Saturday, 30 October 2010

Two weeks off. Cornwall and Kent

A lovely week spent with the wife and kids in St Ives (again!), Cornwall from 16th October was a great break.  My first time down there at this time of the year and I had high expectations of something special (bird-wise) dropping in, but with it was all coming from the east with the locals getting very excited by Yellow-browed, Pallas and Radde's Warblers dropping into the St Just valleys.  I managed one morning out taking the coast road from St Ives to Sennen, in what must be one of the scenic drives in the country.

I was after the Buff-beasted Sandpiper just outside of Sennen, and getting there at first light I scanned the field it had last been seen in...nothing, but looking up I saw a 'cloud' of Golden Plovers wheeling around, 140+ and just below them, and desparately trying to keep up was the Sandpiper.  It was a fantastic sunrise, which I enjoyed for the whole of the 50 minutes it took the flock to eventually land!  The tower in the photograph above is that of St Buryan church and if you click to enlarge the photo, you'll see the plovers above the cloud - see if you can spot the Sandpiper! Moving onto to Nanquidno I was surprised to see a 'twitch' on.  A Pallas Warbler had been seen late the previous day and it seemed most of Cornwall's birding fraternity were out to see it.  Needless to say it wasn't found, although a Yellow-browed Warbler put in a brief appearance and I managed to catch sight of two of the six plus Firecrests that were flitting around this normally tranquil valley.

Back in St Ives I managed a couple of good sightings from the beach; Grey Seal and a pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins (kids thought I'd photographed a shark - see above!).  The former appeared while I was swimming amongst the boats in the harbour; I noticed a crowd had gathered and someone shouted and pointed "Seal!".  Cheeky buggers I though (well at least they didn't say "Whale") - until I came face to face with one of two Grey Seals.  Turnstones were constantly working the beach and I had 3 Med Gulls round Porthgwidden Beach, with one winter adult sitting on the offshore rocks with a group of Shags.

However the best was saved until the last day when looking out of the cottage window I could see Gannets passing the harbour wall.  The wind had swung round to a strong NWesterly overnight and grabbing my bins and scope I ran up to The Island.  I was surprised to see only one other birder there (Brian Mellow?of Black-browed Albatross fame) and he was equally surprised that there were only two of us there.  Gannets and Kittiwakes were streaming through, and there were birds moving east as far as the eye could see.  I did a quick count - 130 Gannets past in a minute, and that was just picking out the birds passing close into the Island!  Brian told me I was too late for a Long-tailed Skua, but over the next 45 minutes we had 14 Bonxies, 2 Arctic Skuas, 3 Sooty Shearwaters, 3 Balearic Shearwaters, 1 Manx Shearwater, 1 Med Gull, 12 Pintail and hundreds of Gannet, Kittiwake and auks.  A female Black Redstart was also flitting around the rocks by Porthgwidden Beach.  We missed the Little Shearwater, Sabine's Gulls and Leach's Petrel that were picked up at Pendeen, but there was so much moving out on the sea we just couldn't keep up !  Quite a spectacle and I was only sorry I had to get on the road to go home.  A few folk had told me a goodie would turn up while I was down there - little did I know that only a couple of miles away in Zennor a American Bittern was lurking around a small pool only to be positively identified 6 days later!

1 comment:

Linda said...

Gorgeous lighthouse! The beams of light are radiant, warm and inviting...I'm picturing this with a beautiful white wood frame on a white wall in an ocean cottage..Thanks for sharing your most interesting blog of story and photos, cheers, Linda