Tuesday 29 October 2013

Hermit Thrush at Porthgwarra, Cornwall

Following the St Jude's storm this week, there have been several top North American vagrants in the UK and Ireland including Ruby-crowned Kinglet at Cape Clear, Mourning Dove in Highland, American Robin on Scilly, Yellow-rumped Warblers on Lundy and Galway and finally this morning at around 10.20am, this stunning Hermit Thrush.  This is the first record for mainland Cornwall and the ninth for the UK.  This is also the first for the British mainland.  Around 75 birders were present today.  The bird favoured the elm tree copse next to the toilet block at Porthgwarra.  It was seen feeding on the ground in the leaf litter as well hovering to take berries from the elder flower tree. 

Previous records for UK and Ireland:

Fair Isle - 1975
St Mary's, Scilly - 1984
St Agnes, Scilly - 1987
Tresco, Scilly - 1993
Fair Isle - 1995
Fetlar - 1998
Galley Head - 1998
Cape Clear - 2006
Barra - 2010
South Uist - 2010

Hermit Thrush at Porthgwarra, copyright Steve Rogers.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Great Northern Diver at Long Rock Pool, Cornwall

This adult Great Northern Diver is a real poser and showed exceptionally well today at Long Rock Pool.  It seems to like following a circuit round the edge of the pool.  Every ten minutes or so it swam to the extreme south west corner to within 15 yards of me.  Unbelievably, it then called twice.  I have only heard the call on tape so was surprised and pleased to witness this today.  
The bird is just starting to moult out of summer plumage and this seems quite late.  I have only seen first winter birds previously in the Autumn.  I normally only see adults in full summer plumage in Cornwall in late Spring.  So, with the calls and this plumage at this time of year, does seem unusual. 
According to BWP though, post breeding adults start the moult from late July to early October; the moult is complete from October to January.
The species mainly breeds in Iceland and Greenland.  Approx 150 birds regularly winter around the Cornish coast with the highest concentration being from Gribbin Head to the Helford.

Sunday 13 October 2013

Grey Plover at Davidstow

After a fairly quiet day down West on Saturday, I decided to check out Crowdy and Davidstow today.  There were very few waders at either site but six Ruff and a Dunlin were seen at the back of Crowdy Res.  At Davidstow, one Ringed Plover flew high over calling but Brian Craven put me on to this confiding Grey Plover.  Based on the streaking on the lower flanks, the black spangling on the upperparts tinged with yellow, I'm judging this is a first year bird.  This is the first one I've seen here, or come to that, at any inland site. 

Grey Plover is a world-wide species, breeding in the high arctic tundra and wintering as far south as Australia, South America and South Africa. The species breeds from its second year. First year birds remain on the wintering grounds until mature enough to breed.  Numbers in Cornwall have seriously declined over the last ten years.  eg in 2009 just 18 birds were recorded wintering in December compared to 160 in 1999.

Monday 7 October 2013

Daurian Shrike at Pendeen

A few more images from the stunning Pendeen adult male Daurian Shrike below.  This bird must rate as my best (so far) of 2013.

All images are cropped heavily as it always remained fairly distant.  The light conditions were harsh as well, so these are the best I could muster. (All copyright please).

Sunday 6 October 2013

Cape May visit in September

The images below were taken last month on a two week trip to Cape May in New Jersey.  The place is a world class migration hotspot for raptors, passerines and waders.  This is the second time I have visited Cape May.  Whilst this visit was decidedly quieter than last year (because we didn't get a full blast of the famous north west cold front) we still saw a lot birds.  A small selection is shown below.  I will show the rest at a slide show due in January at Chacewater on Friday 17th Jan.
First year Chestnut-sided Warbler - seen daily in small numbers.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo with a green tree frog

Common Nighthawk at a day time roost

First year Black Skimmer, one of around a 1000 birds on the Cape May beach.

Adult male Blackburnian Warbler, less than a handful of this most desirable dendroica were seen.

Adult male Prairie Warbler - who says autumn warblers are dull!

First year American Redstart - abundant.

Adult Black and White Warbler - seen daily in decent numbers.

Adult male Yellow Warbler

First year Piping Plover - seven of this endangered species were seen at Stoney Harbour beach.

Adult Caspian Tern at Stoney Harbour - seen daily in small numbers.

Western Sandpiper - just this individual was seen.

A very showy American Bittern  delighted all.

Daurian Shrike at Pendeen, Cornwall

On Friday, an adult Daurian Shrike was found near the coastguard house at Pendeen.  I managed to see it well today along with thirty or so other birders this morning. This is a stunning bird and a great find.  They are surprisingly unusual on mainland Cornwall.  In fact this is my first for the county, with all my previous records being on Scilly.

In addition to the shrike, the area was also good for three Wrynecks, two Whinchats, a Yellow-browed Warbler and a Snow Bunting.

(Wryneck image taken at Botallack a couple years back.)

Lesser Yellowlegs and Black-winged Stilt at Hayle Estuary

I passed by Hayle Estuary this morning to look at the Black-winged Stilt.  It was feeding close to the bridge on the causeway.  After a few minutes I noticed some Redshank fly in.  A closer look revealed a similar sized wader with long yellow legs.  I spoke to a chap beside me and he connected immediately.  A good job too as within a few brief minutes it flew off by itself round the corner towards the Lelant Saltings.  Myself and Laurie Williams searched for it but could not find it again.

I managed a few brief photos, as shown below: