Saturday, 31 January 2015

Friday 30th January

The week flies. Admittedly Saturday to Friday isn't quite a full week, and only 6 days, but still ...

At first glance the view from the hide wasn't that enthralling - a handful of gulls and distant Cormorants, but sure enough the birds were out there.

The total roundup from the SH hide included 12 Little Grebe, c. 90 Canada Geese and 80 Wigeon, 30 Mallard, 30 Teal, 10 Tufted Duck and 4 rather distant female type Goldeneye.

The gulls were represented by a dozen or so each of Black-headed and Herring, with single Lesser Black-back and 2 Great Black Backed Gulls. A Grey Heron was hanging about, as was a Little Egret with interesting legs - a greenish grey as opposed to the normal black - but only interesting in that it was most probably a young bird rather than being a rare transatlantic Snowy Egret ... 5 Cormorant in total could be seen.

Synchronised Cormorants - the next olympic event?

Lean to the left ... ok, not quite that synchronised then.

... and stretch. 

Not the only Cormorant to ever have done this by a long stretch.

Two each of Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail and a single Lapwing roosting on the nearest islet suddenly became 60 or more, although 5 minutes later all the ducks and assorted small birds took flight (presumably an unseen raptor or other scary bird flew over - unfortunately not seen by me), and suddenly we were back to 2 Lapwings. But they had been there.

Lapwings looking a bit worried

Naughty young gulls. Always begging for more ...

(It can be seen from this photo that there was also a Carrion Crow present; other birds included two distant Buzzard, but that really was just about it.)

The Southern cut-off held another 20 or so Teal and a single Coot - a Southern cut-off site year tick. Exciting stuff. The feeders were almost depleted, but the birds weren't. No snow here yet (probably won't be), but it has gone cold again - if I'm feeling it the birds most certainly will be.

16 or so Chaffinch, 6 Blue Tit, 3 Great Tit, 4 Dunnock and 3 Robin, with 2 each of House Sparrow, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Reed Bunting. Goldfinches, single Greenfinch and Blackbird and the Water Rail probably completed the line-up.

The couple who had been in the hide before my arrival and left whilst I was finishing the feeders had mentioned the woodpeckers hadn't been down to the feeders; upon filling them of course they suddenly were. A Goldcrest flew past, and that was mostly it.

First winter Blackbird, 'ouzing' charm- note the pale neck band

Woodpecker acrobatics - finally on camera.

Two Ravens wheeling and cronking over the farm buildings were a pleasant addition to the days proceedings - once upon a time would have been a very exciting addition. Now a species almost to be guaranteed in the wilder farmed stretches hereabouts.

A short walk along the eastern side as far as the dam produced nothing more exciting than better views of some of the aforementioned waterfowl, an extra half dozen Little Grebe-esque blobs, a couple of Wren buzzing from almost underfoot, and a Buzzard. And a Fox. The bitter wind had abated somewhat (or I'd toughened up slightly) as I made the return and enjoyed better views of 3 of the Goldeneye as they gathered ready for the night.

Goldeneye, 003 

No sign of the Slavonian Grebe, but that doesn't mean it isn't there, somewhere ... Reported as still present on the 29th Jan (Birdguides). Grey Wagtail reported on the 26th ( F Rice).

Looking back

Southern Cut-off from the Carnmenellis Causeway

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Big Garden StithiansWatch

... or something like that.

Our garden in town isn't really our own, and with 9+ cats in the immediate vicinity and no bird feeding going on (if we did it should then probably be called 'cat feeding' instead) we headed up to the Stithians feeding station for an hour's vigil this Saturday morning.

Our* timed hour (10:40 - 11:40) resulted in the following species totals. (ie the maximum number recorded occurring together at once) -

Water Rail 1
Moorhen 1
Woodpigeon 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker 2
Blackbird 2
Robin 4
Dunnock 4
Wren 1
Long-tailed Tit 9
Great Tit 4
Blue Tit 2
House Sparrow 2
Goldfinch 6
Greenfinch 2
Chaffinch 16
Reed Bunting 3
Magpie 2

(All on, or in the immediate vicinity of the feeders themselves)

Lots of lotties (Long-tailed Tits)

Worth a closer look? ... Awww ...

