Sunday, 2 March 2014

A tour of west Cornwall

Last Sunday I met Jayne, a lovely person who posts on the RSPB forums, and we had a trip around some of the good birding sites at the western tip of Cornwall. Some of these places were known to me, others totally weren't. Weather was grey and very windy but it stayed dry. We met at Mousehole at 9.30 and from there headed to Newlyn Harbour, where I'd found a Kumlien's Gull the day before.

It was still there, though a bit further out. It looked just as fed up, though, as it had yesterday.

I found this not-quite-adult Great Black-backed Gull irresistably photogenic, and it paid me no attention as I knee-walked up to it for a frame-filler of it grooming its armpits.

Another pile of rope, another Rock Pipit. They, like all the harbour birds, are super-approachable.

Yesterday I hadn't found any auks in the harbour so was happy to discover a Razorbill swimming about in its characteristic hunkered-down stance. It swam very close to where we were watching...

... and gazed appealingly up at us. I'm tempted to add a caption to this (in Impact font of course) saying 'I can haz fish guts?'

The prettiest of gulls was there too - nice to get a close flypast from this adult Kittiwake.

We then went to the secret spot beside the Jubilee Pool, where Purple Sandpipers roost at high tide. I'd seen some Purps from the promenade the day before but it had not been high tide then and the birds were foraging on the shore, sadly on a bit not reachable to humans. But a look over the wall here revealed at least half a dozen of them, sleeping fitfully on the one or two rocks that were out of reach of the waves.

Next was a walk round the back of Penzance station to look for the three Black Redstarts overwintering there. They didn't show, but we had a lovely bonus over the sea when this stonking first-winter Glaucous Gull sailed past, and then settled on the water.

Next was Marazion. Here, though, the high wind was too much - we went on a short and pointless walk across RSPB Marazion Marsh, seeing a handful of Mallards, then across the road to the dunes and sea. No birds were in evidence and, not enjoying having our faces and camera gear sandblasted, we quickly turned back and continued, now heading north to the Hayle estuary. The hide overlooking Ryan's Field revealed a few Redshanks, Barwits, gulls, Chiffchaffs in the scrub and a lone Oystercatcher, but a walk to the road bridge across the estuary proper was more productive.

The estuary was half-full, with Teals and Wigeons on the watery bits and waders on the muddy bits.

A duck diving out out in the deep channel proved to be a Red-breasted Merganser. Across from here, many gulls were roosting but I couldn't find anything 'new' among them. We walked along the road towards Carnsew Pool.

A few goodies seen on the way to Carnsew Pool - Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew and Little Egret.

The wind blowing across the pool was fearsome, threatening to tip us into the water, and probably explained why few birds were making use of the pool. We did disturb a small group of Wigeons in the far corner (sorry, Wigeons).

In the river alongside the pool, a few Shags were feeding. Two came ashore for a rest - one, an adult, hastily returned to the water at our approach, but this youngster sat contentedly as we took lots of photos of it.

A Great Northern Diver at the back of the pool took off and flew a leisurely lap of the lake, allowing me to catch an incongrous shot of it flapping past someone's bedroom window.

There were also two GNDs on the river, one very close, and we spent quite a while taking pics of it as it dived and preened, before it too took to the air.

We decied that was our cue to head back, and retraced our steps, pausing to enjoy a lovely well-marked Common Buzzard close to where we'd parked the car.

After a tea'n'cake interval, we drove back south, and again checked the Black Redstart spot, again without success. We also revisited the harbour at Newlyn for a little while.

Here we found a smart 'tarrock' aka young Kittiwake, swimming along well away from the bigger gulls. Not surprising when they were getting up to stuff like this...

... I wouldn't be getting involved in all that, either. Not sure why the adult GBBG had it in for the young one, but its attack was sustained and ferocious, though the youngster did eventually get away.

We counted five GNDs in the harbour. Here are three of them.

The Razorbill was still present, but I didn't bother with it this time, instead enjoying the chance to take a few pics of its commoner relative, a cute Guillemot. I could happily have stayed there for ages but it was gone 4pm and time to leave.

1 comment:

Greenie said...

Marianne ,
Really enjoyed your Cornish double header with a wonderful variety of species . Must have been great to see all those GNDs , I was chuffed to see one late last year . The water certainly seems to have settle down since the storms , very clear . A visit to Sevenoaks , it was not .