Saturday, 9 July 2016

Dalmatian Pelican in The Mist

Saturday July 9th and my plan had been to head off to Ashclyst Forest near Exeter for a butterfly walk but the weather forecast was for cloudy, cool and breezy conditions and so I decided to head over the River Tamar to Torpoint for a Dalmatian pelican twitch instead.

A Dalmatian pelican first appeared in Cornwall in the Penzance area back in May of this year and much debate has occurred regarding its provenance since but it may possibly be a genuine wild bird. I had thought about going down to have a look for it but it has been proved to be quite mobile, It has now appeared in the Torpoint area of Cornwall, just over the border from Devon (and Plymouth), and so it was time to try and catch up with it.

I headed off to Whacker Quay along the River Lynher first as it seems the bird favours this area in the mornings. It was cloudy as I left Plymouth but when I arrived off the bus at Antony for the walk down to Whacker Quay it was misty and drizzly and the visibility was appalling. A chiffchaff and a blackcap were heard singing as I walked along the road to the Quay but best of all was a tawny owl which flew out of the roadside hedge being chased by a noisy blackbird,

Whacker Quay was in total mist but I did see a greenshank, 2 little egrets, a great crested grebe and gulls but no pelican. I met a fellow birder who had earlier seen the pelican at St. Johns Lake before it had flown off and he had headed over to the Quay in the hope of refinding it but there was no sign of it in the mist. I carried on along the footpath by the river back to Antony seeing a sparrowhawk being mobbed by swallows along the way and hearing curlews in the mist but still no pelican.

Waiting for the bus back to Torpoint and the birder I had met earlier passed by in his car and offered me a lift and so we headed off to Marine Drive in Torpoint for a scan of St.Johns Lake. It was quite windy and still very misty when we arrived at Marine Drive but scanning around I soon found the pelican on the opposite side of the lake as it moved along the shoreline to a small rocky island where it landed and began to preen, showing its black wingtips as it flapped its wings. Its large size was obvious and at first I thought it was a mute swan in the murk but a look through the telescope confirmed it was the pelican.

Dalmatian Pelican - honest! (The white blob on the right of the island)

The views were distant and murky and my birder companion soon left to head back to Nottingham but I stayed in the hope the murk would clear. It didn't but the pelican did move a little nearer as it was flushed off the island by kayakers and landed on the water. It continued to be a little nervous and flew off a few times before landing again on the water and I last saw it as it drifted off into the River Tamar (and nearer to the Devon border).

 Dalmatian Pelican in the mist in flight

 Dalmatian Pelican in the mist on the water

Dalmatian Pelican  - zoomed in shot in the mist

Dalmatian Pelican as it looks in better weather conditions (Photo courtesy of CBWPS Website)

A strange sight in Cornwall in July in less than ideal conditions - but will it be considered a wild bird and a first for the UK? Maybe my first British lifer of 2016?  Time will tell.

No comments:

Post a Comment