Monday, 25 January 2016

Cornish Chough and Cornish Birders

Sunday 24th January Strong S 13C cloudy, misty then suddenly sunny PM

A group of young Indian students from Delhi are taking photographs of each other as I pass by to collect the bike from the shed. They ask me to take one of them all together and I joke that they should have the photograph taken in the field of daffodils, Big Fish-style. Despite the mud they agree and so half an hour is spent amongst the daffs.

To Sancreed again to try and get better views of the ring-billed gull, I arrive to find once again, no gulls. Waiting and searching for almost an hour I do see a pair of peregrines but no ring-billed. 

Another cycling birder arrives, Alex and he tells me that the Iceland gull has been seen recently at a farm along the Pendeen road. Alex also says that the best place to see chough is at Kenidjack.
The wind is sometimes coming from my side, sometimes behind me and I reach the ploughed field suggested by Alex to find it devoid of any birds.
I carry on down to Kenidjack and am thrilled to find a number of chough in the alley by the sewage works. There are a few flying around loosely connected to jackdaw and rook flocks. A couple land on a nearby derelict and ruined mine building. One has a number of rings on it's legs.

Having successfully found and seen chough well, unlike back in 2015 when the BBC Cornwall presenter had nailed me with the question of whether I had seen Cornish chough. I hadn't. So with them on the year list, celebrating what could have been a tricky bird if I hadn't had them here, I cycle to Mousehole to try for gulls; an Iceland gull was reported yesterday.
First stop is Newlyn Harbour where a very close great northern diver is seen. 

Two Cornish birders tell me that the juvenile glaucous gull is just off the beach nearby and it sure is. Large and pale, the glaucous stands out amongst the smaller herring gulls.

To Mousehole I stop for a while beside an allotment where the owner has created a number of figures using whatever materials have come to hand.

Sitting on the rocks beside the car park in Mousehole I add gannet and fulmar to the year list. There are small parties of auks passing and a number of kittiwakes also.
A friendly local birder with an amazing Deputy Dog-looking hat comes up, Paul Semmens, and together we search for the gull as he talks about his work in monitoring cetaceans in the area. Paul says he sees around two and a half cetaceans over a year, mostly porpoise and dolphins with the occasional whale.
We move around a small headland and meet another two birders Chris and the famous Mashuq. All week whenever I have met Cornish birders they have told me that Mashuq is the gull expert for the county.

Mashuq finds a white winger, possibly the Iceland but half of it is hidden by the rocks. Chris lets me have a look and following their directions I find the bird, seeing a pale mantle and head; the latter looking smaller and rounder than a glaucous head would be. Half an Iceland, it doesn't go onto year list and as darkness falls and after saying goodbye to one and all, I head back to the youth hostel.

The Green Year list now stands at 142, eighteen ahead of where I was at this time last year.


23.93 miles 1568 feet elevation up 1594 feet elevation down

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