24th-27th. Cornwall with Harry Mac and Jenny. On 26th there were 4 Sandwich terns in the bay, and at least 3 puffins heading west in the evening (more than 160 passed Pendeen yesterday). On 27th 29 common scoter flew W, with ca. 50-70 Manx shearwater/minute. I missed the Alpine swift at Godrevy, and there was also one again in St Ives on 30th!
On 26th we walked from Botallack to Kenidjack, and to The Merry Maidens and Men-an-Tol.
It's great watching choughs now - we had a flock of 30 mobbing a peregrine on the north coast, and 2 were displaying nearby as we ate a picnic. First 4 photos by Hetty.
17th-19th. Back in Cornwall briefly. Quiet on the wildlife front: 2 purple sandpipers on the Island. The lesser scaup was not at Porth Reservoir on 19th, though I did see my first sand martins of the year.
13th. Each year I teach a practical class looking at the diets of barn owls from analysis of owl pellets. This year we were joined by 2 barn owls, and this little owl. Interesting finds in the pellets included a yellowhammer skull, a mole and a couple of harvest mice.
1st-5th: I was in St Ives. Up to 2 black redstarts in Barnoon Cemetery, and birds on the Island and at Bamaluz (male) too. Four purple sandpipers remain on the Island. A couple of harbour porpoises and 2 bottlenose dolphins (4th) playing with fishing buoys in the bay. An adult Caspian gull on the Hayle Estuary from Lelant Saltings on 2nd and 4th, and a female goosander on 2nd. The neap tide meant the birds were distant, even at high tide.
On 5th I stopped at Lower Tamar Lake on the Cornwall/Devon border as the feeders there attract willow tits. Willow tits have declined by about 94% since 1970, and I can't remember the last time I saw one - it was probably about a decade ago in the Forest of Dean. I had the hide to myself for almost all the time, and although the light was grim I had great views of both willow tit and marsh tit. The two can be difficult to distinguish, though the pale mark on the base of the upper mandible of the marsh tit is diagnostic. There's a great article about reliably separating marsh and willow tits here.
I also had great views of long-tailed tits, a female great spotted woodpecker and a water rail. There were 6 goosander on the lake.
I had a great day out on 3rd, starting with a male hen harrier flying over the A3071 between Newbridge and St Just. First, I tried to find the long-staying little buntings near Lower Hendra. After a bit of a search, they both appeared in the hedge next to where I was setting up my tripod.
The first-winter Iceland gull is still in Newlyn Harbour, together with the tame turnstones.
This gull got my heart racing with its bark belly and bi-coloured bill. However, when it flew, the large amount of white in the tail revealed it as a standard herring gull.