Sunday, 30 January 2011

Cornish Diver

It was a surprise to read that the Pacific Diver currently in Cornwall was thought to be returning for its 5th winter as it only seems like yesterday that the first for Britain was identified in Yorkshire. I hadn't seen any of the previous records so a good forecast and a clear day tempted me to Penzance. Plenty of Great Northern Divers were present during the morning but I could not locate the Pacific. Some locals familiar with the bird eventually picked it up in an apparently favoured area just off Marazion. Although distant at first it at least remained on the surface allowing the features to be studied - no white on the flanks; a shade paler grey on the back of the head and neck; more rounded head and smaller bill than Black-throated (see sub-record shot above). Although there was a hint of a neck strap, at that distance it was hard to distinguish from shadow. It came closer eventually but was diving by this point which made photography almost impossible. Much more obliging were the waders at the base of the St Michael's Mount causeway - a mixed flock of Bar-tailed Godwit (pictured), Sanderling, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and a single Purple Sandpiper (bottom picture) coming in with the tide and feeding on the seaweed below the sea wall.

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