Monday, 27 February 2017

Icelandic banker

Our recent half-term whistle stop tour of Cornwall saw me squeeze in some birding between visiting my god-daughter in Bodmin and friends in Falmouth, admiring the excellent National Maritime Museum at the latter among various other sights the county has to offer. One of the highlights was checking out a huge flock of gulls following the tractors of Polgigga as they made busy in the potato fields. Up to four Iceland Gulls had been reported in the area so I thought it would be a banker, but while I only caught up with one, at least it treated me to a close fly-past.
Iceland Gull at Arden-Sawah near Polgigga
I think a 2nd winter bird
Flying right overhead - note pale iris
Here with one of the tractors
It wasn't all as successful though. While at Bodmin, I nipped out to Dozmary Pool to see what I thought would be another banker - the long-staying, oft-returning drake Lesser Scaup. As you can see from the picture below, I couldn't see the pool, let alone the Lesser Scaup. A two hour wait by a hedge in the Nanjizal Valley looking for a Little Bunting was similarly unsuccessful, though at least there was no fog. Passing Choughs, a stunning male Hen Harrier and my first butterfly of 2017 - a Red Admiral - kept me entertained as I waited.
The sweeping vista of, er, fog at Dozmary Pool
Chough - one of a pair over Nanjizal
A male Hen Harrier hammered through Nanjizal
As is often the case it ploughed on without looking back
Red Admiral at Nanjizal
A bit of a rematch with another banker, the Hudsonian Whimbrel at Boat Cove, was successful, though it wasn't as close as on my visit this time last year. A few other waders were on the beach along with the mobile Whimbrel - soon to be downgraded from full species status as a result of changes to the British list.
Hudsonian Whimbrel at Boat Cove
Revealing the diagnostic all dark rump in flight
Grey Plover at Boat Cove
Curlew at Boat Cove
A couple of distant Red-throated Divers off Boat Cove
On the way home, after a bit of luck seeing an American Wigeon at Exminster without too much searching, there was just to time to take a short detour to look for a Little Bunting near Axminster. A couple of locals were looking for the Bunting when I arrived, and although it had been seen not long before, tales of them multiple dipping on this elusive bird did not leave me feeling very hopeful. The light was also fading, but with the rest of the family playing games on a variety of mobile devices in the car, I thought I would give it the last hour of daylight. After just half of this, a flock of previously unseen Reed Buntings flew up from the long grass, and as they alighted in the trees around me, one gave the distinctive ticking call of a Little Bunting. While it didn't exactly pose for a photo, I managed a couple of shots of it partially obscured by vegetation to cap off a good trip.
Little Bunting, Trinity Hill LNR near Axminster
It would not sit out in the open for me in a couple of brief views
This Reed Bunting was more obliging

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