Once again I was adopting my tactics of getting up early to get some birding in before a hard day's decorating. With nothing particular about to go for I decided that I would have to try to find something for myself so I elected to head over to Kenidjack and Cot to work the valleys. It was a new experience for me to visit these places in the spring: usually I was there in the autumn or winter when it was rather quiet but today they were alive with singing birds. There was nothing out of the ordinary but there were plenty of willow warblers and chiffies to look through just in case there was something rarer hidden in amongst them. After a while of fruitless searching I headed back to the cottage to start the decorating.
Whilst putting paint on the walls later that morning, I got a Bird Guides text through saying that a gull-billed tern had been seen as a fly-over down at Sennen. Intrigued but dismissing it as untwitchable, I carried on working until a short while later I received a phone call from Dave Parker saying that he was watching the gull-billed tern in the first field south of the Sea View caravan park in Sennen. Wasting no time I dropped everything and sped off in the car, not even bothering to change out of my painting clothes. It takes about 15 minutes to get to Sennen along the rather winding roads from Pendeen and of course there were the slow-moving tourists' cars to get stuck behind but I eventually arrived to find a bunch of local birders all staring into a field which was an encouraging sign! Sure enough the bird was still there with a dozen or so herring gulls loafing in a field - not the usual place to find a tern but I wasn't complaining. I took the obligatory record shots though it was rather hazy so they're nothing special at all.
Within about ten minutes of my arrival the bird took off and headed south so after thanking Dave for the prompt phone call I headed back to the decorating, very pleased with having made it there in time to connect with the bird. As it turned out however, the next few days it was seen on and off in a field nearby at Trevilly Farm so had I missed it I would have had some more chances to see it but had I not gone for it I would have been kicking myself if it had disappeared, never to be seen again. A great bird to catch up with in Cornwall!
The gull-billed tern, filmed a couple of days later at Trevilly Farm by John Chapple