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October 2011

 

Monday 31st October

Just 1 Epirrita sp. tonight.

 

Sunday 30th October

A few moths tonight, namely Blastobasis lacticolella, 2 Epirrita sp., 3 Feathered Thorns, Green-brindled Crescent and my first Dark Chestnut of the year.

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Dark Chestnut, Bawdeswell, 30th October

 

Saturday 29th October

Sheringham was enjoyable this morning, though there weren't vast numbers of birds either passing or arriving. At least 2 Shags were present, but these paled into insignificance when I heard of the incredible count of 46 in east Norfolk. A large diver passed once but defied identification but when it returned a bit later Dave & Jackie got better views than me and clinched it as Black-throated Diver. Probably the best bird was just as I was about to leave, a nice juvenile male Hen Harrier hunting the fields at the west end and at Weybourne.

On the way home I stopped to look through the Brent Geese at Cley - 2 Barnacle Geese were among them. Tonight's moths consisted of 3 Epirrita sp.

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Hen Harrier, Sheringham, 29th October

 

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Skylarks, Sheringham, 29th October

 

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Chaffinch (left) and Reed Bunting (right), Sheringham, 29th October

 

Friday 28th October

Tonight's moths included my second Rhomboid Tortrix and my first Satellite this year. More usual records were Juniper Carpet, Epirrita sp., Feathered Thorn, 2 Chestnuts and a Brick.

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Satellite, Bawdeswell, 28th October

 

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Feathered Thorn (left) and Rhomboid Tortrix (right), Bawdeswell, 28th October

 

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Brick, Bawdeswell, 28th October - thanks to Rob for correcting my ID

 

Thursday 27th October

It seems I'm now a quadragenarian - can I retire now? A flock of 120+ Pink-footed Geese flew over the house this morning, followed by another flock heard only. One well known Punkbirder got a Rufous-tailed Robin for his birthday but I didn't even get an Eye-browed Thrush, despite asking for one (again).

My second ever Red-green Carpet was the best moth, the rest being Juniper Carpet, 3 Epirrita sp. and 2 Green-brindled Crescents.

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Red-green Carpet, Bawdeswell, 27th October

 

Wednesday 26th October

I headed over to Holkham in my lunch break today to see a Rough-legged Buzzard. To be honest I didn't think I'd see it, at least not well, as I knew I'd only have about 10 minutes there and not enough time to walk anywhere if it wasn't viewable from Lady Anne's Drive. Having driven past people looking from near the road (there were no parking spaces left) I arrived at Lady Anne's unexpectantly but was pleased to find someone watching it. In fact it was showing really well - not close enough for good photos but easily close enough for good scope views. Very nice. The structural differences from Common Buzzard are reasonably obvious but no more so than when it was flying around with 2 Common Buzzards - and then the larger size was also very apparent.

Tonight's moths were 3 Juniper Carpets, Feathered Thorn and Chesntnut.

Rough-legged Buzzard, Holkham, 26th October

 

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Juniper Carpets, Bawdeswell, 26th October

 

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Chestnut, Bawdeswell, 26th October

 

Tuesday 25th October

My first Juniper Carpet this year appeared tonight, along with Blastobasis lacticolella and 2 Epirrita sp.

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Epirrita sp. (left) and Juniper Carpet (right), Bawdeswell, 24th October

 

Monday 24th October

Tonight's moths were an Amblyptilia acanthadactyla and an Epirrita sp.

 

Sunday 23rd October

Compared to recent times a good number of moths tonight - 11 of 5 species. They were 5 Blastobasis lacticolella (a record count for me), Epirrita sp., Feathered Thorn, 3 Green-brindled Crescents and Beaded Chesntut - the last only my second here.

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Green-brindled Crescent (left) and Beaded Chestnut (right), Bawdeswell, 23rd October

 

Saturday 22nd October

Swanton Morley was extremely quiet this morning with nothing better than a Brambling, a couple of Lesser Redpolls flying over. A Cetti's Warbler is present but the greatest excitement came in the shape of a Sparrowhawk hotly pursuing a Green Woodpecker. Even common birds were in pretty short supply.

A Glossy Ibis had been reported at Bintree Mill during the week so on the off-chance it might still be lurking in the area I spent a bit of time looking round here and at nearby Guist Bridge, but adding only Siskin, more Lesser Redpolls and Snipe, all flying over.

