Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Wednesday 29th October: Pendeen

At last a better day! In fact it actually started the previous night when the wind dropped and the mist came down. I stood outside and could hear lots of bird calls, mostly Redwing, overhead in the darkness. There was clearly some movement going on! I put on the "moth light" outside and had an interesting moth that I couldn't initially identify come to the light. Thinking that it could be a good moth night tonight I assembled the trap and went to bed.

The next morning I found that it had indeed been a good migrant night with half a dozen Rusty-dot Pearls in the trap, along with a few Feathered Ranunculus and seven more of my mystery moth. By way of a little light reading I'd taken the moth field guide with me to bed last night and had homed in on Brindled Ochre as an ID and a posting on Bird Forum confirmed this. What's more, the house experts there had never seen this species and a bit of background reading revealed that this is an autumn speciality of rocky and moorland coastal areas in the south west, which fitted my location description pretty well! So a nice new moth tick for me to start the day. 

Brindled Ochre - a new moth for me
I was keen to get out and to do the Pendeen rounds, after all given that there was no wind I might actually get to see something! I started in the cottage garden itself and worked my way down the road towards the lighthouse, scrutinising the resident Mipit flock carefully for interlopers though without success. Over by the Old Count House next to the lighthouse car park I spotted a rabbit which ran across the road ahead of me. The reason for its haste soon became apparent when a cheeky Stoat popped up chasing after it. It saw me and wasn't quite sure what to do: initially it ran towards me and then thought better of it and ducked back into the garden. A few moments later I spotted it nipping back round behind me in pursuit of the rabbit again though when it saw me it again it reluctantly gave up and went back to the garden. I tried to get a photo of it but as it was constantly on the move I only managed one blurry image in the end.

At this moment I spotted a bird flicking about in the shrubbery of the Count House garden. A look through the bins and it turned out to be a Chiffchaff. Right behind it I spotted a second bird which looked much more interesting: it was clearly a warbler though huge by comparison with the Chiffy, with a uniform grey back and a stout bill and generally hulking jizz it could only be a Barred Warbler! However, no sooner had I made the ID then both birds disappeared into the undergrowth. I hoped that they might be making a circuit so waited around; I also gave John Swann a quick call as he only lives a few minutes up the road to see if he wanted to come and check it out. As he and a birding guest arrived, the Chiffy made a second appearance though there seemed to be no sign of its rarer companion. The three of us waited around for about an hour with nothing but the Chiffy for company before we eventually gave up. So, a nice self-found Cornish tick for me (Barred Warblers aren't that easy down here) though it was a shame no one else got to see it. At last a bit of decent Pendeen birdage!

Continuing my rounds I found that there were a lot more birds on show today: a flock of a dozen or so Goldfinches, 2 Stonechats, 1 Raven, a Kestrel, a Buzzard and a Redwing in my garden which was coming to some crusts that I'd thrown out. A Reed Bunting called from the bottom of the garden though I never saw it and in the calm greyness there was a feel that something good might turn up at any moment. If nothing else it was just so nice to be able to see some birds at Pendeen for a change!

Rusty-dot Pearl - an immigrant moth

Another classic migrant, the Silver-Y
Back home my VLW and I set about our DIY tasks and so I was kept busy until mid afternoon. For an outing we decided to head out first to Pendeen playground so our son could let off some steam, and then to St Just where we bought a small shelf for the kitchen and finally we went on to Nanquidno, mainly because my VLW had never been there. It was rather late by now and we quickly walked all the way down the valley to the coast path and down towards the sea before heading back up to the car. I hardly saw a thing on the bird front but given how late and dark it was it wasn't surprising. Then it was back home to the cottage for something to eat. It was nice to have had a more productive birding day at last.

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