October as always was welcomed in with an air of anticipation. Would we get the strong westerlies this year and all that comes withthem? No-one would have predicted the highlights that awaited the countyâ€™s birders! The month started with a superb Little Shearwater that sat on the sea off Porthgwarra by the Runnelstone Buoy for fifteen minutes on the morning of the 1st. The watch also produced twenty-eight Balearic Shearwaters, a Sabâ€™s Gull, a Grey Phalarope and thirty-eight Great Skuas. The drake Surf Scoter was still off Jubilee Pool, Penzance and the Rose-coloured Starling remained on St Maryâ€™s church. Marazion Marsh RSPB held a Little Stint, Jack Snipe and a Bittern and two Firecrest were at nearby Plain-an-Gwarry. Another Firecrest was at St Just. Pom Skuas flew past Pendeen and Sennen and a juvenile Black Tern was at Argal Reservoir.A Siberian Stonechat was near Gurlan Farm, Nanquidno on the 2nd and a Buff-breasted Sandpipers was located at Colliford Lake and two further birds were at Davidstow airfield. Wrynecks were at Carn Brea Hill and Kenidjack Valley andtwo Lapland Buntings were in the Lands End vacinity. A Quail was in maize between Lands End and Sennen. Another juvenile Rose-coloured Starling was at Porthgwarra and a Black Tern was at Stithians reservoir. Firecrests were on The Lizard at Poltesco and Gwendreath. Three others were at Porthcurno and two were trapped and ringed at Treveal, St Ives. A Yellow-legged Gull was at Sennen and a Yellow-browed Warbler and another Firecrest were at Clodgy Point, St Ives.
The following day Nanquidno Valley held more than seven Firecrests and two Yellow-browed Warblers. A Richardâ€™s Pipit was a Dodman point and two Ortolan Buntings were at Levant, St Just. A Wryneck was at Roskestal farm, Porthgwarra and two Firecrests were in the valley. Seawatching at Gwennap Head produced sixty-nine Balearic Shearwaters and two Grey Phalarope. A single Snow Bunting was at Loe Bar and a Yellow-browed Warbler was south of the car-park at Porthcurno. Two Black Terns were at ArgalReservoir. Lapland Bunting numbers gradually increased and six birds flew over Carn Gloose on the 4th. Elsewhere, a second-winter Ring-billed gull was on the camel estuary. A Snow Bunting was a good find at Rough Tor, Bodmin on the 5th but, along witheverything else in the country, paled into insignificance when a GREEN HERON was found at the Lost Gardens of Heligan on the 6th. This first modern day record for the county attracted a heavy stream of admirers during its lengthy stay andwas well worth the Â£10 entry fee into the gardens! With the hype surrounding the heron, a White-rumped Sandpiper on the Camel estuary on the 7th almost went un-noticed having apparently been there for the previous four days! Also on the 7th, a Wryneck was at Kynance Cove andtwo Lapland Buntings were near St Just airfield.
New birds on the 8th included a Richards Pipit at Lands End and Snow Buntings at Sennen and Newlyn, the latter being extremely obliging and allowing for some very close up photo opportunities. A Long-eared Owl was hunting over fields west of St Ives. A Buff-breasted Sandpiper flew over Zennor on the morning of the 9th and a Red-breasted Flycatcher was at Porthgwarra. Ring Ouzels were recorded at Porth Joke, The Lizard and Nanquidno and an Osprey was at Ruan Lanihorn. The Hayle estuary held a good selection of waders including up to five Little stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Knot, Black-tailed Godwit andfour Ruff. A Lapland Bunting was at Windmill Farm. A â€˜probableâ€™ American Golden Plover flew in off the sea at Lands End on the 10th. Elsewhere, the day turned up an impressive array of scarcities across the west of the county including two Red-backed Shrikes, a Richards Pipit, a Red-throated Pipit, five Yellow-browed warblers, sixteen Firecrests, five Snow buntings, six Lapland buntings, two Wrynecks and over fifty Ring Ouzels!