There were also c.14 Teal, 1 Grey Heron and 4 Snipe on the Southern Cut-off (but we didn't really count them, as they aren't really 'garden birds' and they weren't that close by) and after the hour was up, 12 or so Redwing also flew into the trees behind the feeders.

Great Spotted Woodpecker playing coy.

The Magpie. Innocence personified ...

A brief look at the main reservoir also revealed the following -

102 Canada Goose
62 Wigeon
19 Teal
17 Mallard
6 Tufted Duck
2 Goldeneye
7 Little Grebe
1 Slavonian Grebe
2 Grey Heron
1 Little Egret

(Didn't carry out the counts ourselves, we almost certainly saw mostly the same birds though; numbers from the notebook immediately prior to our arrival as reported by D Eva (nice to meet you again btw!))

Other notable sightings from the week past include -

17/01/15 - 150 Herring Gull, 50 Black-headed Gull, 2 Common Gull, 1 Mediterrnaean Gull (J and F Rice)

24/01/15 - 70 Lapwing from the SH hide (Simon Van Hear)

Thanks also to Simon for the bird seed contribution.

Slavonian Grebe. (Full zoom, then cropped some .. )

(* 'We' being myself and girlfriend Suzi, and S Perfect, also currently of Falmouth)

Friday, 23 January 2015

Friday 23rd Jan - the week so far

Been passing by a few times in the week - including one day of blustery wind and one of glorious sunshine.

To start, a few more pics of last weeks Ringed Plover (I'm working on the assumption it's the same bird, encountered a couple of times) near the watersports centre.

Monday - most of the usual suspects at the feeders including the Water Rail and Reed Buntings, but the highlight was probably a record count of 22 Chaffinch. House Sparrows now on the feeders. Downside was finding half the hide windows left open by a previous visitor on my arrival - a Grey Heron flushed off the near bank of the waterside as the daylight 'flashing' from the hide disturbed it as opened the door.

Highlights of Wednesdays visit were 7 Shoveler (all sleeping, unfortunately), 70 Wigeon, 95 Canada Geese, 39 Teal, 1 Goldeneye etc (it was pretty choppy and I couldn't really tell if the Slavonian Grebe was present or not with my current optics (the scope having recently suffered an unfortunate mishap)). Great Spotted Woodpecker and 2 Reed Bunting from the Southern Hide, and Goldcrest by the Stuart Hutchings hide.

1 drake and 2 female Shoveler

Male Reed Bunting

Swung by, yet again, on Thursday - passing by and so a quick check. Usual suspects at the feeders - Water Rail, Great Spotted Woodpecker flyby (it had been using the peanut feeders earlier according to the birder couple already in the hide before my arrival), Greenfiches, Goldfinches and Long-tailed Tits (using the fat ball feeders also). Quick check and clean of the feeders and I left them to it (the birds, and their observers). The distinctive 'chacking' of a Fieldfare overhead impinged upon my consciousness as I walked out of the scrub woodland, but by the time I'd registered and started looking in the direction it (or they) had been going I didn't catch a sighting.

The Shoveler were still asleep in exactly the same spot (or so it seemed), scattered Herring Gulls (60), the Little Egret and a few Meadow Pipit, along with the normal numbers and range of waterfowl. Checking briefly from the eastern end of the causeway I finally picked up the Slavonian Grebe, not too far off the south western corner, and a more distant female Goldeneye.

Somnolent Canada Geese

Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend!!!! - our garden is generally not that great and so I will probably be up to the reservoir feeders for an hours session to see what we can see ... check out the link below for more information ...

Count the birdies - how many can you see?! (Click to enlarge)

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Saturday 17th January - West Side Story

Thought it was high time I took a bit of a longer explore around the lake - not a full days bird race, more a quarter days bird explore-the-place-at-a-reasonably-slowish-pace.

Or something like that. Schedule, roughly - Stuart Hutchings Hide briefly, Southern Hide for the feeders, SH again for a quick double check, explore the west side a bit more properly from the watersports centre on down, and a very quick double check back at the hides.

