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Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly 8-13 October 2010

Green Heron, The Lost Gardens of Heligan

W. Black-eared Wheatear female on the Garrison


American Golden Plover and Dotterel, St Mary’s Airfield
We were very pleased to see a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, a Dotterel, a European and  an American Golden Plover all feeding together on the turf along with large numbers of Wheatear, Meadow Pipit and Skylark. A Ring Ouzel and Red-throated Pipit also dropped in.


Buff-breasted Sandpiper and Golden Plover


European Golden Plover and Ring Ouzel


Red-throated Pipit (2nd with a Meadow Pipit in the foreground)


Little Buntings As many as three at Carn Friars



Wryneck Possibly three seen on the morning of 11th

Nightingale St Agnes

Pied Flycatcher St Agnes

Subalpine Warbler Bryher


Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly 8-13 October 2010

8th We travelled down to Cornwall stopping at Exeter services and then Davidstowe airfield on the way. We were unable to locate the Buff-breasted Sandpiper, a species that has been present most of late September and early October here.  An hours drive saw us arriving at the Lost Gardens of Heligan where a Green Heron was present before checking out the Hayle Estuary and just missed the Rose-coloured Starling on St Mary’s Church in Penzance en route to St Just where we stayed for the night.
9th We spent the day searching the area starting with Cape Cornwall , St Levan, Newlyn bay, Marazion, Porthcurno, Porthgwarra and then to Penzance heliport for our helicopter flight to St Mary’s. We dropped our bags and went straight to the Garrison to see the Black-eared Wheatear.
10th The whole day was spent on St Mary’s catching up with the various birds. We visited the Airfield (windsock), Porthellick Bay-Carn Friars-Higher Moors to Holy Vale-Longstones Cafe-Old Town churchyard-Lowers Moors ,ISBC hide-Porthmellon beach.
11th Explored Peniniss Head and the south side trail, caught a boat to St Agnes for the afternoon.
12th Checked out Porthmellon beach and then caught a boat to St Martin’s until 1430, returned to St Mary’s for a couple of hours and then caught a birders special boat to Bryher and returned in the dark.
13th Birded our way around St Mary’s taking a taxi to Porthellick Pool and walking through the Tremelethen trail-Higher Moors-Longstones Cafe-Telegraph-Bant’s Carn-Innisidgen to Newford Duck Pond, took a taxi back with the afternoon free to explore/shop. Returned to airport for a 1730 flight back to Penzance and returned home.

