Sunday, 7 February 2016

All in a day's birding...Glossy Ibis and Hudsonian Whimbrel at Marazion

I joined up with Max, Jack and Tracy today, after a bit of a last minute decision last night, to head down to Marazion for some birding after Saturday's complete wash-out.
Setting off at 8am, we decided to head over to Marazion marsh initially to see if we could connect with the showy Glossy Ibis; we weren't disappointed! I picked up the ibis whilst we were still driving into the car park- it was flying over the reed bed, and after disappearing into the distance, doubled back and landed in a small field beside the main road. We gathered our gear and traipsed over to said spot, only to find the bird feeding on a small pond just six metres from the roadside! It was totally unphased by our presence, and we spent a good hour or so in the company of several visiting birders watching this superb bird. I have never seen a Glossy Ibis this close before, so it was great to watch the elegant Plegadis stalking away in the shallows, plucking out juicy Earthworms at impressively regular intervals (it was certainly feeding well!). Every now and then it would come across a particularly large worm, and after a brief wriggly struggle ingesting the annelid, would stand meditatively for a few minutes before continuing its feeding - presumably digesting these wrigglers must take a bit of effort!

Jack scanning Marazion marsh 

After filling up a memory card or two with frame-filling images of the gleaming ibis, we headed back to the car park and sheltered out a particularly heavy rain shower with the aid of a hot chocolate (thanks Tracy!), before birding resumed. We spent the next hour or so scanning Marazion beach and the adjacent sea to see what was around: there were plenty of Gannets in the distance, along with the odd Fulmar, whilst a feeding flock of some 600 large gulls were making use of some feeding source a little further up the shore. We headed over and met up with a few more birders, who pointed out a smart first-winter Glaucous Gull that was hanging around with the larids. This is one of around four Glaucs thought to be in the area at the moment. It was cool to see over 200 Great Black-backed Gulls gathered here too, whilst a handful of Great Northern Divers were feeding in the swell offshore.

Marazion beach and St Michael's Mount

Glaucous Gull, though not today's individual. This is the bird we saw in Newlyn a few weeks ago. 

Having checked the rest of the beach and double-checked the gull flock for any more interesting visitors, we headed south and east: to Mount's Bay. Our main objective, perhaps, was to try and locate the long-staying Hudsonian Whimbrel which has taken up residence in the area for the winter. We managed to fail in a spectacular fashion a few weeks ago to see the bird, after a four hour walk around the coast, so it was time to put things of its whereabouts were sketchy, but we knew the rough area, and so planned to systematically scan the rocky shoreline until we found it!

We took the coastal path from near Marazion and headed towards Perranuthnoe: scanning the sea revealed more Great Northern Divers, a handful of Mediterranean Gulls and a small number of Shags; along the coastline, we saw the odd Oystercatcher, a handful of Curlews, one flock of 50+ Lapwings, a flock of five Little Egrets and some Turnstones; but no whimbrels. It wasn't until one of the last bays we reached that we finally pinned down a Whimbrel of sorts, but close scrutiny revealed it to be a cheeky Eurasian bird. Whilst scanning the rocks around its vicinity, Max picked up on another bird a further up the coastline- I quickly got onto it, and realised it was the Hudsonian! It was working its way in out of quite large boulders, making it difficult to get Jack onto, and then disappeared from view altogether. We headed over to the far side of the bay for a closer look, but could not locate the bird at all despite half an hour's search.

Max managed some record shots, which can be seen in his blog of the trip here

We headed back along the shoreline in slight frustration, but still pleased at our exploits of the day! A great trip all-in-all, especially since we managed to cash in on some sunlight! (probably this week's ration already used up). Until next time...

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