A Cornish clean-up! West Cornwall, 26 - 31 December 2016

Belinda and I decided to escape the usual Christmas/New Year week this year with a few days down in west Cornwall. Leaving at 05.00 on Boxing Day we stayed in the village of Nether Stowey near Bridgewater on the edge of the Quantock Hills in Somerset on the first night. The rest of the trip we stayed in the village of Paul which is right next to Mousehole near Penzance in Cornwall.  

Along the M5 in Somerset on 26th a Peregrine flew over near Sedgemoor Services then a Great White Egret and a Little Egret both got up together from beside the M5 near junction 22. Not bad from a moving car! Our walk that day up on the Quantocks was quiet for birds with 3 Ravens, Fieldfares, 3 Mistle Thrushes and a Grey Wagtail being about it.

We left Somerset after breakfast on 27th and drove the 3 hours down to Cornwall. First port of call once we'd reached the Penzance area was the village of Perranuthnoe where a white-headed Blackbird popped up on a wall by the turn off into the village. My target here was the long-staying Hudsonian Whimbrel and a 500 yard walk west along the coast path to Boat Cove saw it on the rocks on cue! I watched it for some time feeding and preening and eventually flying around the corner to the west. This bird had been bugging me for a while as it went missing for a while when we were down this way in May so it was a good moment! On the beach and our subsequent walk east to Cudden Point we had 4 Grey Plovers, Redshanks, Turnstones, Oystercatchers, 2 Little Egrets, 3 Shag, 2 Ravens, 2 Rock Pipits and 5 Stonechats. Sunset from the beach at Perranuthnoe with coffee and cake from the cafe there was beautiful. 

Hudsonian Whimbrel, Perranuthnoe

Perranuthnoe sunset

The next morning (28th) we ventured the half mile down into Mousehole where after a little bit of a false start the wintering male Eastern Black Redstart showed very nicely on rocks (and even better later in the day when I had it to myself) after a short wait. A female Black Redstart was there too but rather less obliging only putting in one appearance and a Small Tortoiseshell out in the sun in the village near the harbour! We spent the bulk of the day walking along the coast to Lamorna Cove with 3 Common Buzzards along the clifftop plus plenty of Gannets feeding offshore. A Chiffchaff was a nice find at the little reserve at Keymel Crease along the cliff path and Rock Pipits we all over the place. We finished the day with sunset at the Merry Maidens stone circle to Redwings flying over to roost.

Eastern Black Redstart, Mousehole

Black Redstart, Mousehole

Rock Pipit, Mousehole

After breakfast on 29th we ventured out to St Michael's Mount but not before a look on Longrock Pool at Marazion where a nice 1w Caspian Gull was swimming about and a Grey Wagtail flew over. After our walk out to St Michael's Mount and back we drove back to the Marazion carpark. It was one of those calm days when the sea in Mounts Bay was mirror calm and a couple of other birders were scoping the bay where I was able to pick up the wintering Pacific Diver quite easily with a group of 4 Great Northern Divers. This was a real bonus, I'd not really considered seeing this bird because of it's usually erratic and distant appearances. After a coffee at the beach cafe a 3rd look at Longrock Pool and I finally found the 1w Ring-billed Gull plus an adult Mediterranean Gull. It was starting to look like a total clean-up! An impressive 80+ Sanderling were also on Marazion Beach plus a curious very dark hooded Herring Gull type.

Caspian Gull, Longrock Pool, Marazion

Ring-billed Gull, Longrock Pool, Marazion

weird 3w Herring Gull type, Marazion Beach

An afternoon walk at Gurnards Head on the north coast yielded 2 Ravens, 1 Shag and c12 Gannets.

 Gurnard's Head

Friday 30th was a day we'd pencilled in a walk on The Lizard and once again good weather greeted us so the trip was on. A lovely walk from Lizard village to Lizard Point and then to Kynance Cove gave me my hoped for Chough as 2 flew over Kynance Cove plus Raven, c90 Linnets, Bullfinch, Rock Pipits and Gannets.

Kynance Cove

On Saturday 31st the weather was much more cloudy but undetered we went for a walk around Cape Cornwall, Kenidjack and Botallack Copper Mines. This is a spectacular stretch of coast (with memories of Yellow-throated Vireo in 1990!) and I again had 2 Chough, c6 Ravens, Common Buzzard, Gannets and Grey Wagtail.

Cape Cornwall

We celebrated the new year in the Admiral Benbow pub in Penzance where we'd also spent the previous evening. We've made some lovely new friends there in what has to be the most warm, friendly and eclectic pub I've ever been in!  



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