Friday 24 December 2021

The Best of 2021

Another year draws to a close after another 12 months of COVID-19 restrictions, lock downs and social tension plus another 12 months of the continuing stresses and strains of working in a battered and beleagured NHS, all of which has made for an "interesting" year.

It has been a great year though for wildlife despite the travel restrictions in place at the beginning of 2021, getting out and about into nature has been for me a soothing balm in a very fraught world and has kept me (semi-) sane. 

And so here are the Top 10 highlights of my wildlife year :-

1. Wally the Walrus - the undoubted highlight of the year for me. I watched the news about him with interest when he was first found in Ireland before he took up residence at Tenby in Wales but COVID restrictions prevented us from going to see him. Eventually a travel window appeared in May and off we headed and he didn't disappoint - an absolutely gorgeous animal. 

Wally, Tenby


He eventually departed Tenby and reappeared in Cornwall, France, Spain and then the Isles of Scilly before returning to Ireland and then on to Iceland where news reports have since dried up. Where ever he is I hope he is healthy and happy as he brought a huge amount of joy to me and to  many others during his wanderings. 

2. Back Yard Mothing -  after failing to reach my target of 100 species of moth in the back yard last year I decided to up my game and have another go in 2021. The spring weather was dire and prevented me from getting the moth box out much but a concerted effort over the summer involving checking out every micro moth and with much help from @MothIDUK on Twitter I reached a total of 123 species - result! 

Jersey Mocha, Back Yard

3. Butterfly Trips to Cumbria - a trip to The Lake District booked for June last year was unfortunately cancelled due to COVID but this year's rebooked trip went ahead and with the Butterfly Gods smiling down on me I saw all of my target species - Northern Brown Argus, Large Heath and Mountain Ringlet. We were very lucky with the weather and had a great trip away, our first proper holiday for almost 18 months. 

A further trip to Cumbria in August was equally successful with some great weather and some excellent views of Scotch Argus, another new UK butterfly for me and leaving me with just Chequered Skipper left to see. 

Large Heath and Mountain Ringlet

Northern Brown Argus and Scotch Argus

4. Isles of Scilly Day Trip - I missed my annual autumn day trip to The Scillies last year due to COVID but this year I was determined to go and what a great trip I had. The weather was perfect with sunshine and a flat calm sea and from the decks of the Scillonian Ferry I saw my first UK Rissos Dolphin along with Common Dolphins, Sooty Shearwater, Storm Petrel, Balearic Shearwater and Great Skua.

The Islands themselves were stunning in the sunshine and while I dipped the Bonellis Warbler I very much enjoyed my wanderings around St.Marys before returning home exhausted but very happy. 

The view from The Garrison, St.Marys

5. Sea Watching - I have really started to enjoy sea watching and was hoping for some opportunities to get some hours in this year but the weather and timings haven't worked out well for me and I only managed 2 trips to Berry Head in Devon and a trip to St.Ives in Cornwall.

The trips to Berry Head weren't in the best of conditions but I enjoyed them anyway and managed to see Great and Arctic Skuas and frustratingly a probable Pomarine Skua along with excellent views of Harbour Porpoise. 

The trip to St.Ives was much better with a strong North-Westerly blowing but I arrived a bit later than I should have and missed some of the good birds reported although I had great views of Manx and Balearic Shearwaters and Arctic and Great Skuas. 

Next year I'm hoping for a bit more success on the sea watching front but again it is all about weather and timing so I will keep my fingers crossed. 

6. UK Lifers - A total of 5 UK lifers this year is very good for me and especially considering the travel restrictions in place for some of it. The Northern Mockingbird dip at Exmouth was a bit of a bummer but I managed to see Goshawk, Night Heron and American Herring Gull (all UK but not life ticks) and American Golden Plover and White-tailed Lapwing. 

American Herring Gull, Night Heron, White-tailed Lapwing and American Golden Plover

Other rare/scarce/uncommon bird highlights for the year included Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Snow Bunting, Rose Coloured Starling, Great White Egret, Red-necked Grebe and Shore Lark.

A total of 186 species for the year is one of my lowest final totals but not too bad considering the restrictions and I've enjoyed local birding instead of regularly travelling further afield. 

7. Local Birding - With the lock down from January to March and then ongoing travel restrictions into June I spent a lot of time getting out and about close to home and again I have been amazed at what birds I have seen - Osprey, Spoonbill, Little Tern, Cirl Bunting, Scaup, Cattle Egret, Yellow Wagtail, Black-necked Grebe, Avocet, Black Redstart, Glaucous Gull, Balearic Sheareater and Arctic Skua to name a few and all within 10 kilometres of my house.