The water levels are now up a lot higher after only a few nights of heavy wintery rain, but our first glance out of the hide windows revealed disappointingly few birds. Many of the usual suspects were present on or around the feeders from the hide on our arrival on the other side of the road however, although not all - the Water Rail was doing his/her stuff, but no Greenfinch or Goldfinch, House Sparrow or Great Spotted Woodpecker. Numbers also a bit on the low side - aside 2 Reed Bunting, numbers a little depressed for everything else (maybe it was too early in the day). There were also 7 roosting Snipe on the marsh.

The view from the Stuart Hutchings hide - becoming a lot wetter

In contrast, things had picked up a lot on our return to the main hide overlooking the southern end of the reservoir - the Slavonian Grebe showing well along with 10 of its smaller brethren (the Littles), 40+ Wigeon, a quartet of smart wing hanging Cormorants, 15 Meadow Pipits and so on. Many of the birds were starting to show better and at closer range, now that the water was lapping a lot closer to the hide itself. Small flotilla after flotilla were gently appearing now, presumably as the watersports function of the reservoir to our north started kicking in on this fine Saturday morning. The best ducks were saved till last - 4 Goldeneye become 6, although all female type, and fairly distant (so not actually that exciting really, if we're going to be totally honest). Even a large fox and a rabbit (not both in the same time and place) kickstarted the mammalian side of the experience. A fly over Peregrine sadly eluded me however - too many trees in my way and an armful of feeding paraphernalia I should have just dropped largely to blame.

A feeding duck is a happy duck - male and female Wigeon

Cormorants now in 'summer' plumage

The excitement continued on exiting the hide as a couple of small passerines eventually revealed themselves as 2 each of Chiffchaff and Goldcrests tumbling in and out of the pines outside the hides- tail flicking and darting, gravity defying bounces between the close knit needles very entertaining but not good for trying to get a record shot. (In the end I put the camera away and just enjoyed them instead, which was really the sensible thing to be doing.)

A Pheasant hopping up out of the road and into someone's garden was a personal yeartick but probably too far from the reservoir itself to sensibly make it onto the Stithians yearlist. A few Rooks around the perimeter, probably were close enough however, as were a grand total of 3 Song Thrushes in the field adjacent to the 'parking' at the southern end.

And so to the north. We ended up driving and parking at the Watersports Centre, and not too long after passing through the thronging watersports devotees kitting up and lugging wet sail things into and around the waters edge, we came upon one of Wednesdays Ringed Plovers, longer views this time, and a nice bird for the visit (along with many of their family, they certainly have the 'cute' factor). Carrying on around, worries about walking into the sun dissipated a little as the clouds started to come out now and then. We could still see. Highlights in brief (ish) would be the flock of 90 Canada Geese lingering offshore, a Little Egret, a smart Grey Wagtail, an inlet of the lake with a small Cover of 15 Coots (the collective noun for a group of Coots - although I am rather liking the alternative suggestion of a 'Quarrel of Coots) and so on ...

Ringed Plover

It wasn't long before we'd picked up our first Stonechat for the year, perhaps a little oddly standing in the middle of a short-grassed field - they typically like a perch to survey from, and this one was a long way from anything at all perchlike or even vaguely vertiginously perpendicular to the general plane of its field, but perhaps he (it was a male) was just copying the rest of the Meadow Pipits, thrushes and Starlings also about. The thrushes consisting of 30+ Redwing and a fair few Blackbird. Continuing around and there were then 3 Stonechat on the remaining exposed shoreline, another Reed Bunting and 4 Bullfinch in a hedgerow tree. Waterfowl weren't featuring too strongly any more, with more Little Grebes adding up to 25 in total for the lake, and the odd Tufted Duck, but this was really of no consequence at all in terms of our enjoyment. One bird that should of course never be forgotten (he says, ever so slightly tongue in cheek) is the magnificent Feral Pigeon - a flock of c20 wheeling over towards the village almost instantly forgettable (I just about remembered to include them in this account).

