Sunday, 29 January 2017

Winter Cornish Capers (Day 1) - Dawn to dusk

We are off to Cornwall
First stop
Squire bagging Lesser Scaup
Spot the hidden beauty
Grey Plover
Wigeon army 
Dunlin flock
Purple Sandpiper
St Micheal's Mount
Hudsonian Whimbrel
You-tube video
Can't beat a bit of gulling
Closer views

When the eldest lads basketball fixtures were announced with a game at Plymouth in January I thought I'd double it up with a birding trip in Cornwall. These plans went astray when he suffered a grade b ligament tear which ruled him out from the trip however the Squire was keen to step in for a two day birding jolly. A four a.m alarm call got us well ahead of the traffic but it was quite a shock when we got out of the warm car on Bodmin Moor for our first stop at Dozmary Pool. Our target bird was a drake Lesser Scaup which took us around fifteen minutes to locate in the near arctic conditions. Other sightings in the notebook were eight Tufted Duck, nine Pochard, Little Egret, a Snipe & Stonechat. The Lesser Scaup was a lifer for Paul so the frozen fingers & running nose were worth it.

Next stop was Hayle where we found another two of our target birds, a juvenile Spoonbill & a Green-winged Teal that did take a bit of finding. The waders were very close to our causeway viewing spot. Other species included Grey Plover, Dunlin, Curlew, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Redshank, Teal, Wigeon & a good selection of gulls but not the Iceland we were really after. 

Now for the big target the Pacific Diver, first reported in St Austell 2007, it was a species I'd been wanting to catch up with for a long time. By bizarre coincidence a juvenile was reported up in Northumberland as we were in Cornwall. Conditions were far from ideal but on the plus side there were only two divers to be seen, a Great Northern & the Pacific. The problem was the sea was so rough the views were very limited. A return visit in the morning beckoned. Purple Sandpipers & Turnstones fed on the rocks below us. I'd never seen Purple Sandpipers so close & active.

We then headed round to Hope Cove where the Hudsonian Whimbrel past us calling to land on the beach with four little Egrets. Out at sea a flock of Black-necked Grebes were sheltering in the shadow of the mount. 

Our final stop was back at Hayle where we were staying. With the Squire starting to think Iceland Gulls didn't actually exist he then shouted "I've got one" and for sure as I looked through his scope and it was a spanking juvenile. We got a few other birders on to the bird before walking around for a closer view where I took a few shots as best as I could in the fading light.

After a quick battery re-charge we headed up the road to local pub where we met up with top local birder Paul Freestone who maintains the websites Cornwall & the Scillies as well producing the rare/scarce bird reports. Paul had agreed to show us a few of the local sites the following morning.

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