Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Monday 14th August - Perranuthnoe

Once again I woke up too early but managed to doze for a while before getting up at around 7:30 a.m. The forecast had been for strong winds overnight so I'd not bothered with the moth trap and indeed it was blowing pretty strongly this morning. After our cup of tea in bed I decided to wander down to the Watch just to see what was going by on the sea though with the wind east of South East it was going to be completely the wrong direction for Pendeen so I wasn't expecting much.

Down by the lighthouse there was just one other person: a visiting birder who was relatively inexperienced and not aware of the relationship between wind direction and where to sea watch. We watched together for a while and there were plenty of Manxies going by but little else. The highlight was a Grey Heron which came in off the sea and a Little Egret going by, both rather unusual sightings for a sea watch! I didn't give it too long and soon wandered back to the cottage to see if the rest of the family had got up yet.

In terms of our plan for the day, regular readers will remember that earlier on in the year I tried and failed multiple times (three to be exact) to see the Hudsonian Whimbrel over at Perranuthnnoe. The tricky rocky terrain meant that there were so many hiding places that each time I'd managed to miss this bird. Amazingly, after an absence for a couple of months the Hudbrel was back again and it seemed rude not to give it one more try. I therefore suggested that we head over there again and that the rest of the family might wish to walk on the coastal path to Marazion whilst I searched for the bird before driving round to Marazion to meet up again. The rest of the family were ameanable enough as it would be something a bit different so we got our stuff together and then headed off to the east side of Mounts Bay. A "still present" RBA text came through en route which was encouraging though this had happened to me before and I'd still managed to dip so it was by no means certain.

It was very busy down in the Perranuthnoe car park with lots of people all heading down to the beach. As we were getting ready I spotted a birder coming back down the coastal path so hurried over to ask how he'd got on. He told me and another interested birder who'd turned up that he'd found the Whimbrel and that it was "by a large stone slab". Thanking him, the other birder and I headed off along the coastal path whilst the rest of the family decided to head to the café first for some fortification before their coastal walk. In the bright sunshine it was all looking really beautiful, in stark contrast to the much more muted scenery the last time I had visited earlier in the year.

Looking out from Trenow Cove over towards the Mount and Marazion

As I walked I looked out for the stone slab and eventually came across it at the start of Trenow Cove. Indeed there was already a birder there scoping what turned out to be a flock of a few dozen Curlew with which the Hudbrel apparently usually associated. This looked very encouraging! Also on view was a flock of Ringed Plover wth an attendant Common Sandpiper though they soon flew off. Of course some of the birds were obscured behind rocks but after careful grilling we decided that there were a couple of "Whimbrel" in amongst the Curlew so it was just a question of picking out the right one. The birds were mostly roosting or wandering lethargically about so that they would sometimes go out of view but eventually I spotted a Whimbrel with very strong head markings and which at certain angles looked very cinnamon-coloured - it had to be the bird! Unfortunately it went out of sight before I could get the other two birders on it. After a while we changed location in order to get a closer view and I eventually spotted it again, now some distance away from where it had been. This time it was sitting on a rock right by the shore and I was able to get the other two on it OK. We watched it for a while before suddenly and for no reason it flew off on its own to the far side of Trenow Cove. At first, to my consternation, I thought that in flight it appeared to have a white rump but when I got my scope on it a realised that it was just that in the very bright sunlight the brown feathering was looking rather pale and it was actually clearly not white. That was the ID confirmed and one more Cornish tick in the bag. 

Digiscoped record shot of the Hudbrel

I was just heading back to the car when I met the rest of the family who'd enjoyed their café experience so much that they were only now setting off. We headed off in opposite directions and I dumped my gear in the car before going over to check out the café for myself though in the end the queue was too long and I gave up. I headed off in the car the short distance towards Marazion where I soon met up with the others who had all enjoyed their walk. They went off to score some pasties though as I am wheat intolerant these days I'd brought my own gluten-free sandwich instead. We ate our food in a sheltered vantage point overlooking St Michael's Mount though we all soon decided that it was far too hot to stay there and sought some shade. The three female members wanted to do some browsing in the town so I took our son over to the Red River mouth were he splashed about in the shallows and I people-watched. I'd never seen the beach so crowded: the hot sun had brought everyone out onto the beach and I reflected that this scene was a far cry from the empty wintery beach walks that I more usually associated with this spot.

I spotted this tiny Autumn Squill growing by the side of the path at Perranuthnoe

When the other three returned we all decided that we'd had enough of the crowds so headed back for home via Sainsbury's for a bit of food shopping. Back at the cottage we had several cups of tea and a good natter before dinner. After dinner as it was still very windy we decided to forego our usual post-prandial lighthouse visit and also to skip the meteor watching so we instead stayed in for the evening doing nothing in particular.

Small Nettle growing by the side of a field at Perranuthnoe

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