Thursday, 29 December 2011

Thursday 29th December: Mounts Bay Once More

The wind has been consistently westerly and rather strong for a couple of days now which has meant that the only relatively sheltered place is over on the Mounts Bay side of the peninsula. Therefore, for a third day running I made my way over there. Given that the rest of the family as well as some relatives were all descending on the cottage later this afternoon, I decided that I would head out more or less first thing and have a good birding session before returning to tidy up the cottage, do a bit more renovating and await the arrival of the various guests.

I started off once more at Jubilee Pool in the company of Linton Proctor, Paul St. Pierre and another local though despite our collective efforts we weren't able to find the surf scoter this morning. There were a couple of great northern divers in the bay, the large flock of common scoter as well as an unusual great crested grebe. Next it was over to Marazion for another look for the water pipit. There I met with Dave Parker, sporting a beard which I'd not seen on him before (perhaps his winter plumage?). He'd not seen the pipit that morning by the main road so I decided to walk over to Marazion to see if I could turn it up. Over behind the Godolphin hotel there were loads of pied wagtails, a few rock pipits, some loafing gulls, a flock of twenty odd turnstone, a few oystercatchers and a single bar-tailed godwit. On the way back, by the Red River mouth I found the water pipit. When you see the genuine article there is no doubt at all as to the ID which made me wonder why I'd struggled yesterday. The very white underparts with clean streaking were very striking as was the paler, more mid-brown unstreaked back colour and strong supercilium and moustachial stripe. I suppose it's the old birders adage: if you only think you've got an ID then you haven't. There's no substitute for seeing stuff for getting it straight in your mind and I feel much more confident about water pipits now.

After that it was back to Tolcarne beach where I met Linton again and also Tony Mills though he didn't stay long. Another local turned up who'd apparently seen a little auk or two in St. Ives bay that morning. We hung around for a while to see if the ring-billed gull would turn up though it never did. There were three Med. gulls (2 adults and a 2nd winter) and a couple of common gulls knocking about, one of which was sporting a nice ring around it's bill. Whilst I'm told the original sighting is no doubt sound, one can't help but wonder whether some of the subsequent reports might have been of this bird instead.

The "ring-billed" common gull...

..and some other Tolcarne birds, snapped on the
superzoom whilst waiting for the gull to turn up.
Unfortunately I didn't turn down the exposure enough to
compensate for shooting white birds so they're somewhat
burnt out in places.

A final stop off at Jubilee Pool failed to turn up the surfie, so it was off to Tesco's for some shopping and then back to base to get ready for the arrival of the guests. Once I'd got home of course the surf scoter was reported again as showing distantly - grrrr!

I don't know what birding opportunities I'll have from now on with the guests and family around - we'll have to wait and see.

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