Thursday 24 September 2009

Black-browed Albatross's at Porthgwarra and Scilly

I was not surprised when Royston called me to say that there had been another sighting of Black-browed Albatross off Scilly. In fact, not just any sighting...this bird stayed with a fishing boat all day. A quickly organised pelagic trip in another boat from the islands managed to get views as close as 20 ft. The ultimate pelagic twitch ?

Anyway, eager to see some photo's of what I thought would be the same bird, was surprised to find out that the Scillies bird is not the Pg bird. I have been in touch with Bob Flood on Scilly regarding the two different sightings of Black-browed Albatross and confirm that there are in fact two different birds involved. The Porthgwarra bird which 14 of us saw, was aged as a second year bird with a dark horn grey or olive coloured bill with a dark tip, grey sides to the nape and a limited amount of white in an otherwise dark underwing. The Scillies bird looks exactly like the illustrations on p.45 (illustrations: 1a and 1b) in the Helm/Scofield book (Albatrosses Petrels and Shearwaters) and has been aged as a fifth year bird.

(There was a further sighting of a Black-browed Albatross off Ireland the morning after the Scilly sighting.)

Monday 21 September 2009

Baird's Sandpiper on Marazion Beach

These are the final images of my photo session on Sunday morning. OK, I hear you saying not more Baird's images, but the unexpectedly long stay of this bird finally presented itself in the best of photo conditions. This is my third attempt so hopefully you will enjoy browsing these images... promise no more!

EXIF Detail: Aperture priority. Ap F/10. Shutter speed 1/1000s. ISO 250. Exposure -0.3EV. WB Cloudy.

Dunlin on Marazion Beach

This first year Dunlin image was taken on Sunday morning at the Red River on Marazion beach. The waders were particularly attracted to the rotting seaweed. The morning session was the best I have had for several weeks - everything fell into place; the birds were tame and more interested in feeding and the light was just stunning. There's something about the intensity of light on the south coast in the morning which is hard to beat.

EXIF Detail: Aperture priority. Ap F/9. Shutter speed 1/400s. Exposure 0.0 EV. ISO 400. White Balance set to Cloudy. Matrix metering.

Little Stint on Marazion Beach

Two Little Stints were feeding on the seaweed at Marazion Beach on Sunday morning. They were rediculously tame and allowed approach to 5 m. I had to move back as the close focus on the 600m F/4 lens wouldn't go closer. My favourite of the five is the image immediately below as it catches the movement of the river.

EXIF Detail: Ap. priority. F/8. Shutter speed 1/400s. Exposure -0.7EV. ISO 250. WB Cloudy. Matrix metering.

Saturday 19 September 2009

Video footage of Baird's at Marazion

The link below takes you to John Chapple's video footage of the Baird's Sandpiper at Marazion.

Thursday 17 September 2009

Some wader shots from the beach tonight

The light was stunningly clear this evening and these were two of the best images of the evening. They are both RAW files and apart from a bit of cropping to compose a better image, they are original and barely altered. Exposure was dropped to -1.0EV to compensate the bright light. ISO was a low 200.

Whinchat fall

Whinchats were seen in relatively high numbers today at Marazion Marsh and at Land's End. Approx 20 were logged. The shots below were taken this evening on the marsh. In addition, there were 30 Northern Wheatear, 2 Redstart, 1 Yellow Wagtail and one Hobby at Land's End whilst at Nanquidno I saw the juv Woodchat Shrike. With the north-easterly air-flow over the UK, I would predict that by the end of the week, more birds of eastern origin should drift towards Cornwall.

The Chiffchaff below was taken today at Nanquidno.

Baird's Sandpiper records in Cornwall

The two long-staying Baird's Sandpipers at Marazion and Davidstow this September have prompted me to look at the past records in Cornwall. The exact numbers are curiously difficult to reconcile as records rejected by the BBRC are in fact included in the official CBWPS file. Including the two this month, there has been a total of approximately 31 birds, the first of which apparently occurred in 1965, though this bird does not appear in the CBWPS Report as it was rejected (presumably by BBRC). A similar fate happened to another report in 1966. Thus the first authentic Cornish record was at Ruan Lanihorne and is attributed to Ted Griffiths and Stan Gay in 1980.

