Saturday, 17 October 2015

Cornwall October 2015

Once again a compilation of posts from my Pendeen Birding blog.

Sunday 11th October, St. Levan
It's that time of year again for me to come down for my now-annual October birding trip. After the relatively quiet start to October down here last year I decided that rather than blindly come down, instead I would play it a bit by ear, effectively being on stand-by ready to depart. I'd block-booked the whole month for the cottage so there were no issues there and I watched from the distance in Oxford to see how things progressed. To start with it seemed very slow: late September was very quiet and the first few days of October weren't much better. Suddenly, however, the winds swung round to easterly and birds started to appear in the South West. It was mostly the usual fare: lots of Yellow-browed, one or two Red-breasted Flys and a Barred Warbler so I held fire but then on Saturday an Alpine Swift was found in the morning at Land's End. What's more it seemed to hang around for the whole day, being seen at Carn Gloose in the afternoon before returning presumably to roost at Land's End again. When it was reported as still present at Land's End first thing the next morning this was enough to galvanise me into action and so it was that at around 10:30 a.m. I fired up the Quattro and set off on the familiar route down to the South West.

As I sped south westwards unfortunately there were no further Swift reports so when I got to Exeter I decided to take a small detour to pay my respects to the Cackling Canada Goose down at Exemouth which had been reported regularly over the last few days. I was no more than five minutes off the motorway when the news came of the Alpine Swift still present in the Porthgwarra area. "Never mind the Goose" I thought! I turned around, re-joined the motorway and  resumed my journey southwards.

Reports continued to come in as I progressed wth the last one being at St .Levan at 2:50 p.m.. I finally arrived there at 3:30 p.m. to find that I had the car park to myself and that there were no birders nor any Swifts to be seen. Dejected I scanned the skies in vain. Another birder arrived, also looking for the Swift though he soon left to try Roskestal instead where it had been reported several times that morning. Another couple of birders arrived and headed over towards the coast path. I was just scanning around when I noticed a gathering of four birders on the other side of the valley intently viewing something out of sight over the brow of the hill. Surely they must be on it? One of them turned and waved and I realised that it was my good birding chums Ian Kendall & Jacquie. I was just fretting as to the quickest way to cross the valley and get over to them when the Swift itself flew above the hilltop just long enough for me to see it, before it dipped back down out of sight again. Get in! Whilst I'd now at least seen it I still wanted to get over to where they were for some better views. I started to run along the footpath that leads down in front of the houses to the coast path. I was just about to join the coastal path when I looked over to the birders who were now looking towards me. I scanned to see what they were doing and realised that the Swift was now flying over to my side of the valley. I moved back to where I'd been standing originally and the bird flew right over my head. For the next hour I enjoyed some cripplingly good views as the Alpine Swift flew back and forth around the houses and up and down the valley, often flying right over my head. Despite my crappy bridge camera I tried to take some shots, adopting the "if I take enough shots some of them might come out" attitude and sure enough I came away with some record shots.

Alpine Swift

Gradually more and more people arrived to enjoy the show. DC and RM were there and my good friends P&H turned up so we had a good natter whilst we watched the Swift do its thing.

Eventually it started to get rather dark and my thoughts turned to heading back to the cottage and finding something to eat. As the Swift had taken priority I'd not stopped off to do any shopping and as it was Sunday the supermarkets would now be closed. Oh well, beans on toast it was then! P&H took pity on me at this point and kindly invited me over to enjoy a wonderful roast pork dinner at their place. Most delicious! We ate and talked birds until eventually the tiredness started to take it's toll and I headed back to the cottage, picking out in the headlights a Barn Owl by Land's End airfield and a Badger just past St. Just. Back at the cottage I set the moth trap up, unpacked the car and sorted out the cottage. Tired, shortly after 11 pm I tumbled into bed to dream of Alpine Swifts. It had been a great first day back!

Moth du Jour: it was rather clear so not many moths had appeared by the time I went to bed but this Black Rustic settled on the wall by the trap

By way of homage to the great Scilly Spider blog I thought I'd share a bit of music from one of my favourite artists Gemma Hayes. Her first album "Night on my Side" is one of my favourite albums and I was listening to it as I whiled away the hours driving down to Cornwall today. Not only is she a very original song writer and great singer but she's also very easy on the eyes as well. What more could you want?


Monday 12th October: Pendeen & Cot
Flushed with success from my Alpine Swift twitch, I'd like to say that I slept long and deeply. Sadly however, I suffered once again from my usual issue of excessive eagerness that often aflicts me when I'm down here and I woke up at around 5 a.m. I dozed fitfully until about 6:45 when I got up and had a cup of tea whilst I checked the bird news from yesterday on the CBWPS web-site. There's was nothing new on there to concern me so I had a shower and sent a text out to Ian Kendall (who always does Pendeen first thing when he's down here) suggesting that he text me when he arrives. I was just taking a first bite out of a slice of toast when his text arrived and I hurried out the door to meet him coming up from the lighthouse car park. We checked all the fields around the coastguard cottages but in a stiff north easterly wind, apart from a flock of ten or so Mipits. 3 Pied Wagtails and a few Linnets and Goldfinches there wasn't much about. 

Next we decided to head along the coast path a little way to see what we could find. With the prevailing wind direction this section of the path was nice and sheltered and as the sun started to light up the scrub the birds started to show. It was just the usual stuff: a few Tits, Dunnocks, Wrens, one Stonechat and a Blackbird. A Peregrine and a Buzzard flew low past us and a single Raven cronked distantly. As the path started to descend past the pool we noticed something flicking around in the Sallows on the right-hand side. I say Sallows but it was actually a single Sallow bush. "Is that a Yellow-browed?" mused Ian. Then it showed itself more clearly and we were able to clock the strong crown stripe and long two-toned supercilium. "Blimey, that's a Pallas's" we said (or words to that affect). The bird showed well at about 5 yards range for a minute or two before it headed back up the path behind us along the tops of the Gorse. Elated, we got the news out and then tried to keep track of it though sadly we soon lost it.