Species noted
1 Mute Swan
2 Greylag
3 Canada Goose
4 Shelduck
5 Mallard
6 Wigeon
7 Teal
8 Pheasant
9 Great Northern Diver- 2 adults in breeding plumage seen between Innisidgen and St Martin’s on 13th.
10 Little Grebe-one at Porthellick pool.
11 Gannet
12 Cormorant
13 Shag
14 Green Heron-a first winter at the Lost Gardens of Heligan on 8th.
15 Little Egret
16 Grey Heron
17 Marsh Harrier- a female was watched hunting over Annet on 11th.
18 Buzzard
19 Sparrowhawk- seen hunting around St Mary’s and St Agnes.
I did note an accipiter sp that may be a Sparrowhawk but was small and very well marked on St Mary’s, it was gingery brown and appeared to be very fresh, like it was very recently fledged.
20 Kestrel
21 Peregrine-seen on Annet on 11th
22 Water Rail-heard on St Mary’s and Bryher where one was seen close to by Bob.
23 Moorhen
24 Coot
25 Oystercatcher
26 Ringed Plover
27 Grey Plover-two on Ryan’s field, Hayle and two on rocks between Tresco and Bryher on 12th.
28 Dotterel-a first winter joined the Buff-breasted Sandpiper, European and American Golden Plover on 10th to make a delightful quartet for the airfield.
29 European Golden Plover-one on the airfield on 10th.
30 American Golden Plover-one on the airfield on the 10th.
31 Lapwing
32 Sanderling-150 on St Martin’s
33 Turnstone
34 Dunlin
35 Curlew Sandpiper-one seen on Ryan’s field on the Hayle Estuary.
36 Little Stint-two seen at the same site
37 Common Sandpiper-one at Porthmellon beach on 11th.
38 Redshank
39 Greenshank-see on the Hayle, at Porthellick pool and a close juv at Lower Moors.
40 Black-tailed Godwit- seen on the Hayle
41 Bar-tailed Godwit- seen with the above for comparison and two on rocks off Samson
42 Curlew
43 Whimbrel- one flying around Old Town bay on 10th and Porthcressa on 11th.
44 Snipe
45 Jack Snipe-one at Lower Moors and one at Porthellick pool
46 Ruff-two at the Hayle Est.
47 Buff-breasted Sandpiper-one on the airfield on 10th in ‘good company’.
48 Arctic Skua-two harassing Kittiwake off Porthgwarra, sadly only seen b MJM.
49 Black-headed Gull
50 Mediterranean Gull-a few first winters at the Hayle Estuary.
51 Herring Gull
52 Lesser-black backed Gull
53 Great black backed Gull
54 Kittiwake
55 Sandwich Tern-three at the Hayle and four off St Mary’s
56 auk sp off Porthgwarra
57 Woodpigeon
58 Collared Dove
59 Kingfisher-Hayle estuary
60 Skylark
61 Swallow
62 House Martin
63 Rock Pipit
64 Meadow Pipit
65 Red-throated Pipit-one among Meadow Pipits at the airport on 10th was seen a few well a few times. On approaching the airfield I heard a close bird with a Tree Pipit type call that was probably it.
66 Pied and White Wagtail both seen on the beaches.
67 Yellow Wagtail-two on the airfield on the 10th and one on Porthmellon beach.
68 Grey Wagtail-singles were seen and heard flying about the islands.
69 Dunnock
70 Robin
71 Nightingale-one showed well at times on St Agnes on 11th.
72 Common Redstart-one feeding in Old Town bay on 10th.
73 Black Redstart-a few seen around the islands but no males.
74 Northern Wheatear-seen on Davidstowe airfield and around St Mary’s with 15+ on the 10th.
74 Black-eared Wheatear- a female watched on the Garrison on 9th and myself and Bob had another look on 13th.
75 Whinchat-two at Cape Cornwall on 9th and one on Peniniss Head coast path on 11th.
76 Stonechat
77 Song Thrush
78 Fieldfare- a few noted on 13th.
79 Blackbird
80 Ring Ouzel- a male flew in and around us at the airfield eventually landing on the turf and feeding among Starlings on the 10th and one flew over us on St Agnes on 11th.
81 Blackcap
82 Subalpine Warbler-one seen in the sunshine on Byher was well and truly ‘twitched’.
83 Sedge Warbler-two seen at Porthellick Pool.
84 Reed Warbler-seen and heard on St Mary’s (singles) St Martin’s (one) and St Agnes (three).
85 Willow Warbler-one on St Martin’s.
86 Chiffchaff-many were noted
87 Goldcrest-many heard, one or two seen
88 Firecrest-one seen briefly on St Agnes by MJM
89 Wren
90 Red-breasted Flycatcher-we gave up on an elusive bird at Old Town on 10th and saw two well at the fruit cage on St Agnes on 11th, another was seen well
91 Pied Flycathcer-two on St Agnes on 11th.
92 Great Tit
93 Blue Tit
94 Long-tailed Tit-seen in Cornwall
95 Magpie-as above
96 Jay-seen in Cornwall
97 Jackdaw
98 Rook-seen in Cornwall
99 Carrion Crow
100 Raven
101 Starling
102 House Sparrow
103 Chaffinch
104 Linnet
105 Goldfinch
106 Greenfinch
107 Siskin
108 Little Bunting-up to three seen at Carn Friars on 10th.
109 Snow Bunting-two distantly in flight over the sea between the airfield and Peniniss on 10th (MJM only).
110 Lapland Bunting-one over calling at Bant’s Carn on 13th

Other species present but not seen due to going for other birds include Dark (two on Tresco)and Pale Bellied Brent Goose (five were seen in Mount’s Bay), Spoonbill (2-3 around Tresco of islands), Hen Harrier-a ringtail over Annet. Pectoral Sandpiper on St Martin’s and St Mary’s, Tawny Pipit on St Martin’s, Pied Wheatear on St Mary’s, Common Rosefinch on St Martins and St Mary’s,  Melodius Warbler on St Martin’s, Icterine Warbler on Bryher, Dartford Warblers on Mary’s and Martin’s, Short-toed Lark, Yellow Browed Warbler. Late on the day we were leaving a Olive-backed Pipit and Pallas’s Warbler was found and a day or three after Red-eyed Vireo and Red-flanked Bluetail also made a guest appearance.