Next I headed up to Thornham in the vain hope of re-seeing the harrier I saw there on Monday, and which some people think might possibly be another Northern Harrier. Another possibility that hasn't been ruled out is Hen Harrier x Pallid Harrier hybrid, although the more likely ID is still just a Hen Harrier. Anyway, the only Harriers seen this afternoon were Marsh Harriers and the only other interesting birds on the saltmarsh were 2 Spotted Redshanks. There were thousands of Starlings moving west - presumably the tail end of a significant passage, and another Siskin. I was looking hard over the saltmarsh, including in the sky, so I was absolutely gutted to receive pager messages informing me that a Glossy Ibis had flown west over Titchwell and then Holme while I was there. How on earth did I miss that?

The only moth tonight was an Epirrita sp.

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Chaffinch (left) and Woodpigeon (right), Swanton Morley, 22nd October

 

Bullfinch, Swanton Morley, 22nd October

 

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Fieldfare (left) and Redwing (right), Swanton Morley, 22nd October

 

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migrating Starlings, Thornham, 22nd October

 

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Grey Heron, Thornham, 22nd October

 

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Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Thornham, 22nd October

 

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Curlew, Thornham, 22nd October

 

Friday 21st October

I often find flocks of Golden Plovers during my lunch break and whenever I get a chance I check them for rarer species like American or Pacific Golden Plovers, or Dotterel. Today's flock held just a Ruff, but one of the Golden Plovers was an interesting leucistic bird with a predominantly white head and underparts (also some white in the wings).

This evening was the best evening for moths for a while. Another Merveille de Jour was the highlight, but there were also Blastobasis lacticolella, 2 Amblyptilia acanthadactlya, 2 Emmelina monodactyla, 3 Epirrita sp., 2 Green-brindled Crescents and what I think was a very worn Brick (not Chestnut as I first thought).

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Golden Plovers, Choseley, 21st October - the one on the right is leucistic

 

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Merveille de Jour, Bawdeswell, 21st October

 

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Amblyptilia acanthadactyla (left) and Emmelina monodactyla (right), Bawdeswell, 21st October

 

Thursday 20th October

No birds of note since Monday and few moths, but tonight I managed a micro that was new to me: Caloptilia rufipennella. Also 2 Green-brindled Crescents and 2 Chestnuts. Last night there was an Epirrita sp. and a Green-brindled Crescent and on Tuesday night a Blastobasis lacticolella.

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Caloptilia rufipennella, Bawdeswell, 20th October

 

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Chestnuts, Bawdeswell, 20th October

 

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Green-brindled Crescents, Bawdeswell, 20th October

 

Monday 17th October

I stopped off at Thornham in my lunch break to look for migrants, though I couldn't find many. Mindful of a report this morning of Pallid Harrier at Brancaster I kept an eye on the saltmarsh, as likely as place as any for an interesting harrier to wander to. As I did so, I picked up a ring-tail harrier coming in from the Titchwell direction - and it clearly had rather obvious orange underparts! Was this the bird? A quick check failed to reveal a pale collar, and the underparts were well streaked, plus whilst it was orange it wasn't quite as bright as a juvenile Pallid Harrier. Still, orangey Hen Harriers are worth photographing so I rattled off a few shots before switching back to viewing it. In some ways reminiscent of Northern Harrier with a mildly darkish head and boa and clearly orange underparts, however it showed features that weren't ideal for Northern Harrier and I didn't suppose it was anything other than a Hen Harrier. With various evening commitments this week I knew I wouldn't get a chance to review the photos properly until Thursday night so it would be a few days before I could be absolutely sure I'd not thrown away something really good - after all some Northern Harriers do have well-streaked underparts... Well, now it's Thursday and all I've managed to do is discover that the streaking is indeed within range of Northern Harrier. I expect it will turn out to be Hen, but now I'm wondering...

Later on I discovered that the Pallid Harrier had been reported at Titchwell and at Thornham - could this have been the bird people saw?

Tonight's moths consisted of 2 Blastobasis lacticolella and another Green-brindled Crescent.

Hen Harrier, Thornham, 17th October - in the field it looked as orange as last year's Northern Harrier (I don't think it was a Northern Harrier though...)

 

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Green-brindled Crescent, Bawdeswell, 17th October

 

Sunday 16th October

3 moths tonight, all new for the year for here: Green-brindled Crescent, Rosy Rustic and Yellow-line Quaker.