Whilst walking along the coast path I came across this Rusty Dot Pearl immigrant moth

P&H arrived shortly after that on the back of my texting and I showed them where we'd last seen it before heading back to the road to join Ian with the intention of checking out the rest of the patch. We were just standing by the coastguard cottages when we heard the distinctive call of the Pallas's - like a truncated Yellow-browed. It seemed to be coming from the gardens behind us. I ran back down the path to get P&H whilst Ian and another birder who'd joined us at this point tried to locate the bird. By this time more birders were starting to arrive and we all staked out the cottage gardens though it was really blowy back up here out of the shelter of the wind and I didn't rate anyone's chances. Ian went to get Jacquie and I decided that I needed to nip over to PZ to get some petrol and some food so I left the birders to it. Whilst I was there news came over of a Yellow-browed at the Calartha Farm copse so I guessed that people were starting to disperse back up the road and had found this as they went. When I arrived back everyone had gone except Ian and Jackie who'd had no further luck. Sadly, it looked like just Ian and myself were going to see this bird though it might re-locate to Calartha which would be much better habitat for it.

Noon Fly on the cottage wall

After all that excitement it was time to think about what to do today. Ian had been saying that if a place like Pendeen could get a Pallas's then what might PG or Land's End be getting? Sadly however reality didn't bear out this theory and the pager was rather quiet. Indeed there was nothing new of note at all apart from a Wryneck at PG. In the absence of anything else the Common Rosefinch at Cot Valley came to mind, not least because it would be a Cornish tick for me. So I set off the short distance up the road to Cot - not a valley that I bird very much normally: there's so much cover that I find it a little overwhelming. I parked up near the Pumping Station and headed over to the other side of the valley to the white cottage which the Rosefinch had been frequenting. Apparently it had been coming to some hidden feeders in the garden there though was most easily viewed when it popped up into an Ivy-covered Hawthorn tree at the side of the garden. In the company of one other birder I watched and waited though we didn't see much at all apart from a few Chaffinches with which the Rosefinch was supposed to be associating. After a while we got bored and both headed back to join a small group of birders who were grilling the copse on the corner by the Pumping Station. Here it was completely out of the wind and consequently alive with birds. There were at least three Yellow-broweds and a couple of Firecrests as well as Coal Tits, Chiffies and Goldcrests. I passed an enjoyable three quarters of an hour watching all the birds coming and going before deciding that lunch beckoned. One of the other birders there recommended a pasty from MacFaddens butchers back in St. Just so I decided to give one a try. I took my pasty back home to Pendeen with me and I must say that it was one of the best pasties that I've ever had.

Back at the cottage, having finished my pasty I emptied the moth trap though the catch was small and there was nothing out of the ordinary in it. I was just enjoying a cup of tea and doing a spot of blogging when "Ring Ouzel at Cot Valley below Furzeburrow" came through on RBA. Now regular readers will know that Rouzel is one of my (many) Cornish bogey birds so I quickly gave Ian Kendall a ring to check where this was as he was staying in Cot. It turned out that he'd found the bird though it had flushed down the hillside so might well not be there. Still with nothing better to do I decided to give it a go before having another crack at the Rosefinch. I reasoned that later in the day the birds would be coming back to the feeders to fuel up before nightfall so I'd have a better chance at it. With my plan formulated I headed back down to Cot where I first passed a pleastant enough three quarters of an hour looking down the hillside from the top of the north side of the valley before heading back down to the valley floor and checking the slopes around there. All to no avail as expected though I did come across a Painted Lady and a Golden Ringed Dragonfly and had some point-blank views of a couple of Goldcrests as well as noting two Buzzards, a Sparrowhawk and two Chough.

This young Kestrel allowed close approach

A Cot Painted Lady

Next it was time to head back to the Rosefinch location where I teamed up with another birder there. He showed me how by standing further back you could just get a sight line directly to the feeders themselves so we passed three quarters of an hour watching intently as birds came and went constantly. Sadly it was just the usual common species and given that one didn't need to wait for the birds to pop up into the tree before seeing them I was pretty confident that the Rosefinch wasn't there. Oh well, the clear night last night had clearly done the damage. I headed back to the car and with time now marching on I headed back to the cottage for a much-needed cup of tea and to do a few minor chores. With nothing further coming through on RBA I spent the rest of the afternoon pootling at the cottage until it got dark and it was time to stand down from twitching readiness.

Moth du Jour: Delicate, an immigrant moth
Despite the lack of success with the Rosefinch I couldn't really complain about today. After all it's not every day that you get to find a Pallas's Warbler!

Tuesday 13th October: Pendeen & Land's End
Despite a long and tiring day yesterday for some reason I still woke up far too early this morning. Frustratingly I find that sometimes this pattern is only really broken when I get so tired from the lack of sleep that I go back to sleep after my ridiculously early awakening. Anyway, this morning I eventually got up at around 6:30 a.m. to make a cup of tea and to take a look at the CBWPS web-site to see if there was any additional news. Sadly there wasn't and it rather confirmed my impression of things going somewhat off the boil yesterday with a lot of the birds moving on and not much new in (apart from the Pallas's of course!). Still, onwards and upwards: I was dressed and out loitering by the Old Count House by the time Ian Kendall turned up, this time with Jacquie and their dog Flint as well.. It was very blowy first thing with a stiff north easterly wind making birding very difficult down by the lighthouse. We worked our way back up to the cottage with a flock of 9 Chough in the horse paddock field the highlight before turning off down the coastal path where we'd had our triumph yesterday. The Pallas's Sallow (as it shall now ever afterwards be known) held a single Chiffchaff and Ian winkled out a skulking Blackcap that was "chakking" away in the undergrowth. Usually Ian has to go fairly promptly back to Jacquie each morning but as she was out here with him this meant that there was much more time to bird the patch and we worked it long and hard this morning though with little to show for our efforts. A Water Rail seen in flight up towards White Gate Cottage was a nice sighting and probably the highlight of the morning (apart from the Chough perhaps). Also noted were 2 Raven, 1 Sparrowhawk and 2 Kestrel.

over-exposed Chiffy in the Pallas's Sallows

Pendeen Chough

We decided to go up to Calartha Farm Copse today as someone had claimed a possible heard-only of the Pallas's yesterday later on in the day. It's possible of course but with a Yellow-browed also in the copse you'd have to hear it pretty well to be sure I would have thought. Anyway, we gave it a good grilling in difficult windy conditions and once we all thought we heard a Yellow-browed call though it only did so once and given the tricky conditions we decided not to put it out. Apart from that there were just 4 Goldcrests to show for our efforts there. On the way back down whilst scanning over towards Manor Farm, Ian thought that he saw a very distant bird in flight that just might have been a Richard's Pipit. Far too far to even claim as a possible though but it was intriguing.

