Monday, 12 October 2015

Monday 12th October: Pendeen & Cot

Flushed with success from my Alpine Swift twitch, I'd like to say that I slept long and deeply. Sadly however, I suffered once again from my usual issue of excessive eagerness that often aflicts me when I'm down here and I woke up at around 5 a.m. I dozed fitfully until about 6:45 when I got up and had a cup of tea whilst I checked the bird news from yesterday on the CBWPS web-site. There's was nothing new on there to concern me so I had a shower and sent a text out to Ian Kendall (who always does Pendeen first thing when he's down here) suggesting that he text me when he arrives. I was just taking a first bite out of a slice of toast when his text arrived and I hurried out the door to meet him coming up from the lighthouse car park. We checked all the fields around the coastguard cottages but in a stiff north easterly wind, apart from a flock of ten or so Mipits. 3 Pied Wagtails and a few Linnets and Goldfinches there wasn't much about. 

Next we decided to head along the coast path a little way to see what we could find. With the prevailing wind direction this section of the path was nice and sheltered and as the sun started to light up the scrub the birds started to show. It was just the usual stuff: a few Tits, Dunnocks, Wrens, one Stonechat and a Blackbird. A Peregrine and a Buzzard flew low past us and a single Raven cronked distantly. As the path started to descend past the pool we noticed something flicking around in the Sallows on the right-hand side. I say Sallows but it was actually a single Sallow bush. "Is that a Yellow-browed?" mused Ian. Then it showed itself more clearly and we were able to clock the strong crown stripe and long two-toned supercilium. "Blimey, that's a Pallas's" we said (or words to that affect). The bird showed well at about 5 yards range for a minute or two before it headed back up the path behind us along the tops of the Gorse. Elated, we got the news out and then tried to keep track of it though sadly we soon lost it.

Whilst walking along the coast path I came across this Rusty Dot Pearl immigrant moth

P&H arrived shortly after that on the back of my texting and I showed them where we'd last seen it before heading back to the road to join Ian with the intention of checking out the rest of the patch. We were just standing by the coastguard cottages when we heard the distinctive call of the Pallas's - like a truncated Yellow-browed. It seemed to be coming from the gardens behind us. I ran back down the path to get P&H whilst Ian and another birder who'd joined us at this point tried to locate the bird. By this time more birders were starting to arrive and we all staked out the cottage gardens though it was really blowy back up here out of the shelter of the wind and I didn't rate anyone's chances. Ian went to get Jacquie and I decided that I needed to nip over to PZ to get some petrol and some food so I left the birders to it. Whilst I was there news came over of a Yellow-browed at the Calartha Farm copse so I guessed that people were starting to disperse back up the road and had found this as they went. When I arrived back everyone had gone except Ian and Jackie who'd had no further luck. Sadly, it looked like just Ian and myself were going to see this bird though it might re-locate to Calartha which would be much better habitat for it.

Noon Fly on the cottage wall

After all that excitement it was time to think about what to do today. Ian had been saying that if a place like Pendeen could get a Pallas's then what might PG or Land's End be getting? Sadly however reality didn't bear out this theory and the pager was rather quiet. Indeed there was nothing new of note at all apart from a Wryneck at PG. In the absence of anything else the Common Rosefinch at Cot Valley came to mind, not least because it would be a Cornish tick for me. So I set off the short distance up the road to Cot - not a valley that I bird very much normally: there's so much cover that I find it a little overwhelming. I parked up near the Pumping Station and headed over to the other side of the valley to the white cottage which the Rosefinch had been frequenting. Apparently it had been coming to some hidden feeders in the garden there though was most easily viewed when it popped up into an Ivy-covered Hawthorn tree at the side of the garden. In the company of one other birder I watched and waited though we didn't see much at all apart from a few Chaffinches with which the Rosefinch was supposed to be associating. After a while we got bored and both headed back to join a small group of birders who were grilling the copse on the corner by the Pumping Station. Here it was completely out of the wind and consequently alive with birds. There were at least three Yellow-broweds and a couple of Firecrests as well as Coal Tits, Chiffies and Goldcrests. I passed an enjoyable three quarters of an hour watching all the birds coming and going before deciding that lunch beckoned. One of the other birders there recommended a pasty from MacFaddens butchers back in St. Just so I decided to give one a try. I took my pasty back home to Pendeen with me and I must say that it was one of the best pasties that I've ever had.

Back at the cottage, having finished my pasty I emptied the moth trap though the catch was small and there was nothing out of the ordinary in it. I was just enjoying a cup of tea and doing a spot of blogging when "Ring Ouzel at Cot Valley below Furzeburrow" came through on RBA. Now regular readers will know that Rouzel is one of my (many) Cornish bogey birds so I quickly gave Ian Kendall a ring to check where this was as he was staying in Cot. It turned out that he'd found the bird though it had flushed down the hillside so might well not be there. Still with nothing better to do I decided to give it a go before having another crack at the Rosefinch. I reasoned that later in the day the birds would be coming back to the feeders to fuel up before nightfall so I'd have a better chance at it. With my plan formulated I headed back down to Cot where I first passed a pleastant enough three quarters of an hour looking down the hillside from the top of the north side of the valley before heading back down to the valley floor and checking the slopes around there. All to no avail as expected though I did come across a Painted Lady and a Golden Ringed Dragonfly and had some point-blank views of a couple of Goldcrests as well as noting two Buzzards, a Sparrowhawk and two Chough.

This young Kestrel allowed close approach

A Cot Painted Lady

Next it was time to head back to the Rosefinch location where I teamed up with another birder there. He showed me how by standing further back you could just get a sight line directly to the feeders themselves so we passed three quarters of an hour watching intently as birds came and went constantly. Sadly it was just the usual common species and given that one didn't need to wait for the birds to pop up into the tree before seeing them I was pretty confident that the Rosefinch wasn't there. Oh well, the clear night last night had clearly done the damage. I headed back to the car and with time now marching on I headed back to the cottage for a much-needed cup of tea and to do a few minor chores. With nothing further coming through on RBA I spent the rest of the afternoon pootling at the cottage until it got dark and it was time to stand down from twitching readiness.

Moth du Jour: Delicate, an immigrant moth
Despite the lack of success with the Rosefinch I couldn't really complain about today. After all it's not every day that you get to find a Pallas's Warbler!

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