As per recent weeks it seemed to be a case of being in the right place at the right time for the lucky observers of most of the good county birds again this week. However, it seems as if Spring migration is really in full flow, with a good range of species seen, a few decent falls and good numbers of birds in the balmy spring weather.
The headline birds this week would again be a good selection of scarcities; nothing exceptional and the pick of the bunch probably being a female Red-footed Falcon which was seen briefly on the evening of the 22nd, and again first thing on the morning of the 23rd at Caerthillian on the Lizard, a high flying White Stork over Penzance on the 21st, and probably most accessible of all a smart Subalpine Warbler on Sunday 23rd at Lands End.
A Purple Heron was seen on the 18th mid-county flying north over the A30 near Indian Queens. The Lizard also hosted a Purple Heron from the 19th, generally seen in flight towards Crousa Downs on the east side, along with a Woodchat Shrike still present around the Old Lizard Head area and a Wryneck on the 23rd. Another good passerine rarity on the Lizard was Siberian Chiffchaff with birds reported from two locations near the point on the 18th.
A Red-rumped Swallow was reported from Nanjizal on the 23rd, with one Little Bunting remaining at Goss Moor most of the week at least.
Drake Garganeys graced both Marazion and Walmsley Sanctuary, whilst the Lesser Scaup was again reported from Sibleyback Reservoir – few other waterfowl featured in reports this week.
Cattle Egrets were still scattered around the county, accessible birds reported included a bird at Ryan’s Field again, with up to 5 at Bude, 3 at Maer Lake and 2 at Marazion on one date. The immature Spoonbill was still on the Hayle, although it appears the adult has moved on.
The first Swift of the year was at Polgigga on the 20th, with another (or even same) bird over Marazion Marsh RSPB on the 22nd.
The 18th saw a good fall of migrants at Rame Head with 3 male Pied Flycatchers with 25 Willow Warbler and 20 Wheatear (the same day as the first major fall of the year at Portland Bird Observatory in Dorset some 80 or more miles to the east, where they recorded 23 Pied Flycatchers and 500 Willow Warblers!).
Elsewhere, the first Whinchats of the year were recorded with 4 on territory on Bodmin and a single bird on the lizard on the 22nd, Lesser Whitethroat at Porth Joke on the 19th, with a more unusual Wood Warbler adding itself to the county year list on the 21st at Rame Head.
Good numbers and multiples of the commoner migrants were too many to mention, with a selection including 30+ Wheatear at multiple sites or coastal locations, more Common Redstarts and Tree Pipits.
Notable were a good number of singing Lesser Whitethroat records. Ring Ouzels at a selection of new sites, with 5 at Buttermilk on 2 dates possibly relating to different groups of birds.Turtle Doves were over Marazion on the 20th and Porthgwarra on the 18th. A Yellow Wagtail was at Dodman Head on the 19th.
A Hooded Crow was seen over Lizard Village and the hybrid Hooded Crow (showing some Carrion Crow influence at least) was seen in the far west of the county again. And a calling Lapland Bunting in flight at East Pentire on the 17th.
Seawatching at the Lizard seems to be responsible for half the interesting wader records this week, with 2 Little Stint and 2 Avocet on the 23rd the most notable. The first Wood Sandpiper of the year was at Walmesly on the 21st, with 2 there on the 23rd, a Ruff was at Marazion Beach with 5 Whimbrel on the 19th, and flocks of Whimbrel continued to be encountered, with 45 and 43 respectively at Marazion and Hayle and perhaps being the same flock the highest number encoutered on the 21st . A fall of 27 Common Sandpiper and 1 Dunlin were encountered at Drift on the 21st. The odd Little Ringed Plover reported elsewhere..
A Hobby was seen at Caerthillean on the 17th, another at Wadebridge on the 18th, and potentially 9 Red Kites were seen in the county on the 19th, with 4+1 in the west, with 1 and then 3 later in the day in the Stithians area.
Iceland Gulls remain scattered, with a slight drop in numbers, whilst 76 Black-headed Gulls and 1 Common Gull at Devoran on the 23rd the only gull sighting of note, aside a Yellow-legged Gull from Lizard Point on the 17th and the odd Mediterranean Gull.
Mallard duckling broods can now be seen at many accessible water bodies, with a juv Song Thrush at Carnsew Pool on the 21st
Grass Snake, Adders and Bottlenose Dolphins were all reported, whilst twitter saw the first Clouded Yellows, Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, Small Coppers and Dingy Skippers on the 21st, with Wall Butterfly near Falmouth on the 20th. Most of the common butterflies will be on the wing now in small numbers – after a mild winter and presumably a good it remains to be seen how they do this year.
As for the birds, light northerlies are forecast to predominate, so perhaps no major surprises in store this week …