Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Porthgwarra & Pendeen - 17 & 18 August 2013

We were in Cornwall for the week to work on the Aquatic Warbler project, but inclement weather, squally showers and strong gusts meant that our start was delayed and we got the chance to get some sea watching in.

Saturday with SW 17mph wind with gusts reported as reaching 33mph saw us heading off to Porthgwarra, but we did not make it an especially early start and by the time we had breakfast we go there about 9.15, to find quite a few already there and a poor position, with little cover, and rain starting just as we settled down. Driving rain made sea watching difficult, especially with no cover, and optics spent a fair amount of time out of use trying to keep them moderately dry. In the brief moments where the rain was light enough to make any attempt to scan the sea worth while, apart from lots of Gannets and Manx Shearwaters, and few Fulmar and Kittiwakes, we only managed a single Great and Sooty Shearwaters, before deciding to abandon around 2pm as the rain was persistent and appeared to have no sign of letting up.

Sunday with W 15-17 mph wind we headed this time to Pendeen. We got there earlier around 7.30 and managed to get a fairly reasonable spot. With virtually no rain seawatching was much more manageable, with a single Cory's, Sooty and Balearic Shearwaters being seen, along with single Arctic and Pomarine Skuas, along with several Greats. Four Storm Petrel's were seen feeding offshore, with Gannets, Manx Shearwaters, several flocks of Whimbrel, a single flock of Bar-tailed Godwits containing a sngle Black-tailed Godwit, four Mediterranean Gulls and a Peregrine.

The bizarre bit of the day was around 9.30 some comes around the corner saying this bloke has just photographed a Red-billed Tropicbird and he has seen the photograph. A series of debates took place, over how come 60 other people failed to see it, including questioning with it was really true. What then unfolded was even more bizarre, someone suggested rushing off to Sennan, initially there was a little response, until this guy became quite agitated with a mate of his who was initially not overly responding to the suggestion of heading off to Sennan, when over half of the people present packed up and headed off on a wild goose chase. There was a group of Cornish lads there and one then over the next 30 minutes or so rang all his local birding mates, and in every call tongue in cheek said he was going to throw himself in. There is more on this event on Birdforum, which I have not even looked at, but speaking to a local birder it seems the bird was hanging around at the bottom of the cliffs for 7 or so minutes and the photographer took 40 minutes before heading up to tell anyone else and go and look for it at Cape Cornwall. Lord knows what stories are going around, and the photograph has not appeared as yet, allegedly it will only appear when one of the bird mags pays for it! Still no one can work out how 60 people seawatching missed it and bizarre the information come to light. The only bizarre good thing out of this, is that at least 60 people seawatching at the lighthouse missed the bird and it was not a case of 60% seeing it and 40% missing it, as can often happen on sea watches.

A late afternoon visit to the Hayle Est produced very little apart from a Whimbrel and a couple of Knot.