Saturday, 24 January 2015

WeBS (20th January)

Went for the usual monthly WeBS (Wetland Bird Survey) with Dan on 20th January.  We encompassed most of the Lizard sites but returned early back home (as Dan had to find a suit, lol!).

Starting at Hayle Kimbro, we accidentally flushed 1 Snipe (nothing else in the area) then moved on to Lizard Point for a short seawatch.  There were good numbers (but a poor variety) of seabirds flying west, including Guillemots (90% sum plum now), Gannets and Kittiwakes but only the occasional Razorbill.  A Black Redstart was sheltering in the cove below the point.  Our next stop, Croft Pascoe produced a single female Shoveler (a site tick for both of us) before we headed on to Coverack, where we connected with the juvenile Glaucous Gull shortly before thinking of giving up.

Glaucous Gull (at Coverack)

Loe Pool continued to host 6 Goosander (3 males, 3 females), Water Rail, 40+ Pochard and a juvenile Glaucous Gull was resting amongst the gulls.

Our last stop of the day, Helston Boating Lake.  As well as the long staying Whooper Swan and 17 Shoveler on the main lake it was well worth the stop as we had great views of 25+ Chiffchaffs swarming around two trees and filling the hedges at the sewage works.  2 tristis Chiffchaffs were also amongst them as was a Firecrest!  Kudos to Dan for picking up a flyover Merlin which I managed to catch a short view of before it disappeared south over the back of the trees.

Glaucous Gull (at Loe Pool)

Loe Pool (the Glauc might just be visible in the centre stretching its wings)

colour-ringed Black-headed Gull 23D8

Whooper Swan

tristis Chiffchaffs

Thanks again to Dan for the driving!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Falmouth Patching (12th-18th January)

Essentially just copied and pasted my sightings from the Falmouth Thread on Bird Forum.

12th January:

Female type Black Redstart showing nicely outside my bedroom window again, even perching on my bike!

14th January:

A full days birding with Dan taking part in a one-team bird race (we won!). Basically, our aim was to try and clock as many birds between the hours 7:30-17:00 within the localish area and spilling out onto less frequented sites such as Devoran and Feock. Our efforts paid off well with a total 88 species!

Mute Swan
Canada Goose
Tufted Duck
Long-tailed Duck
Red-breasted Merganser
Great Northern Diver
Little Grebe
Great Crested Grebe
Slavonian Grebe
Black-necked Grebe
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Water Rail
Ringed Plover
Purple Sandpiper
Black-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwit
Mediterranean Gull
Black-headed Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Common Gull
Sandwich Tern
Feral Pigeon
Collared Dove
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker
Pied Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Black Redstart
Song Thrush
Long-tailed Tit
Coal Tit
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Carrion Crow
House Sparrow
Reed Bunting

Falmouth Town (Marlborough Road):

Starting at Dans we soon located 2 Black Redstarts (1 male, 1 female type) at the Trelawney/Marlborough Road crossroads, along the line of houses opposite the bowling green. Also 3 Blackcap.


1st win. Long-tailed Duck, still in the NW corner (diving almost continuously only showing for a few seconds at a time)
1st win. drk Scaup, almost definitely one of the earlier long staying birds that had left a few weeks ago
2 Water Rail, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 2+ Chiffchaff, 1 Kingfisher, a few Little Grebes and a Mediterranean Gull in the car park.


Only added Robin here and heard 2 Green Woodpeckers calling.

Swanpool Beach and Falmouth Bay:

2 Slavonian Grebes off Castle Beach, 11 Fulmar on the cliff, 15+ Turnstone, 7 Ringed Plover, Stonechat and 2 Mediterranean Gulls.  It was a sigh of relief to have a Sparrowhawk fly over (arch nemesis for any bird racer as they only crop up every now and then and pinning them down at any guaranteed site isn't easy).

Castle Beach:

1 Whimbrel

Pendennis Point:

1 Purple Sandpiper feeding on the rocks below the point
2 Great Northern Divers
2 Stonechat
3+ Common Gulls

Jahovah's Witnesses Hall:

1 Firecrest

Gorrangorras and Bissom Sewage Works:

15 Mute Swan, 3 Greenshank, 60+ Curlew, 30+ Redshank, Kingfisher, 2 Skylark over, c.10 Teal, 4+ Chiffchaff but no sign of the YBW in a brief search.