Glaucous Gull, Scaup and Cattle Egret

My lock down walks around Plymouth Hoe were a particular highlight with Purple Sandpipers, Great Northern Divers, a Long-tailed Duck, a Red Kite, a Chough and an Otter all found on my walks and which I probably wouldn't have seen without the travel restrictions. 

I just managed to reach my target of 100 species of birds in January, all achieved locally during the lock down, and also my target of 100 species of birds at Saltram and the River Plym (103). Unfortunately I never reached my 100 target for Wembury, only achieving a still impressive 92 species.

8. Moths and Butterflies - Back yard mothing has been very interesting but other mothing highlights of the year were finding male Emperor Moths on Dartmoor using a pheromone lure, finding a Convolvulus Hawk Moth at Wembury twice, possibly the same individual, and moth boxing in my Mums Garden where lots of Box Tree Moths were seen.

Emperor Moth and Convolvulus Hawkmoth

Butterflying was a bit more low key this year other than the Cumbria trips and I didn't undertake any other Butterfly Days. I failed to see a Clouded Yellow in what seems to have been a poor year for them which was disappointing, I also failed to see a Hummingbird Hawkmoth too and it wasn't a good year for Painted Lady either. 

I did manage to get some good views of Essex Skipper again in Suffolk and White-letter Hairstreaks at Oreston in Plymouth along with Dark Green and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Green and Purple Hairstreak and Dingy Skipper. Hopefully next year will be better. 

9. Birthday Dolphins - a baking hot, sunny and totally calm boat trip out of Falmouth on my birthday gave some absolutely amazing views of Common Dolphins bow riding, a perfect birthday treat.

Common Dolphins

10. Buntings, Pipits and Larks - An influx of Snow Buntings into the UK this autumn had them appearing all over the place including Devon and after a dip at Slapton and then Wembury I wasn't hopeful of catching up with them. However a return to Slapton eventually gave me some fantastic views of 2 birds and totally absorbing they were too.

A search for Water Pipit at Wembury for my 100 birds target kept drawing a blank but eventually I found one in November, a month that usually sees me finding one there, and an absolute cracker it was too.

A return visit to Wembury to try and refind it drew a blank but I did find a nice colour ringed Scandinavian Rock Pipit instead which was ringed in Finland earlier in the year and which brightened up my walk and mood no end. 

Snow Bunting, Scandinavian Rock Pipit and Water Pipit

And finally a trip to Suffolk at the end of the year saw me catching up with Shore Larks, a total of 5 feeding together along the beach at Shingle Street and only my second UK sighting of them after a single bird at Minsmere in May 1982.

I've always watched the bird news sightings for Shore Lark with envy when I've visited family in Suffolk over the winter but the birds have always been too far away or in difficult to reach places and I've also dipped them too so to finally catch up with them was a nice end to the year.

Shore Larks

So here's to 2022, hopefully the new Omicron variant of COVID won't scupper any plans but time will tell. And the birds and wildlife are always there to keep me going.

Merry Christmas! 

Wednesday 22 December 2021

Pre-Christmas Birding

As the usual Christmas hyper-frenzy whips itself up into a spumey froth COVID continues to rear its ugly head with the new Omicron variant rampaging through the populace at a frightening pace and threatening a Christmas lock down again. At least I have my wildlife as a soothing antedote to all the current nonsense.

Despite the grey skies we had a quick walk around Plymouth Hoe on Tuesday 14th December to look for Purple Sandpiper and very luckily we found 2 feeding on the rocks below the Pier One Cafe along with 3 Turnstones. 

Purple Sandpiper, Plymouth Hoe

Purple Sandpiper

Thursday 16th December and I took a walk around Saltram and along the River Plym. It felt quite mild but I was still surprised to see a Red Admiral flying around. Less surprising was a male Winter Moth on the wall of the underpass at Marsh Mills. 

Winter Moth -  my first moth of 2021 and probably my last of 2021

I had a gentle saunter around and spent a bit of time looking for the reported Water Rail at the Wet Wood but without any luck. However the male Teal was still present on the duck pond with the Moorhens, Mallards and Mandarins and had now been joined by the wandering female Red-crested Pochard. 

