Thursday 27 October 2011

Bufflehead on the Lizard

This first winter female Bufflehead was found yesterday at the Waterings, Housel Bay.  Many thanks to Steve Pilbeam and Andy Pay for putting the news out as soon as they could.  Perhaps surprisingly, this is the first record for Cornwall. The pond is about 30 square yards in size and approx quarter mile from the Lizard Point. 

The bird was feeding well when I arrived at 3.45pm today.  It dived about twenty times with each dive taking about ten to fifteen seconds.  It kept a safe distance and was spooked once by a dog walker; it flew briefly across the pond and back again to the far side.

I'm reasonably sure that it is a first winter female, based on the mottled grey underparts, rather than white, the small white head patch and the limited extent of white on the wing.  I have also shown the bird preening with both left and right leg visible.  There are no rings.  The flight feathers also look to be perfect...  Given the appalling weather conditions that Cornwall has experienced over the last couple days, I'm assuming that it has just arrived.  (Another Bufflehead has apparenly also been found on the Azores today.)

All images taken with an old Nikon D50 six mega pixel SLR, 600mm lens plus 1.4 teleconverter.  Ap F/5.6  -1.0 EV exposure, WB Cloudy, ISO 400.  If anyone wants to use an image on their own blog, can you please have the courtesy to ask.

Sunday 23 October 2011

Trip report from Arctic Norway

I recently went to Arctic Norway and have already posted quite a few pictures from that trip.  The link below is a summary report by the trip organiser, Tormod Amundsen and is certainly worth a read, especially if anyone is interested in visiting this unique location.  We went there in mid-May, so you may be surprised to see so much snow and cold weather gear being worn! 

Willow Tit on willows on the edge of the taiga.

Friday 21 October 2011

Scarlet fever

This first winter Scarlet Tanager was originally found by Dave Lewis and Matt Southam on Thursday as it fed in the pear tree in the garden of Grey Gables House, St Levan.  They saw it four times over a couple hours as it fed on pears in the upper canopy.  They must have had stunning views as the pear tree is only 15 yards from the road!  In contrast, about thirty of us this morning had to sweat it out until  just before 10 o'clock before the shout went out.  A brisk run up the hill and we managed to see it at about 60 yards distance on top of the elm trees, for about three minutes.  It moved along the tree tops a couple times before disappearing somewhere near the house.  That was the only good view afforded all day.  I didn't expect this bird to be so elusive.  The shot below is the only decent one I could manage.  About 100 or so more birders appeared during the morning and as far as I know, didn't connect.

This bird is the second record for mainland Cornwall, the first being some thirty years ago in nearby Nanquidno valley.  This was a first year male, found by Brian Mellow (11th Oct 1981)  and independently seen later by a crew from Wales. 

There are four other records in Britain, the first being a first year male on St. Mary's, Scilly Oct 1970.  Another first year male appeared on Tresco in Sept 1975.  The third record was the Nanquidno bird in 1981 and the fourth was a first year female at Porthellick, St Marys in Oct 1982.

Sunday 16 October 2011

A touch of gloss

The first year Glossy Ibis has been present at the southern end of Stithians Reservoir for nearly two weeks. First found on the 4th October by Steve Kolodziejski, it can be quite mobile, but is normally quite content feeding in the shallow pools near the wire road fence.  Formerly a major county rarity, this delightful species has recently become an annual occurrence.  Indeed just a couple years ago, a flock of 17 were seen in the Lizard area.

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Nice legs

This Lesser Yellowlegs arrived three weeks ago in the aftermath of Hurricane Katia and seems quite content here at St Clement, Truro, no doubt content with its new surroundings.  Initially I found this individual quite flighty but today it was very confiding, affording unbelievably close views at high tide, beside the village car park.

My own Nikon camera is away being serviced so was using Kate's D300s.  I completely underestimated the camera's 1.5x crop value and had to remove the 1.4x converter.  Even so, I struggled to fit those long yellow legs into the frame!  The light was poor this evening and the shutter speed was very low at 1/80s.  I reduced the aperture to F/5,6 and achieved a maximum 1/250s.  I'm always reluctant though to raise the ISO as you can always detect noice when cropping.  These shots below were the best of the batch.

