Thursday, 29 September 2011

Nanquidno Hawfinch

Late afternoon birding in Naquidno finished off what was a brilliant days' birding.  I was chatting about the days' sightings with Chris Griffin when he saw a Hawfinch feeding on sloes about thirty yards away.  We got a few record shots but it soon flew off.  We moved closer to where it was first seen and waited for it to reappear on the original sloes.  Within ten minutes it suddenly reappeared about ten yards away and I managed to take some nice shots of it in full sunshine.  About 40 minutes later the bird was refound near the Mill feeding on more sloes ( lower photo).  The bird was an adult male.

BTO / CBWPS Conference 29th October

The BTO and Cornwall Birdwatching and Preservation Society will be holding a joint Conference all day at the Bedruthan Steps Hotel.  In addition to the six guest speakers, South West Optics, Swarovski and Opticron will be displaying some of their latest wares adjacent to the main Conference Hall.  Viewing facilities are stunning at this venue.  An optional evening dinner is also available. The booking form can be found here > LINK HERE 

Monday, 26 September 2011

Various shrikes in the Cape Greco area

Shrikes were easily the most common passerines with healthy numbers seen daily.  Fifty plus Red-backs was not an uncommon sight though we never reached our record 120 seen in spring.  Lesser Greys were the least common with the majority being young birds.  Photo opportunites were plentiful with this male below taken from the car window.  ALL of the other shots were taken in the field birding in a normal manner.

Male Red-backed Shrike - easily the most common passerine

First year Red-backed Shrike - young birds outnumbered adults 10:1

Adult male Masked Shrike - seen daily in small numbers

First year Red-backed

First year Lesser Grey Shrike showing the barred mantle and reduced dark forehead. One or two seen daily.

Some dragonflies in SE Cyprus

Below are some images of dragonflies seen during the week in the Cape Greco area.  During the intense midday heat, our attentions turned to dragonflies which were plentiful around water and in drier areas as well.

Scarlet Darter - fairly common - Crocothemis erythraea

Small Skimmer - just a couple seen - Orthetrum taeniolatum

Male Violet Dropwing in the obelisk position Trithemis annulata

Female Violet Dropwing - very common - Trithemis annulata

Male Red-veined Dropwing - scarce  - Trithemis arteriosa

Male Lesser Emperor  - fairly common - Anax parthenope

Slender Skimmer - locally common - Orthetrum sabina
Black Percher in the obelisk position

Monday, 19 September 2011

Birding in Cape Greco area Day 2

Numbers of birds were reduced from Monday’s haul though there was still enough to keep you interested. Another 5:30am start proved beneficial as we saw 60 Honey Buzzards move through Cape Greco very early, with many flyovers no more than a hundred feet above us. Alongside them were a couple Hobby’s, one Osprey, two Marsh Harrier and a couple ringtail harriers, most likely Montagu’s. Bee Eaters continued to move south in high numbers along with Isabelline Wheatears, Eastern Black-eared, Northern and Cyprus Pied. Further passerines included many Whinchat, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Barred Warbler, 60 Red-rumped Swallow and two Citrine Wagtails (Achna Dam).

Whiskered Tern

A second visit to Achna Dam proved fruitful as there were six Whiskered Terns feeding close to the water edge as well as good numbers of mixed waders.

Whiskered Tern

The weather is ridiculously hot and humid, reaching a max 39 degs by midday, all but halting concentrated birding. Not content to remain static, we turned our attention to some local dragonflies. Unusual species included Black Percher, Black Pennant, Violet Dropwing, Red-veined Dropwing, Small Skimmer, Lesser Emperor, Vagrant Emperor, Slender Skimmer and hundreds of Red-veined Darter.

Slender Skimmer

First year Curlew Sandpiper

First year Red-backed Shrike, the most common passerine

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Birding around Cape Greco area, Cyprus

Honey Buzzard, one of fifty seen on the first day.
This is the first time we have been to Cyprus in the Autumn and we were unsure what to expect. Juvenile and first winter plumages as well as adults in moult all awaited us and a healthy library of field guides kept us busy in the evenings discussing finer points of ID. An overnight flight from Exeter to Larnaca ensured that we started birding early on Monday 12th Sept. We were not disappointed as there had been a reasonable fall of passerines and waders. Highlights included a decent movement of 50 Honey Buzzards, three Marsh Harrier, one Montagu’s Harrier and one Eleonora’s Falcon. Shrikes were plentiful with 25 Red-backed, a Lesser Grey and five Masked, all in varying stages of moult. Around sixty Bee Eaters kept us busy checking for possible Blue-cheeked. A juv. Rock Thrush was the only one seen on the trip. A visit to nearby Achna Dam was fruitful with six Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, 77 Spur-winged Plover, Marsh Sandpiper, six Temminck’s Stint, 25 Little Stint, 14 Wood Sandpiper and ten Curlew Sandpiper.

First year Rock Thrush

First year Red-backed Shrike

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Seawatching at Pendeen today

A nine hour seawatch at Pendeen today was not quite a classic but still well worth the effort.  Three year ticks and a constant stream of shearwaters kept me happy.  Highlights included a Red-necked Phalarope, two Leach's Petrels, two close Great Shearwaters and good numbers of Sooty Shearwaters.  Twenty of us missed a Wilson's Petrel which was claimed by another group viewing from a different area.

Sooty Shearwater (taken from a pelagic last yeear)

Total numbers from first light to 2.30pm are as follows: 68 Sooty Shearwater, three Great Shearwater, 16 Balearic Shearwater, one Red-necked Phalarope, one Grey Phalarope, two Leach's Petrel, ten Euro Stormy's, 21 Sandwich Tern, one Black Tern, three Arctic Tern, 30 comic terns, 42 Bonxie and 26 Arctic Skuas.  A male Peregrine flew past and a Northern Wheatear was favouring the viewpoint area.

Balearic Shearwater - one of at least 16 seen today (taken from St Ives last year)

One of three seen today, two very close (taken from a Pelagic)

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Yellow Wagtail is small consolation

I paid another visit to Davidstow today in the hope of finding some waders but there were none at all.  Not even a single Dunlin. I did find a couple first year Yellow Wagtails, two White Wagtails and about twenty Northern Wheatears though.  Just to rub some salt in the wound, my work colleague Kate Jones texted me to say she and John had found a Pectoral Sandpiper at Drift !  Nice.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Irene sends a Baird's Sandpiper

The images below were taken this afternoon of the first year Baird's Sandpiper at Hayle Estuary.  It was found on Tuesday this week by Dave Parker and Phil Rutter and is presumably the start of a nice run of Nearctic vagrants this Autumn !  With some luck, Hurricane Irene will do us all proud.

Regarding past Baird's 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 this bird, there has been a total of approximately 32 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
2011 Hayle Estuary 30th Aug to at least 1st Sep

Historic Totals Aug 5, Sep 24, Oct 3. The most popular site is Marazion Beach with eight records here.