Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Tuesday 22nd to Friday 25th February: Mostly Pendeen

With the family now down with me my birding opportunities were much more limited. However, I tend to get up before the rest of them and would often choose to nip down to Pendeen watch to see what was about. On Tuesday I chose to wander along the coastal path and down to the sea a few hundred yards west of the lighthouse itself and from here I spotted loads of auks, kittiwakes and gannets sitting on the water and I managed to pick out a single manx shearwater in amongst them. I wondered whether the birds were roosting there overnight or if they were being drawn in by some close-in bait fish in a similar manner to Carbis bay. This was nevertheless enough encouragement for me to resolve to do a proper sea watch down at the lighthouse the next day.

Tuesday afternoon we went for a walk en famille along the beach at Marazion into Marazion itself where we had a nice cream tea at the Godolphin Hotel. On the way back I spotted a black redstart on one of the buildings near the end of the causeway.

A herring gull at Marazion

Wednesday was fog bound and I didn't bother to go to the lighthouse at all. Later in the day I sneaked in 10 minutes at Jubilee Pool where I all I could manage was one diver though I didn't get good enough views to identify it.

Thursday morning was mercifully fog free so I went down for an hour and a half's session at the lighthouse. Once again there was a wide variety of birds on the water though as I watched they gradually dispersed. I adopted my usual tactic of setting my scope just beyond the left-hand most of the Wra which meant that birds were reasonably close and I wasn't straining to identify things as they were passing in the distance. During my session I spotted 8 manx shearwaters, 4 balearic shearwaters, 2 puffins, a diver species (probably red-throated though I've yet to get to grips fully with flying divers in winter plumage) and huge numbers of auks, kittiwaks and gannets. In addition a raven was working it's way along the cliffs. As I walked back to the cottage I heard the plaintive cry of a plover. Whilst it was probably a golden plover one can't help but wonder given that one is right on the west coast whether it might be some American plover vagrant calling out with joy at finally making landfall. As I never saw it I'll never know but that's one of the great things about Cornish birding: all these rarities are a real possibility.

Later that day most of the family went to the cinema so after dropping them off I elected to go and stare at the sea instead. At Jubilee Pool the usual purple sandpipers and turnstone were about and looking across towards Long Rock I managed to spot the Pacific diver and a great northern diver together. I was lucky enough to get both birds in the scope at the same time which gave a great opportunity to compare and contrast the two species.

The purple sandpipers were around and as delightful as ever

Friday morning I was back at Pendeen again and once more there were large numbers of birds on the water. Today I counted 2 manx shearwater, 1 balearic shearwater, and another probable red-throated diver. In addition I spotted an interesting large gull on the water that caught my attention: it had a strongly streaked head though the streaks were very confined so that it effectively had a hooded appearance. The wing and mantle colour was rather pale, far too pale for a great black-backed and even looked too pale for a lesser black-backed though definitely darker than the argenteus gulls that were also about. Given that I was in Cornwall where several had already been spotted this immediately got me thinking of Azorean yellow-legged gull, a species with which fortunately I was familiar having seen the bird a couple of years ago at Appleford in Oxon. Unfortunately the bird flew off as I was reaching for my digiscoping camera and I wasn't able to do things like age it properly. This was important because, according to Martin Elliot with whom I spoke later that day, fully adult birds would have lost their head streaks by now. It would have to remain a "possible/probable" though nevertheless a most interesting sighting.

After a final bout of painting it was time to head for home. It had been a great week in my favourite part of the country and a wonderful opportunity to add to my Cornish list.

No comments:

Post a Comment