Last week we set off on the regular GPOG (Greater Peterborough Ornithological Group – a rather grand title for a bunch of birding & drinking mates, loosely based in the Peterborough area!) birding excursion to Cornwall. Twelve of us left Market Deeping on Wednesday night, returning late on Sunday. The timing of the trip is intended to maximise our chances of finding rare birds in the valleys of west Cornwall but it’s fair to say that we’ve enjoyed mixed fortunes over the 15 or so years we’ve been going! Star birds in the past have included Aquatic, Bonelli’s, Radde’s, Melodious and Greenish Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, King Eider, Black Duck, Lesser Scaup, Buff-breasted, Baird’s and White-rumped Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, Cory’s Shearwater, Sora Rail and a host of other ‘goodies’, but this year, it’s fair to say, there were much leaner pickings on offer. Our modest total of 114 birds included Chough, Snow and Cirl Bunting, Rosie Starling, Yellow-browed Warbler, Firecrest, Richard’s Pipit, Whooper Swan and Glossy Ibis – still a reasonable haul at a time when rarities nationally were in a bit of an uncharacteristic lull. The trip did produce a couple of ‘lifers’ for members of the group and the beer, food and hospitality at the Bucket of Blood (our alternative ‘club hut’) were exceptional – so all things consider, a good time was had by all!
The first of our star attractions, a juvenile Rosie Starling. We’ve managed to find these birds on almost every trip we’ve done to Cornwall. This one was in the car park of Morrison’s at Marazion. Compare the rather drab plumage of this bird with that of a breeding adult, featured on this blog in June –‘Rose coloured spectacle’
One of our target birds for this trip was Chough. We had expected to scour the Lizard peninsular to find them but they gave themselves up relatively easily in the Cot Valley. This was one of at least seven, roosting in a quarry.
Mediterranean Gull were reasonably easy, with up to a dozen on the Hayle estuary and others dotted around the coast. This adult was at Sennen.
Talking of coastal birds, Rock Pipit are always nice to see – just a pity that it’s distant cousin, the Richard’s Pipit, didn’t give itself up as easily!
A stop-off at Labrador Bay in Devon produced the goods with this fine male Cirl Bunting, appearing in the hedge between heavy rain showers
There’s been an increasing trend of autumn ‘invasions’ of Glossy Ibis – we caught up with a couple of this years wanderers at Ham Walls, Somerset on our return journey. Who knows, perhaps these birds will linger on to breed and add to the incredibly impressive list of rare breeding herons on the Avalon Marshes!
These ‘bl**dy clickers’ can never get close enough… can they Will?
But to be fair, this was a very approachable Snow Bunting!
All in all, a pretty good trip with some very nice birds, but I guess Parula Warbler in the Cot Valley will have to wait for another year….!