My decent(ish) finds in Feb 2012: 1 Yellow-browed Warbler Carnon Downs 04/02, 1 Water Pipit Carnon Downs 04/02, 1 Smew Loe Pool 01/02

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Friday, 24 April 2009

The Lizard in Spring

Digiscoped at Hayle Kimbro Pool 24/4/2009 I wish!

Having successfully modified my research work to (a) ensure that it involves lots of fieldwork on the Lizard and (b) involves fieldwork this spring, I'm spending quite a bit of time down there. However, much as I'd like to say that the photo (left) was taken on the Lizard recently, and that I'm a fully paid-up member of the suppression gang, it wasn't and I'm not. The reason I haven't updated the blog much recently, is simply that I haven't actually seen anything worthwhile. Today was a little better. Plenty of hirundines and mipits moving through ahead of a thunderstorm, at least 4 groppers, 1 singing Cuckoo, a Tree Pipit and a Redstart, suggested a few migrants were around as well as the resident Dartford Warblers and Choughs.

A pint to anybody who can guess where the photo was taken. Clue: I did take it last week.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

1st winter Sabine's Gull

1st winter Sabine's Gull west past Lizard Point, 9:05am, 9th April 2009

It is well known fact that most serious birders, whether they admit it or not care about their reputation. It is also a well known fact that a sure-fire way to destroy your reputation is to claim outrageous single-observer records on a sea-watch, particularly if it's the first bird you've found in your newly adopted county. Imagine therefore, the rather curious mixed feelings of trepidation and elation I felt when I watched a 1st winter Sabine's Gull fly past Lizard Point last Thursday. Exceptionally rare in Spring and a bloody good record even if I say so myself. However, not only quite common in Autumn, but also exactly the kind of bird that raises a few eyebrows and causes even the most genial to cast aspersions. Why couldn't it have been something nice and shiny and enjoyed by the masses, like a Great Spotted Cuckoo or a Snowy Owl? Anyway - after watching it for about a minute and a half as it flew past, I was able to take a few fieldnotes. Make of them what you will. The fact it was almost entirely in 1st winter plumage and only just beginning moult into 1st summer struck me as odd. I know Sabs have a reverse moult strategy compared to most gulls, but would have expected the bird to have moulted on wintering grounds. Any thoughts?

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Pirate birding: to patch or not to patch?

Part of the coastline of The Lizard peninsula

Since getting serious about birding about 15-years ago, I've wanted to have a decent patch to work. I love the idea of birding a place regularly every morning and building a really decent patch list. I've patched a few areas, but to be honest it gets a bit dis-heartening if the best you can hope for is little gull and even a shag gets you about as excited as a teenager in the full grip of puberty. What you really want is a patch where anything can turn-up. Even a Yank Nightjar. Living in Penryn thus poses a dilemma. There's a few good local spots. The nearby reservoirs have turned-up Pied-billed Grebe & Lesser Scaup, Pennance Point might catch the odd southern migrant of the winds are from the SE and Swanpool has turned up Little Bittern in the past. The trouble is that birding these spots, you can't quite help wondering what you're missing. Most of the coastline around Penryn & Falmouth faces the wrong way and the good parts of the Fal Estuary are a 30 mile drive away on the other side. The Lizard on the other hand has it all. Sheltered coves that scream Dendroica, a solid track record of Continental overshoots and even an appearance by the aforementioned Nightjar. The trouble is - it's about 20 miles away - about 25 mins drive early in the morning and about 45 if stuck behind a happy camper. I haven't quite settled on the patch solution yet - but I'm leaning towards mixing it up a bit. Get out most days to do the local spots, but work the Lizard pretty regularly too. I'm going to keep two lists one for just the Penryn area and one for The Lizard & Penryn area. I haven't totallled them up yet, but will do soon and post them here.

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