Thursday, 24 November 2011

Wednesday 23rd & Thursday 24th November: The Lizard Peninsula

My usual approach is to work on the cottage first thing in the morning then go out birding for a while and to repeat this pattern after lunch. However, given how early it's getting dark now I've changed this somewhat so the afternoon session is now bird first and then work which effectively means that I have two back to back birding sessions. With very little being reported on the Penwith peninsula I've used this double birding session to head over to the Lizard where there have been at least three dusky warblers which I was interested in seeking out: one near the Housel Bay "bufflehead" pond, one near Cadgwith and one at Kennack Sands.

I started off yesterday at the pond where I met up with local birder Tim Pinfield who was also searching for duskies and John Foster also turned up for a while also looking for them. Tim and I decided to team up and spent several hours in fruitless search of the hedge north of the pond before moving on to the sallows and woods surrounding the stream that flowed into Kennack Sands beach. The habitat here looked great and there were roving tit and crest flocks as well as good numbers of redwing but try as we might we couldn't turn up the target bird. We also tried the stubble field near Trethvas farm where the six cranes were reportedly periodically hanging out though we failed in this endeavour as well.

The Kennack Sands valley: great habitat but hard work locating stuff

Today, with no news of anything else of interest about I decided to have another try. I'd got some local information from Tony Blunden (who co-authors the fabulous Lizard Naturally blog) including the location of the Cadgwith bird. Tony also said that he reckoned the Housel Bay bird had moved on as he'd not seen it yesterday (which at least explained our lack of success there). I spent a couple of hours staking out the relatively narrow but heavily vegetated ditch at Cadgwith but still no luck despite the help of Tim and a friend who turned up there as well. I then moved on to Kennack Sands again (via the crane field - still no luck) where I passed another couple of fruitless hours before giving up. One of the issues that I was having with trying to find these elusive skulkers was that they are usually located by their call. However there are a number of other birds that can make similar "tick" calls and even trees creaking in the wind can catch you out if you're not careful. I'm also starting to find that my hearing is no longer as sharp as it once was which didn't help matters. After a couple of days of trying to pick out the right sort of tick from impenetrable vegetation I found that it was starting to do strange things to my mind and I was becoming hyper-sensitive to ticking noises! As a result I've vowed that I'm not going to go hunting for duskies again tomorrow unless someone reports one that's actually nailed down to a tree.

Kennack Sands late afternoon

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