An afternoon stroll around Bury Lake saw my first Red-Crested Pochards of the year with 6 birds (4 males) in the SW corner. 2 drake Goosander flew over towards Stocker's Lake and a couple of Chiffchaff and RN Parakeets were also seen.
I thought the best bird of was going to be only my 2nd ever sighting of Marsh Tit that flitted around the Grove Mill Lane car park first thing but that was totally eclipsed when at 2.20 after returning to the yard after marking out the football pitches I heard some gulls in a bit of a commotion. I looked up expecting maybe another Buzzard or Red Kite but was amazed to see that 3 Herring Gulls were mobbing an Osprey!! This bird represents the first record for the park and I think the first in Herts this year so I was very happy. The only trouble was that i'd chosen today to accidentaly leave my phone at home so couldn't get the news out until I got home. Other notable birds seen today were a Coot on the canal, 2 Meadow Pipits flying over, a Redwing still by the yard and the first record of Linnet for the year over the cricket square. What a day!
The highlight of the day was the 3rd record of Raven for the park when one loomed into view over the rustic bridge before heading off South. 2 Buzzard where making the most of the warm weather before soaring off towards the town. 3 Mandarin were by the canal again and a Treecreeper was seen by the tennis courts. A Siskin flew over the toilet block and 2 Pheasants were heard and finally at least 3 singing Chiffchaffs were in the nature reserve.
The 2 American ducks. American Wigeon top and Ring-Necked Duck below.
As it was my mums birthday and my weekend with my son I had to leave early on Friday to get back in time. Even so I still stopped off twice on the way home in the search for year ticks and the first stop was back at Par beach pool. This time I got straight onto the drake Ring-NeckedDuck but as I got back with my camera it had gone into hiding and did so for nearly 10 minutes before re-appearing. I managed 1 photo of it as it was annoyingly behind trees and foliage for most of the time it was surfaced!
Happy with that bird which was my 150th species of the year (my 2nd quickest time to 150) I headed out of Cornwall and into Devon where a quick stop at Exminster Marshes RSPB was hoped for. On arrival I spoke to another birder who informed me he had literally just re-found the drake American Wigeon after it had been missing for 3 hours! I parked up and walked round and got onto the bird but it wasn't playing ball and constantly kept hiding (note a theme for today?!). The small flock of Wigeon then took flight and landed nearby and eventually the yank showed well enough to grab a photo. 8 Sand Martins flew over and became the 26th and final year tick of a fabulous week.
As Mount's Bay was only 50 yards from my door I started off the day there again and while scanning I picked up an all black duck in flight. It landed just off the pool and I could clearly see it was the Surf Scoter! A brisk walk and quick scan and I picked it up a couple of hundred yards offshore where I just managed to get a photo of the bird. As far as I can tell the only photo of this bird thats been taken! I walked back to the car and just offshore a young male Eider was performing for the public!
Next stop was Marazion beach where quite quickly I connected with the Water Pipit. It was just starting to get some pink colouring on the breast but before I could get a photo it was chased by a dog and flew further down the beach. I then crossed over the road to look over the RSPB reserve. The highlight was my first singing Chiffchaff of the year. But a Cetti's Warbler burst into song and a Little Egret was sleeping on an island.
Afterwards I headed for Helston where in the past i'd seen 3 Ring-Billed Gulls on the boating lake. Not this time though! A quick look around the sewage works did produce a male Blackcap, 2 Goldcrests but the best bird was a Siberian Chiffchaff that at times showed down to a few feet showing off the warmish brown upperpart and pale underparts with a brownish wash to the cheeks.
A report came onto the pager the evening before saying that a possible female Rock Thrush had been seen near Trewellard so seeing as it was closeby I went in the hope of adding another bird to my UK list. A couple of hours searching failed to produce although a report of it being seen briefly just before I arrived had us in high hopes. It wasn't all bad though as 2 Chough and 2 Wheatears were seen for the year list and a female Black Redstart in the car park and a nearby Raven were a nice bonus.
As it was nearby I decided to check out Drift Reservoir again and this time whilst scanning through the gulls I managed to find a 1st winter Iceland Gull! Another not bad self found! I found the drake Scaup again but this time was just below the car park so allowing a photo to be taken.
Back in Penzance a quick scan saw the Common Scoter flock had grown to 8+ birds now.
One bird that had so far eluded me out in Mount's Bay was the 1st winter drake Surf Scoter. During the length of its stay it has always been very distant and today was no different but luckily I had managed to pick it up. The 3rd attempt! Strangely it was avoiding the 4 CommonScoter which were still offshore. Another year tick was seen with a female Eider just off the pool.
I then drove round to the Long Rock car park where just offshore I picked out a near summer plumaged Slavonian Grebe. I then decided to check out the beach at Marazion for the wintering Water Pipit but there was no sign as the tide was out.
I cheered myself up with a lovely pasty in Hayle before heading round to Carbis Bay in the hope of some divers. I did find 3 offshore but they were all Great-Northern so nothing different for the year list. The final bird of note was another Raven over Trevowhan.
