Thursday, 22 October 2015

Cornwall - 16th-18th October

We had a blank weekend so rather than lounging around the house and watching the rugby I pushed for a short jaunt to Cornwall, with only Friday, Saturday and Sunday available this was going to be a weekend where only Saturday was to be spent settled in our cottage. So, we set off on Friday at around 09:00 and by 12:30 we were at South Huish and while Sarah dealt with an overly tired and screaming Tobias on the beach I enjoyed a lovely Isabelline (Daurian) Shrike that had been present since 13th October. The bird showed well feeding on wasps mainly from around Ivy blossom and returned frequently to a telephone wire beside the road where, unfortunately, the bird was back lit and so photography was not the best. The shots below are taken with the Swarovski 85/TLS and Canon 7D2 combo. The top two in subdued, semi-overcast conditions and the final two with the sun shining - notice the apparent change in tone of the bird from cold buff grey buff to a warm ginger grey.

Isabelline (Daurian) Shrike - South Huish, Devon

With Tobias in a grotty mood we headed west, gathered some supplies, popped out for dinner and then relaxed in the cottage for the evening.

On Saturday I was up early and drove the 45 minutes from the cottage to Lands End, it was still dark when I arrived at 7:15 so I stood outside the car and listened to what was moving around in the gloom - small groups of Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, a Redpoll, Redwing, Fieldfare and Pied Wagtail were all audible. Once the light was up I slowly walked the main trail southwards through the Willow, the main target here was a Dusky Warbler that had been present for a couple of days but had always been elusive. I was not particularly confident that I would see this bird as the Willows here are quite impenetrable and i did not know exactly where the bird had been seen. But after a while a distinctive soft tacking was heard and the Dusky Warbler appeared low in the Sallow and Bracken. It was moving around actively but showed very little mostly being tracked by movements in the vegetation and that distinctive, repetitive call which to me sounds slightly synthsized. I only managed to take a single shot of this bird. Also here were a Siberian Chiffchaff, 6 Chiffchaff, Firecrest, 6 Goldcrest and 2 Blackcap. Overhead there was a steady passage of Fieldfare (35) and Redwing (20) plus small numbers of Siskin and at least 50 Chaffinch.

I wandered over to the Lands End complex and fairly quickly came across the juvenile Rose-coloured Starling that has been present with the Starling since 28th September. It was at first with the Starling feeding on grass but then flew into the carpark and then towards Bramble where it fed on the ripe fruit for a while. I heard it call on one occasion, a fairly Starling like churr. I then headed to Kenidjack for a quick walk before heading back to the cottage at Kenidjack there were 3 Chiffchaff and a Siberian Chiffchaff plus a handful if Redwing. It was time to head back to the cottage to collect Sarah and Tobias, we spent the afternoon on Sennen beach where there were 8 Mediterranean Gull and then went to Porthgwarra for a walk where little was seen but for 6 Stonechat.

Dusky Warbler - Lands End

Siberian Chiffchaff - Lands End

Rose-coloured Starling - Lands End

Rose-coloured Starling - Lands End

On Sunday I popped out briefly first thing for the 2nd winter Ring-billed Gull that had been on the Hayle Estuary since January 2015. I quite quickly located the bird distantly near to Leylant Saltings along with a Spoonbill. I didn't have much time so was only able to achieve rather distant views. Also present were 28 Mediterranean Gull, good numbers of the commoner gull species and many Wigeon and Teal, 3 Greenshank and a range of common wader species. It was time to head back to the cottage, load the car and head-off. We stopped for a walk at the beach at Marazion but I spent most of my time chasing Tobias with seaweed and throwing stones into the sea rather than looking for birds!

Ring-billed Gull  2nd winter Hayle Estuary