Wednesday 13 November 2013

Mandarin at St Clement, Truro

This handsome drake Mandarin has been present at Tresemple Pool, St Clement for the last three weeks.  It is free-flying and quite flirty with the local male Mallards!  Whether it is a genuine bird or an escape from a local collection, I guess we will never know.  Anyway, it's worth a look in this stunning plumage.

Sunday 10 November 2013

White-rumped Sandpiper at Hayle

This morning Steve Kolodziejski and me located the three White-rumped Sandpipers on Ryan's Field, Hayle.  These three (1 ad and 2 first winters) have been giving me the runaround for the last two weeks.  Eventually two first winters flew across the road and into very close view with the sun behind us.  The bird below is one of the first winters.

More images here on Flickr.

Sunday 3 November 2013

St Ives seawatch this morning

The wind this morning reached gale force though sadly never quite found the desired north-westerly direction.  Nevertheless, the morning was fruitful and several decent birds were seen, including Pomarine Skua, Grey Phalarope, Little Auk (BKM only), good numbers of Balearic Shearwater and a debatable Surf Scoter.  I say debatable because we later heard that a female flew past Pendeen with two drake Common Scoters.  We saw this group at some distance through bins only, but failed to id the Surf Scoter at St Ives.  The age-old question is can you year-tick it retrospectively?


Balearic Shearwater 67
Manx Shearwater 15
Sooty Shearwater 1
Med Gull 12, all adults
Common Gull 1 1st W.
Grey Phalarope 3,1,
Little Auk 1
Great Northern Diver 9
Purple Sandpiper 4
Pomarine Skua 1
Bonxie 44
Arctic Skua 8
Common Scoter 17
Surf Scoter 1 fem.
Arctic Tern 1
Sandwich Tern 1
Black Redstart 1

Below are some images of the day including several different colour phase Balearics.

Medium phase Balearic Shearwater, one of at least 67 seen this morning.

Pale phase Balearic

Four Balearics in varying plumages

Adult Arctic Skua, one of 8 seen today.

First year Great Skua, one of 44 seen today.

Bottle-nosed Dolphin, one of about ten seen off the island this morning.

Friday 1 November 2013

A look down memory lane

I've been meaning to copy some old slides from my collection.  I managed to find a used Nikon slide copier and link it to my digital SLR.  The slides are from various Cornish photographers including Pete Walsh, Gary Cockill and Brian Mellow.  I used to use these exact slides at evening slide-shows and at the time thought they were stunning quality.  They were the best of the day but how things have moved on with the constant improvements in technology.   All of them are unaltered and appear exactly as the slide appears.  I'm sure the photographers won't mind me reproducing them here again.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Drift, late 1980's by Pete Walsh. Drift is one of the best sites to see this species in the county. A flock of four was seen last year here and Jim Dustow and me found a flock of seven here in the late 70's.

Lesser Yellowlegs, Carminowe Creek, Loe Pool, Gary Cockill.  Lesser Yellowlegs continues to appear regularly in Cornwall with two or three annually.  Spring records have increased as well recently.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Drift, Pete Walsh

Dotterel, Porthgwarra, early 1980's. by Brian Mellow.  In the 70's and 80's the moor at Porthgwarra was a regular staging post for flocks of Dotterel as they make their way towards their wintering grounds in North Africa and Morocco.  Sadly Pg doesn't attract the numbers and just a handful are found throughout the county now.

Curlew Sandpiper, Stithians Res, mid 1990's, Gary Cockill.  Curlew Sandpiper has always been a scarce but regular passage migrant in Cornwall.  Occasionally, numbers can be high depending on the weather but Cornwall is probably too far west of the main migration flyway.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Stithians, late 1980's, Pete Walsh.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Chapel Lane, Stithians Res, Pete Walsh.  Buff-breasts have had a resurgence in numbers recently with some decent flock records eg seven together at Stithians (and exceptionally a flock 33 in Ireland last year!).  The species migrates non stop from the tundra breeding grounds to Argentina and flies out over the Atlantic, hence susceptible in Atlantic storms. In America, the species will create serious interest on migration.