Birding highlights and news this week.
Having mentioned last week that the total number of bird species seen last year is heading for an all-time record, it was perhaps inevitable that no new species were recorded in the county this week, the longest period with no new additions since mid August. However, there was plenty of interest in the county, with several good new birds appearing.
The only BBRC rarity this week (but a big one) was the presumed returning Pacific Diver in Mounts Bay for its 11th season (with odd gaps), a welcome winter sign for Paul St Pierre on the 4th. Otherwise an unconfirmed report of an American Cuckoo sp. at Penberth on the 2nd would certainly have been bird of the week if proven to be at the time.
The White-rumped Sandpiper at St Gothian LNR, a good find last week by Mike Spicer, continued to show well for the first half of the week until Thursday at least. Two further Olive-backed Pipits were seen – one at Mousehole on the 31st the other at Trevose Head in flight on the 3rd November, potentially the 15th and 16th records for the county.
A Hoopoe was seen and heard in woodland at Helford on the 1st. A juvenile Rose-coloured Starling was showing rather well in gardens at Treen, with another report in Penzance. A Common Rosefinch was at Pendeen, Siberian Chiffchaff and a Serin on the Lizard, further Richard Pipits, and a Red-breasted Flycatcher was at Kenidjack.
The week was a good week for egrets, with 4 Great White Egret in flight at Carn Glose on the 1st and 5 Cattle Egret at Gwithian on the 31st, with 12 at Devoran from the 3rd, with singles elsewhere. Other Great White Egrets were scattered throughout the week at other locations, and there was also a notable influx of 19 Little Egret into Marazion midweek. The Glossy Ibis was again seen, and Spoonbill numbers remained good.
An American Golden Plover over Constantine was perhaps unexpected for the observer, with the reported Hooded Crow in the west perhaps being the long-staying Hooded/Carrion Crow hybrid.
Two Surf Scoter were off Porthpean on the 5th – seemingly an adult and 1stw female, bringing the total this year to 3 after a fly-by back on October 3rd past Pendeen.
A Sabine’s Gull was noted past St Ives, and 5 Balearic Shearwater on the ‘Introduction to Seawatching’ event on the Lizard (along with a Lapland Bunting in flight). Otherwise the buildup in winter seabirds remains slow. A Caspian Gull was noted at Colliford.
The 2 Snow Goose of unknown origin (ie, not thought to be genuine wild birds from Nearctic regions) were again seen in the east of the county, with a couple of White-fronted Goose (both the Greenland, and the rarer in Cornwall, European subspecies) and a Pink-footed Goose.
There were still a few reports of traditional summer birds – a few reports of Swallow, with singles of House Martin, Reed Warbler, Yellow Wagtails and Turtle Dove. At least some of which had presumably travelled from the eastern part of their range rather than being lingering British individuals.
The change in the seasons continued, with new arrivals including a noticeable upturn in Blackcap, with other birds such as Woodcock and other winter visitors arriving. Hawfinches continued to be seen at a number of locations, with over 32 reported. 13+ Yellow-browed Warbler reports were received in comparison. Visible migration continued to be good in the first half of the week, with 10,030 Woodpigeon and 134 Stock Dove at Sancreed notable, and good numbers of Fieldfare also seen.
The first Bittern of the season was seen at Marazion Marsh, a Goosander was at Drift Reservoir, and 13 Black-necked Grebe were noted at the traditional wintering site of the Carrick Roads. Hen and Marsh Harriers, Merlins, Water Pipits and the inexorable increase in Black Redstarts continued and mostly complete the picture in the continuing change of the seasons.
The big news announcement this week within the society is the introduction of a Student Membership, for active students and young persons up to the age of 23. This will be with a reduced membership rate, and will include a hard copy of BiC for the relevant year, with a digital subscription to the Palores magazine. Hopefully this will broaden and increase our membership base within the county, and encourage the younger generation to both take up the hobby and actively participate in conserving our county’s birdlife. Please see the membership pages for further information, or email email@example.com
One small change on the website is a page dedicated to images and sightings of garden birds in the county. This will hopefully serve a number of purposes, including encouraging the monitoring of our garden birds and more people to submit records. Cornwall Birds – Garden Bird Sightings Photo page
Hopefully we will be able to provide some update on the progress of rarity submissions for 2015 and 2016 within the county soon – please note that rarity submission forms for both National and County rarities are available in the right hand menu bar on the main website pages.
Now is also the time to send in any artwork for the County Report (Birds in Cornwall – BiC 2015/16) – images can be in any style/medium which will publish well and fits in with the general styling of the report, of specific individual county or nationally rare/scarce birds seen or of generalised bird species which can be encountered in Cornwall.
Finally, the other big news item this week is that our Publicity Officer, Beth Heasman (who will also be taking on the role of Walks and Events Secretary in the near future) is now no longer Beth Heasman – Congratulations on her marriage to Greg Cross at the weekend!
Dan Chaney, 06/11