Thursday, 29 March 2012

Thursday 29th March, Rosewall Hill & Walmsley Sanctuary

This morning I was due to head back home but naturally I thought that I would stop off en route for some birding in various places. After packing everything away and making sure that the cottage was spick and span I headed off at around 9 a.m. The plan was to see if I could add a few more ticks to my Cornish list and I had three species in three different locations in mind for this.

My first port of call was a location that I'm not going to name looking for Dartford Warblers. I'd been told by John Swann that early spring before the Whitethroats have arrived is the best time to find them to avoid confusion over the song. It was an absolutely perfect spring morning with hardly a breath of wind as I parked up and within about five minutes of walking I could clearly hear a couple of males singing away at each other. I soon spotted one of them singing its heart out on top of a gorse bush, looking resplendent in the spring sunshine. As sightings of this species are often rather fleeting I enjoyed getting such good long views.

As I had a busy schedule and had achieved my target I didn't hang around but instead went on to Rosewall Hill (or Buttermilk Hill as it is often know locally) to look for my second target species, namely Ring Ouzel. The hill is a know hot spot for them on migration but I know from experience that they can be quite skulky little so and so's. It only took a few minutes to get to the summit and from there I carefully scanned in all directions but the only bird that I could come up with was a single Wheatear working its way along the East slope. As I was coming back down again I met up with Viv Stratton, who works the hills as his patch, visiting twice a day to walk his energetic dog. He gave me some tips on where to see Ring Ouzels for next time and told me a bit about the birds that he typically gets there which was most informative.

My final destination was Walmsley Sanctuary near Wadebridge for the long-staying female Blue-winged Teal. I'd heard that it was a rather elusive bird and could remain hidden for long periods of time but I wasn't going to be able to hang around for too long as I had a long drive back to Oxford ahead of me. I arrived there at around midday and mentally gave myself my usual two hour time limit as I walked towards the Tower Hide. Fortunately I entered the hide to find that the bird was actually on show making a dash across the channel to the shelter of the reeds on the other side. Having achieved my target so quickly I decided that I would only wait a relatively short period to see if it would show again for me to take some photos. In the mean time there were half a dozen black-tailed godwits, three ruff and the usual assortment of ducks, geese and gulls to look through. I mentally gave the teal until 1pm and sure enough at exactly this time it broke cover again, working its way partially hidden along the reeds before making another dash across the channel for the safety of the other side. I managed some rather shoddy video footage of it as it skulked but managed to miss it completely when it broke cover. Pleased with having seen it a couple of times relatively easily (one chap there had waited over two and a half hours to get a glimpse of it that morning) I went back to the car and headed for home, arriving back late afternoon, tired but very pleased with having obtained another couple of Cornish ticks today.

One of the three ruff on the side scrape

A rather poor videograb of the bird but at least you can
see the pale patch at the base of the bill

...and the dodgy video in full

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