Monthly Bird Review – October 2008

This months review, although slightly later than normal, is well worth a read. What an incredible Autumn we’ve had in the County! The month got off to a good start with a probable Little Shearwater flying past Rumps Point. Sabine’s Gulls were seen off St Ives, Pendeen and Trevose Head and the Pectoral Sandpiper was still at Davidstow. The possible Azorean Yellow-legged Gull was still at Sennen on the 2nd and remained at the months end. As did the two Pink-footed Geese at Hayle. The 3rd saw a FEAS PETREL fly west past Pendeen early morning and Porthgwarra held Wryneck and Melodious Warbler.

Yellow-browed Warblers were more evident on the 4th with single birds at Porth Joke, Porthgwarra and Siblyback. A Pectoral Sandpiper flew over Porthgwarra early morning. A first winter/female type Subalpine Warbler showed well on the evening of the 5th at Nanquidno but could not be relocated the following day. A Lapland Bunting was in fields at St Levan. The 7th saw the first of three new birds for the County during October. A COMMON NIGHTHAWK seen and photographed by visiting birder Martin Bonfield (see Finders Report) flying in off the sea on The Lizard. The bird was seen briefly over a garden at Church Cove on the 8th. A long-overdue addition to the County list and coming shortly after one was run over by a car on St Mary’s, IOS. Elsewhere on the 7th, a Roseate Tern flew along the beach at Marazion and a YB Warbler was at Porthgwarra.

The 8th saw what was undoubtedly the bird of the year in Cornwall. Found by Kester and Ian Wilson, the ALDER FLYCATCHER was the first for the UK and Cornwall. It was initially undecided as to whether the bird was Willow or Alder Flycatcher as they are very hard to distinguish in the field. However, the bird was trapped and ringed the next day and biometrics confirmed it to be Alder Flycatcher. The bird continued to feed well after it was trapped and was enjoyed by over 700 birders before departing on the night of the 9th after a change in the weather. There was also an unconfirmed claim of a Yellow-throated Vireo near to the Alder Flycatcher site at Nanjizal. Those who werent watching the Alder Flycatcher on the 9th found a Red-breasted Flycatcher at Cot Valley and two juvenile Rose-coloured Starlings at Pendeen. A Richards Pipit and Snow Bunting flew over the Nanjizal crowd and even rarer, a Tree Sparrow was at Pendeen.

A Cattle Egret was at Stithians Reservoir on the 10th and a Red Kite was seen from the A39 at St Colomb Major. A BOBOLINK on the 11th completed the trio of county firsts. Found by Steve Rowe and seen by four other lucky observers at Porth Joke, the bird showed briefly but well on top of bushes before flying high to the east. To the disapointment of many, the bird could not be relocated. The same day produced another american vagrant in the shape of a RED-EYED VIREO at Trevilley Farm, Nanjizal, initially proving elusive it became more confiding over its seven day stay allowing for some superb photographs. Elsewhere, other scarce birds included a Great White Egret at Maer Lake, Bude and a female American Wigeon on the estuary at Hayle. A wader, thought to be Long-billed Dowitcher, flew over Nanjizal Valley early afternoon and a Red-breasted Flycatcher was at Pendeen. Five different Yellow-browed Warblers were reported today and a Richards Pipit was at Marazion Marsh. An Ortolan Bunting was at Madron and the Wryneck was still at Porthgwarra. Finally on this busy day, an Osprey flew over Goonhily Downs late afternoon.

Reports on the 12th were comparitively few but included a Red-breasted Fycatcher at Trevilley Farm with the Red-eyed Vireo. An American Golden Plover was found with European Goldies south of Lands End Airfield on the 13th and a Spoonbill circled St Gothian Sands, Gwithian. A Honey Buzzard flew south over Drift Resrvoir on the 15th. The Hayle Estuary held Garganey and two Curlew Sandpipers on the 16th and a Richards Pipit was at Polgigga. Two Whooper Swans began a short stay at Stithians on the 17th and a Common Rosefinch was reported from Church Cove on the Lizard on the 18th. The Scillies took the limelight in the final two weeks of the month, but a Bluethroat on the 25th at Lands End showed extremely well but was not seen again after the 31st October, much to the disappointment of those returning from the Scillies on the 1st November! A Cattle Egret was at Drift reservoir until early afternoon on the 26th. A Surf Scoter was found off Gerrans Bay, Falmouth on the 27th and a Serin was reported by the pumping station at Cot Valley. The final day of the month saw two Spoonbills at Whaker Quay, Antony and there was a possible Golden Oriole at Nanquidno.

A classic October in the County, i think you’ll agree?

Paul Freestone (c) Cornwall Birding 2008

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