As I mentioned yesterday, I was resolved not to visit the Lizard peninsula today if I could help it. Apart from anything else the long trips over there were detracting from my decorating work which I need to press on with. I spent the first half of the morning on cottage work, making some good progress. When it came time to think about heading off somewhere I noticed that there was a reasonable westerly wind and also some bright sunshine. A glance out of my window revealed that there were plenty of birds passing by on the sea so I decided to have a Pendeen session. Despite it being November there were plenty of birds to look at: there was a constant stream of auks and gannets and frequent flocks of kittiwakes going by. I also had a few juvenile skuas: 4 arctics and a pom, all passing by at close range and well lit in the bright light. A great northern diver sped by and an unidentified wader species flew past, struggling against the wind whilst on the shearwater front there were two nice balearics and a single manxie. However the highlight of the morning was when I picked up a grey phalarope just beyond the reef. Shortly after I spotted it, it landed on the sea and I could even see it swimming along before it took off again, only to land again a few moments later. It repeated this pattern quite a number of times and I was just wondering why on earth it was doing this when suddenly a peregrine swooped down and snatched the bird just as it was taking off again. As the falcon flew off a second peregrine flew after it and seemed to be pestering the first one for its prize. I felt sorry for such a sad end to the phalarope but it was amazing to witness such drama.
I had to go to St. Erth to the recycling centre after lunch so I thought that for my afternoon birding sesion I would do something over there. The St. Gothian Sand drake ring-necked duck seemed like an obvious choice and I thought that I would finish off with the high tide at Hayle.
At St. Gothian, all the ducks were in one corner and I soon picked out the drake ring-neck. Unfortunately he seemed to be trying to take a nap and would float around with his head tucked in, occasionally lifting it up whilst he re-adjusted his position before putting it back down again. To try and get a photo I had to keep tracking him in the superzoom lens and wait for the brief head-up moments. After a while he woke up and started feeding so I was able to get off a few easier shots of this very handsome bird.
I nipped into Carnsew Basin where there was a flock of eight bar-tailed godwits and five grey plover and two knot in amongst the dunlin. I was looking out for mergansers which had been reported there a while ago but there were only three little grebes on the water itself. At the Hayle bridge I scanned through all the wigeon and teal carefully, looking for American infiltrators but to no avail though I did find a pair of pintail. There were only modest numbers of gulls to grill and nothing of note. Ryans Field held the usual curlews, godwits, redshank, oystercatchers and four knot. It was getting dark by this point and I had some errands to run so it was time to leave. It had been nice to see so many birds today - such a contrast compared to the previous two days! I noticed that there had been no reported dusky warblers yesterday and I'm thinking that perhaps the colder weather that started the day I arrived down here cleared them all out- at least that explains my complete lack of success over the previous two days.