Saturday, 22 October 2016

Saturday 22nd October - Back Down!

Finally I'm back down in my beloved Cornwall. Usually I would have come down much earlier in the month so this is unusual for me. However, I was watching events unfold in the birding world, keeping an eye on how things were progressing in Cornwall as well as marvelling at the autumn that the North East was having. Pendeen seemed to be doing OK with a Little Bunting seen on the road, several Lapland Buntings by the lighthouse and a Hooded Crow at Manor Farm. When my chum and bird finding machine Ian Kendall came down he managed to winkle out a Richard's Pipit as well as what he was pretty sure (but not certain) was an Olive-backed Pipit though it flew behind the coastguard cottages and wasn't seen again. Ian did mention that he was finding things rather hard work down here and my impression is that it's been a rather low key October down here so far. In discussions with my VLW, we decided that we would definitely be coming down at the end of October for half term anyway so in the end I decided that rather than coming down twice, instead I would do a few day sorties eastwards from Oxford and then just come down the once en famille at the end of the month. So I made a trip to Norfolk and one to Easington to catch up with the Siberian Accentor and so finally here I am. Of course I've missed the PG Red-eyed Vireo and this week the Isabelline Wheatear and the Siberian Stonechat which would have all been Cornish ticks for me. In fact the Vireo would have been a lifer (as would the Wheatear up until a week ago when I jammed in on one whilst twitching the Accentor). Still, I'm very much hoping that the fact that the Wheatear and the Stonechat arrived this week is portentous of good things to come for this week. We shall see.

Anyway, with nothing vitally pressing on the bird front to warrant an early start (I figured that the Cape Cornwall Stonechat which was around yesterday afternoon would either have gone or it would be around all day and sadly it was the former) we departed from Oxford at around 10 a.m. There was moderately heavy traffic on the M5 south of the M4 junction but nothing too serious. However the Bodmin roadworks on the A30 were as terrible as ever and in the end the whole journey took a gruelling five and a half hours instead of the usual four. We finally arrived mid afternoon for our customary cup of tea in the Sainsbury's café before doing our shopping and heading over to the cottage. As I was unpacking some movement caught my eye and I looked up to see a lovely Black Redstart feeding away quietly, using the surrounding buildings as a surveillance perch as they are wont to do. After it played run around with me for a while, eventually I was able to get a passable photo of it. I do love this species and really hopes that it sticks around for a while.

The Black Redstart
Later on my VLW and I had a wander down to the lighthouse to get some fresh air. Down by the Old Count House I heard a bird singing which I really couldn't place. It had a very rhythmic simple song that had me thinking of some New World Sparrow and I got terribly excited. After an agonising five minutes it seemed to move around to behind the garage and when I went round to look I saw it. It was a Robin - I couldn't believe it! I've never heard a Robin sing in such a way before, most unusual and really had me fooled. 

Anyway, after that excitement we headed back to the cottage where we ate and got settled back in. Despite the rather clear conditions I decided to put out the month trap and had a couple of Angled Shades come to investigate almost immediately. I'm still not expecting much in the trap tomorrow morning, we shall see. After watching a movie we nipped outside to look at the Orionids meteor shower which is reaching its peak this weekend. Fortunately it was very clear and we got good views of several though the wind was picking up and it was rather cold so we didn't stay out too long. Soon it was time to turn in for the night. It was good to be back.

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