Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Tuesday 9th October: Pendeen & Marazion

Once more I woke up earlier than I would have liked to a fog-bound world. After a cup of tea and a catch-up of yesterday's Cornish birding news on Dave Parker's site, I decided to do my morning rounds of Pendeen. Once outside I met up with Ian Kendall, a regular visitor to Cornwall who often come to check out Pendeen first thing in the morning. We chatted for a while before I decided to head up the road to check out Calartha copse and he decided to head south down the coast path. I gone about 50 yards up the road and was busily trying to photograph a Whinchat in the bracken when I heard Ian yelling my name out. When that happens you know that you need to run and this I did, arriving a breathless minute later where Ian was by the boggy pool about 75 yards down the coast path. It turned out that he'd found what he was pretty sure was an Olive-backed Pipit on the far side of the pool though I saw it just as it hopped down into the field behind the hedge. After a while of waiting we decided that Ian should head over to take a look which he did, duly putting up the bird which called loudly, flew low over my head and then off down the valley. Having now heard the call as well we were confident in the ID and so I put the word out to some of the locals as well as to RBA. After a while John Swann and then Dave Parker and Tony Mills arrived though we hadn't seen it again despite my having had a wander up to the fields above the coast path. We hung around by the pool for a while and then Ian had to get back and I decided that I was getting hungry so we left the others to it. I was of course elated at having got such a good bird even before breakfast and went back to the cottage on cloud nine to check up on whether David was up yet and to discuss our plans for the day.

I didn't get a photo of the pipit so here's the Whinchat instead

After some breakfast and with conditions looking rather foggy and nothing tempting on the pager, David and I decided that we'd try Cape Cornwall though when we got there it was so foggy that we immediately turned round and left again. When it's really foggy down the west coast I usually end up going over to Marazion and this is what we decided to do, parking along the beach front and then having a wander along the beach towards Marazion itself where we went into a café for a hot drink and a pasty. Whilst there I got a call from Ian saying that he'd gone back to Pendeen and had managed to re-find the pipit in the fields above the coast path a bit further down. I put out the word for him and David and I strolled back along the beach towards the car. before heading back home to the cottage.

Fifty Shades of Grey - Marazion was looking very atmospheric today

I noticed that they'd added a lot of new hardcore to the banks of the Red River where it flows out into the sea - it's a shame because I've always like the open mini-estuary feel of the river mouth

The St Michael's Mount amphibious vehicle was out in the sea this morning

Back at base we caught up with Ian and John Swann who'd both had good views of the pipit in various locations along the coast path and surrounding fields so David and I thought that we'd have a wander over to have a look for ourselves. There were about thirty birders in total, including Phil & Hilary, John Chapple and also Lee Evans (who'd come down especially for this bird) all wandering around the fields and clearly in "searching mode". This went on for quite some time and it was all starting to look a bit hopeless with such a large area to search and I was nattering away with John Chapple, just thankful that I'd already seen it, when Lee Evans stumbled across it, putting it up. I find that Lee always seems to be intensely driven when he hasn't seen a bird and will continue searching long after others have given up. Once he's seen it, he morphs into a much more relaxed persona, being very helpful at twitches and calling out directions etc.

There then followed a series of episodes of the bird going down in rough grass or bracken where it was unviewable, before being put up again until eventually it was tracked down to a piece of ground where it showed briefly but well at a range of about 30 yards for the assembled entourage. After that it flew off down into a more inaccessible area and the majority of the crowd, including myself, decided that we'd seen it as well as we were going to and headed back up the path towards the cars or in our case home. As we were leaving some of the locals, who were clearly more laid back about seeing this species, starting arriving to take a look including Mark Wallace and Martin Elliot.

Hunting the Olive-backed Pipit

Back at the cottage and with the weather now much improved, I was finally  able to check out my moth  trap from last night. It was mostly the same stuff as before with about 70 moths of at least 15 species (at the time of writing I've still to identify some of them). As I was sorting out the trap a large flock of mipits came over and I thought (though I'm not certain) that I heard the OBP in amongst them - not bad for my garden!

I had this lovely Angled Shades in amongst the moths today

Last night whilst setting up the moth trap I found this little creature out side. 
To me it looks like a Gecko but I didn't think that you got them in this country. 
Edit: John Swann has pointed out that it's a Palmate Newt

To round things off, as it had been another day with a new bird for me this meant that we were rewarded with another bottle of champagne. If this week continues in this form it could end up being a rather drunken (and expensive) one!

OBP - certainly worth a bottle of champagne. Some video courtsey of John Chapple (c) - see his excellent blog

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