Red-crested Pochard, Saltram

Male Teal, Saltram

Male Chaffinch with Fringilla papillomavirus on its feet

Chaffinch with Fringilla papillomavirus

Out on the Estuary a male and 4 female Goosander and 9 Wigeon were seen along with a Common Sandpiper, 3 Little Egret and 3 Grey Heron. 

With the tide heading in Blaxton Meadow was full of roosting birds and amongst the Dunlin, Redshank, Shelduck and Gulls were a Greenshank, a Black-tailed Godwit and a single adult Common Gull. 

That evening we headed out to the Plymouth Christmas Market for a look at the lights and decorations and very Christmassy it felt too, the first time I have felt festive this year although it may have been down to imbibing a little Christmas spirit. 

Christmas Drinkies in The Bread and Roses sat next to this beast of a tree! 

The plan had been to head off the next morning to Exmouth with Mavis for our usual Stuart Lines bird cruise on the River Exe but with COVID issues growing fast Mavis felt uncomfortable about going so unfortunately we decided to cancel. This resulted in me imbibing a little too much Christmas spirit the night before and so I had a bit of a thick head the next morning for my early start to catch the train to Torbay for a day's birding. 

My Birding Mojo is still flat but with the very real potential of another lock down coming I wanted to make the most of the current freedom and dragged myself out of bed, hangover headache or not. I arrived at Paignton at around 9:00 and decided to walk along the coast towards Broadsands and save myself the £5 bus fare and also to get rid of some of my Pre-Christmas blubber. The conditions weren't great as I had feared but also as I had expected, the recent calm weather and occasional sunny spells had gone and it was grey, dank and dull with a brisk Easterly breeze and swelly and choppy seas. 

I stopped off first at Saltern Cove and set up my scope from the beach and immediately picked up a probable Pomarine Skua distantly offshore hassling Kittiwakes but it quickly settled on the sea and was never seen again. I also found a smart Black-throated Diver closer in as it appeared and disappeared in the swell but it dived and then also wasn't refound. 

I carried on along the coast path towards Broadsands but stopped off at a bench on the cliff top before reaching there for a better scan about although it was quite exposed and quite chilly in the breeze. Gannets, Kittiwakes, Shag, Fulmar, Razorbill and Guillemots were all seen along with very brief views of 3 Great Northern Divers and more prolonged views of a Red-throated Diver. A flyover Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and Raven along with 2 Brent Geese flying west added some variety and interest. 

Torbay not looking at its best from my clifftop bench - Brixham is in the distance

I headed back to Goodrington where offshore a Black-throated Diver and a dark looking Great Crested Grebe were seen and a look at the boating lake revealed 6 male and 3 female Tufted Duck and a Coot amongst the Mallards and Gulls.

Tufted Duck, Goodrington Boating Lake

Male Mallard with Angel Wing

I picked out a very white headed juvenile Gull, a 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull, resting on the side of the lake amongst the assorted Gulls present and noticed it had a yellow ring on its right leg with black letters just as it decided to drop down onto the water before I could read it properly. It sat around on the water for a while before flying off out to sea and I never did get a proper read on its ring.

Yellow-legged Gull hiding its right leg ring (Yellow with black letters) 

Yellow-legged Gull

Yellow-legged Gull

Yellow-legged Gull

I carried on to nearby Clennon Lakes to play hide and seek with a Yellow-Browed Warbler but the Warbler won and I failed to see it although I think I did hear it calling a few times. I did however see up to 4 Chiffchaff, a Firecrest, Goldcrests, a male Bullfinch, a male Gadwall, a Little Grebe and a Little Egret and I heard a Water Rail squealing and a Great Spotted Woodpecker chipping away before I gave up and headed home. 

Male Gadwall, Clennon Lakes

My train to Plymouth from Newton Abbot was cancelled and so I sat on the platform for an hour waiting for the next one, not the best end to a so-so birding day but in keeping with my general mood at the moment. 

Saturday 18th December and back to work with another busy shift as it always is these days but it was brightened up by a female type Black Redstart flitting about the rooftops as viewed from the staff room window when I grabbed myself a quick cup of tea. 

After working two very busy long days over the weekend and with a night shift then looming large on Monday 20th December I had planned for a quiet day but with news of a male Pochard on the River Plym I headed out to Marsh Mills for a quick look. Needless to say I didn't see it but it was good to be out for a bit of exercise despite the cold and grey conditions. 