One of the two Ravens seen today
Back at the cottage we parted company and I went inside to have a well-earned mid morning cup of coffee and a toasted tea cake. After all we'd been out scouring the area for about two and a half hours there. I'd not run the moth trap last night as it had been too windy so there was no trap to check. Instead I decided to head back out to scour the fields up by Manor Farm to see if I could find this possible Richard Pipit of Ian's. I checked all the fields there but all I could turn up was a Wheatear.

By the time I'd got back to the cottage the wind had started to drop quite significantly and with the sun fully out suddenly it had got really nice. "What to do with the rest of the day?" I pondered. RBA had been depressingly quiet all morning, sadly confirming my "off the boil" theory - in fact it seemed really dead. The highlight had been a message that had come through about a Corncrake at Land's End. This turned out to be P&H who had flushed it from the cycle track but despite seeing exactly where it landed couldn't find it again. Still, a fantastic Cornish tick for them - Ian and I were suitably gripped! Apart from that there'd been almost nothing of note. After some consideration, in the end I decided to go and check out the Land's End Rose-coloured Starling as I'd not yet seen it and by all accounts it showed very well. Also, now that the wind had dropped I wanted to try Calartha Farm copse again to see if I could firm up the Yellow-browed. With a plan now in place, I knocked up a quick packed lunch and headed out the door. Up by the copse I met up with Tony Mills and another birder who were already checking it out. I told him what we'd heard and as he was already there I left him to it, instead opting to try the Pendeen stores copse and the Pendeen churchyard. In the now calm conditions the birding was so much easier but even so the best I could manage was a few Goldcrests in each location.

After that it was on to Land's End. I parked up opposite the Treeve Moor entrance and ambled down in sunny and calm weather that was now bordering on hot . The Complex there is a rather unpleasant and frankly tacky place in my opinion but the Rose-colour Starling seems to have made itself very comfortable there. It was outside the bakery with a hoard of his commoner cousins all feasting off dropped pasty crumbs. There was even a dog water bowl to wash it all down afterwards and to have a wash and brush-up. With all it's needs catered for I could well imagine it hanging around for some time to come.

After that I checked out the Sallows below the car park to no avail and then decided to do a bit of the cycle loop. I wandered as far as Trinity Pool munching on my packed lunch as I went with 6 Stonechat, 1 Raven and a flock of 8 Curlew to show for my efforts. I did heard a Bunting call once as it flew over my head but never saw it and the best I can say is that it may well have been a Lapland though on a single hearing I'm not even putting it down as "possible".

Land's End Mipit

I was starting to feel rather tired now. I'd been birding more or less non-stop since first light and by now I was starting to flag. I decided on a quick check of Treeve Moor since I was there and then to go and find some refreshment. The Moor was virtually birdless so it was back to the car and then off to PZ where I had a nice pot of tea and some cake in Sainsbury café, sitting outside in the sun. I checked through RBA as I sat there - North Norfolk seemed to be where it was all happening at present and Cornwall had gone really quiet.

After my refreshment I was in two minds after that whether to visit one more spot or to head back to the cottage. In the end tiredness won out and I headed homewards to relax. At last light a text came through on RBA of two Spoonbills heading north past Sennen Cove so I popped outside on the off chance that they might continue up as far as Pendeen though it was getting rather dark by now and there was no sign of them in the good twenty minutes that I gave them.

So a long and tiring day with little reward for some hard birding out and about but some crippling Rose-coloured Starling views to compensate. Let's hope that some of those Norfolk migrants start trickling down here in the next day or two!

Spotted Medick at Land's End

Wednesday 14th October: Pendeen, Cot & Nanquidno

As usual I awoke far too early but I've decided just to go to bed earlier whilst I'm here so I'm not suffering too much from the lack of sleep. The weather seemed to be a repeat of yesterday: it started out cold, grey with a stiff north easterly wind before suddenly brightening up and becoming really sunny, calm and warm from late morning onwards. As before I rendezvoused with Ian, Jacquie and Flint in the lighthouse car park and we did some hardcore thrashing of the Pendeen Patch once again. There were noticeably more birds about this morning with lots of Chaffinches flying over first thing - Ian's main marker for whether there's going to be much movement on any given day. 

There wasn't much in the fields by the lighthouse and cottages so we went down the coastpath to take a look. Someone had reported the Pallas's again yesterday evening down in the little valley so we searched there thoroughly though today the only bird in the Sallows was a Chaffinch. Ian did manage to winkle out a Datrford Warbler in the bracken on the opposite slope though it was typically elusive and we eventually lost it. We had a total of three Snow Buntings go over north, 1 Snipe, 1 Mistle Thrush and a single heard-only Crossbill in amongst the light but steady movement overhead. Back near the cottages in the one other bit of cover (a clump of Elder in amongst the Gorse) we found a rather dull looking Yellow-browed Warbler though it called correctly and wasn't dull enough to be a Hume's. It soon slipped off so Ian and I wandered up the road to see if we could re-find it though we found almost nothing else up as far as White Gate Cottage. 

Pendeen Goldfinch

Back at the cottages after almost three hours of serious Patch thrashing we parted company and I went to chat to Jean Lawman who was watching the sea nearby. She'd seen a couple of Black Redstarts down on the cliffs beneath the lighthouse earlier though they weren't around now. She also reported seeing a Ring Ouzel fly past yesterday - I was suitably gripped! There was just a single Chough about today and two Peregrines sitting down on the Enys. I went inside to have some long overdue breakfast almost immediately followed by elevenses as it was so late. Our handyman came to fix the drains which were blocked and I spent some time helping him out, turning the water on and off as required. Fortunately he was able to unblock them and get everything working again which was a great relief. I also unpacked the moth trap though there wasn't much in it with a couple of Feathered Brindle the highlights.

Feathered Brindle
As I said earlier, it had now got wonderfully sunny and warm by this time so I needed to work out what to do for the rest of the day. The pager messages for Cornwall had got even more quiet than yesterday with our Yellow-browed about the only thing of note apart from a pair of Ring Ouzels (my Cornish bogey bird as you will no doubt recall) in Cot on the slopes beneath Ian and Jacquie's rented cottage. I decided to head over there to watch the slopes whilst I ate my packed lunch. On the way up the road I bumped into Royston Wilkins and a couple of other birders who were checking out Calartha Farm copse. As there was little wind I decided to join them to see what could be found. It soon became clear that there were lots of birds in there though as always it's a very hard place to bird. I soon spotted an interesting Phyllosc which was very white underneat and seemingly had quite a long super though I couldn't get a good view of the wings. Royston had permission to enter the copse from the owner and I went in with him though as we were looking into the strong sunshine it didn't help much. I spotted a Yellow-browed Warbler though it slipped away before Royston could get onto it and neither of us could see the mystery Phyllosc. In the end we came out again as we decided that it was actually easier outside looking in. Eventually Royston saw the Yellow-browed as well and also enough of the mystery warbler to see that there were no wing bars - a shame as I was hoping it would turn out to be something like an Arctic. There was a lovely lemony-yellowWillow Warbler in there (looking for all the world like a miniature Melodius or Icky), one Chiffy, a Blackcap and loads of Goldcrests. I don't think that I've ever seen so many birds in there before - usually I'm lucky to find anything at all. Incidentally, whilst I was there a calling mixed flock of Crossbills and Siskins flew over though frustratingly I was on the wrong side of the copse and so never saw them.