On the 11th, a juvenile Rose-coloured Starling flew over Kenidjack Valley. The valley also had a Wryneck, Firecrest, Redstart, Ring Ouzel, Yellow-browed Warbler (3+) and three Hawfinches flew over. An elusive Great-grey Shrike was on the Lizard near Cadgwith on the 12th and a Spoonbill was on the Hayle estuary. A â€˜probableâ€™ Ring-billed Gull was at Flushing and Porthgwarra had bothLapland Bunting and Richardâ€™s Pipit. A Red-throated Pipit was near the Lighthouse at Pendeen andfive Lapland Buntings flew north there. Red-throated Pipits reported the following day from Lands End and Porthgwarra may relate to the same bird. The Rose-coloured Starling was still at Porthgwarra and a Red Kite flew over there during the morning. Elsewhere, Kingsmill Lake, Saltash held five Spoonbills. Nearby, St Johnâ€™s Lake had seven Spoonbills on the 15th andgull interest came in the form of a second-winter Caspian at Sennen and a â€˜probableâ€™ Ring-billed at Rumps Point, Padstow.
A Barred Warbler began a six day stay at Treen on the 16th and four Woodlarks flew over Porthgwarra. The following day saw a possible Azorean Yellow-legged Gull at Sennen and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper was with Golden Plovers opposite nearby Trevedra Farm. Both birds were present on the 18thwhen a Common Rosefinch was found at Church Cove, The Lizard. Two Dotterel were at Rough Tor, Bodmin Moor and a Yellow-legged Gull was in Sennen Cove. A Pallasâ€™s Warbler at Nanquidno on the 19th turned out to be the only report of the year and a Cattle Egret at Veryan stayed only for that afternoon on that date. Fresh in on the 20th were a Raddeâ€™s Warbler at Cot Valley and a probable Pectoral Sandpiper briefly on the estuary at Hayle.
Four White-fronted Geese at Carbis Bay on the 21st were later seen flying over the Hayle estuary and a Ring-billed Gull was at Dinham Flats. Reasonable numbers of Yellow-browed Warblers and Firecrests were received from several localities including three of the latter species at both Marazion and St Levan. Birders on The Lizard were treated to three flyovers from a Common Crane on the morning of the 22nd. Elsewhere, three Yellow-browed warblers were at Porthgwarra. The second Little Shearwater of the month was seen flying west past Pendeen Watch on the 23rd where seawatchers also saw Leachâ€™s Petrel, two Sabines Gulls, two Sooty Shearwaters, two Pom Skuas and thirty-seven Great Skuas. Their seawatching counterparts at St Ives were treated to a Long-tailed Skua, two Sooty Shearwaters and thirty-two Great Skuas.
The 24th saw a nice array of scarcities at Porthgwarra with a Red-throated Pipit, Richardâ€™s Pipit and four Lapland Buntings and a supporting cast of three Yellow-browed Warblers, two Firecrests, a Dartford Warbler, two Woodlarks, a Ring Ouzel, a Snow Bunting, two Chough and twenty Brambling. Six Lapland Buntings were at Sancreed and a Lesser Whitethroat was on The Lizard. A possible adult Azorean Yellow-legged Gull was on the Hayle estuary on the 27th and twenty-seven Lapland Buntings were in fields at North Cliffs, Camborne. Further Lapland Buntings were at Trevose Head (4+) and a single bird was at Porthgwarra. A report was received after dark on the 28th of an AMERICAN BITTERN at Trewey Common, Zennor that had been present four more than four days. The bird had initially been seen by walkers and the farmer whoâ€™s land it was on who identified it as a Great Bittern. It was eventually seen and photographed by a birder on the 28th who identified it as Cornwallâ€™s seventh record of American Bittern. The bird showed briefly in flight on a few occasions over the next three days, but unfortunately did not provide the kind of views the Green Heron continued to give at Heligan at the monthâ€™s end. The â€˜probableâ€™ sightings trend continued on the 30th with Humeâ€™s Warbler at Rame Head and a Rough-legged Buzzard at Carn Marth, Redruth.
P.Freestone (c) Cornwall Birding 2010