January 2024

Private tour booked for the lovely Becki and Andrew on a cold winter Friday in West Cornwall. We set off from HQ at 8.30 and headed straight to St Agnes Head where a Snow Bunting had been reported. Once there we were greeted with blue skies, sunshine and stunning views to the North and South along the North Cornwall Coast. The sunshine illuminated diving Gannets, Guillemots and a small pod of Dolphins offshore and a few Rock Pipits and a Stonechat were around the car park. After 20 minutes searching we located the cracking little Snow Bunting by the small quarry at the far left end of the car park. It stayed on the path in front of us allowing close approach and photo opportunities for a good 15 minutes before we left it in peace.

We then drove back south to Stithians Lake. The water was perfectly calm on arrival which made viewing the Greater Scaup at the Golden Lion end very easy. The two Pintails were less obliging, sleeping in the overhanging trees out of full view! The south end of the reserve was more productive with plenty of woodland species at the feeders along with Reed Bunting and a skulking Water Rail. Very nice to sit with a coffee for an hour watching the Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinches, Great Spotted Woodpecker etc etc.

It was getting on for lunch time so we decided to head for the Hayle Estuary and eat our pack up in the Hide at Ryan’s Field. Birds here included Bar-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Dunlin, Knot, Curlew, Little Egret and a Greenshank, the latter very nearly becoming lunch for a fantastic Peregrine that stooped in from a great height narrowly missing the unsuspecting wader! We saw the same bird again after lunch on the main estuary harassing the many waders, ducks and gulls but it went away with empty talons in the end. From the causeway we added further waders to our day list like Grey Plover, Lapwing and Oystercatcher along with Teal, Wigeon, Common Gull, Mediterranean Gull and the overwintering Spoonbill.

Our final destination was to be Men-an-Tol on the moors, north of Penzance so we hit the A30 again and headed in that direction. En-route we stopped as always at Battery Rocks where we had good views of Purple Sandpipers and Sanderling and then at Newlyn Harbour where the stunning male Black Redstart performed for the cameras. A quick stop at Drift reservoir didn’t produce the hoped for Firecrest sadly so with the evening drawing in we moved on to Men-an-Tol. The sunset gave us a little warmth while we waited for any birds of prey to arrive at the site and we were treated to prolonged views of a Red Fox hunting along the stone walls. After an hour and with light fading we were about to give up but one last scan over the moors and Paul picked up a lovely male Hen Harrier coming into roost. This was immediately joined by another and we watched both interacting for the next 15 minutes before the cold and dusk got the better of us and we called it a day.

A great day with 80 species seen, great company and some amazing wildlife experiences. If you want to book a private day tour with us the contact Paul at [email protected]

Species List

Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Greater Scaup, Pintail, Pheasant, Little Grebe, SPOONBILL, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Gannet, Shag, Cormorant, HEN HARRIER, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Peregrine, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Sanderling, Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin, Snipe, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Greenshank, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Raven, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Nuthatch, Starling, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Robin, BLACK REDSTART, Stonechat, Dunnock, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, SNOW BUNTING, Reed Bunting.