Dalmation Pelican twitch, Lands End area, Cornwall, 10 May 2016

I've not twitched much at all in recent years but sometimes a bird turns up that you feel you have to see. And this was one of them for me - a great looking bird that would be a new UK, Western Palearctic and World bird for me - it just ticked all the boxes!

Steve and Dot were kind enough to offer me a lift (I didn't fancy that drive in my van!) and after a quick dash round and a drive to meet them in Attleborough we were on our way by about 18.30. The original plan was to grab a few hours sleep in a Travelodge when we were in the Exeter area but it quickly became apparant we weren't going to get enough time for that. Instead we slowly trundled down noting a Barn Owl by the A30 in Cornwall and were on the Lands End carpark by about 04.30 after several stops.

From dawn until mid morning thick fog hampered any birding. From our vantage point the car just north of Sennen we had 23 Whimbrel and a single Black-tailed Godwit in a roadside field with Chiffchaff and Common Whitethroat singing but little else. We decided to have a little drive around but quickly found ourselves back at the Lands End carpark where a nice singing male Serin eventually gave some lovely scope views in the garden of Swingate House where there were also 2 Spotted Flycatchers, Lesser Redpoll and a nice late Redwing. It was here that we got news that the pelican had been reported flying east past Mounts Bay/Marazion which prompted a sharp exit as we tried to check the coast area east of Penzance. We got as far as Helston and it seemed like a complete waste of time so returned to Marazion. Here I got some nice views of a male Woodchat Shrike in brambles and added Cetti's Warbler, Willow Warbler and Little Egret to the day list. Then all hell let loose as first the earlier sigtings of the pelican were declared to be rubbish and 2 minutes later news that it was back circling over Lands End!!

Cue a mad dash through the narrow windy lanes until just south of Sennen a tell-tale line of parked/abandoned cars and then birders looking skyward indicated that we'd got there in time. We watched the Dalmation Pelican circling for just 2 minutes before it headed SE towards Skewjack and was lost in the haze. Luckily we followed LGRE down the track from Polgigga towards Bosistow Farm where we had the bird again including 2 memorable 'over our heads' views. The stress levels diminished considerably and when back at the car in Polgigga it flew over us yet again heading north. With a handful of Common Buzzards we headed back to Marazion for lunch and so Steve and Dot could quicky scope the Woodchat. After that we would our way home with just a Red Kite beside the M4 in Berkshire to bother the scorers.       

Dalmation Pelican, Sennen/Polgigga

Map of my sightings and the direction the pelican was watched flying

Woodchat Shrike, Marazion

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