Monday, 30 September 2013

Eastern Goodies finally hit Cornwall!

Well the easterly winds have finally pushed one or two scarce migrants our way! Yellow-browed Warblers this morning at Pendeen, Porthgwarra, Cot Valley and Polgigga. Red-breasted Flycatcher in the Doctors Garden at Porthgwarra and a Melodious Warbler showing well at Rame in SE Cornwall. Typically I'm at work this afternoon and for the following three days. :-(

Sunday, 29 September 2013

British List falls short of the big 400!

So with my new found enthusiasm for all things birdlike, I decided to have a look at my British List. I've always kept a copy of Vinnicombe and Mitchell's Checklist of the Birds of Britain up to date with my list so a quick count up revealed 402 species, in which I include the Nanjizal Alder Flycatcher.
The Nanjizal Alder Flycatcher - accepted by BBRC, sent back by BOURC! (Photo by M.Halliday)
Unfortunately the official BOU British List sees things differently, so after a proper, no nonsense tot-up, I conclude that I am still three short of the magic 400!! I'm not particularly disappointed with this considering I've lived in west Cornwall for the past 10 years and rarely 'twitched' anything in that time. I made exception for the White-crowned Sparrow at Cley and the Dark-eyed Junco in Yeovil in 2008 and one or two bits on the Scillies in more recent times.
So with three to go I have been forced to look at the glaring omissions and going through the list, saying in my head, "I really should have gone for that!" So in no particular order my 'birds that I could and should have seen' list shall be: Caspian Gull (I know, I know!), Black Stork, Terek Sandpiper, Sardinian Warbler, Snow Goose, Black Duck, Killdeer, Western Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper,  Snowy Egret, Yellow or Black Billed Cuckoo, Lesser and Southern Grey Shrike, Brown Shrike, Belted Kingfisher, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, White's Thrush (NO LONGER NEEDED, SCILLY 2013!!), Marmora's Warbler and Pechora (which is the only pipit I need). There are more, but that list will keep me going and any three of those will see me reach 400! My 300th bird was Great Knot, such a long time ago!!

If you want quality photos....

... then have a look at the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Bird Gallery on Flickr!! Blatant plug but I don't care! 1000's of amazing images.


Just remembered a comical moment earlier today. Well, frustrating more than comical. One of those, "WTF??" moments. Whilst stood on the causeway at Hayle trying desperately to clinch the ID of the Plover Sp. this 'mature' gentleman 'bird spotter' ambles over the main road and asks, "Have you seen the Osprey?" to which I reply, "No, where is it?". He states, "Well I've just seen it mentioned on the board in the hide (at Ryans Field)". "oh" says I, "that was seen at 0915 this morning, it's now 1600hrs!, the Black-winged Stilt is still here though". Old man: "Oh a Stilt, just the one?" Give me strength.

Back at it..................

I suppose all birders have a period where life gets in the way of birding. 2013 has probably been that year for me. Work, a new found love for motorbikes and the kids, of course, all added to a complete lack of enthusiasm for birds and birding. My RBA pager packing up was the last straw. The bins and camera have been gathering dust and even an outing to tick Two-barred Crossbill in Yorkshire didn't exactly fire up my desire to watch birds. However, that trip did give us a laugh when my best buddy Adam Hutt and friend (and very talented artist) Jack Ashton-Booth broke down on the way home, Adam's trusty Peugeot 306 finally giving up the ghost after nearly 230,000 miles!! I fortunately chose to get a lift home in Richard Scott's Suzuki Wagon R, which may not be the ideal birders mobile, but still got us home to Doncaster in one piece.
Anyway, I digress. I decided that Scilly this October would be the start of getting my birding libido back. Roll on the 26th October!! But, having received my old, new pager back (RBA couldn't replace the X10, so I got the old version, which is ten times better and the battery lasts ten times as long!!) it soon became apparent that the 26th October would have to wait. Strong Easterlies blew and Fair Isle got hammered with rarities. Stuff then started to appear in Cornwall. So today I decided to take the girls out 'birding' to Gwithian. Although the only highlight was Wheatears (6) it was good to be back at it. And so to Hayle to add Black-winged Stilt to my estuary list! The bird was asleep when I arrived at the causeway but showed really well with closer views from The Old Quay House car park and was a lifer for Erin!. Brian Mellow and Royston Wilkins were on the bridge and rightly commented "Bloody Hell, stranger!!" Brian put me on to an interesting Plover, which showed characteristics of American or Pacific. The supercillium didn't seem right for American but the primary projection pointed towards one of the two species. Unfortunately the bird was distant and constantly disappeared into a creek out of view. I also didn't have time to spend with it as the girls were waiting for me in the car!! One that got away. Unless its still there tomorrow?
Thanks to Ash Hugo for the photo, note to self, always carry your camera!!