Thursday, 2 February 2012

Thursday 2nd February: Loe Pool, Helston Sewage, Marazion & Newlyn

The main purpose of coming down had been to deliver a few items to the cottage and so first thing this morning I unpacked everything from the car and installed it in its proper place. I had a brief meeting with the builder to clarify the work that he was going to do and after that I didn't really have that much to do. I spoke to my wife and we discussed the possibility of my returning home tomorrow so that she and our two daughters could go on a shopping spree to London on Saturday whilst I stayed behind with our five year old son. As there was not much that needed to be done whilst I was down in Cornwall I couldn't really think of a good argument against this. However, if I was going to be making the long journey back home so soon I felt that at the very least I deserved a good solid day's birding today by way of compensation. Thus it was that at around ten thirty I left the cottage intending to pack in a fair bit of birding into what was left of the day.

The overnight news from around the county had been quite interesting: a red-head smew (not that common in the county) had turned up on the Loe Pool at Carminowe Creek, a ring-billed gull had been seen at Marazion briefly and a juvenile glaucous gull had been seen at Newlyn Harbour. With some new county ticks to chase I decided to start first with the smew. I'd not been to the Loe Pool before so this was also an opportunity to learn about another Cornish birding site. There I met Paul St. Pierre who'd just seen the bird and was now looking to see if he could spot the bufflehead all the way down at the other end of the pool. We spent a little while discussing the merits of the Drozmary lesser scaup before I went on to look for the smew. It turned out to be easy to find though it was a reasonable distance along the Creek in the company of a couple of tufted duck. On the way back John Foster turned up - this was clearly a popular bird with the locals.

Digiscoped smew

The next stop was Helston boating lake and sewage works, both new sites to me. The former held plenty of gulls which could be viewed at close quarters though nothing of note. The sewage works was alive with chiffchaffs, there must have been at least 20 all flitting around the settling tanks. After getting their fill of flies they would then go and sunbathe in the hedge by the fence where they would be remarkably docile and approachable. I did find one bird which looked spot on for a tristis though unfortunately it never called and I wasn't able to photograph it. A grey wagtail was also kicking around though there was no sign of the swallow that had been reported for a few days.

A sun-bathing chiffy

After that it was on to Marazion. There I immediately found the long-staying water pipit by the Red River mouth though there was no sign of the ring-billed gull in amongst the beach loafers.

The upper water pipit photo was taken with the
super-zoom and lower one was digiscoped.

Continuing with the gull theme it was then over to Newlyn. A brief look in Sandy Cove revealed nothing of note so I parked there and walked back towards the harbour. At the South Pier I soon found the juvenile glaucous gull. It's head and mantle were so bleached that for a while I struggled to age it. However, the eye was all dark and there was no blotchiness about it so it had to be a first winter. I wandered down into the harbour where I met Alex Mckechnie (a local) and also a visting birder whom I met earlier at Helston. We chatted for a while, watching the glaucous from a distance and also a first winter kittiwake that was flying around the harbour.

The Newlyn glaucous gull

As it was getting on, I decided to head back to the car with the intention of checking out Tolcarne beach and then back to Marazion. However after finding nothing of note at the first location and as I was by now feeling rather tired, I decided instead to head back home to Pendeen via a quick stop off at Sennen Cover to look for the recently-reported Iceland gulls. There were a number of gulls loafing on the Cowloe but I couldn't find any white-wingers in amongst them so I headed back to Pendeen. It had been a most successful day with two new county ticks for me.

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