The following is an overview of the best and most significant finds in Cornwall in 2022. Those wishing to read more detail can drill down in this blog and find the monthly update. Many thanks to the photographers (detailed at the end), WhattsApp groups and CBWPS recent reports pages for the information.
January 2022 started mild with fairly settled weather with a north-east to easterly airflow. End of the month was clear and colder, though temperatures never dropped below zero.
The mini influx of Tundra Bean Geese continued over from December. The three birds at the Lizard were present on the 1st but a New Year's Day shooting party spooked them. Presumably the same three relocated to Upper Tamar Lake and were on show to the month-end. Two more left Walmsley Sanctuary at first light mid month. An impressive flock of 16 Russian White-fronted Geese spent a few days in the field opposite Croft Pascoe.
The White-tailed Eagle from the Isle of Wight introduction scheme continued to be seen in the Colliford area, eventually hitting the local BBC news. The new breed of photo-birder was soon accused of photo-baiting the bird for a closer pic and news since was suppressed.
A first winter male Surf Scoter and Velvet Scoter were found at Pentewan on the 24thJan.
February weather started with a steady west to north airflow, occasional strong wind and heavy rain. Mid month saw Storm Dudley hit the northern Isles but had little effect on Cornwall. The 18th and 20th saw two exceptionally strong westerly storms hit Cornwall, Eunice and Frederick.
The first rarity of the month was found at Porthgwarra on the 9th Feb. An American Golden Plover was photo'd on the moor adjacent to the NCI station. Sadly it didn't stay long.
The undoubted highlight was a stunning adult Kumlien's Gull in Newlyn habour, no doubt a by product of Storm Dudley. It remained faithful to Newlyn until the month-end.
|Ad Kumlien's Gull, Newlyn harbour, Feb 2022 (pic by S Rogers).|
March weather started mild and wet with a light south west airflow. Mid month changed to a constant easterly air flow with long periods of warm sunshine.
Sensational news broke on the 2nd March when an adult Brown Booby was found by a non-birder at the Droskyn car park, Perranporth. It was actually found during storm Eunice with a suggested date of the 22nd Feb. News that it died in care at Mousehole bird hospital was released on 2nd March. This bird is just the third record for Cornwall after two were seen in August and September 2019.
A decent movement of Barnacle Geese was found on the 6th with two at Ryan's Field and 26 at St Gothian's. Barnacle Goose is classed as a "rare vagrant" in Cornwall so 26 together is a significant record.
April started cold with an easterly airflow and overnight minus temperatures. A fresh south easterly front from the 10th opened the gates and pushed the common passage migrants in to the county. The wind direction for the entire end of month was easterly based.
Spring migration finally took off on the 11th. The first Woodchat Shrike of the year was found at Windmill Farm, Lizard. Passage migrants were seen in low numbers across the county with Yellow Wagtail and Little Ringed Plover at Chapel Amble, Common Redstart, Ring Ouzel at Botallack, Osprey, Hoopoe and Little Ringed Plover there next morning.
The first decent set of rarities turned up on easterly winds on the 21st. Boscregan and St Just were the hotspots. A Short-toed Lark was found at Boscregan in ploughed fields with a Hoopoe at nearby Hendra. A Red-rumped Swallow was found at Porthgwarra, and two together were seen next day on the Lizard. Among the many Red Kites dotted around, a Black Kite was found at Portreath. Yet another Hoopoe was found at Pendeen.
|Short-toed Lark, Boscregan, April 2022, pic courtesy Nigel Rogers.|
The 23rd continued with notable rares in the county. The First European Bee-Eater of the season was seen over Nanjizal. The wandering Black Kite was seen at nearby Hendra and a stunning male Channel Wagtail was photographed at Roskestal.
The 25th was a day noted for some serious plastic. A Great Horned Owl was found roosting in a pine tree in Kenidjack valley. Whilst no individual or organisation has claimed ownership, the likelihood of it being a genuine vagrant is stretching the imagination. The literature states that the species is generally resident with limited dispersal post breeding in its native Canada and N America. There has been some expansion in its range though. It was gone next morning. The White-tailed Eagle from the Isle of Wight reintroduction scheme was seen over Dobwalls, presumably heading back east to its cage.
In summary, there were worryingly low numbers of common migrants, even after the strong easterly winds which traditionally bring migrants to Cornwall. Conversely, there were high numbers of (approx 20) Hoopoe, Ring Ouzel, four Woodchats, five Red-rumped Swallows, an unusual Spring record of Short-toed Lark.
May weather started with a light westerly breeze, generally cool. A light south easterly wind on the 8th changed course to south or south-west mid month and was dull and surprisingly cold. The month end finally saw long periods of sunshine and an easterly airflow.
The popular Montagu's Harrier at Trewey continued to show well on the 9th and 10th. A Red Kite and Black Kite flew east directly above the harrier on the 10th.
|Montagu's Harrier 3CY / Adult, Trewey Common, May 2022, picture courtesy Alan James.|
|1CY Aquatic Warbler, 6th for Nanjizal, picture courtesy Reuben Veal.|
The wind shifted to North and up to 30mph on the 17th. Two Wilson's Petrels was seen with 89 Euro Stormies off Pendeen, plus another Sabine's Gull.
Events changed for the better on the 18th. The south coast was the place to be. Sea temperature graphics for the period showed a warmer belt of water stretching from West Africa to the south west approaches. Predictably a Desertas/Fea's type Petrel was seen off Porthgwarra, and it or another was seen later in the afternoon here. If that wasn't enough, two Wilson's Petrels were seen. The start of a decent passage of large shear's included 26 Cory's and 50 Greats. Lizard Point scored with four Great Shearwaters.
A Wilson's Petrel lingered off Porthgwarra on the 19th and 20th, whilst four more Wilson's were seen well and photographed from the AK pelagic out of Falmouth. The Desertas/Fea's Petrel was seen again on the 20th late afternoon, prompting a large twitch the following day. Those assembled early enough were treated to close views of the Pterodroma. More memorable was the tussle with an Arctic Skua for a couple minutes. Six Wilson's Petrels, 389 Great Shearwaters, 156 Balearics and 46 Sooty Shearwater completed a stunning day. At least ten Wilson's Petrel were counted off Southerly Point, Lizard, but interestingly, less than a handful of large Shears were seen. Finally, a single Wilson's was seen off Pendeen, completing a record haul of at least 17 birds from mainland Cornwall.