Sunday 14th January 2024
Six guests with Paul as guide, headed out from HQ at 8 am with a record target of 96 species to beat. Tide times and the disappearance of one or two previous target birds meant a different approach to the birding today and we started our list on the estuary at Hayle. The tide was in and with a little perseverance Paul picked up the GREEN-WINGED TEAL among the other Eurasian Teal and Wigeon. Sadly we missed the Ring-billed Gull here so we drove the short distance to Ryan’s Field where we picked up the Danish ringed SPOONBILL and three Knot among other waders. Gulval was our next port of call where the overwintering GOLDEN ORIOLE was seen briefly in flight. In between views we also added DIPPER, Blackcap, Goldfinch and Coal Tit, all of which were absent form last weeks tour!
The Purple Sandpipers at Jubilee Pool were equally as obliging today and a scope of the bay from here saw our first Great Northern Divers, Common Scoters and a bonus Red-throated Diver! The Black Redstart at Newlyn Harbour was also obliging, flying up onto a rooftop in front of us as we alighted from the van. It was then on to Tremethick Cross and a short walk to view the field where numerous LITTLE BUNTINGS had been seen in previous weeks. After searching through numerous flocks of Linnets and Chaffinches we finally picked up both Reed Bunting and a LITTLE BUNTING.
In the hope of adding one of the Bonaparte’s Gulls to this weeks list we then headed to Marazion. Sadly one of the birds was found dead on the beach and there was no sign of its travelling partner. A Black-throated Diver offshore completed the diver trio and after adding Turnstone and Stonechat we headed back to Hayle for lunch. Thankfully the ICELAND GULL was still there when we arrived and was a welcome year tick for most of the group. Traffic and people numbers were once again an issue at St Gothian Sand NR but we managed to find a parking space and eventually added a few more to the list including Snipe, Red-breasted Merganser and Water Rail. The sea was incredibly calm and it came as a bit of a shock to find no Fulmars at all at Hell’s Mouth! A couple of distant Guillemots were all we could muster here so with only an hour or so of light left we made the decision to head back west to Bartinney Downs in the hope of picking up a Short-eared Owl and a few other birds to add to the list, that currently stood at 87 species!
With the acceptance we probably wouldn’t break the 96 species record, we headed down the A30, hopeful we could at least get to 90 species. A quick detour to Drift Reservoir proved to be a good decision with Great-crested Grebe, two CATTLE EGRETS and a showy Firecrest (90th species!) all seen from the car park. An elusive Pheasant was picked up en-route but on arrival at Bartinney Downs an ignorant photographer was in the fields where we had hoped to see the Owls. On seeing eight birders staring (or Glaring) at him through binoculars and telescope he sheepishly skulked out of view and was last seen driving away in his white BMW1 series. No field skills whatsoever and giving other responsible ‘toggers’ a bad name! As the light faded Paul suddenly shouted, “HEN HARRIER”! and proceeded to shout out directions until everyone got onto the cracking juvenile male. A Peregrine flew over it at one point giving us a total of 93 species for the day. Then as we decided to pack up for the day, we picked up another stunning male Hen Harrier, this time much closer, that appeared to go to roost in a nearby copse. A fitting end to a superb days birding.
Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Common Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Pheasant, Great Northern Diver, Black-throated Diver, Red-throated Diver, Little Grebe, Great-crested Grebe, SPOONBILL, Grey Heron, CATTLE EGRET, Little Egret, Gannet, Shag, Cormorant, HEN HARRIER, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Peregrine, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin, Snipe, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Greenshank, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, ICELAND (Kumlien’s) GULL, Great Black-backed Gull, Razorbill, Guillemot, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Green Woodpecker, GOLDEN ORIOLE, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Firecrest, Wren, Starling, DIPPER, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Dunnock, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Bullfinch, LITTLE BUNTING, Reed Bunting.