Saturday, 21 February 2015

Friday 20th February: Hayle & Marazion

Today the forecast was actually not too bad. The original one for a very stormy finish to the week had changed and it was now only on Saturday that the strong winds were due to arrive. The plan today was to finish off the outstanding DIY tasks and then to have our usual outing in the afternoon. I pointed out that we had some stuff to take to the dump at St Erth and suggested that I combine this trip with a spot of birding at Hayle as it was so close. I busied myself finishing some painting work that I had outstanding and then late morning I set off with a car full of stuff (mostly a huge piece of cardboard that the chaise longue came in. It didn't take long to dump all this stuff at St Erth and the next stop was the bridge by the Hayle estuary where it was almost at low tide. Before I came down this week I'd envisioned that after quickly mopping up the local goodies (namely Little Bunting, King Eider and Mandarin Duck) that I would spend much of my birding time down at Hayle looking for the elusive 1w Hayle Ring-billed Gull (that was before the Swanpool one turned up) as well as the possible American Herring Gull that was knocking about. As it had transpired however, it wasn't until my last day that I finally was getting to go to this site which was a shame as I always enjoy looking through the large numbers of birds that are to be found here.

The light was good and the wind wasn't too bad as I had a good scan through all the birds. On the wader front it was the usual Redshanks with a few Curlew, a single Oystercatcher and in the distance Greenshank and two Bar-tailed Godwits. As far as ducks went, it was just the usual Wigeon and Teal with a few Shelduck. But it was Gulls that I was really here for and there were plenty of those: more than a thousand LBBG's (counted by ME who's been doing the estuary frequently this week) and a good number of HG's. Looking through the latter I couldn't find anything that would suggest AHG though there was a darker winged bird that I grilled for possible YLG though there was too much white on the apical spots, the primary projections was too short and the wing colour didn't look right either (though it was hard to judge in the bright sun light). Probably an argentatus I presumed and ME later reported one there that day. I must admit that I find it rather weird that argentatus is such a rarity down here - back in Oxon we get loads of them as well as daily sightings of YLG and a good number Caspians each winter.

Flowering Winter Heliotrope by the road side at the bridge
After that I moved on to Copperhouse Creek where there was supposed to be a Water Pipit in residence. I wasn't particularly bothered about seeing it though it would be a nice if I happened to come across it. I curb crawled along the King George V Memorial Walk and was rewarded with a Grey Plover, two Greenshanks and two Black-tailed Godwits for my troubles plus the usual Redshanks and Gulls. Then it was time to head back home, stopping in at M&S en route to pick up a few provisions.

Copperhouse Creek Greenshank
Back home the rest of the family were rather hungry so we had lunch and then discussed what to do. They seemed to want to get out right away as they'd been working away whilst I'd been on my extended dump run. So a plan was hatched to head over to Marazion to go over to the Mount for a cream tea and we duly set off. We parked up by the charity car park and ambled along the beach to the causeway. I love wandering along here especially when the tide is in as all the Pipits and Wagtails hang out along the high tide line and it's always fun to rummage through them for something good. Today it was just the usual Pied Wagtails, Meadow and Rock Pipits but it was nice to see them all.

Rock Pipit
We arrived to find that we'd just missed the last boat over so instead decided to head up to Delicious, the café further up the hill which we'd only discovered last October. Thankfully it was still open and a splendid cream tea was enjoyed by all.

On the way back my VLW and B wanted to browse the galleries so L and I explored the alleyways that lead down to the sea from that side of town. Here you could get a nice view of Little London where you often get some divers hanging out though I couldn't see any today. I did manage to find a couple of Med Gulls though - an adult and a 1w hanging out with a dozen or so Black-headeds just east of the causeway. There's something very appealing about Med Gulls and I always like seeing them.

Marazion Med Gull

The light was fading as we ambled back along the beach and I spent an enjoyable time scanning the bay with my bins whilst L frolicked in the sand, turning up a close-in Great Northern Diver for my troubles. Then it was time to head back to the cottage to finish off our final chores and to start thinking about our departure tomorrow.

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