Filed under: Trip Reports


at 12:35 pm

1-31 October 2010 blog and sightings

31 October 2010 A dreary start to the day turned into a pleasant autumn afternoon but I enjoyed a rest and the trees rather than birding, after all we still have November.

30 October 2010 We had a look around Loch Leven which had thousands of birds on offer, the Pinkfeet and Goosander in the sun were very nice, JJS saw a Snow Bunting in flight near Kirkgate cemetry. We packed up and headed for the Slamannan area an quickly located about 80 of the 227 strong flock of Taiga Bean Geese. These long-necked and rather lumbering birds can be very elusive and most of the this flock appeared to be over a rise out of view. Their long necks and bills, many with extensive orange/yellow were obvious and plenty had white feathering where the bill meets the head. It would seem that they are holding on in this area and it was a pleasure to see a flock like this. The Yare valley birds in Norfolk have been declining and are down to tens so this is the best that Britain has to offer. We also gained a brief view, before they sat down of what looked like 2 Tundra Bean Geese which made for a good comparison, great birding.

Taiga Bean Geese

29 October 2010 After the dissapointment of coming second in the local pub quiz the night before I was delighted to see about 50 Waxwing on the wayto Jers house it was also nice to see Pink-footed Geese flying around and landing next to the Travelodge where we were staying. We headed to Edinburgh for the day exploring the city including the Scottish National Gallery. Jeremy showed us all the best sites in the interesting city including one of his favourites.

28 October 2010 A showery start to the morning did not put off the flock of 160 Waxwing from stripping berries in the sun. JJS and I enjoyed on these birds a Kinross housing estate about half a mile from where he lives.

Waxwings in Kinross…

We also visited Tentsmuir forest and point. The forest meets a dune system and the sea which offers a shallow sandy beach ideal for the many loafing Seals. A Long-tailed Duck flew in to a pool nearby and groups of Red-breasted Mergansers, 3000-5000 Eider plus more were all present. We also heard a Lapland Bunting. The forest used to hold Capercaillie and still has Red Squirrel. Jeremy had work to get back to so we expored St Andrew’s. I spent a bit of time scoping the sea and had great views of 4 Long-tailed Duck, 20+ Velvet Scoter including a close imm/fem, 100 Common Scoter, 3 Red-breasted Merganser, 200 Eider, a Razorbill and an Arctic Skua chased Kittiwakes offshore.

Long-tailed Ducks

Velvet Scoter (left with a male Common Scoter)

26-27 October 2010 The weather improves today after a dark and overcast day yesterday. The country is being invaded by Waxwings, thousands have reached Scotland and have got as far South as Kent along the East coast. We may see them locally again this winter. I headed up to Scotland for a few days to visit Jeremy and explore some new sites for Anser trips and have a break with the family.

25 October 2010 A still, sunny and calm day, I spent the morning working on the feeding station where Bullfinch and 2 Redpoll were coming to the food and Coal Tit, Chiffchaff and a few Siskin were all present in the trees nearby. Some improvements to bird tables especially to try to attract large numbers of finches both at the willow plantation and Holden Tower should pull in Brambling among the Chaffinch but Greenfinch are also notable these days. The disease that has hit them hard has reduced the population. A good feeding station has always the chance of attracting something rare as well as supporting local and passage birds and I am always in hope of a scarce bunting or American Sparrow coming in to have a feed. Two new Bewick’s Swans arrived and we still held 17 E White-fronted Geese which favour the South Finger area. The Whooper Swan spent all day on the Rushy.

