Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Tuesday 6th September: Hayle & Drift

For some time I'd planned to do a lot of the cottage decorating in the autumn for obvious reasons. I'd made a mental note to make at least one visit in September and perhaps a couple in October. I'd not really given much thought as to exactly when in September I should come down but instead kept an eye on what was happening down in Cornwall. I was suitably gripped off by the Western Bonelli's warbler at Polgigga and when a Baird's sandpiper turned up at Hayle shortly afterwards I started thinking that I'd missed a good slot in which to go. I then realised that if I wanted to visit in October I should really get down there quite soon as I like to leave a respectable interval between visits so that I can do a reasonable amount of work and not annoy my business partner too much with constant absences. I therefore decided that now was as good a time as any though I did rather have a nagging feeling that I'd missed a really good birding spell. As far as conditions were concerned it had suddenly got rather windy and the forecast was currently for a very windy week so there should be plenty of sea-watching opportunities if nothing else. I'd originally intended to head down on Monday but my wife reminded me that the tyres on the car were getting dangerously bald so I put it in for a service on Monday instead, intending to go down first thing on Tuesday morning. However the garage didn't have the tyres in stock so it wasn't until early Tuesday afternoon that I got the car back again and I set off west into the strong winds and squally rain.

The delay with the car, the weather and the fact that there was an accident on the A30 which meant further delays only added to my rather dark mood when I pulled up at Hayle at around 6pm. Fortunately the rain had now stopped though it was windy and cloudy. One look at the wonderful estuary though and my mood was immediately lifted: it was just after high tide and not twenty yards away were a flock of five juvenile curlew sandpipers together with loads of other waders and gulls. I felt like a pig in clover: my favourite birds are waders and gulls and to have a whole load of them to sift through was great. Apart from the curlew sands (a Cornish tick) there was not much else of particular note apart from the usual waders and gulls but I took plenty of photos and then with an hour of daylight left headed off towards Penzance.

Hayle Curlew Sandpipers photographed in poor light (Click to enlarge)

A couple of pectoral sandpipers had been reported earlier in the day at Drift reservoir so with the light fast fading I headed off there for a look. In the strong wind there were literally hundreds of hirundines hawking low over the reservoir so I had a good scan for red-rumps but to no avail though I did turn up a flock of nine Arctic terns which were picking flies off the water. I made it to the hide and opened up the slats to find a flock of half a dozen waders on the point not thirty yards from me: the two juvenile pecs (another Cornish tick) , 3 dunlin and 2 ringed plover. Although it was nearly dark I had a go at some video and photos for the record. It soon got too dark to see so I headed back to the car, drove back to the supermarket to stock up on provisions and then headed over to Pendeen to open up the house. It had been an enjoyable start to my visit.

One of the pectoral sandpipers taken in near darkness (Click to enlarge)

Some video footage of the two birds

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