Sunday 9 October 2011

New Hawfinch images

Several birders enjoyed the previous Hawfinch post, so here are four more of the best ones I took last week at Nanquidno.  I was lucky to get such unexpected close views.   The camera has recorded some intricate detail of this adult male, including the strange primary feathers and huge head.  According to the literature, the massive bill packs around 80 lb of pressure, just enough to crack open the sloe berry kernels, as shown below. 

Thursday 6 October 2011

BBRC Report on Rare Birds in Cornwall 2010

The list of rarities summarised below are those accepted by the British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC) for Cornwall in 2010 and recently published in the BBRC Report October 2011.

American Bittern. Trewey Common, 26th-31st Oct and presumed same at Walmsley Sanctuary, 1st-6th Nov. R.Moores et al.

Green Heron. First winter. Heligan Gardens. 6th Oct-1st Dec. R Mitchell. S.Christophers. D.Julian.

Squacco Heron. Par. 22nd-24th May. (BISvcs.)

Pallid Harrier. Juv. St Just. 4th Dec 2009 - 25th Jan 2010. Roy Phillips.

Spotted Sandpiper. Juv. St. Ives. 18th Sep. R Sharples. D Parker.

Lesser Yellowlegs.  Walmsley Sanctuary. 10th-14th May. C Selway.

Wilson's Phalarope. Juv/first winter. Hayle Estuary. 6th Sep. CC Barnard. T Twiggs.

Whiskered Tern. Adult.  Dinham Flats, Camel Estuary. 20th-23rd April. Ian Prophet.

Brown Shrike. Ad female. Sennen. 20th May. M Warren.

Woodchat Shrike (race badius). First summer male. Windmill Farm NR. 10th-11th April.

Common Stonechat (race Siberian Stonechat maurus).  First winter male. Nanquidno. 2nd-5th Oct. K Dalziel. J Hawkey.

Yellow Wagtail (race Black-headed Wagtail feldegg). First summer male. Land's End. 29th Apr-1st May. M Warren.

Citrine Wagtail. First winter. Tregiffian, Sennen. 3rd-7th Sep. M Warren.

Blyth's Pipit. 2007. Brew Pool. First winter. 20th Oct-1st Nov. K A Wilson.

Olive-backed Pipit. Two. Nanjizal. 11th-14th Oct. K A Wilson.

White-thoated Sparrow. Male in song. Boscastle. 30th Apr-2nd May. J Fanshawe.

Dark-eyed Junco. 2008. Ventonleague, Hayle. 26th Nov. P A Rutter.

Rejected records included Gyr Falcon, Newquay 10th Feb and Maer Lake 18th Feb and Calandra Lark, Penlee, 29th May. Another rejection of interest was the 2002 Tropicbird sp record of Penzance on 16th May.

Monday 3 October 2011

Semipalmated Sandpiper at Davidstow

The images below were taken this afternoon at Davidstow airport.  Today's misty light was completely different to yesterday's extremely harsh light and thus the bird appears far greyer and cleaner.  The side-on views show the dark centres to the scapulars, the generally scaly appearance, dark centre to the crown and short thick-based bill .

Sunday 2 October 2011

Nearctic waders at Davidstow today

I visited one of my favourite sites today and came across this wader below, which I have to admit, gave me some headaches.  My first reaction was Semi-palmated Sandpiper but moved to Little Stint and then back again once the bird was aged as a first year.  Back home I downloaded the images and became more confused!  Red-necked Stint was also considered but following conversations with Kester Wilson, John Chapple and Brian Field,  the consensus is indeed a first year Semi-p.  Close inspection does show palmations between the webs, the anchor shaped centres to some of the scapulars and the generally greyish-brown scaly upperparts.

The first winter Pectoral Sandpiper below was one of three present from the previous evening.