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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Saturday, 3 May 2014

Great-spotted Cuckoo on the patch

One of the reasons I love birding in Cornwall

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Scilly choughs

I did a quick trip to St Agnes on the Isles of Scilly last week with the missus. A bee-eater, which conveniently graced us with its presence while having lunch on the 16th of April was probably the highlight, but perhaps more intriguingly, I encountered a couple of chough.

I saw two associating with one another on Castella Down near Long Point about 4pm on Mon 14th Apr. One was the colour ringed bird in all of the photos below. I didn’t get a good view of the legs of the other, but didn't notice a ring on it when in flight. I saw both together so am sure there was two. The colour ringed bird remained on Castella until Tuesday – although at times it was quite mobile – I also saw it on Wingletang and I last saw it flying over to Annett.

I apologise for the quality of the photos – the bird was quite distant and I was shooting into quite strong light. I have attempted to crop a couple of the images and enhance them a bit, which seems to show that combination is blue over red on the right leg and black over a metal ring on the left leg. 

I originally thought that the ringed bird I saw originated from Cornwall, but a bit of detective work suggests a different story. Genetic analyses suggests that, although the original choughs to arrive back in in the south-west originated from southern Ireland, it seems that a Breton is on the loose. Have a look at the bird in this photograph: It is almost certainly the same bird as in the photo below. The bird was ringed as a nestling on the island of Oussant in 2007 and was resident there until at least 2011. It was then photographed at Baggy Point in North Devon back in February and was seen there again in mid-March. From there, it seems to have made it's way to North Cornwall, and evidently from there to the Isles of Scilly. This of course begs the question of where the other one came from? More excitingly perhaps,it does raise the prospect that Chough could appear on the Isles of Scilly as a breeding species!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Footing it around the new patch

At the beginning January, I moved house to Porthleven – a small fishing village on the Cornish coast. A good excuse to test out the new patch and take part in Foot-it. The area does have a lot of potential. Loe Pool in particular can be pretty good for American ducks and has turned up quite a few rarities in the past (e.g. Black Duck, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead) and being coastal, it always has the chance of the odd seabird. However, it lacks decent wader habitat. For this reason and because a holiday in the week of Jan, the act of moving house and a very busy job all competed with Foot it, I set myself a realistic target of 90. In the event I easily exceeded that target, but it was hard graft.

The local patch - getting Redshank and Greenshank involved a walk to Gweek

The first few days involved local sites. A Balearic Shearwater and Bonxie in the post-storm aftermath on my first day back from holiday started the challenge well. No Grey Phalarope, despite extensive searching. The photos below, actually taken last night after a lesser storm gives you some idea of the conditions.

 Stormy weather - good for sea birds, bad for getting wet. Excuse the blurry photos. It was almost dark at the time. The house on the shoreline is large three story mansion and is perched almost 100m up the cliff. At the beginning of the year, the spray was breaking over the top of it.

 Yellow-browed warbler. One of at least two overwintering the sheltered valleys. This one taken in better light a short while before my camera developed a fault (now fixed) in late December, but quite likely to be the same lingering bird.

Yellow-browed Warbler was probably the highlight of the second week – one of two that I eventually found over-wintering in the patch. A few unexpected birds in the third week: a pair of Pale-bellied Brent Geese on Loe Pool and Glaucous Gull nearby continued the good trend. However it wasn’t until the final week until I cleared up some of the easy birds: e.g. Goldeneye, Redwing, Fieldfare and involved trips much further afield than I thought would be necessary. I still missed some easy ones: Lapwing and Golden Plover – there just didn’t seem to be any about in the mild weather.

The full list. Target 90. Total seen 104.

A final assault at dark eventually my last species of the month: a Tawny Owl. Total miles: c. 120. Total species: exactly 104. Target exceeded by 115.56%!

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