That typical waterside species, the Stonechat

A Redwing - quite smart birds to be honest

On our return north and to the car, the northern cutoff contained one perching Common Buzzard on its perimeter, and one overhead, Grey Heron, Little Egret (presumably the same as earlier?), a bunch of Mallard and another 6 roosting Snipe (which Samuel insisted on trying to check for Wilson's Snipe, the N American equivalent to ours - well, you never know ... )

Three Curlew in the curlew field on our way back weren't that exciting, a last check before we totally left revealed an impressively tightly bunched 160 or so Herring Gull and 4 Common Gulls on two of the remaining exposed muddy islets (I would have tried to capture the exciting scene, but my camera battery had now died), and so we continued on our way.

View of some Coot and distant Watersports Centre

January 2015 WeBS Count

The WeBS (Wetland Bird Survey) count for this weekends January count, carried out by Simon Taylor.

20 WeBS species recorded (waterfowl and waders, gulls and raptors) - variety and numbers relatively poor, presumably due to the generally mild weather further afield.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Weds 14th January. The race is on ...

A bright day beckoned and the day was spent out birding ... probably too much birding, but with local birder Samuel Perfect back at Falmouth Uni after the hols, a new year to bird in, and sunshine(!), it was all too much to resist. A circuit around the local area (starting from Falmouth, and all within 7 miles of the reservoir) netted 88 species by days end - some good birds and a few surprises (most surprising probably being a Sandwich Tern at Devoran, and a couple of Scaup, at College Res and Swanpool). Just a shame the rain came out and the birds went in for the latter half of the afternoon.

We hit Stithians only slightly later than planned, at around 2pm, and managed to visit both main hides and fill the feeders before the rain really got going.

Four Magpies flying up from the feeders upon our approach were the only feeder tick, but as usual the place was fairly brimming with birds. Selected maxima -

Chaffinch 14
Great Tit 7
Blue Tit 5
Dunnock 7 (!) Can't think I've ever seen more in one place before ...
Goldfinch 3
Greenfinch 2
Reed Bunting 1

Actually, may as well post everything up. So, everything else maxima -

Robin 3
House Sparrow 2
Water Rail 1
Blackbird 4
Magpie 4
Woodpigeon 1

With a Chiffchaff nearby, a Great Spotted Woodpecker (GSW) flying into the copse, although immediately landing out of sight and so eluding Samuel totally, and out on the marsh, 9 roosting Snipe and 14+ Teal.

Chaffinch, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Water Rail, and yet more Chaffinch ...

A small contingent of gulls from the Stuart Hutchings hide included 2 Lesser Back-backs, with the Slavonian Grebe showing well, along with 5 Little Grebe in a tight bunch nearby. Very little in the way of wildfowl to see in a perfunctory scan.

We next headed to the northern end in the hope of catching up with more ducky goodness unimpeded by the small wavelets causing slight issues at the southern end; as it turned out the wind and surface were even rougher here; but we persisted anyway.

25 Mallard and 1 Little Egret were in the northern cutoff, with more Little Grebe offshore (15+ total for the reservoir as a whole, probaby many missed due to the conditions.) Moving on to the sailing club road to try and find a Goldeneye or Pochard for the day list, we instead managed to add 15 Lapwing as they and 40+ Curlew took to the skies distantly from the fields alongside the western side of the reservoir. Scanning for raptors which might have caused the upheaval was without success, although shortly after a Kestrel overflying the water may well have not been a coincidence. The culprit. Possibly. A Peregrine would have been nicer.

A surprise (because we'd thought them long gone) were 2 Ringed Plover on the shoreline - nice, although views were all too brief as they flew around the corner - time was of the essence and we didn't follow them. 3 Common Gulls battled the winds overhead, and that was about it.

Except it wasn't quite over yet - on our return to the southern end on our way out we stopped at the end of the causeway to find ducks had vastly multiplied in our absence - in addition to a hundred or more Canada Goose out on the waters, the southern end now held 35 Mallard, 60+ Wigeon, 20+ Tufted Duck, and finally, and most satisfactorily, 2 female Goldeneye diving alongside the shore.

