Wednesday, 15 October 2014

14th October, Pendeen & Kenidjack

The weather forecast for today looked really good with virtually no wind and full-on sunshine for a good part of the day. What's more I'd slept really well and was keen to get out there to do the morning Pendeen rounds. Just as I left the house I saw Ian Kendall's car pull up down by the lighthouse so I wandered over to meet up with him. Of course the great thing about there being no wind is that you can actually hear the birds and see the smallest hint of movement so I was optimistic about our chances that morning.

It was soon clear that there was some bird movement going on with a steady passage of Chaffinches flying north, calling as they went. What was also apparent was sadly how my hearing has deteriorated. Ian is not only a far more experienced birder than me and shit-hot on his calls but also it turned out has far better hearing than I do. He'd say "another flock of Chaffinches coming " and then perhaps thirty seconds later I'd pick them up. This came in good stead when he called out that a Snow or Lap Bunting was heading our way. I'd not heard it call at all but we picked up two birds in flight with the front one definitely being a Lap Bunt and the second not identified. I'd never have got that on my own sadly as I didn't manage to hear it. As we worked our way up the road as well as the Chaffinches were several dozen Skylarks, a single wheezing Brambling that Ian heard and I didn't and plenty of the usual Mipits, There were four Reed Buntings by the coastguard cottages as well as the Grey Wagtail again. Up towards White Gate Cottage Ian heard a soft "tack" type call though regrettably I couldn't hear it. We staked out the scrub for some time and Ian even played a few candidate bird calls on his phone including Raddes, Booted and Sykes, saying that the latter was the closest match though whatever it was, it didn't respond or call again.

Along the road to Manor Farm a Snipe went up near the track, I think the first one I've had at Pendeen. The Farm itself held quite a few birds though nothing of note. As we worked our way down the fields behind the farm we found a good number of Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits, a Kestrel and best of all a Merlin which landed on a post at the far end of the field, beautifully lit in the morning sunshine.

The Merlin
Back near the lighthouse we parted company and I went back home for breakfast and to empty the moth trap. Once again it was the usual suspects with a Rusty-dot Pearl migrant and an as yet unidentified Agonopterix micro the pick of the bunch. As I pottered about in the garden of the cottage I heard the distinctive call of a Chough flying around by the lighthouse cliffs, always a pleasure to see. There were quite a few Clouded Yellow butterflies about and a nice flock of 30+ Linnets as well as the resident Goldfinches, the three Pendeen Ravens, two Buzzards and several Stonechats. All in all it was very nice to enjoy the warm sunshine and calmness of a still day.

Pendeen Meadow Pipit

Pendeen Clouded Yellow
My two guests decided that they wanted to do some walking today so I suggested that they did the coastal walk north to St Just and that I would rendez-vous with them there for lunch. Whilst they set off on their walk I got ready to head off for some birding. Just as I was loading up the car I got distracted by a small browny orange Moth fluttering about by some old sheds. From its flight it was clearly a moth rather than a butterfly but it just wouldn't settle at all despite my watching it for a good ten minutes. Giving up in the end I drove up the Pendeen road, wanting to take advantage of the still conditions to check the local copses though Calartha Farm and the Pendeen stores were both empty. 

I thought that I'd do one of the valleys near St Just so texted John Swann to ask whether the Vapourer moths were still about on his Kenidjack patch and he offered to come with me to help me find one. So I picked him up and we drove the short distance to the lovely valley that is Kenidjack. Given the limited time that I had if I wanted to make my rendez-vous we parked half way down and walked on towards the lower half of the valley. There we met up with Ian Kendall again, this time with his partner Jackie. They'd not seen anything on the bird front though they'd seen plenty of Vapourer Moths and it wasn't too long before I'd seen one too. Having now seen one for my self I realised that my moth by the car back at Pendeen had definitely been one as well, another nice patch tick! We wandered about together, chatting away in the warm sunshine, watching the Clouded Yellows flying about and picking out the occasional Vapourer. Whilst Ian and Jackie decided to stay in the valley John and I did a circuit up over the top of the headland, an area I'd not explored before though we only had a couple of Stonechats and a Chough for our troubles. Then it was back to the car where we parted company and I headed into the town to meet up with my companions. They'd found a lovely spot outside the pub and had ordered themselves too much food so there was plenty left over for me to have.

Kenidjack Chough
After chilling for a while we drove back to Pendeen where I wanted to get a couple of outdoors DIY tasks done whilst the weather was good. Specifically there was an exterior light to sort out which my brother-in-law and I worked on for a while. Then he and his companion decided to head down to Portheras beach whilst I opted to nip over to Penzance to buy some more lightbulbs and a couple of plugs. There I did a quick tour of the Rosy Starling spots though by now it was getting rather late in the day and half the Starlings, including the colourful vagrant, were missing. Nor was there any sign of the Longrock Pool Garganey though it had been reported on RBA that morning. With it starting to get dark I hurried home in order to fit the lightbulb on the outside light and to bring in the garden furniture for the winter before the rainy weather of tomorrow reached us. After another excellent meal from my chef-in-residence brother-in-law it was a chilled evening chatting before heading off to bed.

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