Weekly Sightings Roundup 10th -16th April 2017

Weekly Sightings Roundup 10th -16th April 2017

The migrants didn’t quite pour in, but there was interest for those out looking for the commoner migrants, especially in the latter half of the week as Spring continued.

For one lucky (or well-placed) observer however, it was a rather better week, with multiple Hoopoes and a shoreline Squacco Heron photographed somewhere in Cornwall.

Cattle Egrets remained scattered throughout the county, the highest number being of 9 along with 40+ Little Egrets at Dinham Flats on the 13th and 12 at St Clements on the 16th with cattle at Menadews Farm. 2 Spoonbills remained at Hayle.

Gull reports are still declining somewhat, although we’re certainly not done yet. 3 Iceland Gull following a plough in fields near Camborne on the 13th the highest number, others scattered, but as usual mainly in the west of the county. A Glaucous Gull was reported from the Hayle on at least two occasions, and there was also a late report of a Caspian Gull from there on the 9th. However, you could well ask yourself when you last saw a Black-headed Gull … very few about now as they have moved out to their breeding locations. The only reports received of Mediterranean Gull were of singles at Sancreed and St Ives on the 15th.

A drake Garganey was seen at Walmesly Sanctuary on the 13th and 14th , but no yank duck reports anywhere now. Two Velvet Scoter were seen at Par on the 10th.The Pink-footed Goose was again seen at Drift on the11th, 2 Brent Geese remained on the Gannel and the drake Pintail was still present at Helston Boating Lake.

Wader interest centred on the start of a trickle of Whimbrel records. From 2 at Perranuthnoe on the 10th (possibly still local birds) we then had 1 on the Hayle on the 12th and 13 at the Hudsonian Whimbrel site again of Boat Cove on the 14th and 17 at Lizard Point on the 16th. Common Sandpipers continued to trickle in and a single Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit was reported from the Hayle.

A Black Kite was seen at Goonhilly Downs on the16th with an Osprey there the same date. Osprey sightings continued; either 1 bird doubling back on itself or 2 seen over Truro and Chacewater on the morning of the 11th, with another N over the latter site on the 14th., and birds seen over Hayle again on the 12th and 13th. A female Marsh Harrier was again seen on the Lizard, along with Hen Harriers on Bodmin, the Lizard and at Gurnard Head

Only a single Red Kite report was received this week, of a bird which flew over the Lynher Valley on the 12th.

Offshore, seawatching highlights from west to east included  c15 Manx Shearwater per minute passage, with c30 Sandwich Tern, 4 ad Kittiwake east.at Porthkidney on the 12th.

Pendennis Point, Falmouth  saw 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Black-throated Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Sandwich Tern, c50 Manx Shearwater, 1 Puffin on the 13th

Pendower Beach –  1 Slavonian Grebe moulting into summer plumage, 16 (7 sum plum) Black-throated Diver, 9 (6 sum plum) Great Northern Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, 4 (1m) Common Scoter. (R Veal) 13th.

Downderry – 41+ Great Northern Divers, along with 1 Red-throated Diver, 8 Common Scoters, 1 Great Skua and 2 Sandwich Terns on the 14th.

Back inland again, at least one Woodchat Shrike was still present at Cot Valley on the 10th, with another, presumably a new migrant, behind Lizard Point on the 16th.

The first Cuckoos of the year were reported, with a slightly belated report of one near Penallow on the 9th and birds at St Just on the 13th and Padstow on the 16th.

Swallow migration has finally picked up, with a greater chance of birds being randomly picked up and some good passage noted, eg at Bude on the 15th, with 120 north in an hour. An impressive count of 300 Sand Martin were again seen at Drift Reservoir.

Still to leave, however, was a Yellow-browed Warbler again at the south side of Swanpool on the 14th; presumably one of the overwintering birds there. 2 Little Buntings on Goss Moor on the 15th were also presumably birds which had overwintered hitherto unobserved; both birds were still present the following day.

Up to 3 Ring Ouzel were again seen at the traditional site of Buttermilk Hill near St Ives, with a male also encountered at Kit Hill on the 12th .Wheatear started arriving in greater numbers with 19 around Porthgwarra on the 14th and good counts elsewhere along the coast.

This week saw the first Whitethroat of the year on the 11th at Sharrow Point in the east of the county, a Yellow Wagtail on the 13th at Porthgwarra, and the first Garden Warbler on the 15th on Goss Moor

A handful of Common Redstarts (a bird that can brighten up any otherwise uninteresting birding day in an instant) were seen, with one at Porthgwarra, and another on Bodmin. 16 Willow Warbler, 9 Chiffchaff and 1 Tree Pipit were seen at Stithians on the 10th.

Fledged birds included a juv Mistle Thrush being fed 2 worms a minute by its parents at Lansallos NT.

The main excitement this week, perhaps more so than the birds in the general media at least, was of the Humpback Whale (we won’t be referring to its media nickname of Doris here) which has been spending much of the last few months off Start Bay in Devon passing through our waters.

This beast was seen in Falmouth Bay and the east side of the Lizard on the 11th, initially off St Anthony’s Head around 2pm, and later just off Kennack Sands that evening. (The writer of this article is especially galled at the news as he was being a tourist on the north Cornwall coast that exact same time). Otherwise cetacean numbers in Falmouth Bay have dropped considerably over the last few weeks; c20 Common Dolphins there on the 12th, elsewhere 9 Bottlenose Dolphins were off Lizard Point on the 16th.

A Painted Lady was at Porthgwarra on the 11th, with other butterflies including Holly Blue and Orange Tip at Whitsand Bay on the same date, with an Emperor Moth again on the 16th at Windmill Farm.

The weather looks set to remain settled the coming week; what that means in terms of the birds remains to be seen.