1980 Ruan Lanihorne 31 Aug - 2 Sep
1980 Predannack Airfield 20 Sep
1980 Davidstow 21 Sep - 1 Oct
1981 Davidstow 22 - 24 Sep (not in 1981 report)
1981 Marazion 28 Sep - 10 Oct
1981 Ruan Lanihorne 15 Oct - not in BBRC
1983 Siblyback first year 3 - 18 Sep
1983 Camel ad. 14 Sep
1983 Davidstow 15 - 16 Sep
1983 Marazion Beach 20 - 25 Sep
1983 Carnsew Pool 28 Sep (rejected)
1984 Record at Crowdy Res/Davidstow 12 Sep (rejected)
1984 Siblyback 26 - 29 Sep
1988 Stithians first year 4 - 15 Sep
1989 Stithians first year 24 - 30 Oct (per 1990 report)
1989 Crowdy first year 1 – 11 Oct
1995 Upper Tamar Lake first year 15 - 18 Sep
1995 Colliford Lake first year 23 Sep then Dozmary Pool on 24 Sep
1997 Gannel Est on 3 Aug.
1997 Hayle Est. on 31 Aug.
1997 Devoran, Restronguet Creek on 10 - 21 Sep
1998 Davidstow (2) one 11 - 20 Sep, with a second on 16 Sep
1999 Camel ad 22 - 25 Aug
2001 Long Rock Beach, Marazion 16 Sep – 17 Oct
2004 Crowdy/Davidstow 4 – 21 Sep, but (2) on 7 + 10 Sep
2004 Marazion Beach 7 – 11 Sep and 15 – 16 Sep
2004 Stithians 13 – 26 Sep
2005 Hayle Est 1 Sep (not in BBRC)
2006 Hayle 8 – 13 Sep (possibly another bird 4 Oct not submitted to BBRC)
2006 St John’s Ford 20 Sep
2006 Trevose Head 23 Sep (not submitted to BBRC)
2009 Marazion Beach 3 Sep to at least 17th Sep
2009 Davidstow 1 Sep to at least 16th Sep

Historic Totals Aug 4, Sep 24, Oct 3. The most popular site is Marazion Beach with eight records here.

The two images shown here are the Marazion bird and were taken this evening.

Many thanks to Derek Julian for providing the records from the CBWPS database.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Juv. Baird's Sandpiper at Davidstow

Today was the first opportunity to get to see the first year Baird's Sandpiper at Davidstow. This bird must be one of the longest stayers ever in Cornwall as it first appeared here 15 days ago. Sadly the light this morning was not favourable for photography but the RAW images have been rescued in CaptureNX and brightened up as much as possible.

Monday 7 September 2009

some more Baird's images

A final run through the batch of Baird's Sandpiper images from the weekend revealed these three below. They are all different and show various poses. Of particular note is the very long primary projection past the tail, easily seen on the image below.

juv Dunlin on Long Rock beach

This was the best of a burst of shots of a juvenile Dunlin feeding on the shoreline on Long Rock beach on Sunday night. It gave one of those momentary pauses that waders do. It was quite tame and whilst I should have been concentrating on finding the Baird's Sandpiper, I couldn't resist this opportunity.

EXIF Detail: RAW format. Focal length 840mm. Ap F/6.3 Shutter speed 1/125s. ISO 500. Exposure -0.3 EV.

Sunday 6 September 2009

Baird's Sandpiper and Sanderling at Long Rock

Long Rock beach is busy with migrant waders and this Baird's Sandpiper was found among them on Thursday evening by Mark Warren. Baird's is just about an annual vagrant in Cornwall - from memory tonight whilst posting this blog, I have seen at least four along this exact stretch of beach! Baird's seem to like feeding in the seaweed and on the beach. From the photo's shown, the upperparts look quite worn and abraded and don't have the uniform scaly pattern that juveniles normally show; it can be aged though as first year bird by the white tips to the primaries. Adults would show all black primaries. There are approx 30 records of Baird's in Cornwall, most of which occurred in September.

These juv Sanderling shots were also taken tonight in fairly dull light whilst waiting for the Baird's to show again.

EXIF detail: RAW file. Aperture F/7.1 Exposure -0.3 EV to 0.0 EV. ISO 400 to 640. WB Cloudy. Focal length 840mm. All images sharpened and cropped in Capture NX2 software. Colour unchanged.