Tuesday 20 September 2011

Sunday in Cornwall

Up with the proverbial lark after a sleep which seemed to pass in less than five minutes, we set our sights on Drift Reservoir again. Having missed the SemiP on Saturday morning, we were determined to get it this time. All the way to the hide, no sign. All the way down the other side, no sign, though great views of the Yellowlegs. Hmmm. I know, stuff it, let's go seawatching. Sea-watching is ace, far better than twitching, and the weather was looking very very tasty for a session at Pendeen.

Tasty it was, and blowing a hoolie. Generally I'm not one for lists of birds, but I think in this case I might make an exception.

40 Arctic Skua
36 Great Skua
4 Pomarine Skua
1 Long-tailed Skua
5 Sooty Shearwater
7 Balearic Shearwater
100's Manx Shearwater
1 Storm Petrel
4 Leach's Storm Petrel
15 Sabine's Gull
12 Grey Phalarope
3 Arctic Tern
2 Black Tern

And all this in just over four hours. I suppose the totals are not enormous, but to put it another way, prior to this sea-watch, in my entire life, I had seen six Grey Phalaropes, six Sabine's Gulls, and three Leach's Petrels. Don't forget that I live in London, and this makes it fairly monster from my perspective. Would that I lived by the sea - I think if I did that I would sea-watch constantly.

With the weather brightening up, although no let-up in the wind, we headed to Polgigga for a crack at the long-staying Black Kites. Easy as you like - as we were driving along I saw a large raptor in the sky, and it was a Black Kite. Simples. We got out, and then there were two Black Kites, and shortly after that, three Black Kites. Together. Astonishing. And to think I drove to Wales for one a couple of years ago. Lunacy. Actually it is more accurate to say I was driven to Wales for one, and I think slept quite a lot of the way, so no great hardship.

Mission SemiP. Irritatingly the Semipalmated Sandpiper was showing again on Drift Reservoir. How we had missed it in the morning I don't know - probably we walked right past it. Seemingly pinned down this time, we decided on a third attempt. People we passed on the dam said it was showing well. I can confirm that this was indeed the case.

I'll put up a few more photos in a separate post, however I have to say that this is how I like to see birds. Really really well. No distant dots, no squinting, no uncertainty. All birds should be like this, and really, that's what made the weekend so good. We saw everything really really well. The Black-and-White Warbler was mere feet away, the Bee-eater was sublimely cooperative. Superb scope view of the Lesser Yellowlegs, and the Black Kites were over our heads. The Sabine's Gulls against the aquamarine water inside Pendeen rocks were stunning, as was the fully-spooned Pom. And the Semipalmated Sandpiper, well, what can you say? We might not have seen all the birds on offer, but what we did see, we got views the likes we may never see again. Cracking is a much overused word, especially in birding circles, but these deserve it.

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