Wednesday 11 October 2023

Flashback #6; First Half of September 2022

Welcome to another attempt to catch up on last years birding highlights in a (probably futile) attempt at logging a whole years birding.

Tuesday 6 September

You can read my account of a superb encounter with two Dotterel on Cleeve Hill here

Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus)

Friday 9 September

On our way down to Cornwall for our annual holiday, we stopped off at Chard Reservoir to belatedly catch up with a juvenile Black Tern. The reservoir is memorable for us because it was where we saw our first ever Great Egret.

Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)

Before we headed into Cornwall we made a further stop at Labrador Bay near Shaldon in Devon to year tick Cirl Buntings. 

Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus)

Year List additions;

267) Black Tern, 268) Cirl Bunting

Saturday 10 September

One of my best days birding ever aboard the Free Spirit and part of the akwildlife cruise into Falmouth Bay. Two lifers and six year ticks on the all day pelagic. Read all about it here.

Great Shearwater (Ardenna gravis)

Year List additions;

269) Great Shearwater, 270) Balearic Shearwater, 271) Manx Shearwater, 272) Sooty Shearwater, 273) European Storm Petrel, 274) Grey Phalarope

Sunday 11 September

A miserable wet day where birding was extremely limited apart from a quick afternoon trip to Gwithian to look for a Red-necked Phalarope which had disappeared. We did find a Little Stint and saw a Water rail, both Cornish ticks. Most fun was at the holiday cottage where we had three Hummingbird Hawk-moths feeding in the garden. As darkness fell we were treated to the hoo-hooing of Tawny Owls.

Hummingbird Hawk-moth

Monday 12 September

A tough day at the office. Walks around Botallack, Pendeen and Porthgwarra yielded none of the Chough, Red-backed Shrike or Ortolan Bunting that we looked for. Birds were definitely playing hard to get.

Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)

Tuesday 13 September

Another fruitless morning, this time checking the cycle path at Lands End for migrants during which we only found Wheatears and Chiffchaffs. The day was lifted when while dropping into St Just for some lunch, I spotted a juvenile Rosy Starling perched with half a dozen Common Starlings on an overhead wire. It's always a good feeling to find a bird yourself.

Rosy Starling (Pastor roseus)

A re-visit to Pendeen for another tilt at the Shrike ended in failure again but we did get to some Cornish Choughs at last. Another dip of sorts followed later in the afternoon when we failed to connect with a Wryneck.

Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax)

Year List addition;

275) Rosy Starling

Wednesday 14 September

Kynance Cove and the surrounding area was supposedly "alive" with birds, with reports of several Wrynecks, a Buff-breasted Sandpiper and a Melodious Warbler the day before. In a four hour walk around the downs we found none of them! Another frustrating day in a frustratingly bird-less holiday (apart from the pelagic). Even the Choughs avoided us. Consolation came in the shape of a smart Hobby and a few showy Wheatears.

Hobby (Falco subbuteo)

Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

The dip-dip-dip theme continued into the afternoon when a boggy walk at Roskestal, Porthgwarra in increasingly windy conditions. We failed to find a Greenish Warbler in a patch of dense sallows that had been seen earlier. We had failed to successfully connect with all of our target birds on twitches during our time in Cornwall. Not great when you're chasing a "Big Year"!

At least another really showy Wheatear helped to ease the pain.

Thursday 15 September

With the Cornwall trip over, we headed home but diverted to Longham Lakes near Bournemouth for yet another scarce Tern species. I say yet again because we'd already seen an American Black Tern and a Whiskered Tern at the site in past years. For some reason the pair of gravel pits attract rare wandering Terns. We were soon onto the juvenile White-winged (Black) Tern which dispelled the disappointment of dipping probably the same bird three weeks before at nearby Blashford Lakes.

The lack of birds seen during the Cornwall week was almost forgotten as we watched the White-winged Tern catch gnats and flies. All Terns are elegant and great to watch and although this one never came too close, I had a pleasant couple of hours trying to photograph it.

We drove home happier and we were eight steps closer to achieving our dream.

Year List addition;

276) White-winged Tern

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