May 2010 must go down as a â€˜classicâ€™ in Cornwallâ€™s birding history with two (potential) new birds for the county as well as a host of other â€˜BBâ€™ rarities. The first of those new additions was a singing male White-throated Sparrow in a private garden at Welton Manor, Boscastle on the 1st. News was released that evening and the bird showed well on the 2nd but could not be located on the 3rd and was not seen again. It may have been the bird that turned up on St Agnes, Isles of Scilly on the 26th May. Elsewhere on the 2nd the Ring-billed Gull was again on the Hayle estuary, a Woodchat Shrike was at Bass point and a Purple heron was seen briefly at Marazion Marsh. The following day a Bee-eater was at Porthcurnow. Another or the same Bee-eater flew north over Lizard Village on the 4th but was eclipsed by the immature Golden Eagle over Croft Pascoe Pool and again over Croft Pascoe Woods on the 5th. An unseasonal Iceland Gull lingered in the St Just area early in the month.
On the 8th news broke of a potential first for Britain in the shape of a House Finch at Lands End. This north American passerine, not known for long migrations, was thought by some to be an escaped bird but as with the arrival of the White-throated Sparrow earlier in the week, it was thought more likely that the bird may have been â€˜ship assistedâ€™. The male â€˜yellow variantâ€™ often proved elusive but favoured the garden of Swingates House for most of its short stay. It was last reported on 12th May at Swingates. A Red-breasted Flycatcher was at windmill farm on the 8th and a â€˜pale morphâ€™ Honey Buzzard flew north over Cot Valley. Sennen hosted a Woodchat shrike at Skewjack farm on the 9th and a Purple Heron was at nearby Brew Pool. A Lesser Yellowlegs was at Walmsley on the 10th and remained in the area until 14thj, occasionally venturing onto the Camel Estuary during its stay. A Hawfinch was opposite the post office at Sennen and Redstarts were at Brew sewage works and pool. Roseate and Little Terns were offshore at Marazion again and an Osprey was at Crowdy reservoir.
An â€˜Easternâ€™ Subalpine Warbler was in a garden at Lizard Village on the 11th and a Red Kite flew over Polgigga. Spoonbills were at Walmsley (3) and Hayle (2) on the 12th and a Black Kite flew over St Ives town mid-afternoon. There was also a singing Serin at St Ives. A Montagueâ€™s Harrier flew over the A30 betwee Camborne and Hayle on the 16th. An Isabelline Shrike at Sennen Cove was re-identified on the 20th as a Brown Shrike. The bird was very mobile and remained distant and elusive and was not sewen the next day. A Black Kite was over the Lost gardens of Heligan on the 20th and a Red-backed shrike was at Lands End on the 21st. The 22nd saw the return of the Red Kites into the county with a total of fifty-three individuals reported from fourteen sites. Many of these will of course be duplicated sightings but larger flocks included twelve over Brew Pool and eight over Porthgwarra. A Black Kite flew north over Nanquidno and Cot Valley. More exciting was the discovery of a Squacco Heron at Snowlands Fishery, Par which showed extremely well up to the 24th. Elsewhere, a Honey Buzzard, Hobby and three Turtle Doves were at Lands End. What was probably the same Black Kite was seen the following day over Sennen, St Buryan and Polgigga and Bee-eaters flew over Bodmin (2+) and The Lizard (2). Red Kites continued to be seen and a total of twenty-nine birds were counted. Bird of the day was the one that may have got away in the shape of a possible Solitary Sandpiper that proved elusive at Walmsley. The same site held Ashy-headed Wagtail and Hobby. A male Subalpine Warbler was at Cot Valley until midday on the 24th and a Bee-eater flew over Sennen. Eight Red Kites were reported at four sites.
Black Kites were at St Just and Heligan again on the 25th and a possible Great Grey Shrike was reported as being present â€˜for the last few daysâ€™ at Godolphin Cross, Helston. Black Kite sightings continued on the 26th with individuals at Sticker and Bodmin and a Golden Eagle, possibly the Croft Pascoe bird, was reported flying over Perranwell Station, Penryn. Seven Red Kites were reported from five sites and a Hoopoe was in a pub car park at Petherwin, Launceston. Honey Buzzards flew over Mousehoole and St Just and a Hooded Crow was at Lands end. QA first-summer male Red-footed Falcon was seen at Lands End airfield on the 27th and presumably the same bird was at Zennor the same evening. Twenty Red Kites and a Black Kite flew northâ€“east over The Lizard during the morning and two Spoonbill were still at Dinham Flats. Single Red Kites were also noted at Penzance, Porthleven and Bodmin. Two Honey Buzzards showed well in the Rosewall area of St Ives on the 29th and two Yellow-legged Gulls were at Crowdy reservoir. The last two days of the month were comparatively quiet with Red Kites at St Just on the 30th and Camborne on 31st. A late report per BBRC of a Calandra Lark at Penlee on the 29th.
P.Freestone (c) Cornwall Birding 2010