Thursday, 11 December 2014

First year male Scaups at Swanpool, Cornwall

These two Scaup have been showing well at Swanpool for the last couple weeks.  They prefer to stay at the Swanvale end of the pool near the reeds.



Sunday, 30 November 2014

Female Desert Wheatear at Porthgwarra

This female Desert Wheatear was found by Mark Wallace on Wednesday on the cliff near the coastwatch.  It was confiding today as it fed on the grass turf and among the granite boulders.  This is the fourth record for Porthgwarra.  The first was a male way back in November 1984 on the Porthgwarra moor.  I remember that one clearly as I dragged my wife across the moor with me.  No problem with that, I hear you say? She was five months pregnant!  This is the 9th record for Cornwall.

Previous records:

1984. Male. Porthgwarra. 17th-24th Nov.
1988. Female. Sennen Cove. 5th Nov.
1994. First winter female. Torpoint.  28th Nov - 16th Dec. This bird was then relocated at St Gothian Sands, Gwithian from 21st Dec to 20th Mar 1995.
1997. Female.  Loe Bar.  28th Nov - 3rd Dec.
1997. One at Hannafore, Looe 3rd-12th Dec.
2007. Female.  Land's End. 17th Oct.
2011. Male. Porthgwarra. 6th Nov.  Found the next morning (7th) but it relocated to Nanjizal in the afternoon.
2011 Female. Porthgwarra 19th November, but only reported on 21st Nov.


Monday, 17 November 2014

Isabelline Shrike of the Turkestan race

On Sunday 9th Nov Royston Wilkins and Brian Mellow found a shrike perched up on the brambles as they were leaving Pendeen.  Initial reaction was naturally a Red-backed Shrike but doubts pretty quickly set in.  Word soon spread and a whole raft of suggestions ensued, including hybrids, Over the next week, many photo's have been taken and circulated widely.  The general consensus among shrike experts is that this bird is indeed a first year bird of the Turkestan race of Isabelline Shrike.

Nationally this is a rare subspecies but in Cornwall, there are two previous records assigned to this form.  In 1989, a popular first winter bird was present at Zennor from Oct 27th - 31st.  In 2002, a first year male was found at Porthgwarra on June 26th.

The nominate race of Isabelline Shrike is also referred to as Daurian Shrike and there are two records for Cornwall: a first year bird opposite the airfield at Nanquidno Oct 25th.  A stunning adult male was well watched at Pendeen in early October 2013.

Turkestan Shrike, Pendeen, 16th November 2014.



American Golden Plover at Davidstow, Cornwall

A few more images of the confiding American Golden Plover at Davidstow back in October.  This was the second record of the species this Autumn and just one of five American waders reported during the Autumn in Cornwall.  This poor showing of American vagrants must be the worst Autumn for a generation?







Friday, 24 October 2014

Yellow-billed Cuckoo at Porthgwarra, Cornwall



A Yellow-billed Cuckoo was found by visiting birder Andrew Tongue on Tuesday 23rd October in the elders near the toilet block at Porthgwarra.  By early afternoon it had moved up the valley to the doctor's garden area. By late afternoon it was re located near the dried-up pond near the wall.  It was certainly active and unlike any previous American cuckoos, was unwilling to perish too soon.
About 75 birders managed to connect and most had pretty good views, albeit fleeting.
I was extremely lucky to get a burst of shots off when it appeared in the elders in the 60 foot valley.

This is the 9th record for mainland Cornwall.  The previous records are detailed below:

YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO

Older records:

1830      'one obtained somewhere in Cornwall'
1887      Cury, Helston dead 14 Oct.

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1938  Mawnan Smith found shot 7 Oct (report says "unfortunately shot, though it had little hope of making the return flight"). Published in BB.                                              
1971   St Mawes 4 - 7 Nov        
1980  Penzance 9 Oct – taken into care and died.                      
1985  Pendeen picked up dead 13 Oct.                                  
1999  Cot 10 Oct                        
2000 St Levan 12 – 13 Oct