Saturday 22nd June 2024

Marazion Marsh: Adult Little Ringed Plover still present this am. (S.Cox)

Carkees Tor via Carbilly to Temple, Bodmin Moor1 Grey Wagtail. Many Stonechat and Wheatear fledglings amongst the gorse. Also mix of Chiff Chaff, Willow Warbler and Dunnock. (G Williams)

Dobwalls: 5 newly fledged Herring Gull (3 + 2), numerous young Rook and Jackdaw, 2 Swift. (C&J Duffy)

Polzeath ; Pentire Point: 4 Linnet, 5 Wheatear, 3 Meadow Pipit, 1 Kestrel. (R Skipp)

Gorran Haven – Lamledra – Penare: 1 Robin, 1 Wren, 2 House Sparrow, 2 Goldfinch, 1 Chaffinch, 12 Stonechat, 5 Whitethroat, 6 Chiffchaff, 15 Linnet, 4 Long-tailed Tit, 2 Blackbird, 2 Magpie, 6 Rook, 2 Jackdaw, 3 Skylark, 3 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 2 Wood Pigeon, 1 Kestrel, 12 Cormorant, 7 Oystercatcher, 20+ Herring Gull, 2 Great Black-backed Gull. (I & C Sowerby)

Late submission 19/06/24, Penzance to Wolf Rock Lighthouse: 22 Swifts, 9 Great Black-backed Gulls, 7 Herring Gulls, 15 Gannets, 5 Kittiwakes, 1 Sandwich Tern, 251 Manx Shearwaters, 3 Common Terns, 6 Guillemots. (V Stratton, B Craven)

Late submission 19/06/24, Wolf Rock Lighthouse to St. Mary’s, Isles of Scilly: 47 Manx Shearwaters, 2, Herring Gulls, 6 Gannets, 5 Great Black-backed Gulls, 3 Sandwich Terns, 1 Puffin, 5 Guillemots, 170 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 20 Kittiwakes, 10 Shags. (V Stratton, B Craven)

Late submission 19/06/24, Isles of Scilly to the Wolf Rock Lighthouse:  12 Shags, 6 Great Black-backed Gulls, 5 Guillemots (some feeding fledgling at sea), 7 Herring Gulls, 14 Gannets, 452 Manx Shearwaters, 1 Sooty Shearwater, 2 Razorbills, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 2 Kittiwakes, 3 Puffins, 35 Common Dolphins. A Fin Whale feeding amongst a raft of 300 Manx Shearwaters ( We alerted all the passengers on deck, who were able to see the Fin Whale clearly as it surfaced and blew on four occasions). (V Stratton, B Craven)

Late submission, 19/06/24,  Wolf Rock Lighthouse to Penzance: 1,347  Manx Shearwaters, 23 Guillemots, 2 Fulmars, 13 Gannets, 2 Sooty Shearwaters, 1 Great Northern Diver, 3 Razorbills, 2 Kittiwakes. 6 Risso’s Dolphins, 9, Common Dolphins, 1, Ocean Sunfish. (V Stratton, B Craven)

 

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Davidstow Harvesting – A response from Forestry England

Over the past few weeks we have recieved some emails from concerned members reagrding the continuing harvesting operation at Davidstow Woods and the potential threat to early nesting rare breeding birds.

After making some enquiries I had a very helpful email back from Reuben King; the Forester of the site:

Dear CBWPS,

Thank-you for your enquiry related to the harvesting works at Davidstow.

We have begun our planned harvesting and continue to monitor the site for nesting birds, If we find any we will put in place appropriate exclusion zones to minimise disturbance.

Considering a range of constraints, there is no risk free time of year to work, but we plan our work to minimise its impact. We have started the harvesting in Davidstow now to attempt to avoid the spring/summer period, whereas we recently worked Rough Tor Plantation during the summer months to minimise the impact on the important starling roosts.

The Bodmin Forest Plan (Bodmin Forest Plan) covers an area approx. 589ha which provides a range of habitats for different nesting birds. The area we are currently harvesting at Davidstow covers approx. 2% of the Bodmin Plan area. Our programmed cyclical felling and restocking continues to provide structural diversity to the forest, providing habitats for a range of wildlife.

With reference to Davidstow please ensure that your members comply with safety signage at all times.

If you have any further questions, please let me know.

Kind regards,

Reuben King 

Forester

Cornwall

Forestry England

It is reassuring to hear that Forestry England are aware of rare breeding birds and will actively protect them. But we can help them with this by sending records to myself at [email protected]. I can then send the location to the forester who can set up an exclusion zone if it is needed. This is a great example of how sharing bird news with CBWPS can help sensitive species as we have excellent connections with orgisations such as Forestry England, Natural England and Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

Now is a great time of year to look for displaying Goshawk, drumming Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and calling Long-eared Owl at night. Sharing any sites you find with us will protect the breeding sites and help contribute to national surveys.

