Paul Freestone reviews a superb October in the County, which produced highlights from the East and West, including a 2nd for Cornwall.
The Hudsonian Whimbrel was still present at the beginning of the month at Perranuthnoe, often proving elusive for those still wishing to see this long-staying American vagrant. Wrynecks were reported at Lamorna, Kenidjack and Nanquidno. Seawatching was productive on the 1st with a total of 22 Balearic Shearwaters, 27 Grey Phalaropes, 7 Pomarine, 22 Arctic and single Long-tailed Skuas, 8 Sooty Shearwaters, 2 Leach’s Petrels and a Sabine’s Gull seen from St Ives, Pendeen and Cape Cornwall. A Baird’s Sandpiper showed well at the American Wader Magnet that is Davidstow Airfield on the 2nd and a first-winter Red-backed Shrike was present at Porthgwarra. A Wryneck was found at St Gothian Sands NR and a Lapland Bunting was in fields at St Levan. An Osprey was seen sporadically on the Fal Estuary complex. A Little Bunting was at Pendeen briefly on the 3rd before it flew south. There were reports of Yellow-browed Warblers at Porthgwarra, Land’s End and Portreath and a possible Baltic Gull was at Stithians. Elsewhere, Ring Ouzels were seen at Polgigga and Porthgwarra.
The following day a Rose-coloured starling was at St Just and a Honey Buzzard flew south over nearby Jericho Farm. The same bird was later reported at Sennen. Another six Yellow-browed Warblers were reported from five locations. Firecrests were the bird of the day for many on the 5th with four birds at Cot Valley, two at Porthgwarra and singles at Port Isaac, Pendeen and Land’s End. A Wryneck was at Men-an-Tol and Yellow-browed Warblers were at Land’s End and Pendeen. Seven Great White Egrets were in a field NW of Nanjizal Valley. Lucky observers on the 7th connected with a Caspian Tern at Jubilee Pool, Penzance which flew towards St Micheals Mount and was lost to view. The Baird’s Sandpiper was joined by a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Davidstow Airfield and a Red-breasted Flycatcher was at Kenidjack. A Wryneck was at Botallack Head and Yellow-browed Warblers increased significantly with seventeen individuals reported from nine locations including seven trapped and ringed at Nanjizal and three at Land’s End. A Lapland Bunting was at Pendeen where a Hooded Crow was also seen. Balearic Shearwaters were recorded from St Ives (6) and The Lizard.
The Lizard held a Pallas’ Warbler and Red-throated Pipit on the 8th and a Little Bunting was at Nanquidno. Another Little Bunting was trapped and ringed at Nanjizal and a Rose-coloured Starling was at Porth Mear. Wrynecks were at Land’s End and Pendeen and two Richard’s Pipits were at Porthgwarra. Yellow-browed Warblers had increased to twenty-one birds from twelve locations. The following day a Black-throated Thrush was at Nanjizal briefly early morning before it flew north. The valley also held Red-breasted Flycatcher and a Dusky Warbler and ten Yellow-browed Warblers were trapped and ringed there. The two Richard’s Pipits were again at Porthgwarra and an unconfirmed report of a Blyth’s Pipit came from there also. A Great White Egret was at Kingsmill Lake and Yellow-browed Warblers continued to increase with thirty-two birds recorded across the county. The Dalmatian Pelican was back on the Camel Estuary on the 10th after a brief excursion across the border into Devon. A Little Bunting flew over Porthgwarra and a Richards Pipit was at Mullion Cove. A Great White Egret was in a field at Rosecraddoc and a Dotterel was at Trewey Hill late morning. A Rose-coloured Starling was in a private garden at Roche and two Mandarins remained at Drift Reservoir. The Yellow-browed Warbler count for the day totalled twenty-five birds including nine ringed at Nanjizal. There was an impressive count of 119 Mediterranean Gulls, roosting off Porthilly point, Rock.