With the copse well and truly checked out I headed on my way, stopping very briefly at Pendeen churchyard though there was nothing of note at all. At Cot it was lovely and calm and hot and I whiled away three quarters of an hour looking down over the slopes of the valley seeing nothing more than a pair of Blackbirds and munching on my lunch. Then, with nothing on the pager to chase down I decided to have a wander down Nanquidno, not that I expected to see anything but it would just be a nice walk in the sunshine. There was predictably nothing at all though at the top in the fields I did spot a hybrid Crow which clearly had some Hoody blood in there somewhere.

Hybrid Crow

Finally I nipped into PZ to pick up some dinner then it was back to the cottage to unwind. I found a nice trio of Wheatear in the fields next to the cottage so I passed some time photographing them. Then it was back indoors to eat and kick back. Given how quiet it's become down here, it had been a surprisingly good day with two Yellow-broweds, a Dartford, three Snow Bunts and several Crossbills all on the Patch. In fact I must confess that the latter is a county tick for me, one of the many common birds that I've yet to see in the county. Sadly they were heard-only though I'm happy to count them for now, and no doubt I'll eventually actually get to see one fly over. Let's hope for a bit more action in the county tomorrow.

Wheatears in the evening sunshine
Thursday 15th October: Pendeen, Land's End, Treeve Moor & Cot
Today was a very full day's birding. It started in the same way as previous days with me waking up far too early and then rendezvousing with Ian Kendall in the lighthouse carpark. Today Jacquie had decided not to join us as apparently she finds Pendeen rather hard going (as do Ian and I actually!). It felt "rare" today: the wind had dropped and the visibility was good and Chaffinches were going over in reasonable numbers first thing. However as we progressed around the Patch we found that reality wasn't living up to expectation. There were 3 Ravens and 1 Chough today and a large flock of 50+ Goldfinches that were clearly new in. However, the valley and scrub area held virtually nothing at all to speak of and the bird of the morning was a Redwing! We decided to do the full Manor Farm loop today and had just got as far as the track to the farm itself when news broke of a Dusky Warbler at Land's End in the infamous Sallows south of the car park, found by bird-finding wizard Lewis Thompson. This was something that I still needed for Cornwall so I knew that several hours of probably fruitless staring at the really dense and impenetrable Sallows of Land's End were to follow. However, I decided not to rush off but instead completed the rounds with Ian though we didn't turn up anything else at all. Then it was back to the cottage to knock up a packed lunch and some snacks and then head off to Land's End.

This Chough has developed a liking for the horse paddock field at Pendeen

There had been no further reports of the Dusky Warbler since the initial one at 8:40, and when I arrived some two hours later people were starting to leave though there were still about a dozen or so birders (no locals, all visitors) standing around and staring glumly at the Sallows. I duly went and spent about and hour and a half of my life that I'm never get back doing the same before deciding that it wasn't really worth it and after a quick pop into the Complex to see the Rosy Starling once again, I headed back towards Trevescan where I'd parked the car.

You can't ask for better views of a Rose-coloured Starling

Whilst not seeing the Warbler I'd exchanged some texts with P&H about teaming up to go and search for five Woodlarks that had been found in the fields between Cot and Little Hendra yesterday. I had an hour and a half until our agreed meeting time and was just wondering what to do when I spotted Dave Chown and his partner wandering up the path from Treeve Moor. I went to chat to them to see what they'd seen and it turned out that they'd found a couple of Ring Ouzels, one of which had been in the Treeve Moor Gorse field right next to us. After getting some details I decided that this would be an excellent way to pass the time, namely grappling with my arch nemesis and Cornish Bogey Bird once again.

I entered the Gorse Field and started wandering about, fully expecting to see the Rouzel almost immediately and was somewhat disappointed when I got to the top of the field without any luck. I was just wondering what to do when I heard clearly and loudly a single call from a "rare pipit". Now my hearing as I've said previously isn't what it used to be but this was quite clear though I never saw it and it never called again. Very frustrating! Anyway, back to the Ouzel and I made another pass through the field with no luck and then tried the next field which had nice tussocky grass that looked very Pipity. I temporarily diverted from my Ouzel quest to wander the entire length of this field in case I could turn up my Pipit but a single Mipit was all I found. I tried both fields a couple more times but didn't see anything apart from a Robin, a Stonechat and a Blackbird. Time was marching on and I had to get to Cot for my rendezvous with P&H. I was heading dejectedly back towards the path when I heard a loud chacking and a Ring Ouzel flew out of the hedge towards the house, resplendent in it's silvery wings and scaley belly feathers. It landed in a bush next to the house and then a few moments later treated me to another fly-past as it went back to the hedge it had come from. At last my arch nemesis brought down! There was no time to savour it though as I was now running late. I hurried back to the car and headed off to Cot where I arrived just in time to meet up with the other two.

I was greeted by a calling Yellow-browed as I got out of the car, always a pleasure to hear! P&H were in a relaxed mood as we headed up the hill past the hostel and out onto the road towards Little Hendra. The Woodlarks had been described as being in a bulb field though it turned out that all the fields along the road were bulb fields. We wandered about and manage to unearth several Wheatears and Mipits, a Green Woodpecker and I spotted a large Thrush that was almost certainly the Mistle Thrush that had been reported there previously. We got to Little Hendra without any success and were just contemplating whether to have a stomp around there when Phil got a Tweet on his phone about a Blyth's Reed Warbler at Cape Cornwall "in the hostel garden tho elusive". Weird! The only hostel around here was at Cot, did they mean that? Anyway, we hurried back towards Cot, picking up another birder along the way. There was no sign of any birders at the hostel. We piled into P&H's car and sped off to Cape Cornwall but there was no hostel-type place there at all nor any other birders. We all started making phone calls to see if anyone else knew anything about this but no one was any the wiser so we went back to Cot again to have another look around. Still no luck there though there were now a few more people hanging around the hostel wondering what was going on. Eventually someone worked out that it was actually Cape Clear not Cornwall that had been meant as there was indeed a Blyth's Reed Warbler there. How we howled! Actually we smiled wryly and remarked that it had at least passed some time on a slow afternoon.We parted company at this point, with P&H going to head back home via Land's End to see if they could re-find the Dusky Warbler now that it was getting late and I decided to head back to Pendeen.

