Tuesday, 25 October 2011

25th October: Pendeen & Nanquidno

After yesterday's downpour it was pleasantly calm and sunny. First thing, before Luke was even up I nipped out for a quick tour of the garden and a walk down to the lighthouse. The usual three ravens were still about and I found a late wheatear in the field next to the road. In the garden of Old Count House there was a small tit flock working its way along the bushes and at the tail end of this gang was a lovely lesser whitethroat, looking very smart indeed as it poked about in the foliage. It didn't have the pale sandy look of a central asian but even so a lesser whitethroat is surprisingly rare for the Penwith peninsula. In fact John Swann told me a story of how once at Porthgwarra everyone was lined up by the car park sallows looking for a red-eyed vireo. After a while someone called it out and all eyes turned to the bird. Almost immediately after that someone else called out a lesser whitethroat and apparently all the Cornish birders immediately switched to looking at that instead such was its rarity value!

Pendeen rock pipit

Later that morning, after my painting session, we were just contemplating where to go when news broke about an Isabelline shrike by the airfield at Nanquidno so I quickly mobilised the troops and we set off. There, Luke and my brother-in-law waited by the car whilst I went to check things out. Dave Parker, John Swann as well as plenty of visiting birders were all there but there was no sign of the shrike. It later turned out that according to the original finder it was working it's way along a hedge rather than staying put so was very much in transit which was a shame as it would have been a nice bird to see. Our party decided to nip down to Nanquidno valley itself briefly where Luke had a paddle in the stream with his wellies before we headed back to base.

Nanquidno buzzard - not really much compensation for the lack of shrike

That afternoon I did some more painting whilst the other two headed off to mess around at the local beach. Whilst I was busy painting a window that looked out into the garden I spotted the lesser whitethroat again in my own garden now - a fine Cornish garden tick. I sent a text to John Swann who lives nearby and he nipped over and managed to see the bird for himself.

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