Monday 18 January 2016

Heaven in Hayle

Saturday 16th January and a very cold but sunny day saw me heading off to Hayle on the train for a bit of serious birding. Arriving in Hayle at around 10am and I headed off straight away to the Carnsew Pool. A few minutes of scanning and I found the recently reported red necked grebe, only my 6th ever sighting of one and a beautiful bird that gave some great views although it spent very little time at the surface.

Red Necked Grebe, Hayle

Red Necked Grebe

Scanning around and I also found a very smart and confiding razorbill along with 4 little grebes while a kingfisher flew low over the water and a grey wagtail fed around a nearby puddle.

Razorbill, Hayle

Walking around the Pool towards the estuary and a smart and confiding guillemot was feeding on the river along with a great northern diver which dived just as I got onto it and despite watching and looking I couldn't refind it. An adult winter plumaged Mediterranean gull flew over looking quite ghostly in the bright sunshine and a greenshank noisily flew off from a roost of oystercatchers by the riverside.

Guillemot, Hayle

At Ryans Field a few lapwing and 20 golden plover were roosting but most of the waders were now feeding on the estuary as the tide began to ebb away - dunlin, ringed plover, curlew, grey plover, oystercatcher, redshank, turnstone and a bar tailed godwit were all seen.  Shelduck, teal and wigeon were also showing well along with a pair of goosander and a female red breasted merganser which was associating with them and allowing some nice comparisons with the female goosander.

 Male Goosander, Hayle

Female Goosander, Male Goosander and Female Red Breasted Merganser, Hayle

Scanning through the large roost of gulls and I found a nice adult kittiwake preening amongst the herring, lesser black backed, greater black backed and black headed gulls, which was a bit of a surprise. I would have liked to have spent more time going through the gulls but time was against me and so I scanned around and eventually found the long staying juvenile spoonbill roosting with little egrets on the saltings. It was fast asleep but had a quite distinctive profile compared with the egrets and just as I got my scope on it it flew off downriver but at least I saw its pinky spoon shaped bill, black wing tips and outstretched neck in flight before it landed on the estuary wall and went back to sleep!

I had hoped to have a look for the yellow browed warbler being seen behind the hide at Ryans Field but decided to have another look at the red necked grebe instead as my time at Hayle was running out. I had some lovely views of the grebe again as it preened on the water, being joined by the razorbill for a while, and it was nice to get some good views of a great northern diver regularly diving nearby.

Razorbill and Red Necked Grebe

Razorbill and Red Necked Grebe

Unfortunately it was time to catch the train down to Penzance, I had thought of just staying at Hayle as the birding was so good (quite heavenly in fact) but I stuck to my plan and arrived at Penzance at around 1pm, seeing the long staying and resident male eider amongst the gull flock close to the sea wall as the train pulled in to the station.

I headed off to the sea wall by the bus station for a quick scan around and found the male eider busily displaying to adult great black backed gulls, much to their amusement and/or fascination, and while watching the eider a large and milky coffee coloured juvenile glaucous gull flew up from the water before settling again further out where I had some nice scope views, a very nice find. A Slavonian grebe was just offshore from the Long Rock carpark, distant views only and my fifth grebe species in 3 days, but 2 great northern divers were much closer in and a male common scoter flew over towards Mousehole.

I headed off to the Jubille Pool where 20+ purple sandpipers gave some nice views with turnstone and ringed plovers while offshore a grey seal popped its head up out of the water and a pair of razorbill were busily diving.

Purple Sandpiper, Penzance

Turnstone, Newlyn

I carried on along the coast path towards Newlyn and on to Sandy Cove (misnamed as not very sandy!) where the regular wintering Pacific diver has mostly been seen but there was no sign of it (it was reported off Marazion that day, the usual place I would normally have visited!). I did see a female type black redstart on the rocky shore and a few great northern divers on the flat calm sea but amongst a large feeding flock of gulls around a trawler I found another juvenile glaucous gull - this one was paler and with worn tail feathers compared to the Penzance bird - but it quickly flew off towards Mousehole and out of sight. I later found another bird resting on the water but it drifted off towards Mousehole and out of sight again, another pale bird compared to the Penzance bird but possibly the bird I had seen in flight earlier?

Another look at the purple sandpipers on the walk back to Penzance was a delight as usual, such characterful and handsome birds, and another look off the sea wall by the bus station and the milky coffee coloured glaucous gull was still loafing around along with the horny but confused male eider. A female blackcap skulking in the nearby bushes finished off an amazing days birding as I headed off to catch the train home - no Pacific diver again (as usual) but some fantastic birds anyway.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Stuart,
    That sounds a really good day; an enjoyable read. Good to read about Wembury too. I miss it.