Lingering rarities from November included the Ring-billed Gull and Lesser Scaup at Helston and Rose-coloured Starling at Newquay. Water Pipits were seen all month at Gwithian, Marazion and Treraven Meadows, the latter site holding up to seven birds. The Pacific Diver was seen again in Mounts Bay on the 3rd and two Swallows were still at Marazion Marsh. Four Swallows could be seen in December ranging from Marazion to Penzance. They were believed to have come from a late brood which decided to overwinter but by the end of December only one bird was left. A White-rumped Sandpiper was at St John’s Lake, Torpoint on the 7th and remained elusive in the area for a few days. Elsewhere, a Richards Pipit at Polgigga may well have been last months Gwennap Head bird.
A Rough-legged Buzzard was seen flying alongside the A394 near Porthleven on the 8th and a Red Kite was over Amble Marshes, Wadebridge on the 9th. A Ring-billed Gull was on the Camel Estuary on the evening of the 13th and two SpoonbillsÂ were on the River Lynher at Antony on the 14th. The white morph Gyr that had frequented the Isles of Scilly visited the mainland on the 15th with an appearance at Lands End and Sennen. A female Red-crested Pochard was at Drift Reservoir. The Gyr was seen again at Lands End on the 16thÂ and a single Cattle Egret was at Halsetown, St Ives.
A Great Grey Shrike was in scrub at Stithians Reservoir on the 17th and the Gyr was seen briefly at Sennen. The next day it was seen at Little London Bay, Marazion before it headed back south and was eventually found back on the Scillies. Stithians held a Cattle Egret on the 19th. Undoubtedly the highlight of a relatively quiet December was the discovery of another Scillies cast off. On 21st, Richard Menari and Alex McKechnie were walking onto the Moor at Sperris Quoit near Zennor when they met a man coming down from the moor who informed them that he had seen a Snowy Owl on the Moor. He promptly backed up this claim with some video footage of the bird! Richard wasted no time in relocating the beast and getting the news out. This is the first modern day record of Snowy Owl for the county, the last being in 1948! It was the first ‘twitchable’ mainland bird since the Lincolnshire bird of 1991 and attracted 100’s of admirers during its stay into 2009.
A Bittern was seen almost daily at Long Rock pool in the final week of the year and a Black guillemot was off Porthscatho on the 23rd. Single Cattle Egrets were at Crantock and Fowey on the 24th and the Snowy Owl shared the moor at Sperris Quoit with Short-eared Owl, Merlin and Hen Harrier on Christmas Day. A Yellow-browed Warbler was at Helston sewage works on the 26th and two Velvet Scoters remained in the Carrick Roads. The Ring-billed Gull at Helston was joined by another on the 27th. A Cattle Egret was at Polgigga on the 29th and a Yellow-browed Warbler was a welcome addition to Mark Hallidays garden list! A Cattle Egret was in a ploughed field at Paul, Penzance on 30th.
Paul Freestone (c) Cornwall Birding 2009