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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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.


  1. A galvanising prospect, a new patch. Look forward to seeing how things go for you. All the best with it. :o)

  2. Good to have another birder in Cornwall Ilya. Don't get involved with the politics, supressing and bitching and you will be fine. I unfortunatley have become embroileed but am someway to cleansing myself by imersing myself in websites and patching at St Gothian sands. Will put you on my bloglist!

  3. Thanks Gavin & thanks PJF - what is your name incidentally? I've added the St Gothians Sands blog to my blog list. Hoping not to get embroyled in the politics etc and concentrate on the patching instead.

  4. Hi Ilya
    I have the same dilemma, on the cusp of moving to Norwich, working near Whitlingham, which could be a good new local patch for me. But, with all that NE Norfolk coast line from Breydon round to Sheringham, plus the Broads, should I waste time at the patch close to home or do some wandering?
    A difficult one. Maybe just go with the gut feeling on a particular day and don't get too hung up if you miss something on your local patch.
    Good luck!
    Jono L

  5. Its Paul Freestone. I run the Cornwall Birding website. Thanks for the link.

  6. Hi Ilya and welcome to the Lizard, my patch since 1985, but I don't begrudge a new face. My Lizard list is 272 so I predict it may take you a couple of years to catch me.... I'm away in the States from tomorrow until May 25th so you have a great opportunity to grip me off! Andy Pay (ethical birder - will suppress when necessary for welfare of bird, people and habitat, and not ashamed of it :-))

  7. Jono - as an ex-Norfolk birder I can sympethise. I never really did Whitlingham much, prefering to spend my time on the coast, particularly the bit between Happisburgh & Winterton. I loved Blakeney Point too though. Rush Hill at Hickling's the best bit of the Broads IMO.

    Andy - I've come across your name before. Was it you that found the Hoopoe & windmill farm recently? That's quite a list - I suspect it would take at least a couple of dozen years for me to catch-up:-) My views on suppression aren't that disimilar to yours - i.e. I'm quite happy to do it if necessary. Incidentally, do you have an e-mail I could contact you on? There's a couple of things I wouldn't mind asking - e.g. what the perceived wizdom is of what to do if something big turns up on Hayle Kimbro...

  8. Ilya, yes that's me. Windmill Farm is my patch-within-a-patch! My e-mail address is and my mob no is 07971 815554. We're going away this morning so won't get chance to chat about HKimbro. It's a tricky one, private land but now covered by right to roam. Difficult place for rarities as easily disturbed. Last time there was a twitch there a lot of veg was trampled - possibly a problem for dragonflies (it's a great site), but on the other hand, maybe beneficial cos grazing has virtually ceased and the site is going downhill. Good luck!


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