Viper's Bugloss up by Little Hendra

At Pendeen I decided to stop in at Calartha copse to see what was about. I soon re-found the Yellow-browed Warbler, the Willow Warbler and the Chiffchaff as well as several Goldcrests and a large number of Goldfinches (perhaps the flock from down the valley this morning). I was starting to feel tired and was just wondering about heading back to the cottage when I got a text from P&H saying that the Dusky Warbler had been re-located much further down the path at Land's End. Now I've been in this situation before when you're shattered and just about to hang up the bins for the day when news breaks and you have to pump yourself up again for another sortie. This was such an occasion and I didn't waste any time but got back into the car and sped back off towards Land's End.

Fortunately the car park attendent had gone home for the evening so I parked in the complex car park and hurried back down the path towards the bushes that back on to Swingates. There I found P&H and a few other birders all staring very intently at some bushes a few yards away. The bird had apparently been calling regularly and showing occasionally. Indeed soon after I got there I heard it "chack"' several times and had a brief view of something move in the undergrowth really low down though frustratingly not an actual sighting. I must admit it was most exciting: time was clearly running out as it was starting to get dark and here was the bird no more than a few yards away but skulking away so deeply in the undergrowth that all one got was the occasional glimpse of some vegetation moving. Thankfully there wasn't a breath of wind now so you could see every movement and hear every "chack". P&H had had reasonable views and as things started to quietened down they and a few others birders decided to leave so in the end there were just three of us left. Whilst I'd now heard the bird clearly I hadn't yet seen it and was starting to fret that I might have to come back first thing tomorrow to get a decent view as it had now gone really quiet. Then we heard it further up the path and it appeared to be on the move again. For a moment we were distracted when a Blackcap started to chack animatedly back in the other direction but one of the birders still left could tell the difference and identified it for what it was. In fact even I could tell the difference when I listened carefully: the Dusky Chack was a richer and more complex sound than the simple rather plain call of the Blackcap. Anyway, now that the Dusky was on the move suddenly it started to give some decent views, generally keeping low down but occasionally making a flycatching spurt up into the air. At one stage it came out and actually sat motionless for several seconds so I could really take it all in - it was a cracking looking bird, with really dusky underparts and a certain amount of apricot wash to the under tail covert's though it's plain facial markings clearly marked it out as a Dusky and not a Radde's. Well satisfied with my views but now very tired I made my way back to the car and drove back to Pendeen reflecting on what had turned out to be a most successful day. Despite the lack of action on the Patch I'd been led on a wild Blyth's Reed chase, had seen a couple of Yellow-browed Warblers, had had a last gasp dash back to Land's End and an exciting wait before getting some cripplingly close views of a Dusky Warbler.  What's more I had managed to garner two Cornish ticks to add to my (rather modest) county tally. It had been a good day!

I took this Stonechat at Land's End in the morning when there was no sign of the Dusky Warbler
Friday 16th October: Pendeen & Exmouth
It was time to go home today. as our younger daughter was going to a University open day the next day and I had to be back home to look after our son. My early waking got ridiculous this morning (or more like the middle of the night) so in the end I got up and knocked back some alcohol which knocked me out enough to doze fitfully. I got up at around 6:30, had a quick cup of tea and check of the CBWPS site (nothing that I needed to chase after) then it was a quick shower and time to pack up the cottage. Fortunately as it was just me and as we (i.e. the family and myself) would all be coming back in a little over a week's time, there wasn't too much that I needed to do. In fact I'd done most of it by the time I saw Ian Kendall's car arrive down in the lighthouse car park, today with Jacquie and Flint as well. I hurried to meet them and we started to do the rounds. It was clear that there wasn't much movement about today: there was very little going overhead and hardly any birds on the ground either. We spent 10 minutes listening closely to a "tack" that we just couldn't locate which turned out to be the Tamerisk! A Golden Plover flew by calling and a Raven cronked overhead but that was about it. I couldn't stay for the full tour and soon left to complete the packing and to head on out. Just as I was finishing things off I spotted a Short-eared Owl flying in off the sea past the cottage, a nice Patch tick to end my stay.


The reason for my wanting a prompt departure from the cottage was that I wanted to stop off at Exmouth to try and see the Cackling Goose. You may remember that I made an abortive attempt on the way down but renewed news of the Alpine Swift had taken precedence. Ian had stopped off for it on the way down himself without success so it was by no means easy and over the last couple of days reports of it had become intermittent. Part of the issue of the timing was to do with the state of the tides. Once it goes too far out the birds are so distant that they can't be seen at all.

I wanted to get there for eleven but in the end it was midday by the time I arrived. I spotted someone in the car park scoping away and hurried over to him, hoping that he'd be able to show me the Goose but sadly neither he nor anyone else there (there were quite a few birders further up on the point) had seen it at all. I more or less knew then that I was going to dip it but I thought that I'd have a quick scan through anyway. At the very least it was breaking up the long journey home and to be honest it was nice just to see so many birds all on show. I realised that most of my birding this week had been peering through dense vegetation for brief glimpses of things so to see thousands of birds out in the open like this was a nice change! There must have been several thousand Brent Geese out there to look through along with Wigeon, Shelduck, Pintail, Oystercatcher and Curlews. I'd like to say that against the odds I managed to pull it out of the bag but the truth was that I'd arrived a bit late as it was and the birds were getting more and more distant and some were starting to fly off somewhere else. One of the locals said that in a few weeks they would finish feeding on the Eel Grass and instead go and feed on the grass by Dart Farm so it might be easier at that point should it hang around.

The vast hoards of Brent Geese on the Exmouth estuary
After a while I went back to the car to have my packed lunch and then headed off home. The rest of the journey was uneventful though as I was so tired I had to be extra vigilant. I arrived home safely back into the bosom of my family at around 4 p.m. ready for a welcome cup of tea.

