Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Report from Roger Lane. (31st March 2010)

"Wed.31stMar.2010: Wonderful Spring we're having ! Would you believe it, visiting the same two sites again (Pontsmill and Par), I saw almost exactly the same birds (read 30thMar'10) ! That is with the following exceptions each at Par. At PBPool there were 2 x L.Egrets (instead of one); the friendly neighbourhood Black T.Godwit was back at the pondside, and 20+ Gannets per hour were passing the Gribben or diving in Par Bay, due to the gale force westerlies. Quite spectacular, but that's it !
PS: in response to a recent comment of Mark's, completely forgot about Carp in PBP. Yes I've seen them there too (way back). Presumably too big for a Cormorant ? Most ponds around the St.Austell area seem to have been 'seeded' with carp, by fishermen a few decades ago ? Can't be much fun growing up with the Cormorant about !"

Thanks for the report Roger.
A whole host of things prevented me from venturing out today....hope this soon stops.
The carp I should imagine have grown to quite a large size by now.....I will see if I can see them rolling on the surface during the hot summer weather....providing we have any.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Report from Roger Lane. (30th March 2010)

"A brief afternoon hour out, despite the gale-force winds ! Up to Pontsmill first, hoping for some shelter, and indeed a small flock of Swallows had beaten me to it. Otherwise it was nearly a full house of local birds: 2+, Bluetits; 10+, Coaltits; 10+, Greatits; 2 x L.T.Tits; 2 x Marsh Tits, mostly at the feeders. Also a Nuthatch and a Dipper near the river, will they breed there? Overhead were a flock of hirundines: c.15 x Swallows and c.5 x Sd.Martins feeding in the lee of the valley side on insects around the tree branches.
Down to a rather exposed, and almost flooded (rain plus high tides) PBPool, looking a bit barren, but with up to 15 hirundines feeding very low over the wavelets, some c.10 x Swallows and c.5 x Sd.Martins
Also 2 x L. Egrets, for a while. Also the carcass of 'yesterday's' Swan had been removed, but by human or wild agencies?. A brief stay at the western beach car-park looking over a Very rough sea, yielded only two species: 1 x GCGrebe on the water and 1 x Sand.Tern above the water. Touch of sameness these days !"

Thanks for the report Roger.
Soon things must far are we behind this year?
The same thing is happening as last year when all the Caterpillars were washed away.
We need a week of prolonged sunshine and settled weather. I toyed with the idea of a visit this morning but the bad weather made my mind up.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Report from Roger Lane. (29th March 2010)

" PBPool, 29thMar.2010: 1 x your everyday friendly neighbourhood Blk.Tailed Godwit, back again probing alongside the road ! 10+, Sand Martins and 10+ Swallows. (Not a House Martin in sight, yet!).
"Swan-song": (not mine I hope!). While sat in car at the Pool a car drew up alongside and a lady driver asked if "the Swan was really dead and can you come and look at it"? Since heavy rain prevailed and I had suede shoes on I said: 'no but I can see it is with my binoculars' At this the distraught lady drove off in a huff, so I thought I'd better make an effort, got out the car onto the muddy soil (western limit of Pool). She saw me getting out, in her mirror, and drove back to join me walking down to water's edge. She explained she had been watching an ailing swan for 3 days (but was afraid of the live ones). She had called the RSPCA some 3 days ago and the inspector had visited the Pool with her a couple of days ago giving her to under-stand they would 'bring out a boat and catch it on the water if necessary', but she had not heard any more. But here we were today looking down at a freshly dead swan. Although she had seen it alive a few hours earlier! She returned to her car, but did not drive off. Soon she got out of the car telling me she had just 'phoned her husband, who told her that the RSPCA had 'phoned to say it was coming out, TOMORROW!
At which she was dismayed, and having photographed the swan, returned to her car and drove off com-plaining in no uncertain terms about the RSPCA ! I had a look at the corpse but in the conditions could only confirm what she had told me, that it appeared to have a broken wing. This MAY have been enough for it to die, but having watched the swans a lot recently, I have noticed a large, strong male bird, probably one of nesting pairs, which would have made the dead swan's life hell by harrassed it, hastening it's demise. BUT that's only a theory. Anyone got any observations which could be linked to this untimely death ? Sad."

Thanks for the report Roger.
It is indeed sad. Whether they could have saved it with prompt action is any ones guess.
Naturally the Lady feels let down and I do feel sorry for her. Hope she gets some sort of apology from them.
I was looking for a photographic and fact finding visit but today would not have been any good for both of them.
The forcast is not good for the next few days I may have to keep the powder dry.
I guess the weather is frustrating your butterfly activities but surely it must break soon.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Report from John Rance (28th March 2010)

"Does the patch extend as far as the Luxylan Valley around Treffry Viaduct? If so, up there this morning;

1 Willow Warbler- seen and heard singing
1 Male Blackcap seen and heard singing- possibly a resident bird, but still going down as my first of the spring!
1 Dipper
1 Grey Wagtail

Also Marsh, Great, LT and Blue Tits, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Treecreeper, Nuthatch and GS Woodpecker."

Thanks for the Report John.

Well I guess it does...I know Roger goes that way often enough so I cannot see a reason why not.

