Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Quality Rarities in Abundance!

What a superb spring we're having! Since the Bonapartes Gull, the decent yearticks have not stopped! A Reed Warbler (174) at Marazion on Apr 16th was followed the next day by an elusive PURPLE HERON (175) at the same location. It was well spotted by Mark Halliday hiding amongst the reeds at the west end of the reserve. A trip to Goonhilly Downs the same morning did not bring us the Montagu's Harrier we had hoped for but a male Dartford Warbler (176) and a Cuckoo (177) were obliging all the same. My 1Km square count around Godrevy Head on 19th April saw Little Ringed Plover (178), Yellow Wagtail (179) and House Martin (180)added to the list and my first Swift (181) of the year flew over the A30 at Redruth on the 30th whilst I directed traffic after a nasty car crash! A Common Sandpiper (182) was on the estuary at Hayle later the same day.
American Golden Plover (P.Freestone)
Sunday the 1st May saw pretty awful weather conditions with lots of that fine rain that wets you through! I met up with Mark on the Hayle Estuary who informed me that Brian Mellow had seen an 'interesting' Golden Plover on the estuary earlier in the day. I located it a short while after out on the mud flats from the old garage on the causeway and immediately phoned Mark, who had his scope with him. I managed a few distant flight shots which clearly showed a dark under wing, diagnostic of both Pacific and American Golden Plovers. So we had a rare one, but which was it. The bird looked really dark as it was very wet and views we had were relatively poor. After an hour or so we were fairly confident we had seen all the features of American Golden Plover, but put the news out as a 'probable', to at least get other birders out to see it. Fortunately it showed really well in much better weather conditions the next day and it was indeed an AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER(183). On the evening of the same day I received a phonecall from Tim Twiggs who alerted me to a drake Garganey (184) at Gwithian. Luckily it was still there when I arrived! The next day I returned for better views of the Golden Plover with Ash and Monty and as we walked down to where it was being viewed from, a superb adult Hobby (185)flew overhead. After watching the plover for a while we headed back to the bridge to photograph the Bonapartes Gull. Monty and Ash left a short while after, missing the Curlew Sandpiper (186) that flew in with Dunlin!
Great-white Egret (Photo by Monty Curtis)
And so to more recent events..............On May 8th I arranged to meet Ash and Monty at Marazion early morning. I had been on night shift and was obviously quite tired. However, I still needed the GREAT WHITE EGRET(187) for the year. I soon had that in the bag as it flew a short distance in the sanctuary area. It did not show again, but Monty and Ash had already seen it so weren't too bothered. It was blowing a very fresh southerly at Marazion so I mentioned to the others that Gwithian might be a bit more  sheltered for tired migrants. What a decision that turned out to be!
Black-winged Stilts (P.Freestone)
The other two were in Monty's car and were well ahead down the main path at St Gothian when I arrived and I admit i was struggling to catch up with them in my tired state. Fortunately they stopped to look at the sanctuary area on the left enabling me to catch up. As i approached them I scanned the spit on the end of the island on the main pool as I always do for waders and Gulls. There, to my suprise and then elation I could quite clearly see a black and white bird with very long red legs. I lifted my bins and saw not one but three BLACK-WINGED STILTS! (188) I said to the others, "What the bloody hell are you two looking at! Theres three Black-winged Stilts over here!!" After a few seconds panic, both got onto them and we moved around the corner for a better view, only to find ANOTHER! So four in all, a new County record! I quickly phoned RBA and then all the numbers I had at my disposal. A steady trickle of birders gathered through the day and the birds showed really well.

Temminck's Stint (P.Freestone)
Friday 13th is thought to be unlucky by some. But not for Phil Taylor and Hilary Mitchell! I recieved a phonecall from John Swann to say that two visiting birders from Yorkshire (Gods other own county!) had found what they believed to be a TEMMINCK'S STINT (189) on Ryan's Field and did i have time to have a look. Fortunately I did and I soon joined Phil and Hilary in the hide who were still watching the bird in question. Temminck's Stint is a really rare bird in Cornwall, so I got the news out straight away allowing for plenty of locals to catch up with it. It remained until about 1630hrs when it walked out of sight on one of the islands and simply disappeared! A superb little wader and my 292nd County tick. Eight more to go!