Monday, March 12, 2007

A Day Trip to Cornwall

With a few lifers on offer, Kevin, Tim and I made an early start and managed a smooth journey south, which saw us watching target number 1, the white-billed diver, before 9:00am. It was easy to find, loafing around just a few metres in front of its adoring audience. This was a huge bird. It had a huge neck, powerful bill, and big fat body. This should come as no surprise given the number of crabs it ate while we watched it. A lifer for all three of us.

As we arrived we bumped into Martin and Mike who’d endured a frustrating evening and early morning staking out the nearby gyrfalcon. An unruly crowd had no doubt put the mockers on anyone seeing the bird that morning. We decided to team up and spent the rest of the day together.

We moved on to get the long-staying spotted sandpiper just up the road. Another lifer for Kevin! Sure enough this bird too, was performing well for the crowds. It was only a few hundred yards from where I saw it last October. A Mediterranean gull was also added the list but there was no sign of the recent Franklin’s gull.

Next stop was Penzance with the outside chance of another Pacific diver. Very windy conditions made seawatching difficult, but we did tick a number of great northern divers and a few purple sandpipers on the rocks at Jubilee Pool. We moved on to Newlyn to check the harbour. Zero gulls were present and no divers either.

We decided to move on and attempt some more birds in the county. Next stop was Stithian’s Reservoir. Again we battled against the wind before Hawkeye Bevan picked out the summer-plumaged red-necked grebe. A fantastic bird, and my first in this plumage.

Newquay was next stop for the dusky warbler, residing in a pleasant estate along the estuary. More Glamorgan birders were present in the form of Cliff, the Coed-y-Bedw Man. The bird hadn’t been seen for four hours, and the wind was surely making it keep low. We made a rather half-hearted attempt at finding it, but with the time drawing on we decided to move on and attempt another lifer for me, American wigeon.

Dinham Flats is a tricky place to find. We eventually found a place to park, and follow a footpath down to the river. We were met however, with low tide and barely a bird in site. What we could see was miles away, and there certainly weren’t any wigeons around. We gave up, but did hear the first chiffchaff of the year.

With our thoughts turning to home, we decided to head back north. A knackered Mike and Martin headed straight back, but Kevin, Tim and I made a brief stop at Exminster. No cirl buntings were around, but we did manage to flush a couple of wood larks.

We missed a few, but we saw some great birds. Another great day’s birding!

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