Trip Round-up
Looking back on my trip it's been a good one for me. These autumn trips to Cornwall can sometimes be a bit hit and miss if the weather is wrong but there was enough around this week to keep me fully occupied and there weren't those constant south westerlies blowing that can rather kill everything off. Of course it seemed that north Norfolk really got the birds this week but still I'm happy enough.

One of the things that I most enjoyed about this week was working the Pendeen patch with Ian Kendall. It's not an easy place to bird as there's not much obvious cover and it's nice to bird it with someone who shares my obsession with the place. Also birding with someone who's such a good birder as Ian compared to my relatively modest abilities was a real privilege. Chasing down every "chack" or "tack" meant that one was always kept alert and vigilant and his hearing is phenomenal so all in all a real learning experience.

In terms of listing I managed to add five Cornish ticks which was great, especially finally catching up with my Ring Ouzel bogey bird.  This was even better than the four tick haul from my spring trip here this year. The only disappointments were not seeing the Cot Rosefinch and also missing the Cackling Goose on the way home.

Back of the Camera shot of the Land's End Dusky Warbler taken by the finder Lewis Thomson (c) (Twitter: @LT_FoD)

So onto some summary lists

Headline Birds
Alpine Swift (Cornish tick)
Pallas's Warbler (Cornish tick - jointly self-found)
Dusky Warbler (Cornish tick)
Umpteen Yellow-browed Warblers

Supporting Cast
Snow Bunting
Dartford Warbler
Ring Ouzel (Cornish tick)
Crossbills (Cornish tick)
Short-eared Owl
possible Lapland Bunting

As I've hinted, I'm due back in about a week's time for the annual autumn half term break though that will be with my family and will involve some actual work renovating the cottage so I don't know how much birding I'll get done. We shall see.

I'll leave you with an Autumnal Rustic - the mothing was rather lack lustre this time round with poor catches of just the usual suspects

Friday, 9 October 2015


Regular readers will know that I'm not one for "drop everything & go" twitching - unless it's within the county and it's a county tick. Anything further afield I'll usually wait to see how twitchable and reliable it is in order to minimise the horror that is dipping. However, when a Little Crake came on RBA this morning for some reason I was tempted. Perhaps it was that I'd had another frustrating morning with the markets or maybe my successful Spurn trip had whet my appetite for more birding action. Perhaps it was the crippling photos on Twitter of the whole of the Slimbridge work team watching it as it paraded about at point blank range, or maybe it was just that the weather looked nice and as it was relatively close to get to it wouldn't be such a devastating blow should I dip it. Whatever it was, within half an hour I'd made a packed lunch and was out of the door on the familiar route to Slimbridge some ninety minutes away. As I drove along in the warm autumn sunshine I couldn't quite believe that I was doing this. I felt sure that a frustrating few hours of staring vainly at some reeds would await me when I arrived. Still, I'd gone for it now though ominous absence of any RBA updates gave me a sinking feeling of impending dippage. Once I was on the M5 suddenly I got a whole wave of RBA and Twitter updates though so I guess that there was a log jam in the system somewhere. Anyway it appeared to be game-on still and I sped along with that usual combination of excitement and fear that is so characteristic of twitching. Frustratingly right at end, the swing bridge over the Goucester & Sharpness Canal was up for a boat to pass through - the first time that this has happened to me in all my time visiting. I could only wait impatiently whilst the boat chugged through slowly, then it was a dash along the last mile to the car park, a rapid tooling-up and a jog to the entrance desk. For the first time ever they wanted some other ID along with my WWT membership card (apparently there'd been a lot of fraudulent usage) so there were more delays. Anyway, ID done I was free to hurry along to the Rushy Pen hide next to the In Focus shop where the Crake was supposed to be.

I arrived to find a relatively modest twenty or so birders in the hide and news that the Crake was still there but had just ducked behind a tree stump. A minute or so later I spotted it working its way very rapidly along the far side of the scrape ...and relax! It worked its way surprisingly quickly along the shore, stopping to pick at things along the way. A birder next to me seemed to be struggling to get on it so in the end I got it in his scope for him. At another tree stump it stopped for a wash and brush up and was stationary for long enough for me to attempt a digiscoped record shot.

My humble digiscoped efforts

I must admit that I'd had to look up Little Crake when the news broke to see what one looked liked compared to Spotted and Baillon's Crake with which I was more familiar. As a juvenile it had the characteristic pale face and breast and a strikingly long primary projection. I could also make out the hint of red at the base of the bill that would go on to become a distinct red blotch in adulthood. Actually in juvenile plumage it was the most distinctive out of all the Crakes and certainly far easier to identify than as an adult where, for a male at least, only the red bill base and the primary projection separate it from Baillon's. I know that size is a hard thing to judge for an isolated bird but it looked bigger to me that I was expecting for something called "Little". After a few minutes of preening it ducked around the corner and the next thing it had gone up over the bank behind the scrape and out of sight into the ditch along the fence border. It had been on show for a total of about five minutes since I'd arrived. 

Having had immediately success I didn't feel the need to hang around until it re-appeared and decided to have a look at some of the other hides first - after all I could soon hurry back should it come out again. Now, whilst I don't really year list, I do keep a tally and I must admit that I'd started looking to see what I hadn't yet seen this year so a chance to mop up a few geese wouldn't go amiss. My first port of call therefore was to the Holden Tower hide which overlooks the Dumbles and the Severn Estuary. Here there was a large flock of a couple of hundred Barnacle Geese and Greylags all grazing away on the grass. As I searched through them all I turned up a few White-fronted Geese which were a nice year tick.

Barnacle Geese
In the distance I spotted half a dozen Common Cranes - from the Slimbridge release scheme no doubt but it was the first time that I'd actually seen them in the flesh. It's great to see that this conservation project is going so well and I understand that one chick has been raised this year for the first time.

Slimbridge Release Scheme Cranes
Over towards the estuary I spotted a distant Peregrine sitting on a pole, probably digesting a meal judging by its rather plump appearance.

Distant Peregrine
After the delights of the Holden tower I wandered over to the other end of the reserve to the Zeiss Hide to see if any of the waders were roosting there yet. A Semi-P Sandpiper has of late been in amongst the Dunlin that come in to roost at high tide though from various blog accounts that I've read the views have been distant and it has been difficult to ID. The hide turned out to be almost deserted and there were just a few Black-tailed Godwits, Redshank and half a dozen Dunlin on show - no year tick there then.

