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Birdwatching Archive 2013

14 JUNE 2013
We had a great day on Friday May 31at West Penwith.  The weather was wonderful and we were lucky enough to see 30 different types of bird including: Robin, Chiffchaffs, Swallows ,Swifts, Shags, Wheatear, Fulmars, Whitethroats, Buzzard, Kestrel, Meadow

and Rock Pipits. At the end of the day we were treated to the Choughs first doing a fly by for us, then going on and off their nest and finally an aerial display above our heads.
Bob Dack
2 MAY 2013
Thanks to Bob Dack, we now have a trip arranged to see, we hope, these iconic birds.
There will be a fair amount of walking involved on, probably, steep and uneven ground  -  about 5 or 6 miles, Bob says.
And it will be an early start as we need to get there around 10 a.m.
Car sharing will be arranged as usual.
Contact me on the above number (leave a message if no answer) or phone/text 07786 261525 or email.
Ronnie Puttock
2 MAY 2013
Last Monday 6 of us went to Walmsley Marsh. A beautifully sunny day, but still that chilly nor'easter and with the hide's windows facing east it got pretty cold. However we birdwatchers are hardy creatures and we were rewarded with a very satisfying time. In all we saw 25 (or 26) different species in the 5 hours we spent there, such as: zillions of Canada geese and the other usual suspects like; swans, mallards and grey herons. At the more rarer extreme we saw a whimbrel and a pair of shovellers. We didn't see the peregrines that had been there the previous day, but a buzzard made itself a nuisance to the teal and a sparrow hawk visited. It posed, obligingly, for a few minutes in full view and also tried, but narrowely failed, to catch a swallow on the wing. For me, one of the highlights was seeing my first swifts this year. When they return I always feel that summer's here (I wish the temperatures would feel the same!). Thank you to Peter Bland for arranging this and I think it'll be a place we will return to.
Ronnie Puttock
11 APRIL 2013
We had a productive meeting on the 8th and several ideas were brought up which various members of the group will follow up. In no particular order they are:
1. Choughs in West Penwith. Bob will arrange for us to go and see the choughs and through his contact there, we'll go to places not normally open to the public. This trip will take place around the end of May/beginning of June.
2. Bodmin Moor. At our trip to Tresillian, Sid Cole mentioned that Bodmin Moor would be a good place to visit in April. There is interest in seeing the starlings gathering around Rough Tor (but this may be a seasonal thing), also someone said that Sid had mentioned a place to see/hear nightjars. I'll speak to Sid about these and if he's willing to take a group of us, arrange a date.
3. Walmsley Marsh. Reuben will find out about when's the best time to go here as, again, it may be a seasonal thing)
4. Summer Walks along the north coast to see sand martins, wheatears etc. The best time to go may be during the next few weeks. When I talk to Sid I'll ask him about best times/places.
5. Dawn Chorus Walk. Since the meeting Bob has come up with 2 walks that we can join as individuals. Pre-booking required:
  • 4th May starting at 5 a.m. Kilminoth Woods (near Looe). Contact Christine Spooner 01503 265590 or
  • 11th May starting at 5 a.m. Saltash. Contact Mary Langworth 01752 843852
6. Other possibilities.
  • Hayle estuary. Sid should know the best times to go here.
  • Avocet Cruise. Run by the RSPB on the Exe from November-February. Richard has been and I went this year and it's well worth going.
Bob has also told me about the Cornwall Wildlife Trust's weekend at Heligan on 11th & 12th May. For details go to the Trust's site
Another excellent site is the Cornwall Birdwatching and Preservation Society's. They list the latest sightings. I've just had a look and the summer visitors are well on their way  -  tantalising things like a hoopoe and osprey as well as the usual swallows and chiffchaffs. So keep your eyes peeled and bins to hand!!
Details of confirmed events will be posted here as well as coming to you by email.
Ronnie Puttock
5 APRIL 2013
Our next meeting will be on:
2 p.m.
In the Community Centre
It will be a shortish meeting  -  probably about an hour  -  to plan future outings.
But it would be good if people could mention any interesting bird activity they've seen. For example, I've seen willow warblers on the pond at Red Moor nature reserve and had, what I strongly think is, a garden warbler in my garden (where else would it be!). I had my hair cut in February and put it out for the birds for nest material. It wasn't until the last fortnight or so that they took much interest. It's all gone now, which is very satisfying. One of the birds that grabbed a beakful was a great tit.
Ronnie Puttock

