Adventures in an empty corner

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

Monday, 2 January 2012

Forgive me for I have sinned!

I went and twitched a bird today.

I'm not adverse to a bit of twitching but I tend to be very selective about what I go to see. There is no real rhyme or reason about what I twitch, and it doesn't have to be a particularly rare bird. I'm not keen on crowds, though I do enjoy the banter with a few mates when I get there.

Today was just right, a nice Ring-necked Duck at Par. It's outside the empty corner- but only just, and with a Little Gull present as well it would make a nice excursion.

There's not really a lot more to say. I went to the pool, both birds were there, I took some photos and then came home. There was no stakeout, no fieldcraft was involved. There were no crowds, though there were quite a few birders coming and going (most of whom I didn't know)

The bird spent most of its time in the middle of the pool with a small group of Tufted Duck. It was way out of range of most lenses so I busied myself trying to take pleasing photos of the usual assortment of birds waiting for goodies at the feeding area.

I noticed that once the feeding area was clear of people the Tutfed/Ring-necked group would swim closer to shore so by waiting and waiting I managed to get a couple of passable record shots.

The Little Gull was a bugger though and constantly stayed just out of range. Ah well, there's always the chance of one at Millbrook I suppose.

What we did on our holidays

Once upon a time New Years Day would involve a bunch of us scurrying all over the empty corner trying to see as many species as possible in the eight hours or so of daylight available to us. It was great fun, but we did try to get in a full days birding in all sorts of inclement weather and I think these days I prefer to just head out to Hannafore to see what's about.
 This year I arrived just as the tide was peaking and found Gary already there, in the usual place looking out for passerines in the sheltered corner. From the car I could see that the three Slavonian grebes were still present and had been joined by a Great Crested Grebe. A juvenile male Kestrel was hunting the steep bank between the road and the promenade, and I made sure I got a good look at him given the luck that non-birding walkers from Knutsford had had at Zennor recently!!

Pipits were still there in good numbers and the ringed bird was particularly easy to pick out as it now has a dirty black mark on the right flank - I still couldn't read the ring though!

The only other passerines on the beach seemed to be Dunnock - which were everywhere. Conspicuous by their absence were the local Chaffinches and House Sparrows, hopefully they were feeding in the local gardens. I know that the Stonechats were wiped out here by the cold weather last winter but I hope it won't be long before they recolonise. Speaking of recolonisers, I had reports of Dartford Warbler in the field behind the beach last year so I hope to go and check them out soon - probably early April when the males start to sing. Diverting for a moment I always find Dartfords easiest to see before the Whitethroats get here - they seem to go quiet once their more numerous cousins arrive.

All of a sudden, and as if from nowhere, this little beauty arrived

She spent the next hour or so hopping between the wall, the beach, and surprisingly the nearby trees. We couldn't decide if two birds were involved or not - it seemed to move from one place to another amazingly quickly for a single bird, but we never actually saw two birds at once.

Out at sea a couple of Kittiwakes meandered across the bay and Gannets were fishing in the lee of the island, which is unusual here. A small flock of Wigeon passed through, but otherwise movement was non existent. Even the Med gulls had wandered off somewhere else with only one adult offshore.

The New Years Day Weather finally closed in and it started to rain - that cold uncomfortable rain which does nothing but make you miserable. I made my excuses and left. Not the most hardcore or the most exciting birding I'll do this year but it's a start, and as it's a leap year there are still 365 days to go.