Friday, 18 March 2011

A Quiet Cornish Interlude

Another trip down to the cottage in Cornwall to do some more decorating. This time I was accompanied by my VLW and sans enfants for the first time that we can remember. While of course it was a delight to spend some time with my better half, albeit just decorating, this did mean that birding time was rather limited so this will be a rather short posting with not much to report.

We came down on the Friday and regular readers will know that normally I like to stop off somewhere "up county" to work on my Cornish list. With my VLW with me there was no prospect of anything extensive but I did suggest that we stopped somewhere picturesque to eat our packed lunch and that the Fowey valley had looked really pretty last time I'd visited. Accordingly we did indeed turn off at this point and I even managed to point out a couple of dipper on the river as we drove down. After finishing our lunch I went on a very short walk to "stretch my legs" and when I returned some ten minutes later I'd just happened to have seen a willow tit along the road a short distance from where we'd parked - what a coincidence!

Normally once I arrive in Penzance I make the most of the remaining daylight and bomb around all the birding hot-spots but for some reason my VLW wasn't interested so instead we did some shopping and headed over to the cottage. We did later go for a short walk around the cottage area to blow away the cobwebs from the journey though the only birds I spotted were the fulmars on the cliffs.

With the days taken up with furious decorating my main birding opportunities were first thing in the morning as I tend to get up before my VLW. On Saturday morning I duly did this an decided to nip over to Prussia Cove, or Kenneggy Cove to be more exact for the first winter drake velvet scoter that had been there for the last few days. I'd been told by a seasoned Cornish birder that he'd seen more surf scoters than velvet down in Cornwall so I thought that I'd better go for this bird. Fortunately the cove was nicely sheltered and it didn't take long to find the bird and despite the distance I attempted some video footage. The only other birds of note were a couple of great northern divers.

The velvet scoter.

Sunday morning I once again got up early but with nothing on the peninsula that I particularly wanted to see I decided to do a spot of seawatching at the lighthouse. At this time of year there's not a lot going on on the sea but within a short time of starting I was had a manxie go by and then a few minutes later a nice balearic shearwater. After that it got rather quiet and a great northern diver bobbing past on the sea was the best I could come up with.

With no bird photos to offer, here's a rather nice Pendeen
sunset on what was a beautiful sunny Sunday

Monday morning was a repeat of Sunday with another early morning seawatch. This time I soon had a very dark balearic go by which had me thinking of sooty though the light was good enough for me to be able to spot the paler area on its belly. Another great northern diver flew past as did a flock of three greylag geese but apart for that it was very quiet. During a break from decorating I did spot a couple of sand martins flying over near the lighthouse though I don't know if they'd come in off the sea or had been following the coast northwards from further south. Three ravens also flew by near the cliff being pursued by a jackdaw. Later that day we went for a walk into Pendeen and I spotted a chiffchaff along the road calling quietly.

I never tire of taking lighthouse photos, here's one
from the coastal path to the south

Tuesday morning it was time to pack up and leave. We did stop in briefly at Lelant Saltings for a quick scan of the estuary though it was very quiet and apart from a few godwits (black and bar-tailed) there was nothing there apart from some distant loafing gulls. It had been a very quiet birding interlude down in Cornwall though I'd managed a couple of Cornish ticks and it was nice to see the migrants starting to come in.

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