Thursday, 16 October 2014

Rose Coloured Starling and Whooper Swans

A grey, misty, dull, mild and breezey day and so I headed off to Penzance in Cornwall by train with 3 target birds to see for my year list. Arriving in Penzance at 10:15am and I headed off towards Marazion by foot, taking the road route rather than the seawall path as one of my target birds has been showing around the Sainsburys/Morrisons/B&Q car parks along this road. Just as well as the seawall path is closed in places due to repair work being done following the winter storms earlier in the year.

I had a scan around the area for target bird number one, a rose-coloured starling, that has been showing in the area recently. I had a good look at any starling that flew over or perched on a lamp post but with no luck and so I headed off towards Long Rock Pool at Marazion to look for target bird number two, a garganey, which had been showing here for the past few days. Unfortunately it was also a no-show but I did see 3 little grebes, 11 moorhen, 1 coot, 1 cormorant and a lesser black backed gull bathing amongst the herring and black headed gulls. I had a look around Marazion Marsh in case it had moved to there but with no luck again, seeing 3 juv/female teal, 1 little grebe, 5 little egrets, 1 snipe, 1 grey wagtail and a flyover great spotted woodpecker. It was quite a surprise to see how low the water levels were at Marazion Marsh after a very dry September.

Deciding the garganey was a bust I headed off back to Sainsburys for another go at the rose-coloured starling, again checking out all the starlings flying around. It looked like it was going to be a bust too but I eventually saw a large flock of starlings perched on wires by the road opposite B&Q  and scanning through them I eventually found the rose-coloured starling amongst them, sticking out like a sore thumb with its pale, buffy plumage compared to the dark starlings. I tried to get closer views but the birds all took off and the rosy starling disappeared off towards Penzance. A few minutes later it returned and gave some nice views for around 20 minutes as it dozed perched on the wires amongst the starlings before they all took off and headed off towards Marazion.

 Awful photo of Rose Coloured Starling (centre) with Starlings
Rose Coloured Starling (right)

I then jumped on the bus to St.Erth before walking down to the Hayle Estuary where target bird number 3 were showing, 6 beautiful whooper swans which arrived here 2 days ago. I had some really nice views as they fed, preened and slept on the mud flats although they seemed a little nervy and didn't rest for any long periods. I had seen them distantly from the train earlier on my journey to Penzance, they seemed nervy then and I had expected them to maybe have left by the time I returned and so I was very pleased to see them still present.

 Whooper Swans, Hayle
 Whooper Swans
Five (+1)(Whooper) Swans a Swimming

I also had some good views of 3 grey plover, 4 ringed plover, 2 turnstone, 1 oystercatcher, 2 greenshanks, 3 bar tailed godwits, 3 lapwing, curlew and dunlin. 8 Sandwich terns were diving for fish on The Carnsew Pool, 2 were juveniles and as usual very noisey. Mediterranean gulls were very much in evidence, maybe 50+ birds, I have never seen so many together before and in a range of plumages. The adults in winter plumage were especially stunning in flight despite the gloomy light. 6 redwings flying over were a hint of winter yet to come.

Heading home before the showers arrived and I felt exhausted but very pleased to have seen 2 of my target birds, with my year list now on 197 birds (!).

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