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Sunday, October 30, 2011

30th October

I am back from what was a mixed week, bird and weather wise down on the Lands End Peninsular. With most days having a band of persistent rain and showers moving through, it was a case of waiting for that to move off and then get out. With the winds light it also meant that there wasn’t any significant movement of sea birds. Scarce migrants were few, though there were Yellow-browed Warblers in some of the valleys along with Red-breasted Flycatcher and Wryneck. On the clearer nights it meant that the following morning saw a passage of  birds, mainly Chaffinches and Skylarks. However there were Bullfinches, Bramblings, Starlings and a few Reed Buntings. These birds would follow the north coast and then head off out over the sea in the direction of the states. At some point they would need to turn south or north-west so that they reach land rather than continue in a direction that would surely mean death.

On the rarebird front I did manage to see one lifer, a Bufflehead female on a small pond near the Lizard. I also had several good views of a Pallas’s Warbler at Porthgwarra. The most frustrating find was all to brief and one that I am sure others will disbelieve. I was birding the area around the cycle track that leads from Sennen to Lands End, an area that is my local patch while we stay at The Old Dairy. A Merlin was patrolling the area, looking for a tired migrant or not even a tired one. It had just flown a fairway off shore at had a finch species doing everything it could to evade capture. Fortunately after several close shaves the finch managed to get back over the mainland, where it then dropped down into cover. A good piece of entertainment, that had put everything on alert. My attention was drawn to two small birds that had popped up on a bush, Reed Buntings, not the typical habitat for them. Then about 2 metres away another bunting hopped up. It looked at first Reed Bunting like, apart from the fact that in all aspects it was much paler. Its primaries and secondaires were light brown, with obvious wingbars, the mantle was bodly maked, it’s underparts were very pale with very faint streaking on its flanks and its head pattern was also very light, with off-white eye and malar stripes.There appeared to be know obvious crown stripe either. Then before I could get much more on it or even raise the camera they were off. As it took off a faint pale rump was obvious. The birds gained height quickly and headed off out to sea, almost in the direction of the Isles of Scilly, on which Reed Buntings are rare. I hoped that it might be picked up on there, but no news came out. So Frustrating, but that is birding.

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Pallas’s Leaf Warbler

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Chough at Lands End (above) and in Nanquidno Valley (below)

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Common Buzzard being harried by a gull

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Sparrowhawk and crow

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Merlin female

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Sparrowhawk and crow

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Mediterranean Gull

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Great Northern Diver

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Rock Pipit(above)

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To see more from Cornwall click on the link below


News from the park while I have been away concerned three days in particular.

24th Woodcock: one landed near the Nature Study Centre, area 1 at 12.15pm.

25th Short-eared Owl: one flew over Queen Mary’s at 5.40am. Water Rail was back in the rail ditch.

28th Short-eared Owl: 2 flew west at 8.37am.

also seen that day 15000+ Wood Pigeons, 100 Goldfinches, 2000+ Starlings.



piers said...

So what do you think your mystery bird was?

Tony Duckett said...

Hi Piers.

I had very little doubt at the time and since coming home, reading up and looking at photos the bird had to be a female Pallas's Reed Bunting. A species that has been only recorded twice in the UK. So that is why there will be plenty of doubters.

piers said...

What a shame it was too quick for your camera. A fabulous find, I for one believe you!