My mind has come to associate coming down to the cottage with getting up early in order to go birding: normally when I'm here with the family my only chance of birding is to get up before them all and to nip out. However, for some reason it seems to be carrying on this association even though I'm down here sans famille and free to bird all day if I want. Thus it was that for some annoying reason I woke up at around 4:30 this morning and struggled to do more than doze thereafter. This wasn't going to stop me going out and birding of course but I knew that at some stage I was probably going to have to schedule a nap.
Anyway, at around 8 a.m. I decided to go out and to do the local rounds. Outside the cottage I met up with Ian Kendall again, this time avec femme, though he'd little to report apart from a Goldcrest in the Old Count House garden. I wandered down to the lighthouse, heard the crest for myself, and on the way back managed to find a lovely male Wheater hanging out with the numerous pipits and linnets by the back entrance to the cottage. Up the road there were two more Goldcrests in the sallows on the track to Manor Farm though Calartha copse was birdless. As I was wandering up the road I met John Swann and a couple of other birders coming down in a car - they were going to see if the Olive-backed pipit was still around. Later the news went out that it was still about so they obviously found it. In fact there was a steady stream of birders coming and going all day for the pipit who were clearly neither locals nor long-stayers such as myself but day-twitchers. Interestingly, Martin Elliot later flushed a probable OBP up at Nanquidno so that's two of them now.
One of the numerous Pendeen Mipits
Back at the cottage, David (my brother-in-law) and I decided on a walk down to Kenidjack and over to Cape Cornwall, just for something a bit different. We parked half way down and I didn't bother trying to check all the bushes in detail (that would have been a bit tedious for David). Down at the paddock whilst David had a go messing about with my super-zoom camera, I spent about half an hour checking things out - the Redstart still and a few crests, at least one of which was a Firecrest. From news that was coming in on RBA it seems that everywhere down here the YB Warblers have moved out to be replaced by loads of Firecrests. Next we took the path over to Cape Cornwall before coming back down via Boscean. Nothing of particular note but it was a pleasant enough walk. As we were driving back up the road we met John Swann coming down - he told us of a male Redstart and a Firecrest in Tregeseal. As I wasn't familiar with this spot we stopped in to check it out. It turned out to be a lovely small copse of a couple of Sycamore, a confier and a few Holly trees by a stone bridge next to a stream. Very pretty and what's more within this small area we soon found the birds John had mentioned as well as a chiffy. We spent some time trying to photograph them though without much success but at least I got good views of the Firecrest. David is a good photographer with a proper DSLR though he tends to photograph people rather than wildlife and he found it hard to track the birds as they "moved about so much".
The best I could come up with on the Tregeseal Redstart:
at least you can see the lovely red tail well
On the way back home we stopped in for provisions at Boscaswell store. Whilst David did the shopping I checked out the copse and managed a Pied Flycatcher for my efforts. We had lunch back at the cottage and were just contemplating what to do when an Ortoland Bunting came in on the pager over on the Lizard near the Housel bay footpath (the Bufflehead pond area). It's always a tricky call when it's that far away and it's just a single report so I decided to wait on it for further news. Whilst David went off for a walk I had my nap to catch up with sleep. Later "no further sign" came through and I congratulated myself on a saved journey. Then "showing again" came up - I cursed roundly and we scrambled the Gnome-mobile. It was getting rather late by now and as we headed towards Helston the weather seemed suddenly to start closing in. By the time we were going down the Lizard there was thick fog and we knew that it was a lost cause but having come so far we'd thought that we'd at least have a wander round to stretch our legs. On arrival we met up with Tim (from the White's thrush fiasco a couple of days ago) who told us that he'd seen it (though some time ago) along with LGRE and showed us the large complex of stubble fields where it might be. Tim wandered off but David, myself and another birder who'd turned up thought that we'd have a walk through the various fields in a vain attempt to find it. We managed to flush a Skylark for our efforts but it was a hopeless task. Buntings are known for hunkering down and being approachable so we could easily have walked right past it in the gloom. After about an hour we admitted defeat and headed back home where David cooked a lovely meal ( he's a dab hand in the kitchen) and with no champagne birds to celebrate we had to be content with beer this evening. Looking back, had we gone on the first news we would have connected but then that's birding for you - if it was all predictable then it wouldn't be so fascinating.
Spot the bunting - a hopeless task
It was too wet to set up the moth trap tonight but I put on the "moth light" where the only moth foolish enough to be out in rather damp conditions was this chap which I think is migrant Dark Sword Grass (correct me if I'm wrong).