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Yellow-line Quaker (left) and Rosy Rustic (right), Bawdeswell, 16th October

 

Saturday 15th October

A dawn start at Sheringham seemed a better idea than jostling with thousands of twitchers attempting to see a bird that probably wouldn't be there any longer, and so it turned out. The Rufous-tailed Robin had departed (or died) overnight and not only did Sheringham produce some excellent birding but it meant we were in the right place for another good bird that turned up this morning.

The day started with a mysterious call which sounded much like a Robin's predator alarm call but more drawn out with a slight inflexion towards the end. We never saw more than a silhouetted glimpse of a more-or-less Robin-sized bird but it made us wonder what Red-flanked Bluetail predator alarm call was like (we still don't know the answer to that...). A few Siskins called overhead and a Brambling, but the next bird we heard without seeing it was more interesting - a Richard's Pipit! Rob wasn't far away and I hoped he'd heard it too - it turned out he had.

From the Pillboxes vis mig wasn't particularly busy, though nice enough with a variety of things passing by. A couple of times I heard a strange call that I didn't recognise: it sounded vaguely gull-like but not right, but I couldn't place it or see it and assumed it must be a weird gull call. A bit later Dave and I heard it again, more clearly this time. What on earth was it? Still no sign, and then Dave glimpsed a Diver on the sea just below the cliff, and as he did it flew off behind the cliff. I played Red-throated Diver and that wasn't right, but it was close enough to make me try the other species. Not Great Northern so I tried Black-throated, and out from my phone came precisely the same sound that we'd been hearing! For what must have been a good 5-10 minutes there had been a calling Black-throated Diver on the sea so close we couldn't see it behind the cliffs and now it had flown off! We headed up to the cliff edge but it was too late - it had gone.

A short while later we headed off to look for Bluetails and along the way I scanned the sea picking up a Black Guillemot on the sea. Over the years I've seen a few Black Guillemots in Norfolk but I don't recall having ever seen one on the sea before - normally they're just flying past. A Marsh Harrier flew east at sea and another flew inland later on, and we watched a fine Short-eared Owl come in off the sea. Rob called to say he'd heard a Yellow-browed Warbler so we hurried to where that was, immediately picking it up on call when we arrived. It was showing well but I didn't have time to look at it properly because at that moment the pager informed us that Martin had trapped a Radde's Warbler at Weybourne. We needed to get there before he released it so we could see it in the hand, and that meant not hanging around!

Although I found the third (?) for Cornwall I've never seen one particularly well in the field, so it was nice to see this Radde's Warbler so well, even if it was being held in Martin's hand. While he was releasing it another Yellow-browed Warbler called in his garden. Finally we went to Friary Hills at Blakeney for a last chance to find a Bluetail, but the rarest creature we found here was Josh. Ironically Josh later informed us that there had indeed been a Red-flanked Bluetail just a stone's throw away on some private land.

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Radde's Warbler, Weybourne, 15th October

 

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Woodpigeon (left) and Sparrowhawk (right), Sheringham, 15th October

 

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Pintails, Sheringham, 15th October

 

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Black Guillemot (left) and something (right), Sheringham, 15th October

 

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captive Wood Duck (left) and Red-crested Pochard (right), Blakeney Collection, 15th October

 

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captive Marbled Duck (left) and Smew x Hooded Merganser hybrid (right), Blakeney Collection, 15th October

 

Friday 14th October

Lunchtime at Thornham produced Brambling and Redwing, but unfortunately no Red-flanked Bluetails.

Today saw no less than 2 firsts for Norfolk! One was a moth trapped last night by Peter Clarke at Holme, a distinctive-looking pyralid called Hymenia recurvalis (or Spoladea recurvalis). It's a scarce autumn migrant from the tropics with a few records from the south coast but which has also reached Cumbria and Scotland.

The second was a Rufous-tailed Robin, an east Asian vagrant that has once occurred in Britain before, on Fair Isle, and once in Poland. Clearly this was a bird I wanted to see, but the first pager report, after I had got home from work, said that it was at Wells East Hills. This site is an island accessible only at low tide via a long slippery and dangerous walk through the saltmarsh from Warham Greens. I've never done it but imagine it would take a good deal of time, and as I had to get to Warham Greens first I figured there was next to no chance of arriving at the bird's location before it got dark. Just in case I checked tide times with Stu and he told me that yesterday it was only accessible up to 5.30 - I wouldn't be able to get there by then and even if I could I didn't want to be stranded on East Hills overnight waiting for the tide to go down again!

