Thursday, 19 February 2015

Monday 16th Pendeen & Penzance

In stark contrast to yesterday, today’s forecast was for quite strong north easterly winds and this indeed what materialised though in practice they started off only moderately strong and strengthened throughout the day. I was woken up at 7 am by our 8 year old son L coming to the bedroom for some reason. Today we had the first of several electricians coming round to discuss some work that we were needing to be done to the cottage and with this meeting arranged for 9:30 a.m. I didn’t really have time for a proper outing so instead I opted to spend half an hour down at the lighthouse to see if I could spot anything interesting on the sea. As to be expected for February there wasn’t much of note but at least I managed to year tick the commoner species as a moderate passage of Gannets, Kittiwakes, Auks and a few Fulmars went by. The highlight was a Black-throated Diver which settled briefly on the sea before flying off.

Back at the cottage after having the meeting with the electrician, because of the wind we opted for doing some internal chores. Thus we spent a busy morning putting up some shelves and two pictures and attaching some felt pads to the underside of the bed legs so that they didn’t scrape the floor when moved. After that it was time to head over to Penzance for some shopping. Firstly we went to B&Q to stock up on some DIY essentials, then it was time to grab some lunch and given how hungry we all were in the end we just nipped into Sainsbury’s to have something hot at the café.

With some hot food inside us it was time to head into Penzance. My VLW and our younger daughter B wanted to do some girly shopping so myself and L headed over to the bus station so I could gaze at the sea and he could clamber about on the rocks pretending to do parcour (though he’s too scared actually to try anything thankfully). The main target for me was of course the over-wintering Pacific Diver – I thought that it would be rude of me not to take a look at some point this week seeing as I was down here. It was nice and sunny now and viewing from the bus station the sun was perfectly positioned behind me. However the strong wind was almost directly in my face which made for rather difficult viewing conditions. I scanned about and thought that I caught a brief glimpse of it in amongst half a dozen or so Great-northern Divers but I couldn’t say for certain and all the divers were actively hunting and were only ever up for a few seconds at a time. To give my eyes a break from peering at small distant blobs into the teeth of the wind I spent some time trying to digiscope the smart drake Eider that was swimming about about 200 yards off-shore. I managed a few shots that looked OK on the back of the camera at least and then decided on another crack at the Pacific Diver. 

The smart Drake Eider
Suddenly everything came right at once: there was a lull in the wind, the sun was out again and an interesting looking Diver stayed above the surface for a reasonable length of time and Bingo – there it was! It was a smart looking bird with a distinctly stubby bill compared to all the GND’s; it seemed to be hanging out with a Black-throated Diver. Relieved at having seen it in the end I decided that it was time to get out of the cold and L and I hurried back to the shelter and relative warmth of the car. We then gave the other party a quick call to say that we were done and a short time later we rendezvous’d with them over by Jubilee Pool.

The last task of the day was to head back to Sainsbury’s for some food shopping and then it was back to the cottage. I managed to blag a brief detour to Drift Reservoir car park to see if the Mandarin Duck was about (I’d been assured by Tony Mills that the car park area was indeed its usual haunt) but the strong wind was barrelling down the length of the reservoir and there was understandably no sign of any birds in this exposed area. There was no point in hanging around and I got straight back into the car and we hurried home to the warmth of the cottage where we enjoyed a good meal and then settled down for the evening.

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