Monday, 16 February 2015

Go West Young Man (Deep in the Motherlode) - Genesis

With a little trepidation, being the driver having to cover such a distance, I set off at 04:15 initially for Dorchester with the sounds of Moorhen and Tawny Owl ringing in my ears. There, Dave Foot was picked up at 05:00 then we continued our journey West towards Devon and Cornwall for a weekend of 'birding' together. At my suggestion we agreed to keep a list to which was quickly added Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Herring Gull, Rook, Great Black-backed Gull and Rook despite restricted visibility. The forecaster had predicted a sunny day but there was no sign of that as we entered Devon along with Magpie, Little Egret, Starling and Common Gull. It was a gloomy arrival at
 MOUNTS BAY - Cornwall
where I immediately set my GILLIE to work
searching for the first target bird. Within the first 30 minutes he had
contributed 5 new species to my Year List
an individual almost in full 'Summer Plumage' and a pair of
They were unusual inasmuch that the male was also in 'Breeding Plumage'
unusual to see that far south.
In addition Black-headed Gull, Shag, Pied wagtail, Greenfinch, Slavonian Grebe, Gannet, Sanderling, Dunnock, Cormorant, Curlew and House Sparrow were added but not even a report from elsewhere of our 'desire'! Time to move a little further inland and have a bash at the Little Bunting which also eluded us, but on the 'up side' we saw Great and Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Wood Pigeon, Skylark, Blackbird, Goldcrest, Golden Plover, Reed Bunting, Raven, Goldfinch, Pheasant (heard), Linnet, Wren, Song Thrush and
Over an hour later we returned to our former position where Kittiwake and Rock Pipit showed themselves followed by some EXCITEMENT as Dave though he had spotted 'our' bird. However, there was a slight snag as it was so far away we would have to relocate from a now brightening
Just a 10 minutes drive through rapidly increasing traffic, but within minutes he had not only re-located his suspect bird but also identified it as 'just what we were looking for' the
 At great distance we were only just able to see the 'chin-strap' which
is a defining feature, and too far even to bother raising the camera.
A 'World First' for Dave and an addition to the GB List for me.
Unfortunately no images.
A cursory search was made for one of the c4 Black Redstarts reported, but without success, so armed with some 'local knowledge' we once again headed for the Little Bunting. En-route Turnstone was seen along with Feral Pigeon (if you like that sort of thing) while back in a different field the fruits of a further hour amounted to just Common Buzzard. It would be foolhardy at any time to drive passed the
but more particularly the
with the favoured vantage point being the Lelant Sidings on the north bank. A tiny railway station with uninterrupted views produced Wigeon, Redshank, Lesser Black-backed Gull, 100's more Golden Plover, Teal, Oystercatcher, Shelduck, Goosander, common Gull, Rock Pipit, Grey Plover, Sparrowhawk, Long-tailed Tit and
which may surprise you to know was a Year's First for me.
It was again time to hit the road and a fair distance to the 'Most Southerly Point of Mainland Great Britain'
 with its surrounding
 rugged coastline and aggressive
now zealously guarding their nesting ledges.
A fair drive which, in all honesty, we would have been happy to walk,
if needs must, to see the most bizarre of all the resident UK CROWS
 not only a fine representation of the birding world but also the
Emblem of Cornwall itself!
There were only c2 seen and having left Dave to do all the work thus far
I was thrilled to bits to be the one to locate them even at great distance,
and a LOT MORE than just a Year Tick - SUPERB!
Before leaving this rugged habitat we also saw
before leaving the Lizard Peninsular for Falmouth.
We had decided to ad-lib the Bed and Breakfast, simply hoping for the best,
and that is precisely what we got. Should you ever be in the Falmouth area, here
is a STRONG recommendation as where to stay.
Hope you can read the script to this extremely well placed hostelry
at the heart of all that is of interest in this part of Cornwall. The very
warmest of welcomes from Paul and Heidi, a comfortable nights sleep
and a breakfast fit for a King on Sunday morning.
However, it should be mentioned that even though daylight was fading fast we did consider it best to try for the next target before retiring for the day. No joy except for a late Kingfisher and a couple of Mute Swans on the local Duck Pond but we were back on the headland before daybreak yesterday. A few fond memories for me here as we watched St Anthony's Head Light winking in the distance and the Pilot Cutter heading for the huge Bulk Carried anchored in Falmouth Roads. If I had a £ for every time I have plied these waters, then the Milky Bars would be on me, but I haven't so........ The first vestiges of decent light saw an early
already carrying breakfast, fly directly in front of us before once again
Dave picked out firstly a female
in company with our target bird an immature male
this is what it will look like when it grows up.
We couldn't go to press without illustrating such a bird but have had to rely on
for the images.
Still only 08:30, there was time to drop by Swanpool on the way back to The Observatory where we found Jay, Coot, Moorhen (for Dave), Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Collared Dove, Canada Goose and perhaps strangely Long-tailed Duck, which had been showing on the Pager. There followed the BREAKFAST described above, after which my only hope was there was not to be too much walking too soon! Our next destination was to be the car park at the China Fleet Country Club on the banks of the River Tamar, the natural County boundary between Devon and Cornwall, but more specifically
with distant views of the Tamar Railway Bridge
 The short walk to this inlet off of the main river, through mature woodland, produced Kestral, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Mistle Thrush but neither Nuthatch or Treecreeper and it looked every bit as though a climb down the steep bank would be needed to afford any chance of seeing the next hoped for addition. With as much stealth as a Fat Kid can aspire to, I managed to reach the foreshore with the far more agile Dave, where immediately a
flew past
 then landing on at shore line not too far away.
It was once again Good Ol', I'm leaving him in Weymouth next time 
(brace yourselves for a 'Blank Post'),
getting on my tits DAVE who pulled the Rabbit out of the hat again
as he spotted the adult male
blinking miles away then, just as it was thought I was going to get a go,
he heard a
 deep within the brambles.
 Quickly coaxing it from cover it was seen to be a male which was also displaying.
3 new Species for the Year in quick succession - EXCELLENT!
The success story of the Broadsands, Devon
is well documented as they were on the cusp of extinction not
only in Devon but across the whole of their limited range in Great Britain.
 How nice to be back among a much increased number
 since my last visit years ago.
Next stop
 this time for another rare visitor to the British Isles
Penduline Tit
3 of which have been commuting between here and Dawlish but all
we found of interest was a
a sociable
along with a few
heading for the Marshes.
For us it was time to head for Exmouth and
 our final attempt to connect an even rarer visitor to our shores,
 in fact all the way from the Americas.
Again we were to be disappointed as unable to locate the
Bonaparte's Gull
which had been seen here earlier in the day by others.
The Trainee Yachtsmen proved of interest as did a
a few
along with a few
 It wouldn't bother me one jot if I never saw another
in my life, always having much preferred the countryside,

 but if they were all as Architecturally Sound and Well Kempt as
 then it would be a joy to visit as often as possible.
 This was the 'skyscape' as I arrived at Harbins this morning
since when I have been confined to
Slight Return II
by heavy rain since checking the lone Moth Trap which held an equally lone
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                     5 good to see you back, it's been a while!

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