Having checked out the other hides I made my way back towards the Rushy Pen hide, munching on my packed lunch as I went. Back there, the hide had filled up almost to capacity now though apparently there'd been no further sign of the star Crake. I didn't really feel like staking out the ditch in a cramped hide and decided instead to quit whilst I was ahead. So I ambled back to the car and set off back for home with Radio Four to keep me company. As I drove I contemplated what I fine line there sometimes is between success and failure in this twitching game. Last time I'd been at Slimbridge I'd dipped the Purple Heron by leaving the hide five minutes too early. This time I'd managed to see the Crake, by a margin of five minutes again and as I write this now I can report that the bird wasn't seen again that day at all so I'd succeeded by the skin of my teeth! Such small margins can mean the difference between success and failure. As my VLW says "it's a stupid hobby".

What the bird looks like close up, courtesy of James Lees, the Slimbridge warden & finder (c)

Monday, 5 October 2015

Spurn Delights

It was time to take Daughter 1 back up to Durham for her second year at University. I can't believe that she's been there for a whole year already - where has the time gone? Looking back to the last October trip, I'd gone to Spurn where I'd enjoyed the delights of the Masked Shrike together with bonus Little Bunting and Richard's Pipit - it had been a great visit. All during this summer I'd therefore been looking forward to this trip and in the weeks leading up to it I'd started monitoring the birds in the north east closely to see what I might expect. The Black Stork at Sunk Island had looked tantalising though it disappeared long before I was due up. A decent wave of autumn migrants had hit the coast a couple of weeks ago including a great Arctic Warbler at Spurn though it and all the other migrants soon disappeared. In fact the two weeks leading up to our departure were depressingly quiet with just a few Yellow-browed Warblers left, mostly around the Spurn area. I started to resign myself to a very quiet trip indeed and mentally lowered my expectations to being happy if I could at least see a few Yellow-browed whilst I was up there. Oh well, autumn birding can be so weather dependent and having to go on a fixed date can be very hit or miss.

On the day of our departure we set off bright and early at just after 8 a.m. The roads were reasonable and we made good progress as we sped northwards along the M1. We'd very much got used to the wonderful Indian Summer that we've been enjoying so it was a bit of shock to find that the north of England was shrouded in very low cloud and indeed was rather misty in places. The car thermometer was reporting a chilly 8 degrees as we stopped for fuel - it was quiet a shock to the system! We made good time and in the usual four hours we'd arrived at her shared student house that was to be her home for the year. All her friends helped unload the car (though they "helpfully" unpacked our car warning triangle from the boot as well and put it in her room - I must remember to get that back!). I got given a quick tour of the house which was actually two houses knocked together. It wasn't too bad as student digs go, I've lived in much worse over the years. Then whilst my daughter started to sort out her room I had a reviving cup of tea and looked through the RBA reports to see what was about. An Olive-backed Pipit at Spurn immediately caught my eye - that was new this morning and at least there would be a decent bird to look for. Having seen one at Pendeen a few years ago, it wouldn't be a new bird for me but nevertheless it would be nice to see.

I said my goodbye's to my daughter and headed off down the motorway back towards Yorkshire. I'd just turned off the M1 onto the M62 and stopped for petrol when news came on RBA of a "Pied or Black-eared Wheatear at Spurn". This was getting interesting! The latter would be a new bird and at the very least there were now good two birds to see. Disappointingly for me, a few minutes later it was confirmed as a Pied. Nevertheless I sped eastwards with a bit more optimism about the prospects for this trip - it looked liked I'd lucked into a mini fall.

It's a long old slog to Spurn as I'm sure many of you already know. I'd just negotiated the delights of Hull and was now on the small back roads that lead to the point when news came through on the pager: "Pied Wheatear plus Citrine Wagtail". Wow, this was getting better and better. What's more Citrine Wagtail was indeed a new bird for me. Spurred on I sweated the last fifteen minutes till suddenly there I was at Kilnsea, passing the Crown and Anchor pub and heading down towards the Warren. The birds were being reported down on the narrow peninsula well past the Warren and the Observatory buildings, an area that I hadn't explored the last time I'd been down. I hurriedly parked up, tooled up as quickly as possible and started yomping southwards. I asked people for directions as I went and learnt that it was past the "breach" where the sea had washed away the road and that the Wheatear and the Wagtail were hanging out more or less in the same place. It was tough going on the sand and shingle to go at any speed but I hurried on as best I could passing a stream of birders coming back the other way. In fact myself and one other couple were the only people heading southwards still and I hoped that there would be people still there help with finding the birds.

Past the breach and sweating profusely now from my exertions, I came to a patch of Marram Grass where at the far end a birder gestured to me to go back. Eventually I understood what he was asking and headed back a bit and then cut through the grass to where I came to a sandy track. There I found the classic twitching equivalent of a showdown. On the road at the far end was a phalanx of twitchers. At this end was another, smaller group including me and in the middle, oh joy of joys, was the Citrine Wagtail! It was zig-zagging it's way along the road gradually working its way towards us as it went. I set about trying to digiscope it though it was moving so rapidly that it proved to be a difficult task. Still I got one shot to come out OK in the gloom.

Citrine Wagtail
Eventually it got quite close to us and then someone moved and it flicked away and out of sight over the other side of the dunes down towards the east shore. What a relief it had been to have caught up with it just in time - all the slogging across the sand had been worth it! Able to relax now at having achieved the bird that I'd most wanted I decided to see if I could mop up with some of the other rarities. I wandered further down the spit and after asking various people I learnt where the Pied Wheatear had been hanging out though apparently it hadn't been seen for a while. Most people were moving back northwards now and there was no obvious bunch of twitchers looking at anything in particular. I teamed up with another birder and we started searching the area together. After a while we spotted a few big-lens photographers down on the beach looking at something. That looked encouraging! Eventually we managed to spot what they were looking at, it was the Wheatear flicking about on the rocks on the shore. We hurried down the path a little to get a closer view and as we did so the bird moved nearer to the base of the cliff where we were located. Thus we were able to enjoy great views looking down on our target from our vantage point. And what a great bird it was! The bird I'd seen previously in Gloucestershire had been a very drab juvenile but this was a first winter male.