I did see a few good birds though on my hour and a half visit with the highlights being a Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Common Sandpiper, 8 Goosander (4 males), 8 Little Grebe, a Kingfisher, a Jay and a Greenshank.

A Kingfisher in the gloom, River Plym
I was very knackered after a busy night shift with no break following on from my 2 busy day shifts but I headed out for a repeat walk along the River Plym and around Saltram Park on Wednesday December 22nd. It was another cold and grey day but I did briefly see something rare - the sun! - and it was good to get out for some fresh air and exercise despite feeling so tired.

Little Egret - with reflection!

The usual birds were seen again - the Red-crested Pochard on the duck pond ( but no sign of the male Teal), 4 noisey Ring-necked Parakeets, a Greenshank, a Black-tailed Godwit, just 2 Common Sandpipers, a Kingfisher, a Grey Wagtail, 4 Little Grebe and a male and 2 female Goosander.

Red-crested Pochard

Mandarin Ducks on the River Plym including the male with the unusual head pattern

A Peregrine was seen flying over and spooking all the Gulls out on the estuary including 3 adult Common Gull. Also seen were 3 male Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Goldcrest, at least 8 Redwing and 27 Wigeon (10 males). Unfortunately a stake out of the Wet Wood didn't provide a sighting of the Water Rail again.

It's unlikely I'll get any more birding in between now and New Year what with Christmas and work and stuff but I've enjoyed all the wildlife distractions on the lead up to the "Big Day" itself. And I'm getting excited to see what next year will bring on the wildlife front.

Sunday 12 December 2021

A Trip to Suffolk

Tuesday 7th December saw us heading off to Suffolk for a few days away to visit family for Christmas. The weather on the journey up to Ipswich was foul as Storm Barra rattled across the UK with heavy rain, gales and lots of surface spray on the roads making for a rather unpleasant drive but we eventually arrived safely.

The following day was sunny and dry but still very windy and I managed to persuade David and Mum to go to Shingle Street for a walk so I could look for the 5 Shore Larks that have been present for a couple of weeks now. The birds have been very mobile, ranging up and down the coast between Shingle Street and Aldeburgh, and on the drive to Shingle Street I kept my fingers crossed that they would be present. 

I've never visited Shingle Street before, back in 1981 I was heading out there on a coach trip with the Suffolk Naturalists Society but we never arrived as we were involved in a nasty crash with a lorry along the way. I've always been intrigued as to what I missed so if nothing else a visit would finally satisfy my curiosity.

Newspaper cuttings from the crash - thankfully no one was badly hurt. 

It was incredibly windy on the coast and Mum and David stayed in the car while I headed up the shingle beach towards Aldeburgh with the waves crashing against the shore and Gulls swirling around. A Grey Seal was resting on the beach before disappearing into the water and a few Redshank were feeding along the tidal creek. 

I eventually met up with another birder out along the shingle ridge and he very kindly pointed out the 5 Shore Larks feeding unobtrusively amongst the vegetation nearby. They gave some lovely views with their yellow faces looking stunning in the sunshine and I was very glad to catch up with them, only my second ever UK sighting.

Shore Larks at Shingle Street

Shore Larks

Shore Larks

They disappeared behind a shingle bank and so I walked onwards to try and get more views of them but they must have flown as they had just vanished and despite searching further along the beach I never refound them. I also hadn't realised how far I had walked along the ridge and the walk back to the car over the pebbles and into the strong wind was quite exhausting but it was all worth it. 

Thursday 9th December was sunny and calm and cold and after visiting the antiques centre and our friends cafe in Yoxford we had a brief stop at Minsmere on the way to Snape Maltings. We parked up on the road near the Island Mere and walked along the muddy footpath to the hide to look for the 3 wintering Whooper Swans. Unfortunately they had decided to head over to The Scrape but I did manage some nice views of a pair of Marsh Harriers, Wigeon, a Little Grebe and Mute Swans before we walked back to the car to continue our journey and on the drive towards Snape I managed to see Fieldfare, Red-legged Partridge and a Water Rail as well. 

While Mum and David looked around Snape Maltings I took a muddy walk along the river where a female Marsh Harrier showed very well hunting over the reed beds. The tide was low and out on the mudflats were good numbers of Dunlin, Redshank, Lapwing and Avocets. 

Avocets at Snape

Avocets at Dusk

Avocets at Dusk



As the light began to fade I kept a look out for Barn Owls but with no luck but I did see a male Reed Bunting, Teal, Mallard and surprisingly 2 Green Sandpipers flying high overhead and moving inland. 