I nice morning haul and I would like to get up close to one or two of those for photographs.
We do have three resident Blackcaps (1m 2F) in our small garden.....see my other blog A&T Birding...and they have been with us since late December. Also Buffinches,Goldcrest and a Firecrest until recently. I think the Firecrest has probably left us as it has not been seen for over a week.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Report from Roger Lane. (27th March 2010)

"Very much 'moving on' weather I fear, would have liked the last day of 'winter-time' to be a good one but that's not how it was ! Went to Pontsmill and found nothing of interest, except singing Chiff-chaffs ! At last there seems to be an influx of them (and warmer temp. conducive to singing). But not a single Blackcap heard, by next week there'll be dozens ! Also many pairs of Coal-tits and Greatits proclaiming territories.
All the way out to Menabilly Barton, not a bird in sight, save 4 x Pheasants ! Hence down to Par, only the usuals on the Pool, not even a hirundine. Spend a sunny evening hour at the western car-park overlooking the Bay. Very little for the time spent but: a migrant flock of c.20 B.H.Gulls landed on the sea; 3 x Gannets fishing offshore; 2 x Sandwich Terns (only came into the Bay twice, presumably fishing off Spit along to Porthpean) a single Curlew flew east (summering?); and 2 x GCGrebes, still in the Bay, were doing a partial courtship 'dance' !"

Thanks for the report Roger.
Things will soon hot up on the Bird and Butterfly fronts......

The Silent Valley

I had a little wander down the Manoa Valley this morning. On the outward walk to look for the Dipper I saw very little...a brief glimpse of a Wren but no Hirundines over the Sewage Tanks. A walk down the River did not produce a sighting of the Dipper...very unusual ..but as time was limited I walked back towards the car. A couple of Sand Martins flew overhead and I thought it was promising. A Goldcrest was in one of the trees along with a Chaffinch but I could not get a shot as they were well behind twigs and branches.
Back at the carpark the air was alive with Sand Martins and a lone Swallow...probably a dozen plus Martins but it was difficult to count.
Everytime I wander down the Valley I think of the poem *The Listeners. by Walter del a Mare*
I cannot hear the birds...but they can hear me....I think they see me before I see them...I know they are there.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Report from Roger Lane. (26th March 2010)

"Today, Fri.26thMar.2010, just a wet hour out during the afternoon. Visited St.Austell Sew.Wks first. While it rained there were c.20 x Sd.Martins and c.2 Swallows over the tanks. When rain stopped they just disappeared, until it rained again ! Spread out along Manoa Valley ?
I was at ParBP from 3.15 to 4.15pm, where there were 4+, Sd.Martins and 6+, Swallows ! Also at the Pond was the tame Blk.T.Godwit, on bank, and 2 x GBBGulls plus 12+ LBBGulls on the water. The sea was so rough I could only find 1 x GCGrebe."

Thanks for the report Roger.
I nearly visited the Valley myself but had to back-track...I do miss my Valley wanderings but I hope to make some progress over the weekend. Wonder how long the Blackwit will stay around?

Black-Tailed Godwit

Black-tailed Godwit .....Limosa limosa

Photographed yesterday at PBP. This bird is human friendly.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Out Again.

Well I managed a short visit to PBP today 1430 hrs. My first sighting was a dozen Feral Pigeons by the Indian Restuarant.eight were of the white form.
The pool held most of the usual residents plus a duo of Great Blacked Gulls bobbing mid pool.
The Sand Martins were hawking just above the pools surface and I thought there was probably a dozen...later confirmed by Roger.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw the Black-Tailed Godwit in one of the many car park puddles...I took a couple of long range shots and decided to drive closer...the daft bird never flinched as I got within seven foot of him and carried on as if he was oblivious to all around him ( must have been like me.... deaf) I took some more shots and left him in peace.
The top car park was a waste of time with the rain, swell and poor visibility and I saw nothing. Well done Roger finding the Sandwich Terns.
The only other birds I saw were four Oystercatchers on the grass by the huts.

Still It was a successful day for me.

Report from Roger Lane. (25th March 2010)

"A pleasure to meet you at PBPond today, glad you managed a brief outing even if it rained all afternoon ! I only stayed from c.2.30 to 3.30pm. As you said there were c.12 x Sd.Martins, but I'm sorry to say that after you had left (!) a mature SWALLOW with long streamers came out of the mist, and I'm not sure there wasn't another amongst the Martins ! I did not see the Blk.T.Godwit until later as I left, probing in the poolside grass, made super-soft by the rain.
I drove up to the western car-park and battled with the elements to see anything. Eventually despite wet optics I did see a single GCGrebe and best: 2+, Sandwich Terns, who knows how many others were shrouded in the sea-fog !"

Thanks for the report Roger. I had a feeling I was going to miss something.
The weather was really bad and not ideal for looking out to did well with the Terns.

Black-Tailed Godwit

Black-Tailed Godwit photographed today at PBP by John Rance using a mobile phone camera.

