Monthly Bird Review – November 2007

Ater a relatively quiet October, November started with a bang with last months BLYTH’S PIPIT flying over at Nanjizal and a Dusky Warbler in scrub at Porthcurno on the 1st. This was joined by a ‘Desert’Lesser Whitethroat that remained in the area for just under two weeks. A Barred Warblerwas located at Carland Cross. On the 2nd the Pagers beeped to the sound of an AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT , found in a horse paddock at Trevescan, Lands End. This first for Cornwall gave birders the runaround until eventually settling in a cattle field at Trevilley Farm and although dissappearing for long periods, when it did show it gave stonking close views. A late Turtle Dove was at Nanquidno Valley.

Many birders were still coming down off a county first when a gem from the eastern side of the globe was located at Cot Valley on afternoon of the 3rd. Found by Jay Smart from Plymouth, Cornwall’s second RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL proved to be very elusive and, to the disappointment of many, could not be relocated on the 4th. Thanks go to Jay for making the effort to get to somewhere at Cot Valley where he could get a signal on his phone to get the news out! Elsewhere, six Spoonbills were at Whacker Quay, Antony and a  juvenile Surf Scoter was offshore at Porthpean with a Velvet Scoter. 

A late Willow Warbler joined the Desert Lesser Whitethroat at Porthcurno on 4th and a Snow Bunting was at Par Beach, St Austell. Kingsmill lake held good numbers of waders including 60+ Avocet and 58 Black-tailed Godwits and a female Ring-necked Duck was located on the river off the China Fleet Country Club, Saltash. A busy day on the 5th saw 3 Spoonbills fly over the Hayle Estuary and a drake Green-winged Teal and 4 Pale-bellied Brent Geese located at the same place. The Spoonbills were most likely the same birds later located on Tresco, Isles of Scilly. A Dartford Warbler showed well at Rame head and 2 Tundra Bean Geese and a Jack Snipe were at Walmsley Sanctuary. A Yellow-browed Warbler was at St Leven and two first winter Little Gulls showed well at St Gothian Sands NR, Gwithian.

The Desert Lesser Whitethroat continued to attract interesting friends and was joined by a PALLAS’S WARBLER on the 6th. A Yellow-browed Warbler was at Marazion. Another female Ring-necked Duck was at the Loe Pool, Helston on the 7th and Kingsmill Lake held 3 Spotted Redshank. The Tundra Bean Geese at Walmsley were joined briefly by a juvenile Arctic Skua. The 8th saw a juvenile Osprey fly west along the coast at St Ives. A Water Pipit was found at St Gothian Sands NR on the 9th but proved elusive due to disturbance from dog walkers. A Yellow-browed Warbler was at Castle Horneck Youth Hostel, Penzance.

On the 10th a Richards Pipit was at Lands End and another Water Pipit and a Ring Ouzel were at Kenidjack Valley. The Tamar Birdwatching Cruise on the 10th gave a ‘boat load’ of birders the opportunity to see 7 Spoonbills, 154 Avocets and a host of other estuary and river birds. The juvenile Surf Scoter was reported again off Par Sands, St Austell and a Long-tailed Duck joined the Ring-necked Duck at Loe Pool, Helston.

The winds looked good for seawatching on the 11th and St Ives produced 3 Little Auks, Grey Phalarope, Great Skua, Manx Shearwater and Little and Med Gulls. A redhead SMEW was seen on the afternoon of the 14th at Stithians Reservoir. Black-necked Grebe numbers totalled nine birds in the Carrick Roads off Loe Beach, Feock and a Goshawk was reported from Crowdy Reservoir. The Desert Lesser Whitethroat was relocated at St Leven on the 15th and a Grey Phalarope was on the River Fowey. Two Long tailed Duck flew past Marazion.

Another or the same (?) BLYTH’S PIPIT was reported flying over at Sennen on the 16th but could not be pinned down when it appeared to land. The spell of cold northerly winds brought in Swans in the shape of a Bewick’s at Dinham Flats and a Whooper at Stithians. Three late House Martins were at Lands End and Porthgwarra held three Woodcock.

On the 17th a PENDULINE TIT was seen from the eastern track at Marazion. Unfortunately, despite extensive searching, the bird could not be relocated the following day. The American Buff-bellied Pipit was seen again at Trevilley Farm. A Cattle Egret at Goonhilly Downs on the 18th was the start of a mini influx of this species in the west of the county, with three birds the next day in the Polgigga and St Buryan area. One remained at Sancreed on the 20th. Elswhere on the 18th a Bittern was seen in flight at Marazion and a prbable Surf Scoter flew past Sennen Cove. Two Avocets returned to the River at Tressillian.

Yellow-browed Warblers were at Penzance, Marazion and St Leven on 20th and two Firecrests were at College reservoir. A Turtle Dove at Polgigga flew towards Nanjizal. Could this be the same bird that overwintered last year in the Polgigga area? A Bittern was seen in flight on 21st at Marazion. On the 23rd an adult PACIFIC DIVER was located in Mounts Bay. Proving elusive at times, it is presumed that this is last winters returning bird.

The 25th produced an interesting but wholly unconfirmed report of a small thrush, fitting the description of Northern Waterthrush, in a private garden in Mevagissey. No further details were forthcoming and the bird was never seen again.  Elsewhere on the 25th, a Surf Scoter was offshore at Carlyon Bay, St Austell and six Spoonbill were on the River Lynher. Purple Sandpiper numbers had risen to 30 at Jubilee Pool, Penzance. A female Mandarin Duck was at Stithians Reservoir on the 26th, interestingly, one was on the Scillies at the same time. A possible Laughing Gull flew west past Marazion on the morning of the 28th and a Red-necked Grebe, Velvet Scoter and the Pacific Diver were in Mounts Bay.

At least four Cattle Egrets remained in the west of the county at the months end as did the Green-winged Teal at Hayle, the Long-tailed Duck at Helston and numerous Firecrests at different locations.

Paul Freestone (Cornwall Birding 2007)

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