It had been found by one of the punkbirders who'd just been out on East Hills, but the message had become confused and the pager report was incorrect. It was really at Warham Greens - much more accessible! As soon as this was clarified I ran out of the house and tore up the road to join a long queue of traffic travelling at 30 mph behind a tractor all the way to the Ryburgh turn, and then other really slow cars nearly all the rest of the way! After what seemed like an age I arrived at Warham Greens and ran down the track to find that it wasn't showing and a lot of the people present hadn't seen it. I'd barely got my breath back when I glimpsed the Rufous-tailed Robin doing a quick flight in the tree where it had last been seen. James McC, who'd been involved in the bird's finding/identification, also saw this and called it, but I couldn't see where it had landed and hadn't seen enough to be certain for myself that it was indeed a Rufous-tailed Robin. Then I got a ridiculously quick glimpse of it before it flew again, this time over the track and into a different tree. I got a few things on it this time, but it was a long way short of a satisfactory view - even if it was more than a lot of people got, which was just a silhouetted flight view.

A clear cold night tonight and it will probably depart. There will be hundreds, if not thousands, of twitchers there in the morning and it's hard to imagine that it could be anything less than mayhem. I'd like to see it again but I don't want to waste my precious Saturday morning in a crowd of loonies not seeing it. So I shall probably go somewhere else first thing and maybe turn up later if it is still there.

Back home the only moths were 2 Epirrita sp.

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Epirrita sp., Bawdeswell, 14th October

 

Thursday 13th October

On days like this I so wish I was retired, or at least able to take a day off at short notice. The weather forecast looked good for birding and good it most certainly was. Lots of scarce birds were turning up but the highlight was vis mig - in the Salthouse/Cley area Mark G amassed an amazing 85+ Yellowhammers moving west - a completely unprecedented count for a species that is rarely seen on visible migration in any significant numbers in Norfolk. I suppose most people would have been more impressed with the equally remarkable and record-smashing count of 50 Short-eared Owls in off the sea at Titchwell during the afternoon. Unfortunately for me I was working all day and as I was working from home I didn't even get a chance to visit the coast in my lunch break.

After a completely blank night for moths last night (but the light wasn't on long as we were out for the evening) tonight delivered just Blastobasis lacticolella, 2 Epirrita sp., Feathered Thorn and Barred Sallow.

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Green Lacewings, Bawdeswell, 13th October - not sure why these were all gathering in one spot!

 

Tuesday 11th October

Moths are getting very thin on the ground now... White-shouldered House-moth, Feathered Thorn and another Large Wainscot were tonight's lot.

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Large Wainscot, Bawdeswell, 11th October

 

Monday 10th October

A couple of Stoats in the road at Bawdeswelll this morning and then tonight's moths consisted of Blastobasis lacticolella, Feathered Thorn, Lesser Yellow Underwing and Barred Sallow.

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Feathered Thorn, Bawdeswell, 10th October

 

Sunday 9th October

Redwings were still calling this morning when I woke up, and a Fieldfare too. Moths this evening included 3 Blastobasis lacticolella, a Garden Carpet, my first 2 Epirrita sp. of the year, my first 2 Chestnuts since March and a Snout. Better than any of that though was a moth I frequently hear other people raving about but which had up to now eluded me - a wonderful Merveille du Jour.

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Merveille du Jour, Bawdeswell, 9th October

 

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Epirrita sp. (left) and Chesntut (right), Bawdeswell, 9th October

 

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Scorpion Fly, Bawdeswell, 9th October

 

Saturday 8th October

Last week a Sandhill Crane, the third for Britain and first this side of the Orkneys, departed from NE Scotland where it had settled for a while and worked its way south down the Scottish and English coasts. When it reached Yorkshire it disappeared and I predicted that it would arrive in Norfolk on Saturday, once I was safely out if its way in Cornwall. It turned out that I was right - it was at Snettisham on Saturday (although not widely reported until after it had gone so not seen there by the masses). My prediction wasn't completely right though as I'd also predicted it would remain in Norfolk until Friday, so I'd miss it upon my return from Cornwall. This was slightly out because it moved to Suffolk on Sunday, not Norfolk, though that was close enough. Unfortunately that wasn't the end of the accuracy in my prediction - I predicted it would leave on Friday just before my return and that's exactly what it did.

Hoping my prediction wouldn't come true I'd been looking forward to seeing it on my way home all week. Each day that passed and the bird was still in place it looked increasingly likely I would connect. It had disappeared briefly a few times, so when I got the message on Friday that it hadn't been seen for a while I wasn't too worried (I'd missed the message about it flying off high to the south). It wasn't until Saturday morning when the journey home had started and I'd emerged from the pager/phone/internet black hole we were staying in that I knew it hadn't been seen again at all on Friday, or that it had flown off high, not just disappeared into the next field. There was perhaps a chance that it would get re-found, in Essex maybe, but it was a long and disappointing drive home - this was a bird I'd have really liked to have seen.