UPDATE 21/3/13
So this is what the first day of Spring looks like! And three intrepid (mad?) bird watchers, along with the intrepid Sid Cole, met at Tresillian at 9.30 a.m. this morning. We set off into the teeth of a strengthening wind and ever heavier rain,
wading through ankle deep puddles and mud! Spotting birds was not easy through rain spattered optics and against mud coloured..... mud. To be honest it wasn't as productive in numbers of species seen as our two previous walks. I have 9 written on my list, though this is after the event as my notebook soon became a mush. For me, the highlights were getting to see at close quarters (thanks to Sid's scope): greenshank, redshank and little grebe. The last - 3 of them - on Tresemple Pond. While two sheltered in the undergrowth at the edge of the "pond", one lived up to it's more picturesque name of dabchick, by continuously diving. There were also 3 pure white ducks with yellow bills looking and acting like clockwork toys! Call ducks I think they're called. Despite the weather and the lack of birds  -  Sid reckoned that most of the winter waders had already gone  -  we all agreed we were glad we came. (Well, we have to say that!). Many thanks, again, to Sid. Provisionally, our next trip with him may be to Bodmin Moor sometime in April.
In the meantime, I think we should all get together to plan future events and who will arrange them for us.
Ronnie Puttock


UPDATE: 18/3/13
NEXT EVENT: Walk along river at Tresillian
DATE: Thursday 21 March.
TIME: 9.30 a.m.
MEET: in lay-by on A390 just past car show-room.
This walk will be led by Sid Cole again. The aim is to grab a last chance to see the waders before they head back north for the summer.
The path by the river is, I believe, fairly level with a good surface. It won't be as cold as the last time (hope not, anyway) but be prepared for muddy conditions.
UPDATE 12/3/13
This Group really seems to be taking off (if you forgive the pun!). Despite the viciously cold weather yesterday about 10 of us assembled at Wadebridge and were led by Sid Cole and his mate Nigel on a two and a half hour walk.
Brenda was bravely risking frostbitten fingers and keeping a list of what we saw, but I don't think we saw as many different species as we did on the previous walk. The cold and the fierce wind would have kept the smaller woodland birds under cover. We saw lots of teal and they were much closer than on the Fowey. The wonderful colouring of the drakes was obvious. Among the pools we also saw a green sandpiper (right). Another bird that gave Sid a lot of thought and puzzlement was, what he finally decided, a white wagtail. The European version of our native pied wagtail. We saw some of those, too and could see the difference in plumage.
Another not so common bird Sid spotted was a pair of stock doves (left). At first glance they are similar to the wood pigeon, but don't have the white marks on the neck.
Although it was another enjoyable and successful walk I think we were all glad to get back to the warmth and shelter of our cars. 
Sid would like to organise another trip very soon to catch the waders before they head back up north for the summer. He plans to take us to the mudflats of Tresillian when the time and tides are in our favour. Our thanks to Sid and Nigel for leading us on this field trip. And I, for one, certainly hope he can take us on many more.
Ronnie Puttock
 UPDATE 9/3/13
A party of 12 met at Riverside Cottage 10.30am Friday 8thMarch.

We first spotted a Wagtail then walked alongside the river through Coulson Park in sunshine!!!!

To Dennis' chair and 9 of us decided to return to base after seeing 22 species of birds finishing with a Kingfisher!!!!!!
The remainder carried on walking.

My special thanks to Paul Dixon and Alan May for the guidance and assistance on this memorable day.
Reuben Pike

It was certainly a magnificent pre-Spring day. The lambs tail catkins on the hazels were noticeably long and yellow, while those on the pussy willows were plump in their silver "fur". Here and there leaves were beginning to show on some of the bushes and buds had got a lot fatter in the past few days. Birdsong was

everywhere and we managed to spot all the singers except the wren, which, as usual, hid in the shrubbery.  The two pairs of teal that we saw attracted a lot of attention from us, but the kingfisher was the obvious highlight. It perched on it's post for several minutes showing its chestnut chest. It flew off briefly, but when it returned it displayed it's beautiful blue back. It must have known it was being watched  -  the poser! The four of the group who carried on right to the end of the path added a few more species to the list - including the buzzard and meadow pipit.  Thank you, on behalf of the rest of us, to Paul, Alan and Reuben for such a memorable morning.
Ronnie Puttock 
 ***IMPORTANT UPDATE 3/3/13  -  CHANGE TO MEETING *** - from Ronnie Puttock (Group Contact Person)
I apologise for this change of plan at short notice, but we have managed to get the services of the well known and respected Sid Cole to lead a field trip on Monday 11 March.
He will be taking us to Treraven Meadows, near Wadebridge, where we could see birds coming off the Camel estuary as the tide rises as well as field and woodland birds
Those who know Sid will know he's a mine of information and will keep us entertained even if the birds fail to appear!
We will be meeting at 2 p.m. at the end of Guineaport Road (Grid Ref: SW9939 7194) Detailed directions below.
The path we will be on is level (part of the Camel Trail) but will be muddy  -  so wear appropriate footwear and clothing. Bring binoculars too, of course. The furthest we would walk is about a mile
Directions: Take A389 to Wadebridge (via Egloshayle). Turn left over old bridge. Turn first left into The Platt. Turn first left into Jubilee Road (past supermarket - Co-op?)
Follow this road which becomes Guineaport Road. Drive to the end of the road where the houses stop and the river comes up to the road.
Transport: Car sharing as much as possible. I can take 3. Let me know if you can take people or need a lift.

