Sunday, 14 December 2014

Falmouth + Lizard (6th-14th December)

Been spending the last couple days birding Falmouth and Lizard with Dan as term is now finished!

Congrats to Dan who has recently taken on the role of warden of Stithian's Reservoir (hopefully that elevates me to the position of assistant warden :) ).  Now that we're making more regular visits to the site, it was good to get an intro of the behind the scenes work by Greg with whom we had a wander around the res on the 6th December.  I was fortunate enough to find a Slavonian Grebe on the main body of water shortly after we arrived.  Other highlights include 7+ Snipe, a couple Goldeneye, 5 Mediterranean Gulls, Water Rail, a couple Curlew and a Fox.

The usual monthly WeBS count on the Lizard was undertaken on the 9th December.  A morning seawatch produced 1 Bonxie, 1 Balearic Shearwater, 1 diver sp., 4 drake Common Scoter and 3+ Harbour Porpoise.  Hayle Kimbro and Croft Pascoe were both totally deserted.  Loe Pool was more productive and hosted 3 Goosander (2 females, 1 male), 43 Pochard and 4 Shoveler.  Helston Boating Lake and the neighbouring ponds had the usual adult Whooper Swan, a couple Shoveler and Teal.  To round the day off, a quick excursion past Stithian's  Res produced good numbers of Wigeon and Teal whilst Gorrangorras had a rather confiding Common Sandpiper and a few Greenshank.

Patching by myself on the 11th December.  I started at Pendennis Point where a wader sp. shot past me.  I couldn't make out all the necessary features on it due to very strong headwind but it was probably the first returning patch Purple Sandpiper of the winter.  4 Great Northern Divers were distributed between the Carrick Roads and Maenporth whilst Swanpool still hosted the Long-tailed Duck, 2 1st win. drake Scaup, 3+ Water Rail, Chiffchaffs and a Kingfisher.  There was a red colour ringed Herring Gull below the Hooked Cafe at Swanpool too.  Notable birds at Maenporth include Firecrest, Chiffchaff, Redshank and another Kingfisher on the coast.

1st winter drake Scaup

Birding the entire day with Dan (12th December) so just stolen our shared highlights from his post on the Falmouth Birding thread on Bird Forum.

Pendennis for a seawatch. 8:40 -11:20 all west

2 Balearic Shearwater (distant)
10 Black-throated Diver
2 Great Northern Diver
2 Red-throated Diver
1+ Fulmar
100+ Kittiwake
100+ auk sp
5+ Guillemot
1 Razorbill
27+ Med Gull
5+ Common Gull

Additionally -

7 GN Diver on the sea in Falmouth Bay
2 Whimbrel
5 Oystercatcher
1 Stonechat
1 Red-breasted Merganser
(male) flew into the Carrick Roads

Cracking views of the BT and RT divers, interestingly one of the BT's didn't have an obvious flank patch.  Here's my comment on Bird Forum's Falmouth Birding thread that I've just copied and pasted in:

Around 9:30am, a group of 4 divers entered the bay flying E to W, all but one being obvious BTDs. However, one seemed to be lacking an obvious white thigh patch, unlike those that it was accompanied by. This did begin to raise some concern and with limited time, I tried to compare it to it's neighbours which consistently confirmed it to have a much reduced or lacking white rear flank patch. I tried to desperately compare structural features but this didn't have any promising returns. Now, only left with an angled view from behind I tried to get a view of the vent. This rang alarm bells as it seemed the demarcation between the vent and belly was separated by a dark band! Whilst I dare not say the word, I wouldn't like to hold back the possibility of this bird being something more interesting. However, personally I'd sway towards the more likely option of it being an unusual BTD with a worn flank. The vent strap might also be explained by a divide between the two feather tracts of the vent and belly. Nonetheless, it was an interesting bird to watch albeit with unsatisfactory brief views.

In hindsight, I realise I should have taken a closer look at the ear coverts and tried harder to compare overall size.

Headed off to Swanpool briefly next,

1 Scaup asleep (couldn't see the second individual in our brief visit but it was probably just hiding in the reeds)
1 Long-tailed Duck

We also made an afternoon visit to Stithian's Res.  Slavonian Grebe still present in a small channel on the West side of the reservoir.  3 Peregrines were a treat to see, including a 1st year bird feeding on a freshly killed Coot in front of the Stuart Hutchings Hide and a pair sat on the opposite bank investing a half hearted attempt at hunting the wildfowl.  2 Pintail were also new additions and included a male and female bird.

Peregrine with Coot kill

Slavonian Grebe

Not much birding on the 13th December as Dan and I were working on his fields near Treverva.  However, earlier this morning I was typing up this new blog post with background music nearly at full volume when a female-type Black Redstart flew into view and perched 2 feet outside my bedroom window sill!  A much anticipated garden tick!

This afternoon, a Mistle Thrush flew North over Treverva, I'm not sure I remember seeing any in and around the Falmouth patch before so it could well be a patch tick! Also 1 Small Tortoiseshell was making the most of some December sunshine.

Yet another Pendennis Point seawatch today produced the regular Great Northern Divers and at least 1 Black-throated Diver, 1 Peregrine and a Whimbrel.  4 Red-breasted Mergansers (1 male, 3 females) were also flying around the Carrick Roads.  The Black Redstart returned outside my window this afternoon too.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the congrats. When they send me my gold chain of office I'll of course break a bit off for you to make a nice badge with ... perhaps ... !

    At some point will have to investigate that diver further ...