The Night Heron, Purple Sandpiper and Long-Tailed Duck.
The first port of call was the jubilee pool again where as the tide was just starting to go out the exposed rocks had attracted a lovely group of 18 Purple Sandpipers which eventually flew round to just infront of me and another birder present. Shortly afterwards the other birder picked up a bird out in the bay and watched it crash land into the water. I got on it and was delighted to see it was the female Long-Tailed Duck that had gone missing for a few days. Whilst watching that I suddenly noticed a small pod of Dolphin sp splashing about just off the harbour. I'll have to try and ID them to species though!
As I was preparing to leave and thinking of where to go to next the pager bleeped telling me of a Night Heron that had just been found at Kenidjack Valley. Well thats where I was going sorted then! After 10-15 minutes I was on site but having to guess where to go until I bumped into the finders of the heron and told me where to go. I found the spot and down in the valley bottom by the small stream sat motionless the Night Heron. Amazingly it was less than a mile from where I saw my first 10 years ago and I think I was only the 3rd person to see this bird which was the first in the UK this year!
I left after a while and headed out to Pendeen Watch. Unfortunately the fog that had been around all day was still around and so limited the distance off shore. Even so it still produced a couple of year ticks. 2 Kittiwakes were sat on the sea and 15 Fulmars were sat on the cliff face. Whilst looking out to sea 3 small groups of LBB Gulls flew past and it was the 4th small flock that caught my attention when right at the front was a large all white gull. It was a 1st winter Glaucous Gull!! Not a bad self found!
The final stop of the day was to Sennen Cove. This only produced a single year tick in the shape of a Guillemot but another small pod of mammals showed briefly and I think these were Harbour Porpoises but again i'm going to have to look them up first!
After my mammoth journey I crawled out of bed fairly late but slightly more refreshed! I had a check around the jubilee pool to try and see some Purple Sandpipers but none were seen. A RockPipit flew over and so got on my list.
I then drove round to Newlyn harbour where virtually straight away I re-found the adult Glaucous Gull stood on the harbour wall. After watching it for a while I went and sat on the wall and was lucky to see a flash of red flick up from around some lobster pots. It was the BlackRedstart and even better it was a stonking male. Happy with these 2 birds I then concentrated on the sea which rewarded me with a Great-Northern Diver, 4 Common Scoter (1 male), and 3 Gannets. 2 more Ravens flew over as did 3 Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk.
A late afternoon visit to Drfit Reservoir in the hope of a white-winged gull didn't produce but a drake Scaup was at the far North end and whilst watching that the only other birder present said they had a small falcon flying away. I got onto it and identified it as a Merlin!
Due to some major changes in my life recently I decided to book a week away in Cornwall and do nothing but rest, relax and lots of birding! On the journey down the first bird of note was a Raven that flew over the car near Monkton, Devon. First stop was Kingsmill Lake near Saltash where after a brisk walk and a bit of scanning I picked up my first Lesser Yellowlegs of the year but due to the large distance there was no hope of getting a photo. 2 Greenshanks also got onto the year list and 11 Little Egrets were seen.
The next stop was at Par beach near St.Austell. On the beach was another Little Egret and on the rocks were 5 Shags which were a year tick as was the male Stonechat nearby. Unfortunately the drake Ring-Necked Duck on the nearby par beach pool was nowhere to be seen.
As I was passing I had a quick scan over the Hayle estuary and picked up yet another Greenshank and Little Egret whilst in with the gulls I found 5 Mediterranean Gulls.
I finally arrived in Penzance almost 10 hours after setting off!
Well even though it was bloody freezing this morning it didn't stop a male Blackcap from singing for 2 minutes from gardens backing onto the cricket area! The first sign of Spring for me birdwise. The first bird of the day though was a Sparrowhawk that nearly flew into my head as I was opening the front gate to the yard this morning! 2 Kingfishers and a Little Egret were also on the river.
The female Mandarin was on the canal again and the 2 others from the other day were seen and were a pair (possibly the regular pair back?). A Grey Wagtail flew over the car park as did a Skylark. On the river a Kingfisher zoomed by and a Little Egret was seen again. 10 Redwing were hanging around and a Little Owl was seen. In Kings Langley while waiting for my son a RedKite flew over towards the M25.,
The day started with 40 Redwings on the croquet lawns. 3 Skylark flew over and the Little Owls were calling to each other again, a Little Egret was on the river and the female Mandarin was on the canal.
Born and bred in Watford,Herts, I started birding when I was just 8 years old because the old next door neighbours garden was very overgrown and attracted birds to his and our gardens! I first went to the Watford RSPB group at 15 and then I joined the Herts Bird Club in the same year. I was on the Herts Bird Club committee for 3 years. I started twitching in September 2001 after i'd bought my RBA pager and within a week of owning it i'd added Red-Necked Stint and American Green Heron! I keep 2 main lists which can be seen above.