 In terms of our impromptu 'bird race' we had Stithians to thank for a handy 7 or so new species - Greenfinch, Reed Bunting, Snipe, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Lapwing, Kestrel and Goldeneye, not all of which would have been easy to find otherwise. Unfortunately those were to be the last new species of the day.

Maybe should try and see what a full circuit of the reservoir on its own can produce in a day, one day perhaps ...

A nice picture of some brambles. I had been hoping it would be a nice picture of a Chiffchaff.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

9th January 2015

That Friday feeling again ... feeder time. Fairly typical weather of late too, if not a little worse (but of course as nothing compared to 113 mph winds as experienced up in Scotland recently)

Anyway, enjoyed the usual buzz of activity from the Southern Hide, totals as follows -

Chaffinch 16
Greenfinch 4
Goldfinch 3
Reed Bunting 2
Blue Tit 7
Great Tit 4
Water Rail 1
Blackbird 2
Robin 2
Dunnock 2
House Sparrow 2  (not actually feeding, but looking shyly from the undergrowth as if they wanted to)
Water Rail 1

So fairly buzzing at times!

There were also 22+ Teal out on the marsh and 1 Carrion Crow looking a little forlorn in the approach copse.

A bit of activity - Great Tit, Goldfinches, Blue Tits

Three grumpy old men - Greenfinches

The view from the Stuart Hutchings hide was particularly bleak at times, driving rain and the surface buffeted by strong winds as the odd squall passed through; no grebes that I could discern (perhaps they were further around the res in a more sheltered spot, or just hidden in the troughs), but 40+ Wigeon and 10 Mallard were working the margins around the causeway end, and c.150 Herring Gull, 5 each of Black-headed Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull, and single Greater Black-backed Gull and Common Gulls were sheltering in the lee of the bank in front of the hide. Three Cormorant and 3 Meadow Pipit completed the line-up.

And I think that was about it. I had wanted to take a bit of a walk along the east side, but not the greatest idea in the conditions, so I didn't.

Common and Herring Gulls

Two Cormorants having a breather

Other recent sightings of note -

10/01/15 - Slavonian Grebe, 2 Pochard, 6 Common Gull (4 1stw), 3 Lapwing (J St Ledger)

11/01/15 - 2 Mediterranean Gull, Little Egret, Muscovy Duck (!) (SVH)

Finally, spot the Meadow Pipits (2)

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Friday 2nd January - A belated New Year

The holiday period is probably well and truly over for most, dinners have now been fully walked off, resolution lists safely mislaid and diminishing sales bargains increasingly ignored.

But trust all enjoyed an enjoyable christmas, and best wishes for 2015, birding and otherwise!

For the birds of course, life carries on pretty much the same, albeit possibly with a little more (or a lot, depending on location) disturbance. The usual worry (inasmuch as birds 'worry') over next meal, predator avoidance and keeping warm the ongoing concerns for our feathered friends, as opposed to heating bills, credit cards, year lists and the like.

The feeding station from the hide window ... blue skies!

Many of the usual suspects were present upon my arrival at the Southern Hide, with a few notable additions -  four Woodpigeons blasting up from under the feeders as I approached the hide. I guess they belong as much as any other species, but not usually amongst the most welcomed bird feeder visitors, it has to be said.

Not having to worry over any possible favouritisms on this one, a dazzling Kingfisher brightly arraigned on a branch in front of the hide was much more of a pleasant surprise - guilty only perhaps of being too bright on a typical winter's day (various small fry may well argue otherwise).

Twenty plus Teal were scattered about (there could have been twice that number hidden), and the Great Spotted Woodpecker flew past. Didn't see the Water Rail myself on this occasion, but it was reported in the notebook from earlier in the day.


The view from the main hide was strangely devoid of birds - a few distant gulls and the regular Little Egret the only birds to be seen ... Hmmm, I think. Fair enough weather and holiday time? - yep, most probably down to human disturbance again. And of course, on returning from the feeders and checking it out properly it almost undoubtably was - one young fellow down near the shoreline with two tripods, and all the Canada Geese and other waterfowl on the water halfway up the lake. He wasn't actually inside the nature area, and I don't actually believe there is any such thing as 'common' sense, but he must have been aware that his presence wasn't doing the birds any good, surely, standing there in the open? They do say fieldcraft is a lost art ....