Report from John Rance (25th March 2010)

"All the usual at the pool this morning plus;

1 Black- Tailed Godwit- terrible mobile phone pics attached-not up to your usual standards I'm afraid!
5+ Chiffchaff
1 Water Rail
2 Swallow"

Thanks for the report and Photograph John.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Report from Roger Lane. (24th March 2010)

"Out to lunch today, then my 'usual' hour at Par. Not a lot in this weather, and no hirundines by 4.30pm either. However, the rain had brought down a single Black-tailed Godwit feeding around the edge of Par Beach Pool, but seen in flight to ascertain species (black & white wing-bars). Apparently nothing else but the rain and fog was inhibitive.
Moved up to western car park for 15mins (rain blowing in windows), but was lucky enough to see 2 x Gannets (adult) which 'should' be nesting on the Bass Rock, or at least Grassholm ! Also a sight which fooled me for a few seconds, 3 x G.C.Grebes FLYING from the west to their usual spot in the Bay (most odd in flight). I saw another singleton in the Bay shortly after which I think may have been a 4th bird. So, possibly FOUR left, at least.
So, where were the hirundines? Well, en route to Par I drove past Somerfields supermarket when a Swallow flew overhead accompanied by c.5 x Sd.Martins, probably the same group as yesterday at Par which had not 'moved on' due to awful weather. Or, maybe same group visiting the supermarket for food ?"

Thanks for the report Roger.
I am going to have (hopefully)some Years Ticks when I finally get there.

Report from Mark Whittaker (24th March 2010)

Report from today:24/03/10

St.Andrews Pool : 4 x Jays, 1 x Grey Heron, 10 x Long tailed tits, 2 x Goldcrest & 1 x Chiffchaff (singing)

Par Beach Pool : 1 x Reed Bunting (M), 3 Chiffchaff (2 singing), 1 x Oystercatcher, 1 x Black Tailed Godwit, 11 x Sand Martin, 1 x Swallow, 8 x Snipe, 1 x Water Rail & 10 Mallard Ducklings

Thanks for the report Mark.
Was it a morning or afternoon visit?
Having car trouble at the moment..but at least I know what I am missing.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Report from Roger Lane. (23rd March 2010)

"Had to get out despite the rain, so sat at Par Pool for an hour. At least the rain held a few things down. By 4pm PBPool held: 1 x L.Egret; 1 x Can/Greylag hybrid Goose; 5+, Sand Martins and 1 x Swallow (no tail streamers visible this time, prob 1st summer bird). All 6 fed lower over water as rain increased."

Thanks for the report Roger.
Unfortunately my activities have been curtailed for the next month as I shall be dog-watching.
Hopefully I will still manage a few short was not one of 'em.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Report from Roger Lane. (22nd March 2010)

"Not a thing today, nil, zero, silch ! Not a butterfly either, despite the warm afternoon. Have not seen one for 2 weeks or more !
Regarding your e-mail and queries, firstly I had to choose between St.Andrews and Par Beach Pools which should be designated the fishing pool and which the natural history pool (on behalf of the Tywardreath Parish Council in a 52-page (!) report). Even then, c.15yrs ago, it was pretty obvious which was which, having talked to a few fishermen ! Incidentally Par was put forward for N.Hist. partly due to the (then) high density of nesting Reed Warblers, (habitat fragmentation).
Heard tonight that 2 x Bitterns were seen at PBP recently (Feb/March).
Regarding the fish population of the Pools, you will have seen and read about the netting and transfer of the pike from St. Andrews (12 caught and now in Devon Reservoir !), that'll help keep the fishermen at St.Ands ! Meanwhile the population of Par Pool is not documented as far as I know. I think you are correct, I've never seen a large fish therein. This is not surprising since although there ARE shoals of Roach, Perch? etc., they will never grow to any size due to the constant presence of Cormorants, who will swallow all large fish. It was never a fishing lake since it is brackish (as you've seen at Equinox tides etc).
These tides bring in Dabs/flouders/flatfish which are the Cormorants favourite food, it appears. I have seen the shoals of Roach etc. in the shallows - all small ! Probably there are NO big fish, turtles yes, but no pike!
The otters and in the past Mink, take their fair share, or more, no doubt !
Regarding predation of ducklings and cygnets. Am sure that large Gulls are main predators of Ducklings, nice mouthful ! But cygnets I'm not sure, have always imagined Foxes and/or Otters ?, don't really know. Incidentally, saw my first 2 Mallard ducklings today, being sheparded away from their parents by a Canada Geese pair, hope they're not predators too !
Which reminds me, the Canada/Greylag was also present today (or another) in splendid spring plumage: bright yellow legs, pink bill, white on face now extended and eye is below a black 'cap'. Quite photogenic, I should think ! Enough for now."