We headed back home on Friday 10th December and the weather was much kinder with sunny skies, no rain and little wind but it was still quite cold. We stopped off at my sisters in Surrey for a cup of tea and a catch up along the way and as dusk fell we watched the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and Venus move across the sky as we drove along the A303 towards Plymouth after an enjoyable trip away. 

Wednesday 8 December 2021

Scandinavian Rock Pipit, Wembury

After all the excitement of our stay at Harvey it was back to more normal fare with a walk at Wembury on Saturday 4th December. The footpath was a complete quagmire but it was a cold and dry morning with occasional sunny spells as I negotiated the muddy route to The Point and back. 


I was feeling flat and listless and I wasn't really in the birding zone but figured the walk would do me good after all the food and drink consumed during our time away at Harvey.

The usual birds were seen with Cirl Buntings and Stonechats continuing to be very showy indeed along the coast path. A Jay was found skulking in the trees behind The Stables where a Great Spotted Woodpecker was also heard "chipping" away. Another Great Spotted Woodpecker was also heard at The Pines where a female Sparrowhawk briefly perched up before continuing over the bracken covered slope in full hunting mode.

Mallard, Oystercatcher, 2 Curlew and 2 Little Egret were out on the rocks with Gannets flying around offshore and around 12 Fulmar back around The Mewstone after completing their wing moult out at sea. A Grey Seal was also briefly seen surfacing close to the rocks but wasn't refound.

I decided to have a look for the Water Pipit along the beach but there was no sign of it this time. There was less seaweed washed up on the beach than on my previous visit and also fewer Rock Pipits but there were still good numbers of Meadow Pipit present. A big surprise was a colour ringed Rock Pipit which allowed a fairly close approach before eventually flying off and on checking out the excellent website it is a "Scandinavian" Rock Pipit (littoralis) from a Finnish ringing scheme.

Scandinavian Rock Pipit (littoralis) 

Hopefully it will stay for the winter but Pipit numbers along the beach at Wembury are very fluid depending on the amount of seaweed washed up on the beach from winter storms.

Finding the colour ringed Rock Pipit certainly brightened up my walk and added a bit of interest and excitement to my indifferent mood. A flyover Peregrine while waiting at the bus stop for the journey home was a nice end to my visit too. 

Friday 3 December 2021

Holiday at Harvey in Hayle

Monday 29th November and a week off work again but with a holiday to actually look forward too!

This time last year we had booked to travel to Munich and Prague but with COVID lockdowns looming Prague was out of bounds and the trip was rearranged for Munich only. Further locking down meant Munich was cancelled too and so we booked Harvey at Hayle, a renovated 1950's railway carriage located at Hayle Station. Ultimately this fell foul of COVID as well and had to be cancelled also but such is life.

We had considered rebooking Munich and Prague for this year but with all the continuing uncertainty over foreign travel we rebooked Harvey instead and kept our fingers crossed. As it turns out it was a wise decision with the Munich Christmas Markets now being cancelled and the need to self isolate for 2 days on returning to the UK until a negative PCR test is confirmed now required.

I decided I would make the most of my time at Hayle by starting off with a bit of birding on Monday 29th November and so caught the train to St.Erth in the morning while David, Julie and Matt travelled down by car later that afternoon for a check in rendezvous at Harvey at 4pm.

The train to St.Erth was late in due to a points failure at Liskeard but I arrived at The Old Quay Inn at around 1pm as the tide slowly began to drop and out on the saltmarsh and emerging mudflats were lots of birds. 

A flock of around 150 Golden Plover were roosting together and looking and sounding fabulous but they were twitchy and flighty due to the unwanted attentions of Carrion Crows and surprisingly also Lapwings. With an American Golden Plover having been found amongst them I had a good scan through them but with no luck. 

I began the walk to Hayle and noticed another flock of around 150 Golden Plover out on the Estuary but another search through them didn't reveal their American cousin. 

I had noticed the reported Great White Egret roosting on Ryan's Field from the train as it passed by on the way to St.Erth but there was no sign of it when I walked past the Field towards Hayle. 

Other birds noted were 4 Greenshank, a Knot, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Grey Plover, Dunlin, Redshank and Curlew, a male Goosander, Wigeon, Teal and Shelduck, Black-headed, Common. Mediterranean, Lesser Black-backed, Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls (including an adult Argentatus bird), 2 Raven, a Buzzard, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Canada Goose and Rock Pipit. 