Bewick’s Swan on the Tack Piece

24 October 2010 A decent set of waders were about the Top New Piece at WWT including 6 Little Stint.

22 October 2010 The Am Wigeon was still present but since this date the Wigeon flock have been on the estuary during the day, this is due to in my opinion, the full moon and the fact they have fed all night and it is safer roosting out there in the day. It prevents the Peregrine from getting used to a routine and it acting as a turkey shoot.

21 October 2010 A quick check around the hides at WWT Slimbridge produced a female American Wigeon from the Zeiss Hide, I did not have the time to hang about and wait for it to flap. JSL is still on crutches and light duties so he staked the bird out and found on checking his HD video in the evening that he got the bird with a raised wing. This excellent footage and the stills clearly shows white axillaries (‘arm’pit or wing pit feathers).

  • It also shows a very grey head (with isolated dark mask around and behind eye),
  • greyish ‘shawl’ on the mantle and upper tail coverts and
  • a brighter isolated orange panel on the flanks.
  • I think the bill is brighter blue but this may be an illusion.

The bird drifted into the reedmace and out of view for me so this is the only image I can offer.

20 October 2010 A Tree Sparrow from the Holden Tower at WWT took me back to the days when we had up to 60 wintering here. It was so nice to hear it calling in the scrub and for it to show itself, fingers crossed that it may find the feeding station. Probably last seen here in the early nineties.

Tree Spug

19 October 2010 A Whooper Swan was with the three Bewick’s in the Rushy this morning but flew out toward the river. It was ringed at Welney in 2007. Also of note was a first winter Curlew Sandpiper on the Top New Piece. 


18 October 2010 Our first Bewick’s Swans of the ‘winter’ arrived this morning. As I got out of the car a party of six dropped in to the Rushy but remained mobile, at least 8 were noted.

17 October 2010 My first Rock Pipit of the autumn for WWT today was notable.

15 October 2010 A Coal Tit in the garden was the first of the year for me.

14 October 2010 A day back in the tractor mowing at WWT, possibly two Whooper Swans called in today one ringed. I noted a pair of Stonechat, a Water or Rock Pipit, c20 Reed Bunting and flocks of Linnets, Chaffinch and Brambling and Redwing heading N along with 4 Swallows during the day.

8-13 October 2010 I was Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly with an Anser group, it was a great trip for birds and a full trip report is coming soon. 

Greenshank, juvenile at Lower Moors, St Mary’s

4-12 October 2010 The Marsh Harrier and Pectoral Sandpiper were the best birds around WWT from the tractor but large numbers of Ruff  21 and Grey Plover 50 were of note too.

Ruff, juvenile

Marsh Harrier, juvenile

3 October 2010 At WWT Slimbridge I spent most of the day tractor mowing the Dumbles. A quick hide round with MLK saw us noting plenty of duck, certainly an increase from last week. From the tractor today I saw a juvenile Marsh Harrier around Middle Point at 1325 when it drifted N toward Frampton, I saw it again at 1526 heading S along the Dumbles and again after 1600 on the ground feeding on carrion for at least half an hour. It drifted off toward Frampton again. I stopped a couple of times to scan waders on the estuary and 28 Grey Plover, 32 Ringed Plover, 1 Sanderling, 5 Curlew Sandpiper, 10+ Little Stint, 4 Knot, 8 Ruff with a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper (saltmarsh) for ten minutes and 16+ Bar-tailed Godwit. Most of the waders were near the hide at Middle Point using the mud shelf.  A party of 20 Golden Plover were among the Lapwing for a while and 700 Wigeon plus the 2 White-fronted Geese were on the areas I have cut already and grazing happily. I flushed c20 Snipe with 19 flying over the Zeiss Hide in the morning and a single Jack Snipe flew a short distance back into cover. A Wheatear was also present and c15 Swallows. I also saw c25 Swallows in the village on the way home.

2 October 2010 DBP reports a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at WWT Slimbridge this morning. Viewable from the Holden Tower. I briefly saw the two Black Terns that Nick Goatman had found earlier today at Frampton Townfield Lake at dusk. c20 House Martin were still buzzing around home.

1 October 2010 No birding at all today.

Filed under: Birdwatching Diary


at 10:25 am