our way northwards, heading up the River Fal towards Truro.  On route, we were very lucky to encounter a large feeding flock numbering no less than 27 Black-necked Grebes!  They were all diving/surfacing almost simultaneously so counting them was fairly straightforward but checking through the flock proved a little more difficult.  However, I still manged to pick out a single Slavonian Grebe.  14 Red-breasted Mergansers also in the Roads was an added bonus and I got a short view of a hunting Peregrine as it grabbed its prey in flight before dropping it and continuing south towards the Roseland.  Other sightings include 1 Common Sandpiper along with plenty of other waders at the northern end of the creek.

2 Great Northern Divers

a fraction of the feeding group of 27 Black-necked Grebes!

In all, a very enjoyable trip that really proved to me that winter was well a truly on its way.

Yesterday started with some moth trapping over at College and Argal.  Admittedly, I was still half asleep and we didn't catch much but the early start bridged me over to my bird trip later that afternoon.  I was secretly glad that no-one turned up (thanks to my halfhearted attempt at publicising the event) so I made my way to Flushing alone.

Patching was certainly a treat as I had great views of a stunning Firecrest (my first on patch for the winter)!  It took me several hours to get to Trefusis Point and scrambling over the rocky shore was nothing short of exhausting but patching is always rewarding whatever the results as I always get a sense of achievement at the end of the day.  1 Great Northern Diver in the Carrick Roads was my reward at making it to the Point along with a single Whimbrel.

Whimbrel at Gorrangorras

I also found my first Fieldfare of the winter skulking in the graveyard along with numerous other winter thrushes.  On my way back, walking through Flushing, I picked up on a classic "tseehwee" Yellow-browed Warbler call coming from a pair of fruit trees surrounded by housing!  I searched the two trees thoroughly and got plenty of odd looks from the locals staring at me from their windows.  I didn't get much of an opportunity to track the bird down as I was soon distracted by a couple old guys asking what I was looking for.  I eventually broke away and searching the tree more again, I noticed a plastic owl sp. had been placed in the tree (with the intention of spooking birds from the area).  This was probably the reason for the incessant YBW-like calling.  None the less I didn't locate or hear the bird again after the interruption from the locals and I could only find a single Coal Tit and Great Tit hopping around the tree.  Was I just fooled by the incredible works Great Tit mimicry?

Today's birding with Matt consisted of a short walk around College Reservoir, incorporating the dam at the northern end of Argal.  Very little of note and the continuous light drizzle wasn't very encouraging.  8 Curlew on the surrounding farmland were the highlight.

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