Thursday, 6 October 2011

Thursday 6th October: Pendeen, Stithians & Davidstow

On my last morning down in Cornwall I awoke to the predicted strong north-westerly wind: clearly a Pendeen Day and given how close I was it would be rude of me not to at least pop in first thing for a sea watch before heading home. In the car park I met Dave Parker who was just getting out of his car and soon after we'd installed ourselves in front of the light house a couple of other birders turned up including a chap whom I'd met with and chatted to the previous day at Stithians whilst not seeing the Glossy Ibis. It turned out to be a most enjoyable sea-watching session: for a start "callable" birds were coming almost constantly with a steady stream of sooties, balearics, arctics & bonxies, with some more interesting stuff turning up occasionally to spice things up. The highlights were two Great Shearwaters going through at a reasonably close distance, a juv. Sabines that I didn't get on, a few Grey Phalaropes, plus lots of the commoner stuff. What's more it was a nice small group, we were all sitting close together so you could easily hear what people were saying (important for someone like me who finds it difficult to hear with background wind noise these days) and we all got on well. In this group I felt confident enough to make a fool of myself by calling a kittiwake as a possible Sab etc. Unfortunately all too soon I had to leave to head back to the cottage though all in all I'd say that it was probably one of the most enjoyable sea-watches I've had so far.

Back home I had to have breakfast, pack the car and get my brother-in-law up to speed on how the heating etc. worked so it wasn't until around 10:30 a.m. that I finally departed. Naturally enough, I wasn't going to head straight home without stopping off somewhere and first port of call was back to Stithians Reservoir where the finicky Glossy Ibis had been reported on RBA as showing again this morning. This time it all worked out as it was supposed to and I turned up to find plenty of other birders all watching the Ibis which was there feeding away in one of the pools by the shoreline. It was rather distant but one could get reasonable enough views so I took some digiscoped shots for the record and headed on up the A30.

The Stithians Glossy Ibis

The second port of call was Davidstow Airfield or "Mordor" as it has been christened by Badger: he'd gone there a couple of days ago for the semi-P to find Davidstow completely fog bound and a desolate birdless wasteland. I must admit I do find birding there really difficult: if the bird you're looking for isn't in one of the obvious big pools then there is a vast area to search through and I have spent several fruitless hours there in the past looking for stuff. This time I chose some different tactics: after a quick check on the main pools I decided to look at the other cars there to see if any looked like they were watching something good. I saw one near the road which had been stationary for some time so I headed over and sure enough there was the Semi-P by the side of a large puddle right next to the main road. The great thing about Mordor of course is that when you do find a bird you get cripplingly good views and I watched this delightful Nearctic vagrant down to just a few yards. At one point someone (a non-birder) turnd off the main road and drove at high speed right through the puddle where the sandpiper was. I felt sure that the bird must flush or even worse be run over but it just scuttled out of the way and seemed remarkably unperturbed. The guy who'd been watching the bird before me told me that there was also a Snow Bunting on the next cross runway and sure enough when I went to look there it was, remarkably my third one in a week down here in Cornwall. On my way back to the road I took pity on another car whose occupants were looking around forlornly and told them where the semi-P was which they much appreciated. With a long drive ahead of me I pointed the car in the direction of Oxford and headed for home.

...and a bonus Snow Bunting

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