Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Saturday 12th & Sunday 13th March

A bit of a surprise and last minute flying visit down to Cornwall this weekend. We'd left a few cottage chores still to be done at the end of the last visit and back home in Oxford we'd been fretting about these so in the end we decided to come back down just for the weekend to finish them off. So it was that on Friday afternoon we (my VLW, our nine year old son and I) bundled our stuff into the car and set off again on the familiar route to the South West. The traffic was OK for a Friday evening and we arrived after 10 p.m. and after taking time to unwind it wasn't until nearly 1 a.m. that we finally went to bed.

The next morning I woke up far too early (as I often do down here) and after my VLW and I put the world to rights with our morning cup of tea in bed it was time to set about our tasks. There wasn't actually that much to do: getting out the garden furniture and giving it a touch-up of preservative paint; installing a new widget to get the internet working again; tweaking the pressure reduction valves on the shower and touching-up the interior windows. We worked away diligently and as the weather was really nice and almost eerily windless (I'm so used to it being really windy here that it doesn't seem natural when it's calm!) I was able to work outside for a bit. There was just one Raven about now (it's mate is presumably attending to a nest somewhere) and there were no sign of any Chough which I expect have paired up and spread out along the coast to establish their territories. There was one Buzzard around, the usual Jackdaws and I spotted a few Fulmars back by the cliffs where they nest.

The lone Raven on its usual perch

By mid afternoon we'd done much of what we wanted to do and so decided to go on an outing. I was keen to have yet another crack at the annoying Hudsonian Whimbrel at Perranuthnoe (which I'd dipped twice last time) but the other two weren't interested so I dropped them off at Marazion where they were going to wander over to the Mount whilst I went on around the Bay. En route an RBA text had come through saying that the Hudbrel was still present in Trenow Cove so it was in an optimistic frame of mind that I tooled up in the car park and yomped off along the all too familiar path around to Boat and Trenow Coves. I was kind of hoping to meet up with the person who'd put out the message but I didn't see any birders there at all and presented once again with the rocky shoreline with its myriad hiding places my heart started to sink again. I'd just got to the start of Trenow Cove when I heard the familiar bubbling call of a Whimbrel. In a state of excitement I lifted my bins to see one flying along the shore though the white rump soon dashed my hopes. I followed it as it flew around to Boat Cove to see if it might be joining some other birds but all I could see were a couple of Redshank, a few Oystercatchers and four Little Egrets.

I went back to Trenow Cove and scanned all along the rocks there: a couple of Curlew and more Oystercatchers but that was about it. In the end I decided that I'd have to walk the length of the cove to have any chance of seeing the bird if it was tucked away somewhere so that's what I did. I found a nice flock of Turnstone, a Rock Pipit and a few more of the usual waders but nothing rarer. At the far end I met a couple of birders who were watching a diver and wondering if it might be the Pacific but as time was marching on I didn't linger to try and see it for myself.

The Alexander's is now in full flower - whilst there's loads of it down here,
it's not a plant that I've ever come across back in Oxfordshire

I got a text from my VLW that the Mount tea shops had been closed so they'd walked back to Jordans to get a cup of tea there only to find that that was closed as well and that now they wanted picking up. I was right at the wrong end of Trenow Cove at this point so I started to head off at once in order to get back to the car. Naturally I kept my eyes scanning along the shoreline as I went but I didn't see anything new. I got back to the car with a heavy heart: that was three dips now and I was starting to hate the bird and that stretch of coastline! I nipped back into Marazion to pick up the other two and we then went to Sainsbury's cafĂ© for a late tea and a shop before heading home for the evening. 

That evening I put on the moth light and was rewarded with a few visitors to the front porch though there was nothing particularly special.

Agonopterix Heracliana
Double-striped Pug

Early Thorn

The next day dawned calm and really sunny. Our plan was to finish off our task at the cottage and to head back off home by about 1 p.m. All was going well until mid morning I got a text from Dave Parker to say that the juvenile American Herring Gull was currently showing well at Drift. That was really tempting as it was only 15 minutes away and I was itching to go. Unfortunately my VLW was adamant that we had too much to do and most reluctantly I concurred. We finished off what we had to do and packed the car before heading off, stopping to pick up some journey sandwiches at Hayle. The journey back was long but uneventful and we arrived back late afternoon, tired from our efforts but pleased to have got our various tasks completed.

In many ways, this trip was a reprise of the previous one, sadly including the lack of any real success with the birds. The two interesting targets, namely the Hudbrel and the AHG are of course both very hard to connect with but I'd managed to fail spectacularly once again. Not being able to twitch the gull when it had been so close really hurt: it's one thing to be several hundred miles away in Oxford when it's reported but to be so close and yet not be able to go was painful. Still, that is birding for you though this will smart for some time.