Tuesday 27 June 2023

Birding highlights in Cornwall June 2023

 The first rarities of the month appeared on the 3rd when a Black Kite was seen at Wadebridge and an adult Night Heron was found at Bude Marshes.  Either of the species could be roving birds already seen in the county. Another Black Kite was seen at Kilkhampton on the 2nd.  An Osprey headed east along the coast at Cligga, Perranporth on the 3rd.

A stunning adult Rosy Starling was found on the 5th in a private garden at Feock.  What a shock and bonus this must have been for the finder. Adult Rosy's are indeed spectacular.  Less rare but equally rewarding was a single day Spotted Redshank at Tresemple Pool.  It was in non breeding plumage so presumably a returning failed breeder.  The upper reaches of the Fal estuary are traditional stop over sites for this species.

Ad. Rosy Starling at Feock, picture courtesy Kate Dalziel

Three Turtle Doves together on the 5th at Amble marshes harks back to another generation when this species was once common. Another was seen at St. Issey and Polgigga on the 7th.

25 pairs of Kittiwakes were breeding once more on Bawden Rock, St Agnes, following an absence of some 30 years. Kittiwakes are quite nomadic though and will return to old colonies.  Ringing data in the past has shown the same bird visiting Brittany, Norfolk and Cornwall colonies.

A Purple Heron was found at the stunning Lethytep Farm on the 9th.  Not quite in the Squacco Heron league, but still another great find for Phil Hambly. A non breeding Great White Egret was seen same day at Hayle, possibly the same individual seen in May.

I was lucky to find a first summer Night Heron at Marazion Marsh on the 12th.  It was a uniform brown bird with pale spots and markings. The Collins field guide points to this being a fresh juv, though more research in BWP states that the pale spots can be retained in to its first summer.  Had it not been for an exact replica of this plumage at Gwenver on the 28th April, I would have found it hard to believe.  The two sightings could be the same bird.  Luckily the Marazion bird showed very well on the 14th and 15th, giving up more plumage detail. The greyish brown plumage and dark cap and pale lower mandible all point to an older bird, ie a first summer.

Further searching for the Night Heron at Marazion next day proved beneficial as a female Garganey was found in the new cleared area. This is actually the first record of Garganey on the Marsh this year.

Female Garganey, Marazion, June 2023.

Little Egrets have now been confirmed as breeding at Marazion. Two nests had five young near to fledging on the 14th June. This is the first proven record here.

The weekend of 17th and 18th June signalled the start of the annual seawatching season, which technically lasts until at least November.  Porthgwarra was the place to be as the wind shifted to a Southerly direction. Highlights included the first three Cory's Shearwater of the year, three Sooty Shearwater, Storm Petrel, three Arctic Skuas and a Pomarine Skua. Also notable was the high number of immature Gannets, nearly 1500 which is a significant count. An unseasonal Great Northern Diver in full breeding plumage was a late Spring migrant heading north.

The 18th June saw an out of season Great Northern Diver in breeding plumage.  The strange juxta position of a late Spring migrant diver heading north alongside a non breeding Pomarine Skua heading south is always fascinating on a seawatch.

The first Great Shearwater of the year was found on the 22nd.  This species has already been logged earlier this week off the Sapphire pelagic boat off Scilly. The sightings could relate to the same birds. Further sightings off Porthgwarra were on the 27th and 28th.

Bird of the Month: Again, little to shout about. Rosy Starling at Feock and Night Heron at Marazion are the headliners.

Runner's Up: Early Cory's and Great Shearwaters.

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