Two Red Kites were seen above the M4 in Berkshire and when I got home Redwings were flying overhead. The only moth tonight was a Twenty-plume Moth.

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Twenty-plume Moth, Bawdeswell, 8th October

 

Friday 7th October

With continuing northwesterlies Pendeen seemed to be the sensible place to start, but it proved very disappointing. A Puffin and 8 Balearic Shearwaters later I decided to give up early. I popped in to St Just where the juvenile Rose-coloured Starling was found, thanks to a local knowing exactly where to look. It performed extremely well and seemed to rule the bird table in one particular garden.

Another attempt at the Glossy Ibis at Stithians was as unsuccessful as the first but Pectoral Sandpipers were seen from both causeways, along with Curlew Sandpiper. On the way there 120 Golden Plovers were flying around Nine Maidens Downs but none seemed to have grey underwings unfortunately. The Semipalmated Sandpiper hadn't been reported today at Davidstow but it hadn't always been reported early so I thought it was worth a try, especially as a Long-billed Dowitcher had now been discovered there too. I might have left it to the journey home tomorrow as it's a fair way from SW Cornwall, but I was anticipating the drive home to be rushed, needing to get to Suffolk to see the Sandhill Crane that had spent all week there. None of the birders on Davidstow airfield appeared to be watching anything but at the east end, where the Dowitcher was meant to be, a single photographer was poking his lens out of the window towards a small pool. I pulled up behind him and immediately discovered the Long-billed Dowitcher was just a few feet away from us and the only bird there. To my amazement the photographer proceeded to get out of his car and stroll over to me - surely he would flush it! He then announced that he'd not seen the Dowitcher and was slow to react when I pointed out that it was under his nose and he should get back in his car to avoid flushing it. Incredibly, as he continued talking in a loud voice and then wandered back to his car the Dowitcher continued to sleep completely unconcerned by his bizarre antics. Another birder on the airfield directed me to a Snow Bunting but there was no sign today of the Semi-p.

On the return to Porthgwarra I paused again at Stithians and yet again the Ibis refused to perform. With cool moon-lit skies and plenty of wind weather was not ideal for mothing but it wasn't raining so the light went on again. Best was what I assume was a Feathered Ranunculus although the markings don't seem to be a perfect match (confirmation would be appreciated). No migrants tonight apart from 4 Silver Ys, just these:

Eudonia angustea, Common Marbled Carpet, Feathered Thorn, 6 Autumnal Rustics, Setaceous Hebrew Character, 2 Feathered Brindles, Vine's Rustic and Snout.

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Great Skua, Pendeen, 7th October

 

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Rose-coloured Starling, St Just, 7th October

 

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Long-billed Dowitcher, Davidstow Airfield, 7th October

 

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Feathered Ranunculus (left) and Feathered Brindle (right), Porthgwarra, 7th October

 

Thursday 6th October

With the wind turning to the NW and strengthening Pendeen was the place to be this morning. A most enjoyable seawatch ensued, the highlights for me being 2 Great Shearwaters (including one self-found and pretty close), 4 Sabine's Gulls, 2 Pomarine Skuas and about 90 Balearic Shearwaters. Other bits and pieces included 21 Sooty Shearwaters, 40 Arctic Skuas, 60 Great Skuas and Mediteranean Gull. The Bonxies were interesting as many of them showed white patches on the inner wing which, I think, were a consequence of secondary coverts being moulted out revealing white bases to the secondaries that are not normally visible. Presumably it's a normal moult thing as it affected so many birds but strange that I don't remember seeing it before despite having seen many hundreds of Great Skuas off Norfolk at this time of year. There was also a strikingly pale Bonxie.