Thanks for the report Roger.
It certainly clears up a few points I have been pondering.
I should imagine the Cygnets have a high mortality rate and I know only one survived last year.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Report from Roger Lane. (21st March 2010)

" I had a day of mixed fortunes today with a couple of goodies. But despite all morning in intermittent sun at Pontsmill, not one butterfly, again ! The worst March I've known. So, I've listed a few birds again !
Sun.21stMar'2010: Pontsmill yielded the following: 5 x Buzzards; 1 x Sp.Hawk; 1 x Kestrel; 2 x Ravens; 1 x Nuthatch and 1 x Dipper.. Next was St.Aust.Sew.Wks (Manoa) which was quiet and I saw just 1 x Goldcrest; 2 x L.T.Tits but the"smart chiff-chaff" I was admiring turned out to have long wings and tail, and Pink legs, making it my first WILLOW WARBLER for the year !
The afternoon I spent at Par, again ! At PBPool the only 'unusual' items were 15+, L.B.B.Gulls on the water and a flock of 15 more coming from inland Otherwise a count of 30+ Moorhens indicated not all the overwinterers have not yet moved on (winter peak was 45+). At Par Bay the tide was well out and again there were 20+ L.B.B.Gulls, otherwise only 1 x Redshank, probably a migrant rather than one of our overwinterers.
Otherwise, two gull-like sea-birds resting on a far out rock. I though I knew what they were but had to wait half-hour before a real gull put them to flight. These were 2 x SANDWICH TERNS, my first for the year !
But no hirundines today (apparently), the S/SW winds helping to move any such N/NE."

Thanks for the report Roger.
You most certainly had the best of the day.
Unfortunately we had to go home after St Andrews (Dogwatch) but Derek and Sam did continue so maybe they salvaged something out of the day.

Quiet Morning.

We met up this morning 1145hrs with Derek Julian and Sam and walked around PBP and St Andrews.
All the residents were on the Pool with the exception of the Black Headed Gulls as Roger had noticed yesterday.
The Pool was really quiet with only Snipes , L.B.B Gull and a Heron seen above the usuals.
The circular walk at the back of the Pool produced Coal Tit, Goldfinches, Bullfinch, Wren, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Greenfinches, Robins, Rooks, Blackbirds, Magpie and Wood and Feral Pigeon.
On the way to the top car park a Kestrel was seen hovering over the Dunes.
The beach and Bay were virtually lifeless with only Oystercatches noted.
St Andrews was also very quiet with just Marsh Tit, Wren and Chiffchaff to add to the usual LBJ's and Pool Residents.

A somewhat disappointing day with very little showing.
Thanks again to Derek and Sam for pointing out birds we would have missed.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Swallow at Par. Roger Lane Repots 20th March 2010

"Trust that you enjoyed the week, despite the weather, and did not loose too much ! I'm afraid the weather stopped play for me, rain bearable with car, but couldn't see through the fog!
"After the Rains of 18th,19th & 20thMarch". The rains stopped for the afternoon of Sat.20thMarch giving time only to visit Par, typically uninteresting and 'twixt winter and spring. All I could find initially were a few Goldfinches and Greenfinches. But I was determined to park up and WAIT by PBPool. I found 3 x Tufties (1 fem) straight away, then after half-hour a Little Grebe, in mostly summer plumage came out of the reeds. Worth watching out for since they have attempted to breed at Par in most years (April-June). Then a Little Egret appeared from the back of the island. (They too nested at Par 2 yrs ago), but that's all ON the water.
I was of course hoping for Hirundines (late this year). But looking skyward all I found was a flock of 25+, B.H.Gulls migrating high and fast to the NE (none on the Pool). Amongst them was one slightly larger, but too high for I.D.. By a process of elimination a Comm.Gull would seem most likely, or just maybe a Med Gull ! While using the 'bins I found a high-flying hirundine, soon joined by another ! They were over the dunes where the insects were being blown by the strong NW wind. They turned out to be 2 x SAND MARTINS, and had presumably been feeding up there for hours, before 3.30pm, almost above eye-sight and they were still there at 5.30pm !
Meanwile (c.4.30pm) the 'best' bird came hurtling along the roadway dodged my car and veered to circle the pond, sleek and blue-black, was all I could say. Feeding at less than a foot high in high winds, it was quite different to the Sd.Martins still v. high up. Fortunately it came back low and twisted to fly round my car bonnet showing a touch of orange/red on underbelly and sizeable tail streamers. All this happened in about 15 seconds, but there was no doubt it was my first SWALLOW of the year, probably passing through Par not staying, being in typical ground-hugging migration mode, at speed !"

Thanks for the fantastic report Roger.
A feather in your cap today I reckon.

Still Quiet.

I had a small birdwatching window this morning and decided to visit PBP and Bay.
On the approach to the pool I saw two Song Thrushs on the grass verge. The pool as far as I could see held only the residents plus three Lesser Black-backed Gulls at the poolside.
The sea was shrouded in mist and visibility was generally poor. The waves were high and crashing against the Harbour Walls where beneath five Oystercatchers were sheltering from the conditions. The rest of the Bay was deserted.
The trees around the top car park held Goldfinches, Greenfinchs and Chaffinchs with nothing else showing well.
After leaving Par (to pick Angie up) I saw a Jay and Coal Tit at Penrice.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Report from Roger Lane. (15th-17th March 2010)

" Trust you are enjoying the Cheltenham Festival ! 'Fraid I've got way behind with daily reports, not that there's been anything to shout about.
Mon.15thMar'2010: managed to get down to Porthpean for first time in awhile, not that there was anything unexpected, but did have the following 4 species - 50+ Fulmars (resident on ledges. and water) : 3 x Comm.Scoter; 4+, G.N.Divers and 1 x B.T.Diver (latter two often stay into May month). At Charlestown, the road is still blocked by building, hence just: 1 x Comm.Scoter and 1 x G.N.Diver glimpsed.
Afternoon at Menabilly Barton: only 10+ Goldfinch and 10+ Chaffinches ! Back down to Par Bay where there were only 10+ Turnstones, but 10+ Curlew flying east (upcountry to nest?). Could not find any GCGrebes, but it was rather rough.