1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers (1 male, 1 female) and 1 Black-necked Grebe, 8+ Common Gulls (hardly the numbers we were hoping for but the wind was building up and the high tide was probably encouraging most of the grebes and mergs to take shelter in the creeks).


1 adult Sandwich Tern (a surprise find amongst the gulls at the northern end of the creek), 2 Raven, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 16 Black-tailed Godwits (1 colour-ringed bird: right leg pale greenish/white over green, left leg red over white with 8 on the white ring).  Double figures of Wigeon, Teal and Redshank.  Also, a handful of Common Gulls, Greenshank and c.10 Shelduck.

Feock (Loe Beach):

1 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Whimbrel and 1 Raven.

Stithians Reservoir:

1 Slavonian Grebe (from Stuart Hutching's Hide), 2 fem. Goldeneye, 10+ Little Grebes, 2 Ringed Plover (near sailing club), 1 Kestrel and c.15 Lapwing.  Southern cutoff: 1 Reed Bunting and numerous Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Dunnocks, Robins, 1 Chiffchaff and a Water Rail around the feeders.  9 Snipe in the centre of the cutoff directly ahead of the hide.  Rain soon set in from 2-3pm and our day list started to suffer as a result as well as slow our pace.

Argal Res:

Black-headed Gulls and Tufted Ducks.

College Res:

1st win. drk Scaup almost definitely the other long staying individual that was at Swanpool.  No sign of any Bittern yet unfortunately but did note 65 Wigeon and 2 Great Crested Grebes.

Swanpool Beach, Swanpool and Swanvale:

A couple Fulmar offshore and more rain.

Trescobease Park:

Nearly dark but still noted 20+ Redwing, 2 Bullfinches, Magpies in double figures (maybe pre-roost flocks), 4 Skylark and 10+ Meadow Pipits in the neighbouring field.

Also 1 Dipper at an undisclosed site on our route around the local area.

Thanks again to Dan for all the driving and the great company!

15th January:

Female Black Redstart in my garden again and even more unusual, a Meadow Pipit having a wander around the roof outside my window.

17th January:

Back out patching with Dan once again. :)

Stithians Res:

1 Slavonian Grebe, 13 Snipe (7 in the southern cutoff, 6 in the northern cutoff), 1 Peregrine, 1-2 Ringed Plover (need to check pics to see if 2 separate sightings are of different individuals).  Wildfowl include double figures of Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Canada Geese. Also 6 female Goldeneye, 1 Little Egret, 3 Stonechat, 1 Grey Wagtail, 3 Song Thrushes, 30-40 Redwing, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests, 1 Water Rail, 3 Curlew, Raven (heard only) and a Reed Bunting at the feeders.

College Res:

1 Yellow-browed Warbler showing nicely on the western bank c.200m North of wooden footbridge at the southern end. Precise location of bird here:
Also 2 drk Scaup lingering around near the island and diving regularly, 7 Goldcrest and 4 Chiffchaffs.

18th January:

Female type Black Redstart in my garden again.

Black Redstart

Monday, 12 January 2015

Falmouth Again! (10th and 11th January)

Back in Falmouth again!

The train ride down on the 10th January produced good views as usual across the beautiful Dawlish Warren section of the railway.  Notable birds seen from the train include Red-breasted Mergansers on the tidal creeks at Dawlish, a Common Sandpiper and Black-tailed Godwits.

The following day provided me with a last opportunity to check the Falmouth coastline before lectures started again in earnest.  From Swanpool, Matt and I walked back eastwards towards Pendennis, first picking up the long-staying 1st winter Long-tailed Duck at Swanpool and 2 Slavonian Grebes off Castle Beach.  Other species of note included a close in Black-throated Diver off Swanpool Beach, 20 Turnstone, a mixed Rock Pipits and Meadow Pipits flock numbering 20+ birds at Swanpool Point and 4+ Mediterranean Gulls (3 adults and a 1st winter).  From Pendennis I noted 6+ Great Northern Divers.  Here, I met up with Dan before heading to Gorrangorras where we had good views of the overwintering Yellow-browed Warbler at the sewage works.