I headed back to the cottage at lunch time and joined Vitty for a cliff-top walk to the Minack Theatre for cream tea. A glimpse of a largish passerine-like bird looked like a good candidate for Wryneck but I couldn't get it to emerge - but a short distance further it or another Wryneck appeared on the path in front of us. After returning I toyed with the idea of returning to Pendeen for a late afternoon sea watch but decided I'd be looking into the sun which wouldn't be much cop so checked St Just airfield instead. Here I heard that yesterday's Melodious Warbler was still at Nanquidno and had been showing 20 minutes ago, although the person reporting this to me hadn't seen it. I headed straight down and met two guys who described where it had been flitting around. Having seen a Willow Warbler in this location yesterday and knowing that Melodious Warblers aren't renowned for flitting around I didn't have high hopes of seeing a Melody... Sure enough there was the same Willow Warbler, though at times it was lumbering around in a much more Hippolais-like fashion than you might expect. I noticed that the bird was showing some facial damage (including a manky eye) and this was effecting the appearance of the head pattern and I guessed this had contributed to the confusion. Also the bill was permanently slightly open which perhaps created the impression of it having a larger thicker bill. The facial damage appeared more obvious than it had done yesterday (in fact I didn't even notice it yesterday, though the photos all show the bill open so presumably it had already occurred).

Finally a dusk visit to Drift Reservoir failed to deliver any interesting waders, or any waders at all, but then again it was getting dark. 2 Wheatears on the far shore were all I could muster up. The weather wasn't suitable for mothing again tonight but a Vine's Rustic was found inside the cottage.

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Wryneck, between Porthgwarra and St Levan, 6th October

 

Sabine's Gull, Pendeen, 6th October

 

Balearic Shearwaters, Pendeen, 6th October

 

Sooty Shearwater, Pendeen, 6th October

 

Pomarine Skua, Pendeen, 6th October - like many of the Bonxies this adult Pom showed a white patch on the inner wing, although only present on one wing

 

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Great Skuas, Pendeen, 6th October - each row shows one individual

 

Arctic Skuas, Pendeen, 6th October - both birds on each row are the same individual

 

Razorbill, Pendeen, 6th October

 

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Kestrel, Pendeen, 6th October

 

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Ravens, between Porthgwarra and St Levan, 6th October

 

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Willow Warbler, Nanquidno, 6th October - with enough imagination this can look just like a Melodious Warbler, apparently

 

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Cattle and rainbow, Porthgwarra, 6th October

 

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Vine's Rustic, Porthgwarra, 6th October

 

Wednesday 5th October

A south-westerly blow wasn't much but I hoped it would be sufficient to push a few seabirds close inshore past Porthgwarra. Unfortunately I was wrong and 2 half-hour stints of seawatching during the morning produced a Pomarine Skua, 2 Bonxies and a Sooty Shearwater but virtually nothing else apart from Gannets - only 1 Kittiwake! The land wasn't up to much either though the Red-backed Shrike was still there.

Hayle produced nothing better than 2 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Greenshanks and a Sanderling. A Glossy Ibis had been reported at Stithians so we headed there next, but failed to find it - just 4 Wheatears. Plans for a cream tea before heading back to Porthgwarra were interrupted by a report of a Melodious Warbler at Nanquidno. We couldn't find it, or anyone who'd seen it, but there was a Willow Warbler in the same place that it had supposedly been seen.

I'd planned to seawatch again from Porthgwarra this evening as the wind had got up but as we arrived back at the cottage it began to rain heavily. I can watch the sea from the cottage, though it's far from ideal being low and further back. When the rain eased a Bonxie went by so I headed up to the headland where I discovered there were still virtually no seabirds passing apart from Gannets - 2 Balearic Shearwaters being the exceptions. With the wind forecast to increase and turn to the NW hopefully Pendeen will be better in the morning.

Balearic Shearwater, Porthgwarra, 5th October

 

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Gannet, Porthgwarra, 5th October

 

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Razorbills, Porthgwarra, 5th October

 

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Black-tailed Godwit (left) and Curlew (right), Hayle, 5th October

 

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Willow Warbler, Nanquidno, 5th October - was this the bird reported as a Melodious Warbler? It was in exactly the right place and was a sickly individual that sometimes appeared fat and sluggish...

 

Tuesday 4th October

It was quiet again at Porthgwarra although 2 Tree Pipits flew over again and a Lapland Bunting was heard calling. I pressed on as far as Faraway Cottage then crossed to Raftra Farm and down to St Levan and finally came across a half-decent bird in the stubble field half a mile north of St Levan. I was hoping to put up something like a Red-throated Pipit among the Meadows but instead I flushed a Quail. Got a relatively decent view of it as it flew low and quick into the adjacent field. Not as good as a rare pipit but nice. St Levan held a Pied Flycatcher and a Snow Bunting flew over.

