Adventures in an empty corner

Birding musings and ramblings around South-east Cornwall - the empty corner of the county.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Bio Blitz

Just got back from a two-day marathon recording session at Mt Edgcumbe. The event was organized by the Marine Laboratory in Plymouth and aimed to record as many species as possible between 11:00am on 30th September and 1:00pm on 1st October. The place was crawling with recorders and volunteers documenting everything from plants to fishes, moths to mammals - and of course birds.

Bruce and I did the Friday stint - and it was a bit of a slog. The empty corner lived up to its name and birds were hard to come by, we spent hours looking for a Great Tit - and we didn't find Dunnock or Pied Wagtail all day. Even the resident Gadwall, present for 10 years eluded us!! Other creatures were also thin on the ground but a nice Male Emperor came to check us out.

Saturday was much better, and substituting Bruce for Derek we decided to try our luck in the Deerpark. Vis mig was pretty good and fly-over Siskins reached about 100. We had a Lesser Redpoll, which was nice, but bird of the day came in the form of a fantastic adult male Cirl Bunting which passed over our heads. This was at least 3km from the nearest breeding site so I'm not convinced it was a wanderer from there.

We arrived back at the pool to watch Mark giving a ringing demonstration. We had missed a fly-over Crossbill but it was fantastic to watch him showing Blue Tits, Great Tits and Goldcrests to a captivated audience. One of theGoldcrests sat for a while after release and allowed me to get a nice picture.

During the ringing session I had a phone call from Ray to say that Mike had just seen an Ortolan Bunting at Penlee so after finishing at Mt Edgcumbe I headed up onto the Military road to see what I could find. I met Mike and Tony who hadn't had any luck since the first sighting at 09:15. This didn't bode well but I decided that the only thing to do was to go looking for it so a little field walking was needed. A few Wheatears were welcome and I managed to get off one shot of a bird before it disappeared.

I put up a couple of Yellowhammers and a bunting with a seemingly concolorous brown back and rump which scarpered into the next field before I could get a decent look at it but it seemed a good candidate for the Ortolan. I went to have a look but if you knew the size of the field you'd realise how fruitless the task was. All wasn't in vain however because I disturbed a Short-eared Owl which glided low across the field before ditching in the dump- not the most salubrious place to spend the rest of the day.

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