Bob Bosisto ; County Recorder

 

Advice on Wintering Short-eared Owls in Cornwall

As some of our members will know, it has been an excellent season for Short-eared Owl in Cornwall and I am grateful for the many records we have recieved from our membership via the Bird News Team. We can expect to see more birds throughout March as passage migants head north to breed and hopefully some may even settle in Cornwall to nest.

Those of you that have submitted records will be aware that CBWPS don’t publicise wintering sites online, but we very much apreciate the data which gets saved into our database for use in our annual bird report; Birds In Cornwall and for conservation projects and national studies.

Sadly we are getting several reports of bad behaviour at the well known roost sites, with people potentially disturbing the owls.  One of our members commented: ‘ There were 2 birders with long lens cameras trudging about all over the area where the owls hunt not making any attempt to stay behind the walls as I have seen other photographers do.  How sad that people who are supposed to at least be interested in birds are so obsessed with getting a photo that they disrupt any attempts the owls might have made to hunt here.’ The main photograph shows similar behaviour, where people are stood in the area that Short-eared Owls should be feeding or day roosting.

It is worth remembering that our actions in the field can have a very negative impact to sensitive species like Short-eared Owl. Which are vulnerable to disturbance, potentially causing starvation and fatigue. I have had three records of dead Short-eared Owls this year alone, which can be attributed to many causes. But our own behaviour can contribute to this rather sad outcome.

We are more than aware that the vast majority of photographers and birders who enjoy watching Short-eared Owls are very well behaved, have great fieldcraft skills and respect the birds they treasure so much. We also know that many well intended people wouldn’t even realise they are potentially casusing harm to their avian subjects.

It is great to see so many new people interested in birdwatching and bird photography and it is genuinely brilliant to see your excellent shots and passion for birds. To get even more out of our hobby please do read the Birdwatchers Code of Conduct. It offers excellent advice on how to enjoy watching birds whilst encouraging good behaviour and inspiring non birders to respect nature too.

My own advice with the owls or with any photography of wary species is to use some cover to blend in with the surrounding landscape. Keep still and quiet (birds will often then come to you, without being disturbed) and then when you get your good photo, be content and leave them to it. Photographs with some background habitat (and not completely zoomed in) often look much more pleasing to the eye and tend to be appreciated more by our peers. The breeding season is very close now, with some bird species already on territory. Please then remember that disturbing them at a nest site can be an offence, so it is worth looking here to see which birds are Schedule 1 protected List of Protected Birds | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology

Finally; please do send your records into [email protected], [email protected] or to BirdTrack and EBird. Your data does make a massive difference collectively to conservation in Cornwall.

Northern Harrier on the Lizard Peninsular

You may have heard that a rare species of raptor has graced Cornwall since 28th September, a juvenile Northern Harrier! This sublime looking bird of prey has delighted many birders from across the country and has been a welcome addition to the county lists of most Cornish birders too. Here we discuss where it came from and what makes it identifiable from the more expected Hen Harrier.

Local birder Edward O’Connor reported an interesting looking harrier species from his local patch at Higher Bochyn; a Natural England Reserve located on Goonhilly Downs. A team effort ensued to confirm suspicions that it was indeed a juvenile Northern Harrier; a 2nd for Cornwall.

So what makes this bird a Northern Harrier, rather than our resident Hen Harrier? At a distance you may notice that it has a darker looking head and the extsensive orangey hue to the underparts is certainly very eye-catching, when compared to a typical juvenile Hen Harrier. The devil is in the detail with this particular species though and to confirm the identification you need close and clear views of some subtle features that are best expalined via these stunning photographs and text from Mashuq Ahmad; a member of our County Rarities Committee.

 

Primary 9 and Primary 8 with 6 bars (not including the dark tip. On P9, innermost bar faint and hard to see. Typically 4-5 on Hen (rarely 6) Also 4 bars on P10, (typically 3 on Hen).
Dark breast band and, diffuse streaking on the rufous-toned underparts, restricted to upper breast and upper flanks.
Darker, chocolate brown upperparts in general compared with Hen Harrier with obvious rufous, upper wing covert fringes (lower lesser coverts).
Dark facial crescent, solidly dark chocolate crown and dark chocolate neck boa. In combination, creating striking hood effect unlike Hen Harrier .

Only one previous record of Northern Harrier has been confirmed in Cornwall before, an adult male photographed at Men -an- Tol on 23rd November 2013. Why are they so rare? Amazingly they breed no closer to us than Canada and northern North America and only certain weather conditions can facilitate such an extreme occurence of vagrancy. As the Northern Harrier was migrating south along the East Coast of North America on its way to wintering grounds further south it will have got caught up in Hurricane Lee.  As the remainder of this powerful storm sped quickly across the Atlantic , an uprecedented arrival of American vagrants where found across Britain. The fast moving weather system, accompanied by a warm front was a key factor as birds managed to survive this incredible journey, a ‘perfect storm’ for rarities!

At time of writing (6th October 2023) the Northern Harrier is still being seen on the Lizard, currently around Kynance Cove. If you haven’t been down to see it then why not go and enjoy this stunning raptor in an idyllic setting.