Sunday 30 November 2014

Female Desert Wheatear at Porthgwarra

This female Desert Wheatear was found by Mark Wallace on Wednesday on the cliff near the coastwatch.  It was confiding today as it fed on the grass turf and among the granite boulders.  This is the fourth record for Porthgwarra.  The first was a male way back in November 1984 on the Porthgwarra moor.  I remember that one clearly as I dragged my wife across the moor with me.  No problem with that, I hear you say? She was five months pregnant!  This is the 9th record for Cornwall.

Previous records:

1984. Male. Porthgwarra. 17th-24th Nov.
1988. Female. Sennen Cove. 5th Nov.
1994. First winter female. Torpoint.  28th Nov - 16th Dec. This bird was then relocated at St Gothian Sands, Gwithian from 21st Dec to 20th Mar 1995.
1997. Female.  Loe Bar.  28th Nov - 3rd Dec.
1997. One at Hannafore, Looe 3rd-12th Dec.
2007. Female.  Land's End. 17th Oct.
2011. Male. Porthgwarra. 6th Nov.  Found the next morning (7th) but it relocated to Nanjizal in the afternoon.
2011 Female. Porthgwarra 19th November, but only reported on 21st Nov.

Monday 17 November 2014

Isabelline Shrike of the Turkestan race

On Sunday 9th Nov Royston Wilkins and Brian Mellow found a shrike perched up on the brambles as they were leaving Pendeen.  Initial reaction was naturally a Red-backed Shrike but doubts pretty quickly set in.  Word soon spread and a whole raft of suggestions ensued, including hybrids, Over the next week, many photo's have been taken and circulated widely.  The general consensus among shrike experts is that this bird is indeed a first year bird of the Turkestan race of Isabelline Shrike.

Nationally this is a rare subspecies but in Cornwall, there are two previous records assigned to this form.  In 1989, a popular first winter bird was present at Zennor from Oct 27th - 31st.  In 2002, a first year male was found at Porthgwarra on June 26th.

The nominate race of Isabelline Shrike is also referred to as Daurian Shrike and there are two records for Cornwall: a first year bird opposite the airfield at Nanquidno Oct 25th.  A stunning adult male was well watched at Pendeen in early October 2013.

Turkestan Shrike, Pendeen, 16th November 2014.

American Golden Plover at Davidstow, Cornwall

A few more images of the confiding American Golden Plover at Davidstow back in October.  This was the second record of the species this Autumn and just one of five American waders reported during the Autumn in Cornwall.  This poor showing of American vagrants must be the worst Autumn for a generation?