Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Sunday 8th May: St. Gothian, Hayle & Marazion

I had to go down to Cornwall once more: the decorating was now nearing completion but with our first guests due to arrive at the beginning of June there was still plenty to finish off. On this trip down I'd set myself the task of completing the main kitchen/dining area which had had some of the worst mould and damp problems in the building so it would require a fair bit of work to make it look nice. In between of course I was hoping to get some good Cornish May bird action and without the pleasure of the company of the rest of my family I would have plenty of time to get out there though indications from the reports in the days leading up to my visit were that things were once again rather quiet in the area. Sure there was a Bonaparte's gull, an American Golden Plover and a Great White Egret but apart from that, there was very little about.

Sunday 8th May
Despite the quiet prelude Fortune chose to smile on me as on the Sunday morning I was just finishing my breakfast before setting off on the long journey down when I got a call from local Cornish birder John Swann checking that I'd heard about the four Black-winged Stilts which had turned up that morning at St. Gothian's NR. I'd not actually switched my Bird Guides text service over to Cornwall yet that morning and so had missed this snippet of news. With this avian carrot dangling before me I hot-footed it down to Cornwall arriving some four and a half hours later at St. Gothian's NR. It was sunny but incredibly windy there and I made my way over to the far side of the main pool where a few birders were gathered. Sure enough there were the four stilts only about 30 or 40 yards away, trying to shelter from the wind. One of them seemed to be limping as it tried to walk about on the edge of the pool, the others made half-hearted attempts to feed though they spent most of the time whilst I was there just resting and trying to shelter from the wind. They turned out to be one-day wonders as the next day they were gone but it had been a great stroke of luck to have them turn up on the day that I was coming down. No apologies for a large number of stilt digiscoped photos as they were wonderfully photogenic birds.

You can see why they are called stilts, their legs are unfeasibly long

With the stilts safely ticked off it was time to catch up on the other local rarities. After stopping in a the supermarket to pick up some provisions (I'd been caught out by early Sunday closing in the past and didn't want to make that mistake again) I made my way over to the Hayle estuary where I was soon watching the first summer Bonaparte's Gull. There were only half a dozen or so black-headed gulls around so it was an easy task to pick out the American vagrant from in amongst them though it was rather distant when I first saw it.

The Bonaparte's spent a fair bit of time asleep,
occasionally popping it's head up like this...

...and I eventually got a brief look at it's lovely bubblegum-pink legs

The estuary was looking rather empty at this time of year with a few Shelduck and one or two Whimbrel the only birds about apart from the usual Herring Gulls. The American Golden Plover had last been seen on Copperhouse Creek a couple of days ago but had not been reported at all yesterday so had in all probability moved on. Nevertheless I decided to check out the Creek just in case though the best that I could turn up were a few more Whimbrel.

Whimbrel on Copperhouse Creek

Next it was on to Marazion where the Egret was apparently holed up in the Conservation Area in the North West corner of the reedbed. There was a gate from which one could view the area though when I arrived there was only a Little Egret and a couple of Grey Herons to be seen. Fortunately within about ten minutes the Great White Egret made a little flight out of the reeds where it was easily distinguishable from its smaller cousin by it's long neck and long dangling legs.

Having completed my mopping up operation on all the local goodies it was off to the cottage to get unpacked and to rustle up something to eat. It had been a great first day back down in Cornwall.

No comments:

Post a Comment