Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Wednesday 1st February: Golitha Falls, Dozmary Pool & Treraven Meadows

I was due back down in Cornwall for a very brief interlude, chiefly just to drop off some final missing items and one piece of furniture (a blanket box in which to keep the spare house linen). Therefore I would only be down a few days though the whole family would be coming down again some time in the next couple of weeks for the February half term. With there being no birds of interest to stop off at en route I thought that I would take the opportunity to do some work on my fledgling Cornish list and also to get to know some more Cornish birding sites "up county". The plan was therefore to stop in at Golitha Falls again to see if I could catch up with treecreeper and also marsh tit, both of which I still needed. Whilst I was in the neighbourhood, it would be rude of me not to drop in at the lesser scaup at Drozmary and I also wanted to take a look at Colliford Lake. After that I thought that I would visit Treraven Meadows at Wadebridge and perhaps nip in to Chapel Amble for the glossy ibis.

Golitha Falls is a very beautiful spot

I left on time at a little before 9 a.m. and after a couple of minor stops (Homebase for some bits and bobs) and a fill-up of petrol I was soon on the road. The traffic was light and so I arrived without incident at Golitha Falls, my first stop, as I expected at around 12:30. I'd visited this beautiful location previously where I'd managed to see my first Cornish nuthatch but was back today to try for treecreeper and marsh tit. In the car park I met a local birder who'd seen a couple of treecreepers though he'd not seen any marsh tits that morning so I set off at least partially encouraged by this report. Of course, looking for small birds in woodland involves a lot of moving slowly, looking and listening and though it was sunny it was extremely cold and I found that the lack of movement didn't help with keeping warm. I managed to see at least three nuthatches, a few goldcrests and the usual tits, including a couple of coal tits and finally just as I was returning to the car park I found a treecreeper doing its thing on a tree right next to the path. So one out of two wasn't too bad for the first stop.

Golitha birds. Unfortunately, the tree creeper was in such a
gloomy part of the wood that the only shot that came out
was this one without it's head, so strictly record shot only

Next it was a quick stop in at Drozmary Pool which was back up the road towards the A30. I already had lesser scaup on my county list from the same location the previous year but this was reportedly a first winter drake and so couldn't have been the returning bird but I was still keen to get better views after the very distant and gloomy sighting of last time. I walked down the track to the pool and almost immediately found the bird remarkably close in and reasonably positioned with regards to the strong light so I had a go at digiscoping it. Unfortunately, though, it was diving actively and so I only had a few seconds between dives to try and get something. Given the cold, I didn't stay long but soon headed back to the A30. I decided to go via Colliford Lake just because I'd not visited it before but it was remarkably empty with just a cormorant, a crow and a couple of gulls for my trouble.

A couple of video snippets of the Drozmary scaup. At the time
of seeing it I was more concerned with trying to get some footage
than anything else but now that I've had a chance to review it I'm not
altogether convinced about the ID. I would welcome some
comments from others.

Next stop was Wadebridge to Treraven Meadows which was another site I'd not previously visited. It's a regular site for local birder Colin Selway and recently he'd unearthed an interesting pipit which after some deliberation he'd identified as a buff-bellied pipit. Sightings of this bird were rather irregular and I wasn't holding out much hope of seeing it but I thought that at least I'd get to know another Cornish site. It turned out to be a lovely flood Meadow filled with large numbers of muddy puddles and pools. I love this sort of habit as it's similar to my own beloved Port Meadow patch back home though that tends to have one large extended flood area rather than lots of small ones as this did. Although there was a small hide, the floods extended quite some way and couldn't all be viewed from the hide so in the end I worked my way along the path, scrutinising all the pools carefully as I went. The results of my labours were: 1 green sandpiper, 10 dunlin, 1 redshank and 1 shelduck on the river behind the floods, about 50 teal and 30 snipe, a couple of dozen canada geese, a few pied wagtails, a single grey wagtail, one curlew and a couple of meadow pipits. I was a little disappointed not even to turn up a water pipit but one can't have everything.
Treraven Meadows

It was getting late now so I thought that I would just nip in to nearby Chapel Amble where there'd been a glossy ibis for the last few days. I soon found the site which was a fantastic flooded field though there was unfortunately no sign of the bird. Given the lateness of the hour it may have gone off somewhere to roost. By way of compensation there were large flocks of starling heading off somewhere to roost and I saw several thousand go by as I drove around the area and headed back up the A39 in order to rejoin the A30.

The rest of the journey was uneventful and after stopping in at Tesco for a spot of shopping I arrived at the cottage at around 6:30, tired but pleased with my "up county" en route birding.

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