Tues.16thMar'2010: at Pontsmill: 2 x Marsh Tits (on territory?); 1+, Stockdove (often nest) and 1 x Raven. On to the St.Blazey Valley, no butterflies (blessed chill NE wind), but 2 x Nuthatches, where they nest annually. Up to the Luxulyan Viaduct where only 1 x GSW'Pecker; 4 x Redwings (equaling my latest ever); 2 x Jays and 2 x Ravens (in nesting tree ?).
Back at Par (p.m): just Oystercatchers, same? 10+ Turnstones; 5+, L.B.B.Gulls & 1 x L.Egret.

Wed.17thMar'2010: at Pontsmill, usual crowd of c.30 x Coaltits; c. 20, Greatits; 2 x Bluetits (around feeders); 2 x LTTits nearby, on territory? and 2 x Grey Wags (no Dipper or Nuthatch today). Out to Menabilly Barton: very little but interesting since actually saw the 2 resident Kestrels mating on tree top ! Otherwise only 15+, Goldfinch. Quite barren these 'spring' days ! On the way back near Kilmarth, were 15+ Pheasants (6 Black). Finally at Par Bay found at least 2 x G.C.Grebes, so not all left yet ! Remember, any rain (Thurs?) brings birds down e.g. Sd.Martins over Pool and Waders on beach, hopefully !"

Thanks for the detailed reports Roger.
As I am off site at the moment they are more than welcome.

Report from Mark Whittaker (16th March 2010)

"Forgot to say that a Merlin has been seen at the Gribbin today. That would make a nice patch tick if it made its way Par way. Will check out the coast path in the next few weeks."

Thanks for the report Mark.
We do have the odd Meadow Pipit at Par and I believe they are their preferred diet.
So a strong possibility.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Hooded Merganser

The Hooded Merganser was photographed at RSPB Radipole Lake. It was deemed not a vagrant so it was not tickable.
The photograph was one of only a few that turned out reasonable well on Sunday.....I think I knocked a camera setting putting it in the bag. The next morning one of the settings was on long it had been like that I do not know.

Report from Roger Lane. (14th March 2010)

"I thought you'd snuk off again at the weekend, well done on the new ticks and the interesting article. Not much to write about around here! Today I set out 'early' to see butterflies (as many people DID to the east and the far west!), when the thumping great black cloud came over and stayed all day!
"The birding on 14thMarch,2010 was rather indifferent, or rather did not have priority over the G.Prix ! However, starting at Pontsmill I did see the usual 1 x Grey Wag; 2 x Marsh Tits and 1 x Green W'Pecker (not common even here). Only other stop was PBPool and the big surprise was NOT ONE B.H.GULL, they having all gone 'up-country' to nest. However, in the Bay there were 3 x GCGrebes left at least. On the way out I saw another smart looking (immigrant?) Chiff-chaff.
"SID the Suicidal Squirrel": Whilst spending afternoon time at Ponsmill, there were no butterflies, nor many birds and my attention was drawn to the congregation of Wood Pigeons very high in the ivy-clad oaks on the opposite hillside, obviously eating the remaining old ivy-berries. They were near the top of an 80ft oak tree itself growing from 20ft above my position. One 'pigeon' emerged from the flock and climbed very carefully, higher than the ivy growth, until 100ft above the valley and a sheer drop! With 'bins I found it was not feeding on berries, but on tender oak tree buds (unopened) and was not a pigeon at all, but SID Squirrel ! he was some 2 or 3ft from the very highest oak buds now, having to go out each slender twig to collect them.
Surely he wasn't going for the top bud at the very peak of the tree? But of course he did, inching his way up as the slender twig bent beneath his weight and he was Upside Down, 100ft up ! He'll never make it, I thought but then he casually twisted around and came leisuely down the slender branches into the ivy-cover, as if he was on a Sunday stroll, which of course he was ! "

Thanks for the report Roger.
The Green Woodpecker is an interesting addition to the latest sightings list.

Monday, 15 March 2010

A Trio of Ticks.

Yesterday was another one of our days out with Derek Julian, Sam, Ben and Poppy. The target species was an American *** star vagrant at Langton Herring west Dorset. We started out at 0530hrs and arrived around 0745hrs to be confronted by a very chilly wind and cold conditions. A few other early birders were also on the site and after an agonising 30 minutes the Bufflehead was sighted .The walk was very tiring in the conditions and when we got there we located the bird a good 600-800 yards out on the opposite bank. We had to content ourselves with viewing through the scope. That was my second life tick of the day as a Barn Owl was spotted on the A30 pre dawn.
The next stop was Radipole Lake and I had another slice of good luck while I was in the RSPB site looking at the bird books when young Ben Julian said."That's a Cetti's Warbler" and pointed outside. I only had time for a quick grab shot through the window but at least it is recognisable. Smart lad that Ben.
We also went to Portland Bill and Fleet but the only other year tick was a Red-legged Partridge.