In the evening I headed up to the moor again, flushing another Tree Pipit and then locating the Red-backed Shrike that had been reported earlier but had eluded lots of visitors subsequently. Interesting corvids included 2 Choughs and 5 Ravens. When darkness fell it started to rain - not much but enough to put me off putting the light on, so no moths tonight.

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Red-backed Shirke, Porthgwarra (left) and Grey Wagtail, Polgigga (right), 4th October

 

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Buzzard, between Porthgwarra and St Levan, 4th October

 

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Chough, Porthgwarra, 4th October

 

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Wheatears, St Levan (left) and Porthgwarra (right), 4th October

 

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Stonechat, Porthgwarra, 4th October

 

Monday 3rd October

Vis mig at Porthgwarra this morning consisted mainly of Meadow Pipits and there wasn't a lot in the bushes either - a Sedge Warbler at Trevean Pool was about the limit - so I continued on to Higher Bosistow where the 2 Dotterel were still present. A quick shopping trip to Penzance produced a Gannet on the harbour pool inland of the road - presumably a sick bird and certainly a grubby one. Marazion delivered the juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper which performed astonishingly well, apparently unconcerned by the photographers or dog walkers. With it were 5 wagtails all of which looked like good candidates for White Wagtails and at least one of which did indeed show an entirely grey rump. On the way back to Porthgwarra we stopped off near Drift to have another look at the 2 Black Kites which were both showing well.

In Penzance I'd bought an extension lead so I could put the light in a slightly more sensible place for attracting moths. This combined with a warm calm night meant an excellent selection including several scarce migrants: Uresiphita gilvata, 2 Old World Webworms, 3 Small Marbleds, a Purple Marbled (all firsts for me) and at least 4 Vestals and these:

3 Eudonia angustea, 2 Rusty-dot Pearls, 2 Rush Veneers, 2 Common Marbled Carpets, 2 Brimstone Moths, Yellow-tail, 3 Dingy Footmen, Dark Sword-grass, 2 Large Yellow Underwings, 10+ Autumnal Rustics, 2+ Setacous Hebrew Characters, Square-spot Rustic, 2 Feathered Brindles, 5+ Black Rustics, Beaded Chestnut, Lunar Underwing, 3 Frosted Oranges, 2 Vine's Rustics, 2 Silver Ys and Snout.

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Sparrowhawk, Porthgwarra, 3rd October

 

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Wheatear (left) and Sedge Warbler (right), Porthgwarra, 3rd October

 

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Dotterel, Polgigga, 3rd October

 

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Gannet, Penzance Harbour, 3rd October

 

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Herring Gulls, Penzance Harbour, 3rd October

 

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Pectoral Sandpiper, Marazion, 3rd October

 

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Dunlin, Marazion, 3rd October

 

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White Wagtail (left) and Rock Pipit (right), Marazion, 3rd October

 

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Black Kites, Drift, 3rd October

 

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Wheatear, Sennen, 3rd October

 

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Old World Webworms, Porthgwarra, 3rd October

 

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Purple Marbled (left) and Uresiphita gilvata (right), Porthgwarra, 3rd October

 

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Small Marbleds, Porthgwarra, 3rd October

 

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Vestals, Porthgwarra, 3rd October

 

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Dark Sword-grass (left) and Common Marbled Carpet (right), Porthgwarra, 3rd October

 

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Feathered Brindle (left) and Dingy Footman (right), Porthgwarra, 3rd October

 

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Rush Veneers, Porthgwarra, 3rd October

 

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Rusty-dot Pearls, Porthgwarra, 3rd October

 

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Yellow-tail (left) and Vine's Rustic (right), Porthgwarra, 3rd October

 

Sunday 2nd October

Vis mig at Porthgwarra this morning consisted of a variety of finches, pipits and Skylarks, the best of which were 2 Tree Pipits. Being Vitty's birthday I didn't have much time to look round for grounded migrants but after lunch I did have a bit of time to look for the Kites that have been in the area for a few weeks now. An initially fruitless search turned up Clouded Yellow near St Buryan and 2 Ravens at Drift but eventually I found a group of people who'd been watching the 2 Black Kites near Drift for over an hour. The pool at Sennen held a Beautiful Demoiselle.

Back at Porthgwarra a tame Red Fox was hanging around the cottage and the light attracted a few moths (and a Red Admiral), most notably another Vestal, my first Aspilapteryx tringipennella, my first Rush Veneer, a Pearly Underwing and my first Frosted Orange since 2002. Also these:

Double-striped Pug, Dingy Footman (late?), 2 Large Yellow Underwings, 4 Autumnal Rustics, 2 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, 2 Square-spot Rustics, 3 Black Rustics, Beaded Chestnut, 2 Lunar Underwings and Pink-barred Sallow.

