Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Wednesday 12th January: Foggy Birding

I awoke not to the expected torrential rain but instead to find that Pendeen was shrouded in heavy fog. This weather is of course the worst for birding in that you just can't see anything at all at a distance. I had a couple of hours to kill before my meeting with the builders but it soon became apparent that the whole of the Pendeen side of the peninsula was fog bound so the only option was to head back over to the other side around Mounts Bay again. I briefly stopped off at Drift reservoir, hoping to catch up with the over-wintering Greenland white-fronted goose there but there was so much fog that one couldn't see more than thirty yards or so. In the end I went for a walk along Marazion beach just for something to do. Whilst I was getting my waterproofs on (for it was raining a little) a confiding rock pipit hopped right up to me, looking for food behind the shelter of the sea wall. It was certainly the closest I've ever been to a rock pipit. There was not much to report on the beach apart from a couple of stonechats.

I popped in at Pendeen watch just to take a look but youcouldn't see beyond the Wra so there wasn't much point in setting up the scope.

I went back for my meeting down at the Cottage with the builder which all seemed to go well and in fact we were finished in a little over an hour which gave me plenty of time to do some more birding in the afternoon. The only plan that I had was to try for the 8 Bewick's swans that were at Stithians reservoir. I'd been told by John Swann via e-mail that if I was interested in doing a Cornish list the last twitchable Bewick's had been ten years ago so they would be good birds to catch up with. I'd read that they usually came in quite late so I had a bit of time to kill before heading off in that direction. I popped in at Drift again but it was still too foggy to see so I did some brief stops around the bay where I found 11 common scoter and an eider at Sandy Cove and the usual purple sandpipers and turnstones at Battery Rocks. I had lunch in Long Rock beach car park where the pacific diver was still showing just off shore and then set off for Stithians.

I'd not been to Stithians reservoir before and although I managed to navigate to Rame (the nearest village) easily enough, in the fog I managed to get lost in the maze of small roads that lead from there to the bird hide. I ended up driving all the way around the reservoir before finally arriving at hide at a little after 3pm. I had hoped that it would be fog free inland but on the journey but it soon became apparent that there was quite thick fog in places and the hide was densely shrouded. By now my expectations of seeing any swans had vanished but I thought that I'd at least have a look out the hide whilst I was there. Sure enough one could see only a short distance from the hide where a few wigeon and teal were feeding. One couldn't see to the far side at all which is where I assumed the swans would be. Dejectedly I scanned all the angles at the thick whiteness. Through the last set of windows at the side of the hide I suddenly realised that through the foliage I could make out some large birds. These turned out to be some canada geese and then lo and behold next to them I saw some white shapes in the white fog, the swans no less! Amazed I took some video footage but combination of the fog and foliage meant that the resulting grab is of record shot quality only.

This is the view that I had!

Given the poor quality of the viewing I didn't stay too long but headed back through the fog towards Penzance. That evening I spent some time with my niece, who had recently moved to near Truro and who drove over to Penzance so that she could see the cottage and we could catch up on news.

Given how there were no photographic opportunities today I thought that I'd post this shot taken late afternoon yesterday at Long Rock where there was a nice reflective quality to the scene.

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