Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Monday 9th to Thursday 12th May

As I mentioned earlier, it was very quiet down on the Penwith peninsula and there was nothing out of the ordinary about at all. Fortunately I had my fledgling Cornish list to work on and there were plenty of the commoner warblers for example to chase down which kept me occupied. I got into the habit of doing some decorating for a few hours first and then going out to see what I could find for an hour or two. In the absence of anything particular to go for I would try to visit all the various different locations at least once on my stay. I manage to visit most of the key locations down there and winkled out the various warblers though lesser whitethroat turns out to be something of a rarity on the peninsula so I might have to go to the Lizard in order to get it.

The only rarity news of interest was the occasional report of a golden oriole in one of the valleys. I did try Kenidjack and Nanquidno to no avail. Later in the week when I'd given up on the orioles I went back to Nanquidno looking for garden warblers. As I was listening intently I heard the unmistakable flutey call of a male oriole coming from deep within the woodland near the ford. They have such a wonderfully tropical sound to their call, it wouldn't sound out of place in an Amazonian rain forest. I sent out a couple of texts to some locals and I was then just listening to the bird when another birder drove by, stopped and said that he'd been listening to it for half an hour from the other side but that it had not shown at all. Apparently it sang on and off for a while that day and one lady even caught the briefest of glimpses though there was much subsequent debate with her husband as to whether it was a tickable or not - naturally enough as he'd not seen it he thought that it was untickable!

Nanquidno Ford, where all the oriole action was

In the evening, after dinner, I got into the habit of nipping down to Hayle to check the estuary and Ryan's Field. Somehow there was a part of me that was still naturally drawn to checking the evening gull roost though there weren't that many birds to sift through. The Bonaparte's Gull was still around and I would usually see it, sometimes at reasonably close quarters. Ryan's Field never turned up more than a Common Sandpiper though the day after I left a Temminck's Stint pitched up there. After Hayle I would head over to Marazion with a quick check at the Conservation Area for the Egret (though I didn't put in more than a few minutes there if it wasn't on show) before finishing up checking out Marazion beach. One evening there was a lovely flock of whimbrel there, presumably fresh in off the sea, with a barwit, three sanderling and a couple of turnstones all showing nicely at close quarters in the half-light of dusk.

Whimbrel and turnstone, taken at dusk on Marazion beach

I managed a couple of visits to the moorland areas on the Peninsula which are always wonderfully bleak. There were whitethroats everywhere with linnets and stonechats also about and whenever one came across a patch of small scrubby trees then suddenly there would be a willow warbler singing from within the patch. Cuckoos would often be calling from across the moor and grasshopper warblers could be heard reeling in the distance. I always kept one eye on the skies in case a kite chose to fly over: back in Oxon of course a kite is so common that they warrant hardly a glance but in Cornwall they are scarcer and also much more likely to be a black kite.

Cornish moorland scenes

One lunch-time when the wind was blowing in the right direction I had a quick sea-watch at Pendeen Watch. During a three-quarter hour period I had 51 Manx shearwaters & a summer plumage black-throated diver go past. Nothing too exciting but it's always nice to get in a spot of sea-watching even if it is out of season.

The Levant Steam Engine, near Pendeen

So nothing particularly interesting to report but plenty of walking in stunning countryside which in May was looking wonderful.

No comments:

Post a Comment