A good if somewhat tiring day ended up with three life ticks and four year ticks.
Also we saw A Hooded Merganser at Radipole Lake but could not tick it.
Many thanks to Derek....also wife Sam and of course Ben..... for giving us the opportunity of his lifetime experience
which always ends up with us getting more life ticks.

This post also appears on A&T Birding

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Report from Roger Lane. (13th March 2010)

"A quiet day: starting at Pontsmill (again) I was lucky enough to see the Dipper, just. I had turned away from the stream when I heard the distinctive alarm call. Looking quickly back I saw it flying strongly upstream, having flown from, or under the bridge where I stood ! This was shortly followed by 2 Nuthatches, one on the nut feeders nearby and one calling from the trees. Finally most elusive were the few Redwings (c.10) moving through the ivy-berry clad trees. There were more Blackbirds than Redwings !
Moving to Par a football match meant no Redwings on the 'usual' field. But at PBPool there was a surprise with a pair of Pochard (male & fem.) swimming and diving. Only my 2nd & 3rd this winter ! Tide was wrong for waders in the Bay, but a group of at least 5 x GCGrebes were still visible. Maybe a bit chill for things to be leaving early, or 'new' waders to be turning up, but anyday now !"

Thanks for the report Roger.
I was out of bounds again in Dorset..I will put an account up tomorrow.
(Late getting home.)

Friday, 12 March 2010

Report from Roger Lane. (11-12th March 2010)

"Birds so sparce it's only worth doing a 'two for the price of one report', that is Thurs.11th and Fri.12th March. At Pontsmill were 2 x Marsh Tits prospecting for nest sites, but where the dipper often can be seen was a large, incongruous looking, white Muscovey Duck V. out of place on the fast flowing rocky stream ! At the Luxulyan Viaduct was a pair of Grey Wags apparently on territory, and signs that dippers had been around !
Back toward Par there was a flock of 30+ Redwings on the Par Station football field, one of the last sizeable flocks probably out of the Treesmill roost. To the east of PBPool was a Chiff-Chaff avidly feeding in the fir trees, rather out of character and taken to be one of the few migrants to have reached us. (Then again it could be an overwintering one feeding up to fly North !). On the Pool was the Canada/Greylag goose hybrid not seen since 2009 !
Best of all for me were a Reed Bunting in the eastern reed-bed and a Water Rail by the sluice gates, clearly seen, thus two year ticks, better late than never! In the Bay on 12th there was still a strong flock of 8+, GCGrebes, only 2 less than the winter maximum."

Thanks for the report Roger.
Seems as I have missed the good stuff once again. Did not manage any sites today and it will be highly unlikely tomorrow as we are at a Birthday Party.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Greenfinch at Par

Greenfinch ........Carduelis carduelis

Nuthatch at Pontsmill.

Another early start 0930 hrs and the first destination was Pontsmill. It was a really pleasant morning and very rewarding as the bird I came to see was practically the first I saw. I scanned the trees after getting out of the car and there it was....a first in Cornwall and only the third I have ever seen. Unfortunately it did not stay around long enough for me to photograph it. Still I was pleased as Punch...a Year Tick, and Patch Tick. I tried for the Dipper but did not see it.

St Andrews Pool was next ....much the same as yesterday. All the usual woodland birds with the exception of the Marsh Tit. I photographed a Wren..and just missed the Mistle Thrush.
The Pool held only the usual residents with the Mute Swans back.

Par Beach Pool held the big nine and nothing else was seen.
The Bay at 1100 hrs held two Cormorants and a lone G.C.Grebe alongside the Gulls out on the water.
No waders at all were seen.
A few woodland birds were in the treetops by the rough car park...namely Greenfinches , Goldfinches and Dunnocks.

The Nuthatch made it a good day.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Par River Bank

Redshank .......Tringa totanus

Report from Roger Lane. (10th March 2010)

"Not much to report today, found 2 or 3 butterflies thanks to the fading of the east wind (a little!). While up at Pontsmill, I again saw a small flock of 10+, Redwings, moving unobtrusively through ivy clad trees, back to feeding up on berries since earth is so dry and cold.But they often stay until mid-March in cold winters such as this (especially in the Treesmill Valley). No dippers to dip on today !
The only other activity, apparently, was around Par Beach and not much of that ! In the Bay were 5+ GCGrebes still, little else. At half-tide on the Par River rocks were the usual O.Catchers; 12+, Turnstone and a small flock of 8+ Dunlin (with a possible Ringed Plover or two. These were presumably from the wintering flock in the inner Par Harbour which may stay until mid-March this year (in warm winters they may leave by end of 1st week March).
However, it is time to look for new flocks of small waders, normally on the open beach, composed of Dunlin, R.Plover and Sanderling (plus a few oddments), arriving from mid-March, hopefully.But the bulk of wader Spring migrants come through in April and May months, along with land-birds and terns.
That's about it really, except I forgot: 1, Snipe and 1, L.Egret at Par Beach Pool !"