The Pied Wheatear

Pleased at having now seen the two of the three rarities I made enquiries about the Olive-backed Pipit though apparently it hadn't been seen for some time and was a good distance further along the spit. I decided to quit whilst I was ahead at that point and started to amble back northwards. I managed to get another glimpse of the Citrine Wagtail as it flew low over the Buckthorn and down onto the shore again but it was proving rather elusive now. I stopped to admire some coastal plants and took a few snaps.
Perennial Wall-Rocket
Sea Rocket
As I made my way back I searched the salt marsh for birds though a few Wheatears, Meadow Pipits and a Skylark were all I could find. I stopped in at the Warren to chat with some people by the vis mig spot - apparently the sea hadn't been too bad with a few Skuas going through but there was no other news. Then back to the car where I headed up the road, stopping in briefly at the Canal Scrape hide though there was nothing of note, before heading up to the Crown and Anchor where I'd booked a room for the night.

I had a quick cup of tea and a wash-up in my clean and comfortable room before dinner, then enjoyed a good scampi and chips and a pint of Tetleys downstairs in the pub. A birder came and sat at my table and we got chatting. He was a Spurn veteran of 27 years who somehow managed to miss the news about the birds today (problems with his phone and having left his radio behind somewhere) so he was debating whether to try for the rarities tomorrow morning before the tide cut off the lower reaches of the point. He was a bit reluctant because of the inevitable crowds that would be there tomorrow. He'd also seen several of these species previously at Spurn but still in the end felt that he had to go for them. I wished him luck, happy that I didn't need to got down there tomorrow having bagged them already. There was the Pipit still outstanding but I didn't feel compelled to try for that so I was thinking of hanging around for some bonus stuff tomorrow. I wandered contentedly back up to my room to watch the crunch England vs. Australian World Cup rugby match (with the inevitable outcome) and then read for a bit before retiring to bed. It had been a great day and what had started out looking like a very quiet birding trip had turned into a day to remember.

The next morning I woke up far too early - my mind seems to have got in the habit of waking up exactly two hours before the alarm when I'm out on a trip like this which is extremely unhelpful! Anyway, after a futile attempt to get back to sleep in the end I read for a bit before showering and getting dressed. I was out of the hotel and ready to start birding by around 7 a.m. My plan was to check out the area by the hotel to start with before heading down to the Warren. The pub car park had a few birds about but it was just the usual common stuff. Across the road Cliff Farm seemed deserted so I headed down the road to Kew Villa and the Church Field. I went into the latter location and was just scanning the far bushes when a polite cough over to my left made me realise that I wasn't alone: one of the ringing team was there just checking the nets. It turned out that he'd caught a Yellow-browed Warbler and I waited patiently whilst he processed it so I could take an in-hand shot. They are such gorgeous birds, they're always a pleasure to see.

An in-hand Yellow-browed Warbler
I thanked the ringer for letting me get such a close view and then wandered back up the road to the car before driving the short distance down to the Warren where I parked up and headed over to the Observatory area to see what was occurring. As I walked I met up with a couple of other birders heading the same way and between us we found two Yellow-browed Warblers working their way northwards through the bushes just north of the Warren. That was three of these little gems I'd seen already!

At the Observatory itself there'd been no news on any of yesterday's birds so far so I pottered about in the area, watching the sea a bit though it was very murky and there wasn't much movement, and joining in with the vis migging though there wasn't much going over and people soon wandered off. Still it was great to be here with Goldfinches, Tree Sparrows, Mipits and Redpolls flying about everywhere. I made sure that I stayed close to someone with a radio the whole time so as not to miss out anything.

After a while news came out on RBA of the Olive-backed Pipit still being present though no one on the radio network new anything about this and eventually RBA changed it to "erroneous report". So it looked like all three of yesterday's birds had moved on. Some time later the radios reported that the Citrine Wagtail was now at the Canal Scrape. With nothing better to do I hurried over there to enjoy some seconds of this great bird. It was hanging out right in one corner of the scrape so could best be viewed on the left hand side of the hide which was already several birders deep. Instead I went to the other end where I could get a more distant angled view of the Wagtail as it fed away on the edge of the scrape.

A distant view of the Citrine Wagtail
After a while, as more and more people arrived in the hide it got too much of a scrum and I returned to the peace and quiet of the Warren, stopping off by the small pond where a couple of birders were admiring another Yellow-browed. Back at the Observatory there was yet another Yellow-browed in the bushes by the accommodation which I watched for a while - that was my fifth one of the morning! After that I divided my time between looking out over the sea and looking out over the estuary, feeling relaxed and contemplative. Suddenly news came over the radio of a Great White Egret flying southwards down towards us. We all hurried up to the higher bank to get a better view and sure enough there it was, a large white bird flying against a white cloud backdrop. I took a crappy record shot as it flew by

Great White Egret
News also came over of four Bonxies heading our way so we all started looking out for them. A couple of divers flew by (a Great Northern north and a Red-throated south) and then some people managed to pick out the Bonxies though frustratingly I never managed to get on them in the gloom. After all that excitement I had a quick trawl through the flock of roosting Dunlin and Ringed Plover on the shoreline then it was back down to the estuary side to relax some more and to have a mid morning snack. I passed the time photographing some of the local flora and avifauna and looking at all the birds on the estuary including lots of Grey Plover, Redshank, Dunlin and Curlew. There was also a nice flock of Brent Geese settled in front of us and a smattering of Shelduck.

Buckthorn Berries
Warren Reed Bunting
Time was marching on and as it had got rather quiet on the news front my thoughts started to turn to my long journey home. I didn't want to leave it too late before setting off as the traffic can get rather bad late on Sunday afternoon. Thus at around 11:30 a.m. I went back to the car, de-tooled and started to head off. I stopped off at the Crown and Anchor for a last look across the estuary towards the point. This place was really starting to grown on me: the combination of some great birds and what is a very peaceful location was very appealing - it's just a shame that it's so far away.

Looking from the Crown and Anchor back towards the Point in the distance
Of course the one thing that I was fearful of as I set off home was that something good might turn up after I left and sure enough about thirty minutes into my journey news broke of an Arctic Warbler that had been trapped at Kew and which would be released in a few minutes. Now I was too far away to get back in time for the release and it probably wouldn't hang around so I had to grin and bear it. Anyway, it was getting late and I wanted to get home. As it turned out the Warbler hung around for much of the afternoon so had I gone back for it I would have seen it. Still you can't see everything and fretting over every last missed bird just does your head-in so I remained philosophical about it. After all, yesterday morning I'd been expecting no more than a Yellow-browed Warbler or two and here I was coming away with a Citrine Wagtail and a Pied Wheatear, five Yellow-browed Warblers and a bonus Great White Egret. What's more I'd reacquainted myself with what's fast becoming one of my favourite birding locations. How ever you look at it, it had been a great trip away.