Yellow-browed Warbler

Bissom Sewage Works

Bucks Shrike and Tring Res's (9th January)

With news of a Great Grey Shrike in the direction of Tring Res's I took the excuse to cycle the 20 miles North to try my luck and tie it in with a overdue visit to Wilstone.  With strong westerly winds, biking was particularly tricky but on arrival I was pleased to locate the Great Grey Shrike almost immediately (albeit distantly).  However, as I was packing up in order to move closer along the canal it disappeared and despite remaining on site for several hours there was no further sign.  A Peregrine shooting low through the field and over my head was an additional bonus.

 Great Grey Shrike

Very few birders were at Wilstone Reservoir which was nice as I had the place largely to myself.  A couple Goldeneye were dotted about and there were accompanying good numbers of Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Wigeon and Mallard.  A Kingfisher flew past the hide and the gull roost amounted to several thousand Black-headed Gulls although I couldn't find anything of particular note amongst them.

Staines (4th January)

Another visit to Staines, this time covering the moor first as dense fog would make viewing over the res's almost impossible.  I located 5 Water Pipits on the moor (four at the southern end feeding on the banks of the Colne River and a single in the centre of the moor).  Despite a considerable amount of effort I couldn't locate the Dartford Warbler or any Short-eared Owls although I think I'm entitled to say that may be down to the poor weather suppressing any of their attempts come out of cover as they did appear the following day.

Moving on to Staines Reservoir, the long staying Scaup and Great Northern Diver were both still present along with 3 Black-necked Grebes and 2 Redshank.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Dungeness (3rd January)

I'm not doing a year list this time, surprise surprise!  In fact I didn't do one last year either.  However, January does bring about a fresh sense of keenness as it provides the fresh opportunity to catch up with birds I didn't manage to get in the all too short year of 2014.  With a good portion of excitement Chris, Paul, Ephraim and I all headed down to Dungeness in the pouring rain to mop up on a selection of scarcer species.  To kick start our day we pulled up at Dengemarsh Road where we soon saw both the long staying Cattle Egrets sheltering under a trailer in the rain.  Our next stop involved a bit of a drive around until we finally found Horses Bones Farm and the 73+ Bewick's Swans that were lingering in a field nearby.  We also picked out the single Whooper Swan amongst them and 3 Tundra Bean Geese.

Mix of Bewick's Swans, Whooper Swan and Bean Geese

The reserve was next on the cards and with an initial failure at locating the Tree Sparrows at the entrance gate, we moved on to check out the pits.  Here we connected with 12+ Smew, 1 Great White Egret and Little Egret (completing a three egret day!).  Other highlights included 100's of Shoveler, half a dozen drake Pintail on Burrowes Pit and a Firecrest in the sea-buckthorn near the Makepeace Hide.  A visit down to "The Patch" came next but not before we finally located 5+ Tree Sparrows in the back garden of the house near the entrance gate.  In the dwindling hours we had left at the point, at least 20+ Red-throated Divers flew past (mostly West), 100's of Great Crested Grebes were lingering offshore and 2 Bonxies flew East.

A final stop at the Cattle Egrets was well worth the second visit as they were showing at a much closer range feeding in and amongst the cattle.

Cattle Egret

New Years Eve in Kent (31st December)

My family and I decided on spending the last day of 2014 in Kent so as well as touring around the countryside reminiscing of the past houses and schools we'd lived in and attended when we were kids my brother and I had the opportunity to check out the nearby Great Grey Shrike at Chilham.  Whilst watching the shrike, I picked up a pale gull appear over the top of the trees, flying straight towards us, a flurry of excitement came over, it was a juv Glaucous Gull!

Great Grey Shrike

Chilham, the Great Grey Shrike site

We also squeezed in a brief visit to my old patch which I used to watch when I was 7-8 years old.  This brought back fond memories of scrambling through hedges with some small prism binoculars to scan over the local farmers field where I was fortunate enough to see Kestrels!  14 years on and here is that same field.

Bowerland Farm, Pilgrims Lane, Chilham

Sunset at Reculver

Marsworth Bittern (30th December)

A brief trip to Tring for a walk around Marsworth and Startop's End Res with Ephraim, Dad and Theo.  We caught up with the local Bittern fairly easily as it was perched up in the reeds on the far side of Marsworth soaking in the late afternoon sun.  We left before evening set in but did catch the beginnings of the Corn Bunting roost with 16 birds appearing in the tall ash trees before diving down into cover.