The latter site held a Dotterel on the 11th and a Red Kite was over Sticker. An Osprey on the Fal Estuary had been present since mid-September and the ring number proved that it had been ringed as a chick in Inverness on 1st July this year. The 12th saw a Cattle Egret on the Camel estuary and Wrynecks were at Porthgwarra and Land’s End. A possible Baltic Gull was at Colliford Lake with eight Yellow-legged Gulls. A possible Olive-backed Pipit was at Pendeen on the 13th and two Cattle Egrets were together at Porthgwarra. Single Cattle Egrets were also at Sennen and The Lizard. A very obliging Short-toed Lark was at St Agnes Head and a Turtle Dove was at Cubert. A possible Pied Wheatear was at seen near to Sennen on the 14th and an Iberian Chiffchaff was at nearby Brew Pool. A Pallas’ Warbler, a Firecrest and a Lapland Bunting was at Rame and a Bonaparte’s Gull was seen at Torpoint. A Caspian Gull was in the roost on St Clement’s Isle, Mousehole. The following day a Red-eyed Vireo was found by visiting French birder, Paul-Elie Jay and a Black-throated Thrush was seen briefly feeding on cotoneaster berries at Buttermilk Hill. A probable Pallid Harrier was at Polgigga and Cape Cornwall golf course held a Red-throated Pipit. A Dusky Warbler was found at Chapel Porth, St Agnes and a Red-breasted Flycatcher was at Church Cove, The Lizard.
A Wryneck and a Common Rosefinch were at Porthgwarra on the 17th and two Common Cranes flew north over St Breock Downs early afternoon. The following morning a probable Black-browed Albatross flew south past Cape Cornwall. Two Red-crested Pochard were at Pinkson Creek, Rock and sea watching at St Ives and Pendeen produced 65 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Grey Phalaropes, 3 Pomarine, 15 Arctic and 19 Great Skuas, 2 Sabine’s Gulls and Black-throated and Great Northern Divers. Two Snow Buntings were in the car park at Land’s End and four birds were at Godrevy Head. On the 20th an Isabelline Wheatear was found by P.Freestone at Godrevy Head. This is only the 2nd record for this species in Cornwall, the previous one on The Lizard in 1996 was seen by only a few visiting birders, so this bird was a very welcome addition for most Cornish listers. Elsewhere, a Paddyfield Warbler was trapped and ringed at Nanjizal along with eleven Yellow-browed warblers! A Siberian Stonechat was found by A.Harris on the golf course at Cape Cornwall on the 21st and a Great Grey Shrike flew south at Nanjizal. A Barred Warbler was at Porth Joke and a Serin flew south over Land’s End early morning. Lapland Buntings were reported from Land’s End and St Just and a Rose-coloured Starling was at Polgigga. Five Spoonbills circled St Gothian Sands NR before flying west.
Two Spoonbills toured the area on the 22nd with sightings at Gwithian and Stithains. A Richards’ Pipit was at Rame on the 23rd and a Waxwing was at College Reservoir. A Water Pipit was on the coast path between Land’s End and Porthgwarra and a Sabine’s Gull flew past Godrevy Head. The following day a Pallas’ Warbler was in Sixty-foot Cover, Porthgwarra and another was at Porthcunick Beach. Porthcurno. Cattle Egrets were reported from Pendeen and Helston. Another Cattle Egret was at Marhamchurch on 25th and Dusky Warblers were recorded at Porthgwarra and Mousehole. An adult Franklin’s Gull was a welcome visitor to the Hayle Estuary on the 26th and a possible American Herring Gull was at Jericho Farm, St Just the following day. Elsewhere on the 27th, a Richards Pipit was at Trispen and a further ten Yellow-browed Warblers were trapped and ringed at Nanjizal. Two Short-toed Larks were in a bulb field at Polgigga on the 28th and a probable Eastern Yellow Wagtail was at nearby Bosistow Farm. A probable Eastern Lesser Whitethroat was at Kenidjack and Porthgwarra held a Turtle Dove and four Lapland Buntings. The last day of the month saw two Dusky Warblers at Mousehole and another at Land’s End. The latter site also produced two Cattle Egrets. A Pallas’ Warbler and a Barred Warbler were at Porthgwarra and the Hudsonian Whimbrel at Perranuthnoe celebrated a full year in the county.