Monday, 14 March 2016

Hudsonian Whimbrel Dip - Again

Back in November 2015 I visited Marazion in Cornwall and dipped on Hudsonian whimbrel, getting wet, muddy, bloodied and bruised in the process, and since then I have been following its progress on the internet sightings pages as it overwinters on a 2 mile stretch of rocky, seaweed covered shore near Marazion. Some days it is seen very well, other days it is a no show and I finally decided it was shit or bust time and so on Saturday March 12th I headed off to try and see it. Being a Saturday the train fare was only £10 instead of a weekday price of £20 so I figured if I was going to dip again it would be a bargain at half the price! The day was cold and sunny but calm so good conditions but the tide wasn't great - high tide at around 7am and ebbing rapidly by the time I arrived at Marazion at 11am.

I headed off along the coastal footpath towards Perranuthnoe where the bird has most often been seen and a chiffchaff singing was nice to hear. 2 rock pipits were songflighting amongst the boulders and a couple of surprisingly well camoflagued curlews feeding amongst the weed covered rocks had my pulse briefly racing. Oystercatchers, turnstones, 2 or 3 redshanks and 3 ringed plovers along with little egrets and grey herons were also seen before 3 paragliders with noisey motors flew over putting everything up and despite checking out all the birds flying around I couldn't find the Hudsonian whimbrel amongst them. And so it was to be another Hudsonian whimbrel dip trip.

Offshore and a few distant gannets were seen diving for fish. A group of 3 great northern divers together with a fourth bird further out were a nice find but even better were 2 black throated divers, one close to shore and the other quite a way out. I tried to turn the closer bird into the overwintering Pacific diver but it showed a distinct white rear flank patch although it did disappear at times as the bird energetically preened itself in the gentle swell (the bird further out was too distant to get any real plumage detail on).

I did smack my shin, whack my binoculars and jar my wrist when I slipped on the rocks as I clambered over a small stretch of beach. Fortunately my binoculars were OK but my shin was bloodied and bruised and my wrist swollen and tender - I guess it wouldn't be a Hudsonian whimbrel dip without injuring myself!

Heading back to Marazion Marsh and a male gadwall with teal and 2 male mallard was my first for the Marsh. 3 snipe, 3 Canada geese, a little egret, 4 grey herons, a male reed bunting and 2 male stonechats were also seen. A chiffchaff was heard singing along with 2 Cettis warblers and I had a brief view of a Cettis flitting about in some bramble bushes.

Male Gadwall

Best of all though was a bittern which appeared at the edge of the reeds before taking flight and disappearing from sight, the best views of a bittern I have had at Marazion but unfortunately a little distant.


 Bittern with Teal

Record Shot of Bittern in flight

Offshore a first winter Mediterranean gull was being chased by a first winter common gull but it was time to head back to Penzance for the train back to Plymouth - no Hudsonian whimbrel again but a nice day out with some good birds (the Hudsonian whimbrel was reported later that afternoon after I had left, maybe I'll try again another day? - the Pacific diver has also been reported recently in the area as well).

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