Thanks for the report Roger.
I guess you went around 1400hrs today. I had an early start 0930hrs at St Andrews and was at Par around 1015hrs The G.C.Grebes were in the usual place and I counted five...but I did not see any waders at all with the exception of a lone Redshank on the Par River. The Little Egret I saw on the far reed beds and a Song Thrush on the grass opposite the entrance hut. Nothing else was seen.
St Andrews Pool was virtually empty this morning.. two Herring Gulls and five Mallards was all that was on the water. The Canada Geese were there but on the far shore. There was no sign of any Mute Swans.
The Wilderness area yielded up the usual woodland birds plus a few Wrens in the swamp area and a Mistle Thrush in the trees some way out of photographic range.
I am still looking for a Jay and G.S Woodpecker.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Report from Roger Lane. (9th March 2010)

"Havn't been out much due to perishing cold winds and we are betwixt and between seasons. Most winter visitors gone (few Redwings about today 9thMar'2010), and virtually no spring migrants in yet, although those of you 'tuned in' to Birdguides (etc) will know that Sand Martin, Swallow and Wheatear were recorded in the 1st week of March, and there were signs of other movement (at Par several LBBGulls at least!). But basically it is too cold with adverse winds as yet. The GCGrebe flock in the Bay will dwindle any day now.
Not that I've seen anything exciting, did have a good sighting of a Dipper at Pontsmill this morning, Trevor ! Also a Nuthatch., plus a few Redwings, soon to leave us, some in Spring plumage already. Nothing this afternoon, except a few. more Redwings. Actually Chiff-Chaffs should be here by now, but how to tell them from the overwintering ones ? Trouble making it across the Channel, but since a fresh Painted Lady butterfly has apparently made it to Hampshire, so can Chiff-Chaffs! Whatever, a bit of a wait for awhile, try some gull flocks for Med Gulls (or other white-winged gulls). Meanwhile the 'next' spring migrants could be Sandwich Terns, and quite soon now, despite the easterlies !"

Thanks for the Report Roger.
I agree it has been rather quiet...but as the blog is still not a year old I do not really know what to expect. Your and other reports are invaluable in this respect.

The Saviour.

Grey Wagtail ........Motacilla cinerea

Dipped on the Dipper.

O what a beautiful morning...the great outdoors beckons.

Off down the Manoa Valley with the late breakfast Lark. The plan...or lack of it...was to get a better picture of the Dipper that frustratingly avoids all attempts so far to get a better photograph of it than the last one blogged. What was different?
Well; firstly I decided to walk the opposite bank with its one foot track that leans towards the river at an angle of 45 degrees.
Secondly.. I was carrying a lot of weight on my back...concealment equipment plus the usual camera gear that felt like the pack of an S.A.S trooper but was really a lot lighter.
After trekking what seemed miles but was in fact about half a mile I set things up being careful not to fall into the river.
Patiently I waited...and waited....waited...not one solitary bird was seen. O bloody hell I have the long walk back. It proved a lot worse than the previous one.
During one of my frequent rest periods I saw a Grey Wagtail perched on a fence...ummmmmm I shot of the day. So it was.
Just before reaching the end of the trail a Dipper shot out of the undergrowth and hurtled off downstream like an Olympic sprinter with the Devil's Hounds at its heels. ...
Well no one wins 'em all I said to myself.

Monday, 8 March 2010

The Bird and the Worm

Struggling with the large worm opposite the Ship Inn.

Song Thrush .....Turdus philomelos

On the grass by Indian Restaurant

Song Thrushs

Early start at St Andrews Pool 1015 hrs. The Pool contained the usual residents and nothing else....
The cafe and swamp area provided its usual assortment of Woodland birds with nothing new making an appearance. I have noticed a few people putting food out for the birds along the trail route...mainly bread and the odd seed or two. Recently I have been leaving some mixed seed on one or two of the earlier sites.

The main PBP site was also visited. A Song Thrush was on the grass area by the Indian Restaurant. The Pool held the usual nine residents plus a Heron on the far reed beds and a Great Backed-backed Gull .
The area from the rough car park to the sea was practically deserted ..(to my eyes which are not in the Hawkeye league).Strolling down to the Bay where a cold wind was blowing I again saw nothing. Decided to walk around the back of the caravans and again my reward was usual popular woodland birds but nothing of note. Probably some birds could have been found by a hearing person who could locate them by sound.
A very disappointing walk .
The highlight of the day was a Song Thrush (I hope) in the usual spot where the Mistle Thrush generally is. A huge worm was his intended meal but he was making hard weather of it and after photographing him from across the road I left him to his struggle.
No wonder the Mistle Thrush likes the site opposite the Ship Inn if that is what is on the menu.

Sunday, 7 March 2010


Rook ........Corvus frugilegus

Rook at the Cafe

Rockfast Rook

Well what did I see at 1300hrs today?
The nine PBP residents i.e Mute Swan, Canada Goose,Mallard,Coot,Moorhen, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Raven and Pied Wagtail were joined on the Pool by a Lesser Black-backed Gull bobbing on the pools wavelets and a Grey Heron over by the far reeds.
The Beach and Bay yielded up a duo of Oystercatchers sheltering from the cold wind out towards Spit.