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Black Kite(s), Drift, 2nd October

 

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Buzzards, near Pendeen (left) and Drift (right), 2nd October

 

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Red Fox, Porthgwarra, 2nd October

 

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Aspilapteryx tringipennella, Porthgwarra, 2nd October

 

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Rush Veneer (left) and Eudonia angustea (right), Porthgwarra, 2nd October

 

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Frosted Orange (left) and Pearly Underwing (right), Porthgwarra, 2nd October

 

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Beaded Chestnut (left) and Double-striped Pug (right), Porthgwarra, 2nd October - I was convinced the Pug was something more interesting as it seemed enormous (i.e. as big as any Currant or Freyer's Pug) and the wing-shape was very rounded, but in the end I can't find anything apart from Double-striped that fits the markings - confirmation or correction would be welcome - contact me!

 

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Lunar Underwings, Porthgwarra, 2nd October

 

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Pied Wagtail, Treen (left) and Autumnal Rustic, Porthgwarra (right), 2nd October

 

Saturday 1st October

We headed down to Cornwall today having spent the night with friends at Bradford-on-Avon. First we stopped off at Black Down in Somerset where a juvenile Pallid Harrier had been seen recently. We parked at the radio masts and walked west towards the trig point where we could see a crowd of expectant twitchers looking. We were barely past the car park when I picked up the Pallid Harrier close to us and moving south across the footpath in front of us. Got great views, although by the time I switched from looking at it to photographing it was too late to capture the underparts. We carried on along the path, unsure of exactly where it had now gone, but then I picked it up again, flying back towards the radio masts (and now in dreadful light with the sun directly behind it). For the whole time the crowd on the Trig point had their backs to us and the bird - presumably they did not see it at this time! There was also a good southerly passage of Swallows going on for the whole time we were there and a Wheatear.

Now the pager informed me that an adult Spotted Sandpiper was still at Chew so, as that was only a few minutes away we headed up there. It was an awkward bird to see and, if it hadn't been an adult still with some spots I don't think the views I got would have been adequate to clinch the ID - certainly the photos wouldn't have been! Also a couple of Green Sandpipers there.

I'd not seen a Semipalmated Sandpiper since the spring bird at Trimley way back in 1993 so we decided to make Axemouth en route to Cornwall. It had been reported roosting at Seaton beach but I figured by the time we had got there it was more likely to have returned to its feeding area off Coronation Corner on the estuary so we went there first. There was one couple there watching the Semipalmated Sandpiper, feeding on the mud close enough for good views, preferring the company of Ringed Plovers to the Dunlins. Also here were two colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwits and a colour-ringed Herring Gull - we await details of where these were ringed.

A quick stop at Marazion produced Whinchat and 4 Wheatears but not a lot else - a rusty-thighed Grey Heron ought to have been a Great Blue Heron, but sadly it wasn't!

We finally arrived at our cottage at Porthgwarra in time to spend the last hour of daylight with a glass of red wine and watching Gannets and Shags (but nothing more exciting) fly by. Annoyingly I discovered I had forgotten to bring an extension lead which meant I could barely get the MV light out of the door, but it still managed to attract a few moths. Best of these, and the only one that was completely new to me, was a Vestal. Other commoner species which I have only seen here before were 2 Autumnal Rustics, 2 Feathered Brindles and Black Rustic while species I've only occasionally seen at home were Rusty-dot Pearl and Rosy Rustic. Apart from that there were:

Light Brown Apple Moth, Eudonia angustea, Brimstone Moth, Lesser Yellow Underwing, 3 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, 9 Square-spot Rustics and Large Wainscot.

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Pallid Harrier, Black Down, 1st October

 

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Semipalmated Sandpiper, Axemouth, 1st October

 

Spotted Sandpiper, Chew Valley Lake, 1st October

 

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Vestal, Bawdeswell (left) and Wheatear, Marazion (right), 1st October

 

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Vestal, Bawdeswell, 1st October - same one as above

 

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Black Rustics, Bawdeswell, 1st October

 

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Rosy Rustic (left) and Autumnal Rustic (right), Bawdeswell, 1st October - the one I've identified as Rosy Rustic doesn't look very rosy but I can't think what else it could be

 

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Rusty-dot Pearl (left) and Feathered Brindle (right), Bawdeswell, 1st October

 

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