There were still a few Little Grebes and the Slavonian down at the southern end (the latter perhaps why our 'friend' was away from all cover and near the waters edge, at a guess?), but most birds had shifted well north. Halfway to the dam and I was able to count a reasonable variety of waterfowl - c130 Canada Goose (including the two (presumed Greylag/Canada) hybrids), 60+ Wigeon and 50+ Mallard. Highlight however was a party of 4 Shoveler - 1 male and 3 female types (didn't get around to ascertaining exactly - the light was fading and I wanted to scan a little further ahead). Certainly a 2014/2015 winter tick for myself.

Shoveler party (looking a little hungover, perhaps? )

A Buzzard (aka Worm-eating Eagle) looking as regal as ever broke the skyline to my right, and towards the northern end of the lake a group of 6 female (type) Goldeneye bobbed and dived . 2 Pochard (a male and a female) completed the line up with a Cormorant and uncounted numbers of Tufted Duck and Coot (there weren't that many; I just didn't count them).

Common Buzzard

Little Grebe numbers that I was aware of crept up to 16 in number, and that was mostly it. Darkness didn't fall, but it was getting decidedly gloomier as the day crept towards its end.

The view north from the east side, showing whence all the birds had gone.

Other recent sightings of note;

28/12/14 - 6 Redwing, 70+ Woodpigeon, 2 Little Egret (J and F Rice)

31/12/14 - Bullfinch (S Martin)

01/01/2015 -1 male Goldeneye, Slavonian Grebe and 10 Pochard from the SH hide (G Adams)

Thanks to S and J Martin for the donated seed and other bird food!

Friday, 2 January 2015

Friday 26th December

A miserable morning (weather-wise), but headed up to the reservoir to check the feeders after lunch. Weather still not great, but gradually cleared by the end, birds present - always great, and as usual something new to see.

The feeders were, as to be expected, fairly heaving, with the following maxima counted -

Greenfinch 7
Chaffinch 12+
Dunnock 4
Reed Bunting 3
Great Tit 2
Blue Tit 4

with singles of Robin, Blackbird, Water Rail and a couple of Long-tailed Tits.

Slightly further into the woods, a Great Spotted Woodpecker investigated the mossy trunks,  a Moorhen meandered through the undergrowth, and a flock of 8 Long-tailed Tits bounced between the trees either side of the hide; as mentioned a couple decided to briefly hang off and try their luck at the peanut feeders. Two tiny Goldcrest with them were also nice; a bird seen in flight across the hide appeared to be a Firecrest, but in-flight views not really good enough for a positive claim unfortunately (the head looked good, but hey). Will have to keep an eye out ...

We can still see you ... Long-tailed Tit

Further still and 15 Snipe and 22 Teal resting up on the marsh were good, with a Grey Heron stalking the shallows and a Buzzard in the field beyond completing the line-up from the Southern Hide.

Snipe and Teal

The Stuart Hutchings hide produced fairly distant views of most of the usual suspects, a little depleted perhaps;

16 Herring Gull
5 Black-headed Gull
50 Mallard
19 Tufted Duck
5 Pochard
7 Little Grebe
1 Slavonian Grebe  (still worth putting in bold?!)
1 Little Egret
2 Pied Wagtail

Main interest, aside the Little Egret in active mode, was seeing an immature Herring Gull still begging for food (not quite sure if it was totally successful as was attempting to get a pic). A late bird? Wonder when this behaviour finally ends? - until the adults finally persuade them they won't get anything, or are some more 'gullible' than others?

Herring Gull begging for food

 Little Egret - always nice

(By the way - I haven't gotten around to re-learning how to crop images yet to give more of a close-up of the bird in question. Clicking on the image should enlarge the image (and even lead to a slideshow if you're really lucky), although I like having a bit of scenery around the bird sometimes to be honest. However, I am varying the size of images to try and avoid the need for persons viewing to have to zoom in as a matter of course - I'm sure that could quickly become a tiresome chore. (And I can't absolutely guarantee that all the images are worth a closer look!))