St Andrews Pool saw the little woodland birds out in smallish numbers.... They were joined by a Song Thrush and Wren in the Swamp Area and the Rook that was feeding at the Cafe and refused to move even when I got within eight feet of him. The Pool itself had only the usual residents.

So the answer is.....nothing unusual.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

The Bouncer

Robin ......Erithacus rubecula

The Robin certainly intimidates the Marsh and Coal Tits on the Rock

Report from John Rance (6th March 2010)

On PBP this morning, the usual plus;

1 Water Rail behind the pool
1 Med Gull on the water, looking v smart in nearly complete summer plumage-would make a nice photo if you catch up with it.

Thanks for the report John.
It is not looking good for commitments.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Magical March Tit

Marsh Tit ......Parus palustris

Heron at Manoa Valley

Due to dog watching I could only cram in a short visit to the Manoa Valley. The usual parking spaces at the bottom of the lane have been crudely cordoned off. Whether this is a temporary or permanent thing I do not know.
The birds seemed again in very short supply with only a Chiffchaff and Wren making an appearance at the start of the walk where usually you get a Goldcrest or two , Chaffinches , Long-tailed and Blue Tits.
The only other sightings were a Heron fishing the White River or Gover Stream and a trio of Grey Wagtails.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Happy Chaffy.

Chaffinch ........Fringilla coelebs
Photographed at St Andrews Pool.

Jay at St Andrews Pool.

I decided to have an early start today and was at St Andrews Pool by 1000hrs. I had totally forgotten it is Dog Walkers time..make a mental note . The usual Woodland mob were around the Cafe area mopping up cubes of bread and remnants of seed left by people passing by or maybe religiously feeding them everyday ..I know not what. Disappearing into Swampland I saw a Jay land in the treetops way beyond photographic range...Wrens briefly showed and as quickly disappeared into the undergrowth.
I failed to locate the lone Tufted Duck today and wonder if he/she has now departed.

Next stop was Menabilly Barton. I was amazed to see the car park full of driverless cars and assumed a shoot was going on and it would be pointless staying. Well the place was virtually birdless so I may have been right.

PBP was still very quiet and just the usual residents in fact the only piece of good news was a Little Egret fishing in the water by the Indian Restaurant.

A cold day.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

On the Prowl.

Oystercatcher.....Haematopus ostralegus

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Report from Roger Lane. (2nd March 2010)

" Usual round and mostly usual stuff !
Pontsmill first: 'population' around feeders was definitely missing Bluetits and LTTits (just one of each), they must move out to territories earlier than the plentiful Coaltits and Greatits (and possibly nest earlier?). There were c.20 Greatits and c.25 Coaltits, and best of all a Nuthatch, head down, on the feeders. Also 1 x Marsh Tit and 3+, Goldcrests, but no dippers today.
On to Menabilly Barton the Chaffinches were at full stregth with 100+, but could not sort out a Brambling, also 20+, Goldfinch; 10+, Linnets; 50+ Starlings and 30+ Redwings (not bad for March). One Raven also flew over.
Back near Kilmarth were 10+, Pheasant (4 Black) and a new one for 2010, for me, were 2 x RED-LEGGED PATRIDGES. Back at sea-level: at PBP were 10+, C.Snipe, and in Par Bay: 8+, GCGrebes."

Thanks for the Report Roger...welcome back.
I watched the feeder at Pontsmill the back-end of last week and was amazed at the activity. The dipper also showed its face briefly ..practically alongside the house in question. My second visit I was not so lucky.
Again they were working on the railway overhead and things were quiet at the feeders. I did see two Mallards up in the small green slime coloured pond at the top of the old mine workings....Billy No Mates and his Mrs.

Report from Mark Whittaker (2nd March 2010)

"1st March

Cliffpath from Par to Polkerris

1 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel (M), 30+ Meadow Pipit & 20 + Pied Wagtail in sheep field directly below farm, 1 singing Skylark and possible Whitethroat (heard not seen).

2nd March

By caravans behind Par Beach Pool

Reed Bunting (M & F), 10 + Greenfinch, 20+ Goldfinch, Chiffchaff & Jack Snipe. Nothing apparently from the Cetti's recently. Will keep my eyes and ears open. "

Thanks for the reports Mark.
The Jack Snipe would have been a Life Tick for me......pity I did not join you but unfortunately I ran out of time.

Monday, 1 March 2010

High in the Wilderness

Blue Tit ......Parus caeruleus

Quiet on the Sites

Decided to have a later look at the sites today. Unfortunately it did not change anything.
PBP is still quiet... in fact it seemed quieter than the last visit.
Things are probably changing now the breeding season is upon us.
The Bay and shore was desolation also the wilderness was very strange with nothing showing itself...this is where good ears come in handy. Even the Mistle Thrush was absent from his usual spot.
Menabilly Barton was just the same...the odd bird flying about but no large flocks or Buzzards on the poles.

St Andrews Pool does have more lively woodland bird s and Coal Tits, Robins, Wren, Great Tit, Blue Tit were all out in smaller numbers than my last visit...but they were there and that livens up the day .
The Pool had its usual residents plus the lone Tufted Duck.
A somewhat disappointing day.
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