Paul Freestone reports on a relatively quiet month in the county.
The first of the month saw the usual suspects still at their respective sites. The Hudsonian Whimbrel (or ‘Hudrel’ as it has become lovingly known!) remained at Perranuthnoe, Lesser Scaup was still at Dozmary Pool, Green-winged Teal was at Hayle (with Spoonbill and Avocet) and the Eastern Black Redstart continued to draw admirers at Mousehole. Cattle Egrets were at Freathy (2) and St Erth and Iceland Gulls were reported from Hayle, St Clements Isle and Lizard Village. The following day Cattle Egret numbers increased with three at saltash and five on the rugby pitch at Bude. Walmsley Sanctuary held three Spoonbills, two Ruff and a Spotted Redshank and a Yellow-legged Gull was on Larrigan Rocks, Penzance. The Pacific Diver was off Newlyn on the 3rd and a Pomarine Skua and Iceland Gull were seen nearby. A Kumlien’s Gull roosted on St Clements Isle, Mousehole and two Cattle Egrets were at Stone Farm, Millbrook. A probable Argentatus Herring Gull was with a Yellow-legged Gull on the estuary at Hayle and the Ring-billed Gull was reported from the Gannel again. Four Spoonbills were at Jupiter Point, Saltash. A 2w Ring-billed Gull was on the Hayle Estuary on the 4th briefly before disappearing to the south. Seven Cattle Egret remained on the Gannel and an Iceland Gull was at nearby Porth Reservoir. The drake American Wigeon showed well at Kingsmill Lake and a Glaucous Gull flew past Trevose Head. The headland also hosted an impressive flock of eighty-four Lapland Buntings! Two Iceland Gulls were on the boating lake at Helston on the 5th and three Avocets were on the river at Tresillian. Four Lapland Buntings were at North Cliffs, Camborne.
On the 6th, twelve Cattle Egrets roosted at Devoran with eighteen Little Egrets and a Yellow-browed Warbler was on the University Campus at Penryn. A first-winter Ring-billed Gull was on the Hayle estuary with an Iceland and a Yellow-legged Gull the next day and white-winged Gulls were represented at Mevagissey harbour with a Glaucous and an Iceland. A Yellow-browed Warbler was at Swanpool, Falmouth and two Long-tailed Ducks remained at Torpoint. A Great White Egret flew east from Bude Marshes on the 8th and Yellow-browed Warblers were trapped and ringed at Carnon Downs and Gwennap Sewage works. Both sites also held Firecrests and the latter up to five Siberian Chiffchaffs. There was no sign of the Eastern Black Redstart at Mousehole for a second day, so sadly it appeared to have moved on. A drake Gadwall was an unusual visitor to the Hayle estuary and the Water Pipit was also there. Despite an invasion further north, Cornwall didn’t get its fair share of Waxwings, so a single one at Devoran was a draw for local birders. Elsewhere, a second-winter Caspian Gull was on the estuary at Hayle with at least twenty-two Common Gulls. The 10th saw little change with the only new bird reported being a Hen Harrier at Sancreed.
On the 11th the Green-winged Teal re-appeared on the Hayle estuary after an absence of ten days. Where had he been? Another Waxwing was reported, this time from Bodmin and there were twelve Lapland Buntings in fields at North Cliffs. Elsewhere, twelve Cattle Egrets were at St Michael Penkevil. A Little Bunting and four Lapland Buntings were in stubble field at Nanjizal on the 12th and Iceland Gulls were at Looe, Newquay and Helston. A Yellow-browed Warbler was in a private garden at Porthleven and three Lapland Buntings were at Bedruthan steps. The Hayle estuary was ‘Gull central’ on the 13th with ten species including Iceland, Glaucous, Caspian, Yellow-legged and Ring-billed amongst the commoner species. With a supporting cast of Spoonbill, Green-winged Teal, Avocet and Water Pipit, Hayle was the place to be watching! An Iceland Gull was at Sennen on the 14th and the following day a Long-tailed Duck was off Portscatho.
The Cattle Egret influx continued on the 17th with decent flocks reported at Loe Pool, Helston (16) and Ruan Lanihorne (14). The Little Bunting showed well at Nanjizal and the Yellow-browed Warbler was still at Tehidy Country Park. Birders looking for the Pacific Diver recorded thirty-seven Purple Sandpipers on the rocks by Jubilee Pool, Penzance on the 18th and fields at Polgigga held three Iceland Gulls and fifteen Mediterranean Gulls. New Yellow-browed Warblers were at St Columb Major and College reservoir and a Hen Harrier was at the Men-an-Tol roost in the evening. Ten Cattle Egret were at St Clement on the 19th and the following day saw an unprecedented twenty-three Red-throated Divers together at Seaton. The next few days were predictably quiet with few new birds reported. A Glaucous Gull flew east past the Lizard on the 21st and an Iceland Gull was at Coverack Harbour the following day. The first of a number of Pomarine Skua sightings came from Mounts Bay and fourteen Choughs flew over Cape Cornwall. Four Balearic Shearwaters flew past Godrevy Head on the 23rd and an impressive count of six-hundred and twenty-two Fulmars was recorded at Cape Cornwall. Elsewhere, a Siberian Chiffchaff was at Swanpool. Reports picked up a little on the 24th with Iceland Gulls at Polgigga and Hayle, Glaucous Gull at St Austell and Short-eared Owl at St Agnes Head. A male Hen Harrier and three Lapland Buntings were also at Polgigga and two Velvet Scoters flew past Lizard Point. The north coast had six Red-throated Divers off Gwithian and both Siberian Chiffchaff and Firecrest were at Helston.
A Cattle Egret flew over one lucky observer’s garden at Porthleven on the 25th and Iceland and Glaucous Gulls were seen in the roost at St Clements Isle. A male Hen Harrier was over fields near Kynance Cove and a few Black Redstarts remained with birds at Falmouth and St Austell (2). Fifteen Cattle Egrets were at Frenchman’s Creek, Helford on the 26th and added to others at St Clement and Newquay, the days total was thirty-four individuals. Both Iceland and Glaucous Gulls were at Coverack harbour and two Pomarine Skuas were in Mount’s Bay. The following day two Yellow-browed Warblers were at Swanpool and a Red-necked Grebe was offshore at Castle Beach, Falmouth. Two Woodlarks were seen flying over Lanhydrock Golf course. The last day of the month saw Little Gulls reported at Marazion and Coverack, a Yellow-legged Gull at Hayle and an Iceland Gull on the Gannel Estuary. Long staying rares at the months end included the Lesser Scaup at Dozmary Pool and ‘Hudrel’ was still faithful to Perranuthnoe.
At time of writing, the first Sand Martins and Wheatears have arrived in the UK and the first Cornwall sightings will no doubt be soon. Marazion Marsh and St Gothian Sands, Gwithian have historically been good places for the first reports, so keep your eyes peeled. Late March can be good for an early scarce overshoot like Hoopoe, Alpine Swift or Woodchat Shrike depending on the weather. So we look forward to receiving your reports and photographs at email@example.com
Paul Freestone © Cornwall Birding 2017