Monday, 17 August 2020

17th August: Drift Reservoir

With the rest of the family choosing to have a lie-in on our first day in the cottage I decided to head off reasonably early to see if I could see the Drift Spotted Sandpiper - the one rare bird that was around on the Penwith peninsula at the moment. I was about half way from Pendeen to Drift when the heavens opened so I decided to head first to Sainsbury's to do a spot of shopping. This worked out quite nicely and I'd just finished as it started to ease. I duly arrived at the reservoir car park, tooled up and headed off. I soon realised that I'd made a mistake in not wearing my waterproof trousers: whilst it was no longer raining, there was a lot of vegetation to walk through and my trousers were soon soaking. I worked my way around the west shore, hoping that I would strike lucky at the first corner by the boardwalk which certainly used to be it's favourite corner but sadly it was empty. Having failed here I was pinning my hopes on finding it in the north west arm past the hide where waders usually like to hang out. Here I found three Green Sandpipers, a Wood Sand, 2 Common Sand, a Greenshank, a Snipe as well as a few ducks, a Little Egret and a couple of Grey Herons but sadly not the bird I was looking for. Eventually I had to give up and head back home to dry out.

After lunch, we decided to do something that we'd been meaning to do for years, namely climb the hill behind Pendeen itself. It didn't take too long but once we'd left the village the scenery changed and there was a wonderful tapestry of heather and gorse which looked stunning in the afternoon sunshine. 

Heather & Gorse

The view at the top of the hill was definitely worth it and we all wished that we'd done it years ago. After a while we headed down to the  churchyard where after a wander around the churchyard we sat down with our flask of tea and our snacks. We'd just finished when news came through on RBA of the Spotted Sandpiper still present at Drift. As we about to head home anyway I quickly dropped the others off at the cottage and headed off to Drift with my younger daughter along for the ride.

I arrived about the same time as two other birders who were also keen to catch up with the Spotted Sand. The news had said that it was along the east shore 100 yards from the dam wall. This was pretty precise information but despite the three off us searching we couldn't see it. With nothing else to do the three of us worked our way back along the west shore just as I'd done in the morning. Sadly the outcome was the same as in the morning with no sign of the target bird though the number of Wood Sandpipers had now grown to three. One of the party decided to head on whereas myself and the third person both had to head back due to limited time. My daughter and I lingered a bit as the other person yomped on ahead. Back near the dam I thought I'd just take one last look on the far shore just in case. "Was that movement I saw in my bins?" I pondered. I got my scope out again and checked and wouldn't you know it, there was the bird! Had it been there all along but skulking on the shoreline? Certainly as it worked its way in amongst the stone blocks near the dam it was easy enough to lose sight of it. I whipped out my digiscoping gear and took a bit of video footage.

Some video footage of the Spotted Sandpiper on the far side of the reservoir

Having snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and with a shiny new personal Cornish tick now in the bag, it was with a feeling of achievement that we headed back to the car and drove back to the cottage for dinner.

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