Monthly Bird Review – December 2010

Snow was still falling in the county at the start of the month with most of it still on the ground from the last few days of November. The Green Heron was continuing to show at The Lost Gardens of Heligan commuting between The Jungle and The Lost Valley on the 1st but this was the last report of it, possibly a casualty of the freezing conditions?
The Greenland race White-fronted Goose was still at Drift reservoir on the 1st, Red Kite over Lower Allen valley for the second day, a 1st winter drake Eider was off Penzance and another 3 in Par bay. A probable Pacific Diver was reported off Penzance with a single Great Northern Diver, Red-Throated Diver and Black throated Diver, no sign the following day. A Siberian type Chiff-chaff at Helston sewage Works also on the 2nd as well as a Red Kite over Brew Pool, 2 Eider off Marazion, 4 Goosander off Marazion and single birds at Treraven Meadows and Argal reservoir. On the 3rd a Lapland Bunting was between Nanquidno and Cot valley. The Turtle Dove was still in a private garden at Goonhavern, the possibility of ‘Orientalis’ was discussed but it was confirmed as a moulting juvenile European Turtle Dove from photos. 17 Barnacle Geese, a Dark-bellied Brent Goose, immature Spoonbill and Spotted Redshank were on the Camel Estuary. A Water Pipit was at Bude on the same day. The Lapland Bunting was still between Nanquidno and Cot valley at Little Hendra on the 4th, 22 Black-necked Grebes were off Loe beach, Carrick Roads so too were 2 GN Diver and a Velvet Scoter. 3 BT and 3 GN Divers were off Carbis Bay, a Slavonian Grebe and 2 GN Divers were off Newlyn, 4 Goosander flew over Stithians reservoir and the Greenland White-fronted Goose was at Drift reservoir still.

An American Golden Plover was found in a large flock of 900+ Golden Plover at Trewey Common on the 5th but could not be refound on the 7th or 8th. Black-necked Grebe numbers rose to 32 in Carrick Roads, a Curlew Sandpiper on Hayle Estuary RSPB, Snow Bunting at Godrevy, 2 Eider still present in the Penzance/Marazion area, Bittern at Marazion Marsh giving good views walking along the ice and 3+ Black Redstarts on Marazion seafront. Also an unseasonable raft of up to 25 Balearic Shearwaters were off Carbis Bay beach from the 5th until into the new year also offshore were 100’s if not 1000’s of Gulls feeding close to the beach, this consisted of mainly Herring Gulls and Kittiwakes but at least 5 Med Gulls were present, also offshore was a Red-necked Grebe, 20+ Common Scoter, BT Diver, 2 GN Diver , 3 Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander c.40 Razorbill and good numbers of Cormorant and Shags. Another Siberian type Chiff-chaff was at Kenidjack sewage works on the 6th, the Little Hendra Lapland Bunting was still present, a Lapland Bunting at St.Mawes, 2 Bittern at Marazion, Barnacle Geese still on the Camel Estuary, GN and BT Divers still off Newlyn, Carbis Bay, Marazion and St.Austell.

3 Cattle Egret flew over Higher Bosistow farm on the 7th. The bird every birder wanted to make it to Cornwall this winter finally arrived at Saltash on the 7th when 2 Waxwing were at the China Fleet club car park. Following large numbers in the rest of the country it was only a matter of time before they made it to Cornwall. They were not reported on the 8th but the 9th saw 2 at Copperhouse Creek and another 2 near Truro Cathedral. A female Long-tailed Duck was at Loe Pool, a Long-eared Owl flew over near Sennen, 25+ Black-necked Grebes off in Carrick Roads, Red-necked Grebe still at Carbis Bay and a Bittern at Perranarworthal on the 9th. Another Waxwing (adult female) was found at Wadebridge, unlike the other bird this one stayed put over the weekend allowing many birders to see it. It also gave the opportunity for some stunning images and video to be captured! The female Long-tailed Duck was still at Loe Pool and was joined by 31 Goosander and 5 Slav Grebe and 5 Eider were off Par. Good numbers of Diver’s and Grebes were off Mounts bay with 6 RT Diver, Slav Grebe, Great-crested Grebe, 2 BT Diver, 9 GN Diver, 3 Eider, 8 Common Scoter and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose.
13 Lapland Bunting and a single Snow Bunting was in a field near Brew Pool, Sennen the next day. Black-necked Grebe numbers hit a maximum of 52 in Carrick Roads. A Bittern was reported at Stithians reservoir but there was no sign on the 12th. A Siberian type Chiff-chaff was at Tregeseal old Sewage works. The 2 Bittern at Marazion continued to show up until the afternoon of the 11th, when both birds clashed leaving one dead!

A single Lapland Bunting was at Cape Cornwall Golf course the following day. There was no sign of the Waxwing at Wadebridge on Monday but nearby a female Goshawk was seen hunting at Cant Hill, a new species for the 2007-2011 BTO Atlas 10km square. Staying in the area, an immature Lanner Falcon of unknown origin was watched for 30 minutes at Walmsley Sanctuary. The same day 2 more Waxwings were seen with singles at Penzance and Portscatho. 18 Lapland Buntings were at St.Gothian on the 15th and so 2 Waxwings were in a private garden at Marazion, They stayed until the 17th. There was an unconfirmed report of 2 Rustic Buntings on Lands End Cycle track on the 16th. The next Waxwings to turn up were two at Launceston, followed by 7 over Saltash on the 19th. Also on the 19th an adult Pacific Diver was found just off Marazion associating with a GN Diver, confirming the earlier sighting from the 2nd. A juvenile Goshawk at Sancreed was thought by the finder to be an escapee. Elsewhere a Ring-billed Gull was at Par too. 22 Lapland Buntings at Pentire point on the 20th.
The Pacific Diver was still present on the 21st and stayed in the Mounts Bay, ranging the whole length of the bay from Marazion to Mousehole throughout the latter part of the month. An American Golden Plover was also found in a flock of 700+ Golden Plover near St.Ives and Waxwings were at Pendeen and 2 at Launceston. The American Golden Plover and the 2 Launceston Waxwing’s were still present on the 22nd plus a single Waxwing over Connor Downs. Another Waxwing added to the months count the next day in St.Ives and 2 at St.Just. The Ring-billed Gull was re-found at Par on the 24th.
The Pacific Diver was off Eastern Green beach on Christmas day, a Waxwing at Pendeen and the Ring-billed Gull still at Par. 3 Smew, 1 at Marazion and 2 at Dinham Flats (all redheads) were present on Boxing day. A juvenile Bewick’s Swan was at Newquay early morning and another 7 at Stithians reservoir in the afternoon. A 1st Winter Drake American Wigeon was at Walmsley Sanctuary on the 29th and there was a report of 2 redhead Smew at St.Gothian. Finishing off the month was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Falmouth, Long-tailed Duck’s at Sennen and Helston, 2 Balearic Shearwater’s past Cape Cornwall, 5 Lapland Bunting’s at Gunwalloe and a Waxwing at Penzance which stayed into 2011.

Ash Hugo (c) Cornwall Birding 2010

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