Weekly Review 11th – 17th dec 2017

Weekly Review 11th – 17th dec 2017

The major event of the week was an all-too brief (one afternoon) Snowy Owl at Chapel Carn Brea on the Penwith Moors in the west of the county, presumably making bird of the month for those who were able to connect in the area. The bird was last seen to fly off towards St Just before dusk, hotly pursued by corvids, having been flushed by local ponies.

Snowy Owl, Alex McKechnie

The hope of course is that the bird will be re-located – there is plenty of habitat and with fairly poor weather at the moment it still pretty much likely to be out there (spoiler alert for next week – see the recent sightings page!!) This bird, a female, is thought to probably be the bird reported on Bryher, Scillies a few days previously.

This follows on from a good run of birds in recent years making Cornwall something of a hotspot for this species now that birds are no longer regularly to be found breeding in the past in the far north of the British Isles (Fetlar in the 60s/70s) and regular wintering birds being short of late.

A single record of Pacific Diver was received this week of the one bird at Mounts Bay on the 16th.


The Lesser Scaup was again reported from Dozmary Pool on the 11th and 16th, along with the Ring-necked Duck on the 11th only, with the 2 Surf Scoter again at Porthpean on several dates. A Velvet Scoter was briefly seen in Penzance Harbour on the 17th.

Cattle Egrets put in appearances with 2 still at St Erth on the 12th, 1 at Dinham Flats on the Camel on the 15th, and 8 in a cattle field at Newtown St Mary on the Lizard on the 17th

A single Great White Egret was seen flying over Walmsley Sanctuary on the 15th, and the Glossy Ibis at Kingsmill Lake in the east of the county was reported at least twice during the week.

The American Golden Plover was again seen on the 11th and 12th at Hayle

An un-aged and near-adult Caspian Gull were recorded at Hayle on the 11th and 16th, with what was presumed to be the same bird as that of the 16th seen by Jubilee Pool, Penzance the following day.

Caspian Gull, Dean Nicholson

A Ring-billed Gull was at Hayle on the 12th, with a hybrid Lesser Black-back/Herring Gull on the 16th.

A probable Ring-necked Parakeet (aka Rose-ringed Parakeet) of unknown origin was reported from Penlee Gardens in Penzance on the 17th – previous records this year include a known escape from Paradise Park near Hayle and a presumed ‘genuine’ bird in the east near Plymouth

A single Hawfinch was recorded at Feock on the 17th (along with an impressive 200 Greenfinch in the area.)


Pink-footed Goose was seen at Treraven Meadows on the Camel on the 15th and near Lostwithiel on the Fowey on the 11th (same bird?).

A Glaucous Gull was at Gillan Creek on the 15th, whilst the Iceland Gull remained at Coverack.

A single Snow Bunting was seen at Lizard Point on the 15th. Siberian Chiffchaffs (or presumed Siberian Chiffchaffs) were seen at College Reservoir, Lizard Point and Sandy Cove, Newlyn (2) during the week, with the only Yellow-browed Warbler in gardens at the latter site on the 12th.

Pink-footed Goose – Rupert Kirkwood

tristis-type Chiffchaff, Tony Mills

Waterfowl continued to trickle into the region, with 9 Pintail at Walmsley and 4 at Stithians, the Scaup at the latter site also being seen again on the 16th, with the Siblyback bird (same as previously?) on the 11th.

A high count of 7 Water Rail was noted at Swanpool on the evening of the 16th, with 102 Sanderling off Marazion and 76 Avocet at Wacker Quay other interesting counts. In seawatching news, 2500 Kittiwake and 2 Great Skua were reported past Lizard Point on the 15th. Porthpean hosted 21 Great Northern Diver on the 17th, with a Pomarine Skua feeding and on the sea there too on the 17th

There were 2 Red Kite sightings on the lizard, with the only Hen Harrier reported recently being at Chapel Carn Brea on the 11th.

The Brambling flock near the Helford was relocated with a flock of 200 feeding near Trebah Gardens on the 15th, with 30 there 2 days later, and 6 Corn Bunting were at Whipsiderry.

Firecrest sightings remained high, with the highest count of 6 in pines near Truro on the 11th

Blackcap sightings continue to increase, up from 6 last week to 16 sites this week; there do genuinely seem to be a lot about this winter. Is recording being slightly skewed by the current Blackcap survey and people being on the lookout for them, or is it a genuine increase?  See the CBWPS page dedicated to Cornwall sightings and behavioural observations on the website Here , for more on Blackaps and behavioural notes (accessible in the drop down ‘Recent Sightings menu), in addition to the BTO Blackcap Colour-ringed Survey page .

Dan Chaney, 20th December