Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Tuesday 8th October: St Levan & Hayle

I was up and about at first light this morning as I wanted to do a quick tour of Pendeen before heading out. As I mentioned in yesterday's blog posting, neither I nor Jackie had felt that we'd got good enough views to tick the St Levan Western Bonelli's Warbler yesterday so we had agreed to meet up at the car park at around 8am today for another crack at it. Before leaving for that rendezvous I had quick yomp down to Boat Cove where the female Snow Bunting was still quietly pecking away on the path. There was also a single Wheatear nearby but little else of note. I had a quick thirty second scan of the Shrike area but couldn't see it though I didn't have enough time to search for it thoroughly. After that it was off to St Levan to meet up with Ian and Jackie.

 St Levan Church - the rendezvous for Operation Bonelli's - Day Three

We were the only people in the car park when we arrived and with the sun coming out we were feeling cautiously optimistic as we headed along the path towards the Bonelli's favoured area. As we were nearing the site Ian and I heard a wader calling in flight overhead. Ian initially managed to pick it out and track it, remarking on how long-winged it looked. I eventually managed to get on it as well and it was clearly a Golden Plover species. The call was a very distinctive di-syllabic one, reminiscent of a Spotted Redshank. That, combined with the extremly long-winged look to it meant that both Ian and I were confident in ID'ing it as an American Golden Plover. We watched it as it flew away towards Porthgwarra.

At the warbler spot, we managed to get quick glimpses of what was probably the bird almost immediately though after that it went a bit quiet. Yesterday at the end it had been Ian who had got by far the most views of the bird so I'd mentally made a note to stick close to him today and for about an hour or so this I duly did though we didn't manage to see anything at all. Eventually I started to get restless and wandered off a bit only for Ian to call out that he had the bird whilst viewing from the other (west) side of the stream. He managed some great views of it though it of course disappeared before Jackie and I could get over to him. However on this other side we had a fresh perspective as well as having the sun behind us and shortly afterwards the bird showed fleetingly at the end of the sallows before it flew back on itself into one of the larger trees there. I'd managed to see it but Jackie still hadn't managed a tickable view. We then lost track of it for a while and got sidetracked by some movement a bit further away. Whilst waiting for it to reappear we heard the AGP again but couldn't see it this time. Eventually we heard the Bonelli's calling repeatedly where we'd last seen it. Ian of course managed to get some excellent views but both Jackie and I were once more looking somewhere else. We hurried back to where Ian was but predictably it had popped down again. After an agonising wait it started moving near the top of the tree where we could all get on to it and then it came out and revealed itself in all its glory for about a minute or so so that both Jackie and I could get our fill. It was such a relief to all three of us that we indulged in a celebratory group hug. I totted it up and realised that I'd spent seven and a half hours trying to get a decent view of it so the sense of relief at finally having seen it was tremendous. I really felt that I'd earned that tick!

Back at the car park I had a quick look around the turning circle but there was little of note so I decided to head back home. En route I stopped off at Polgigga sports field (30 Pied Wagtails), the Sennen School Quarry (one Chiffy), Pendeen Stores copse (nothing) and Calartha copse (also nothing). I spent ten minutes looking for the Shrike but still couldn't find it so it looks like it had finally left. I did manage to see a single Whinchat and a Raven for my troubles though. After that it was time to empty the moth trap. The weather hadn't been that great during the night and there were only a few moths in the trap with a Delicate being the pick of the bunch. I then had some lunch, followed by a nap to catch up on some sleep.

 The aptly named Delicate

So far on the trip down I'd only been birding so I felt that it was about time that I started earning my keep. Accordingly I got out the DIY stuff and started to work on one of the outside walls that needed painting. The filler that I'd put in previously had all been washed away so I used some Extreme Exterior Caulking instead which seemed to do the job nicely. A cup of tea and a scone as reward for my work and then it was time to head out again. 

I still hadn't caught up with the Hayle Osprey so I thought that I'd give it another go as the tide would now be quite high though the weather was very "drear" as the Scots would say. At the causeway I met up with Phil and Hiliary and we passed the time catching up on news and chatting. Needless to say the Osprey never showed and there was no sign of the Lesser Yellowlegs either so it looks like that has moved on. We did get very nice views of the Black-winged Stilt and at the end when I was the last person left by the bridge it came very close - a gorgeous looking bird even in the half-light of dusk.

The lovely Black-winged Stilt

After that it was back home to the cottage to sort out some food and set up the moth trap for the night. It had been another successful day with a nice Bonell's sighting as a reward for a lot of hard graft and a bonus American Golden Plover to boot. I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

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