Saturday, 21 August 2010

Friday 20th August 2010

St Ives and areas ...

The girlfriend's mum was down for the week, and they wanted to see the delightful seaside town of St Ives before she went back to the slightly lesser delights of The General London Area in the Vicinity of the Dartford Crossing. Unfortunately, a damp and rainy day, a late start, and lots of other people wanting to go to St Ives too meant that we didn't. Well, we did, kind of, but we just didn't leave the car - all the various car parks were full and so eventually we gave up after I suggested we go to Penzance instead (and anyway, the winds were South Westerly, so St Ives was going to be rubbish for my planned seawatch whilst they went shopping ... ).

Penzance has a Poundland, as we discovered, which I doubt St Ives has, so all was not lost. It was still raining and foggy and I forgot that I should have been trying to find a fog and rain bound headland near Mousehole (pronounced Mao-zl ,or something like that) and peering out to sea for all the Great Shears which were undoubtably waltzing by just beyond the breakers...

After partaking of the delights of the Penzance shopping scene, we started on the homeward leg, stopping momentarily at the McDonalds near Marazion, a dreadful admission to make in public, going against all my environmental and personal health principles, and it being at least 6 months since I was last in one (they're doing different glasses now). Burgered up, we moved on to the free parking esplanade on the seafront opposite Marazion RSPB, seriously annoying a whole coachload of presumed german tourists in the process. I even managed to get the scope out, and carefully placing the chocolate milkshake on the ground out of the wind and harms way did a bit of seawatching. For about half a minute. St Michael's Mount was barely visible in the fog, so I gave up, but did enjoy a small group of waders flying past - disturbed by the random damp holidaymakers in the vicinity. Seemed to be 1 Dunlin and 3 Pale Dunlin. Interesting, as needed pale dunlin for the self-found year list (... incidentally, which is seriously flagging, as of the last 4 months or more). They then flew the other way, after a brief and happy confirmation that they really were Sanderling. Scoping the blurs that landed I suspected they had joined more, so off I toddled along the seafront, to find a roost of 53 Ringed Plover, 7 Dunlin, rather more actively feeding (no Baird's or others that I could make out), and a bit further on, a total of 12 Sanderling. Excellent! Marazion held the usual numerous windswept Bunnies, no water birds of note in the cursory glance I gave the grassy and marshy edges from the roadside viewing spot.

And on we went, myself complaining more than once at the poor driving skills of the general driving public as it seemed hardly any of them had put on their fog lights despite the obviously quite bad visibilty, and um, general fogginess present. Of course, I then realised that I hadn't even got my own headlights on at all, which was obviously far worse ... lol

So a really quite average days random birding, with typically very few birds, except I have gotten this far in recounting it and completely missed out a huge chunk and the undoubted highlight of the day!! Doh! We actually managed to stop off at the Hayle Estuary en route to St Ives. It was here that we encountered an almost unprecedented sight; an amazing birding spectacle the like of which I have never witnessed before.

We pulled up near the hide (I told the others it was a really great spot for seeing birds and as we were passing right by, we really should stop by and look ...) We got out the packed lunch and flask of hot tea (it was now about 10.30, and we were all pretty hungry after driving all the way down from Falmouth), and retired to the immensely spacious (cavernous, even) hide overlooking the premier birding spot that is Ryan's Field RSPB. We were not to be disappointed;  there was an adult Black-headed Gull on the grass, and an immature Seagull on one of the islands. Wow ...  Score!! More than one waterbird on Ryan's Field!!!!!! Absolutely unbelievable, except I really was there and not dreaming. The BH Gull was eventually joined by, not one, but two more! Oh rapture! Munching my sarnies, and we were rewarded with views of a Grey Heron and then, wonder of wonders, a distant Little Egret appeared in the far corner. At this point the GF returned from reading the sightings board for the previous day, which, after listing countless Balearics etc at Porthgwarra, ended with a jaw-dropping - 'HERE - Common Sandpiper' Nooooo ... I hadn't even seen a proper wading bird at the site. Happily, Mummy Herring Gull arrived to feed Junior, and as the cries percolated into my subconsciousness, I turned to see a small fluttering wader fly by to land on the muddy shores. Great - Common Sandpiper, and great again, as a Kingfisher flew past. Probably 8 times more birds than I have ever seen HERE before!

All previous sightings soon paled into significance, however, with stunning views of a partially visible Robin hunched down in the vegetation by the waters edge... words fail me to express my joy!!

random picture to try out the placing of random pictures option function.
With Hayle holding lots of Big gulls, and other stuff like that, and 4 nice Black-tailed Godwits, a 'good' days birding was squeezed into a day out with 'family'. Two random Sparrowhawks seen earlier in the day (how can people not see them?), and a dead badger by the roadside on the way home finished off the day, not bad at all mostly.


  1. Nice first post. Seems like you had a good day... well done with the BH Gulls as well ;)


  2. Cheers Bill.

    (A long time coming, but I think the world is now ready for my blog ... ??? ;) )

    Any day with birds can be a good day, but more than one bird at Ryan's Field was a real surprise ... And I'd dipped on Robin there the previous week ...

  3. Blimey Dan, you gone totally 'Bodmin'! Pale Dunlin. Forget new to your self-found list, new to science!