Grey Plover, Hayle

Goosander with Gulls

Argentatus Herring Gull with argenteus - streaky head and pink legs eventually seen! 

I met up with the others at Harvey as the light began to fade and we settled in for the night. Harvey was great to stay in, very homely, cosy, quirky and comfortable indeed and we had an enjoyable time. 

Harvey at Hayle

Our Christmas Tree at Harvey

Tuesday 30th November saw us heading off to St.Ives for the day on the train. Unfortunately the trains were still being disrupted by the points failure at Liskeard but we eventually arrived at St.Ives where it was very windy with waves of mizzley rain sweeping through between brief sunny spells. 

A few Grey Seals were seen close in to the beach but it really was a case of blink and they were gone. Sadly the floating corpse of what seemed to be a Grey Seal was seen floating offshore being scavenged by a few Gulls. A nicer sighting was a distant pod of around 10 Common Dolphins moving around offshore before heading out to sea. 

Gannets and Shags were flying around and sat on the sea with a Fulmar and a Kittiwake picked up flying west along with 5 Guillemot. The highlight though was a Black-throated Diver on the sea just offshore from the Coast Guard Lookout. It was showing a very distinct white flank patch and its dark brown back contrasted nicely with a paler brown neck before it dived and was never seen again. 

Wednesday 1st December was a wildlife free Christmas shopping day in Truro by train which actually was quite enjoyable but Thursday 2nd December saw us catching the train to Penzance for the day and walking to Marazion and back. It was cold but with sunny spells and the sea was flat calm and we had a very invigorating and much needed walk along the coast path after all the excessive eating and drinking of the previous few days.

A Grey Seal was seen very briefly poking is head out of the water before disappearing, never to be seen again, while offshore Gannets, Kittiwakes, Shag and Cormorants were noted and along the beach a small flock of Sanderling were being moved back and forth along the shoreline by dogs and walkers.

At Marazion a very showy Snipe was found by Matt right by the footpath but there were only 2 Little Grebe and a Moorhen on Long Rock Pool and no sign of the reported Black- necked Grebe.

Snipe, Marazion Marsh

It was strange to see a Swallow flying back and forth along the coastpath between Penzance and Marazion, up to 11 have been reported in the area recently as often happens here in December, only a single bird was seen at any one time but presumably more than 1 bird was present.

I had a quick look at the rocks by the Lido before we headed back on the train to Hayle but there was no sign of any Purple Sandpipers on the incoming tide although around 30 Turnstone were seen.

Friday 3rd December and it was time to pack up and return to Plymouth and while the others drove off in the car I stayed behind in Hayle to do some more birding despite the mizzle and poor visibility.

I headed down first to the Carnsew Pool  on the low tide where the Great White Egret was busily fishing along the shoreline and at last giving some great views.

Great White Egret, Hayle

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

Onwards to the Causeway Bridge and the flock of around 300 Golden Plover were roosting in one group out on the salt marsh but despite scanning through them with my scope I could not find the American Golden Plover amongst them, not helped in the poor light by the birds being mostly tucked up asleep or flying around when spooked.

A male and 2 female Goosander were seen flying downriver and a few Bar-tailed Godwit were noted out on the mudflats along with a Snipe, 6 Turnstone, a small flock of around 20 Ringed Plover and 2 Oystercatcher amongst the usual Gulls, Ducks and Waders.


Bar-tailed Godwit, Lapwing, Wigeon and Black-headed Gull


With the American Golden Plover proving elusive I decided to carry on to St.Erth to look for Cattle Egrets being reported in the fields amongst the cows. I thought I had seen them the previous day as our train neared St.Erth railway station on our return journey from Penzance and so I negotiated the country lanes and muddy footpaths to the area where I had seen them.

Up to 5 have been reported on the area and I managed to find 4 of them in a field as viewed from the footpath but they were distant and flighty and eventually moved out of sight down the hillside.

Cattle Egret, St.Erth

I walked back to St.Erth Station to catch the train back to Plymouth, noting Redwings being chased out of a Holly tree covered in berries by an indignant Mistle Thrush along the way, and the train journey home was uneventful despite a rucksack, coat and jeans covered in dog poo which I had inadvertently picked up when I put my rucksack on the ground to get my scope out. 

And so a nice break away was had by all - Christmassy, lots of food and drink, a bit of wildlife watching and great company - perfect!