Update: 2/3/13  -  from Ronnie Puttock (Group Contact Person)
The next general meeting of the group will be on March 11 at 2 p.m. and will be held in the Scout Hall. (£5/hour. I've booked for 2 hours, but we may not need that long).
1. There will be a report back from the field trip to Shirehall Moor (March 8)
2. Proposed future trips:
    Walmsley Marsh; Camel Estuary; Choughs at The Lizard (or elsewhere); a
    dawn chorus walk (possibly Lanhydrock); Hayle Estuary; Somerset Levels; any 
    other suggestions.  
Update: 13/2/13  from Ronnie Puttock (Group Contact Person)
We held our first meeting on Monday 11th and it was a lively affair which bodes well for the future of the Group.
  • To start with we listed birds that have been seen in our gardens and there were nigh on 50 different species. We didn't venture to include birds that can be seen on the river and estuary.
  • We talked about future activities of the Group and two ideas that came up were inviting guest speakers and going on field trips. Sid Cole was mentioned as both a speaker and someone who could lead field trips. The trips themselves could be either arranged as a Group or be informal ones by individuals or perhaps 2 or 3 people arranging something for themselves. Reports back of these trips would be welcome at our regular Group Meetings. One trip was arranged  -  for details see below.
  • I know of 2 people who are interested in the group but have difficulty with mobility and/or standing for long periods. We need to organise activities that these people can enjoy where walking and standing is minimised: trips to hides or places with seated viewing areas, for instance.
  • My personal bee in the bonnet is keeping a journal or diary of observations. And not just birds. I intend to do this for myself, recording what goes on in my garden and what I see when I'm out and about. It'll be good if others could do the same.
Future action:
  • Can you think of other people or organisations we could contact as speakers. Ideally could you speak to them and sound out their availability/willingness/fee. Please email me the information.
  • Can I have suggestions for places to visit. Hayle and Marazion were mentioned. It would be good to make a list of places with hides and/or seated areas.
  • I will circulate a list of names and email addresses of people in the Group.
  • A plea! Please can anyone help in the running of this group. I could carry on being the point of contact if others could do the organising of trips and speakers. I don't have the time to do all of it.
FRIDAY 8TH MARCH: 10.30 a.m.
Meet at railway bridge at entrance to Coulson Park for a walk to Shirehall Moor to see what we can see.
MONDAY 11th MARCH: 2.00 p.m.  Venue to be arranged.
General monthly meeting.
We decided that we would hold Group Meetings on a monthly basis on the second Monday afternoon of the month. (So put the dates in your calendar now! April 8, May 13 etc.)
Update 31/1/13
Message from Ronnie Puttock :-

My name is Ronnie Puttock and because nobody has, so far, stepped forward to lead the Group I have volunteered to set up an initial meeting simply to get the Group started. I have no wish to be the group leader especially as I’m already leading another group.

The meeting is arranged for:


At 2 p.m.

In the Community Centre

I know that whatever day and/or time I chose some of you won’t be able to make it. However, to help find out the best (or least worst) day and time I am emailing this to all that have an email address because I’ll be attaching a questionnaire to it to find out your preferences. SO, CHECK YOUR EMAILS – THE MESSAGE MAY GO STRAIGHT TO YOUR TRASH.

If you don’t have an email address there’ll be copies of the form at the meeting for you.

Completed questionnaires will be collected at the meeting and someone will scrutinise them and come up with a day and time that is convenient to the majority of you.


The purpose of the meeting will be three-fold  -  though anyone can throw other ideas into the pot:

1.   Decide how and by whom the Group is run

2.   Decide what activities the Group will follow

3.   Meet each other.

Here are my thoughts on the first two:

This is potentially a large group (30 so far) and it can’t be led by just one person. As much as I dread the word “committee”, we may have to form one. There needs to be someone to chair meetings; someone to take notes; someone to organise activities; someone to act as point of contact for members’ queries, suggestions etc. and keeping the Group’s site up to date.


What will the Group do? That’s obviously up to the membership, but I imagine it’ll be largely activity based  -  formal and informal; individually or in groups. Every so often there’ll be meetings (how often?) where there are reports back on the activities. There may be a need for an “archivist” who will collect all the reports and notes. I think it’s important to keep records of unusual  -  and the usual  -  bird sightings and their movements.

Depending on cost, we could, perhaps, invite guest speakers.

I had the notion of extending the Group’s remit to cover all fauna and flora and also the weather because all these factors impact on bird behaviour.  Month by month and year by year we could build up a sizeable data bank. (Am I being too ambitious??).

These are merely my ideas to stimulate discussion.

If you can’t come on the 11th please let me know (01208 872681) but fill in the questionnaire and email it to me (or fill it in on the phone with me).

Hope to see lots of you on the 11th.