Monday, 31 January 2011


Probably the most photographed Sanderling in West Cornwall.

Sunday, 30 January 2011


More Sawbills, as today we went down to Hayle once again to see the Ring-necked duck, and we also visited Carnsew Basin . The Goosanders were in the channel between Carnsew Basin and Lelant, fourteen in total and all female. Also at Carnsew we recorded a Med Gull and the Slav Grebe. Click on the images to enlarge

Friday, 28 January 2011

Sawbill Comparisons

These images are of two of the species we viewed on Thursday, it shows the difficulty in differentiating between female Goosanders ( Mergus Merganser) and female Red Breasted Merganser ( Mergus Serrator) in their winter plumage. When I took these images the three of us thought what great comparison images they would make. The Goosander is the outer bird with the Merganser the closest. The structure of the Goosander is of a heavier build with a visible demarcation of the red head and neck colour, the bill is thicker and more hooked although not so prominent on this individual. The merganser is of less stature with a thinner neck and bill, and smaller head. The head colour red and similar to the Goosander but has no demarcation with the neck colour and graduates to a a dirty brown to grey. These two individuals are probably first winter birds which further compounds the problem of identification as their adult plumage's have not been fully developed. I have to say I wobbled slightly when studying these images as the bills are very alike ,and the Goosander lacks a white throat patch, but I feel that this is down to their age. Cornwall has enjoyed high numbers of Sawbills this winter and noticeably, most are females.
Thanks to Steve Rogers and John Swann for the discussion and facts on identifying these species.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Ring Necked Duck

Today, in the teeth of a biting North Easterly wind at St Gothian, myself, John Swann and Brian Dodds captured this Drake Ring Necked Duck. This American species is usually an annual visitor to Cornwall but sometimes can be an escapee from private collections. They can be difficult to distinguish from Tufted duck when swimming with them, the points to look for are the lack of tuft, the white band on its beak, the size and shape of the beaks nib, and the white shoulder spur that graduates to grey on the flank. Don't look for a ring on its neck because it hasn't got one. Species of note seen today are as follows
1 Ring Necked Duck, 10 Knot at Copperhouse 2 Red Breasted Merganser 4 Goosander 1 Slavonian Grebe at Carnsew Basin 1 Pacific Diver at Marazion.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

A Mixed Bag

The following images were taken today bar the Bewick's Swan, I am experimenting with aperture and ISO, shooting at f8 to F11 and pushing the ISO to achieve reasonable shutter speeds .

Green shank/ Hayle Estuary

Mediterranean Gull/ Newlyn Green
Wigeon/ Carnsew Basin

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Goosander, Greater Scaup and Northern Shoveler

All of the following shots are Lisa,' with a visit to St Gothian and Carbis Bay, mainly to catch up with the Female Scaup at St Gothian. We first went to Carbis and Lisa captured the Goosander, the hard Autumn weather has driven a multitude of species down to the South West of England with high numbers of Goosander. Shoveler duck are a usual winter visit and the Greater Scaup a regular winter visitor habituating in the fjord, Icelandic and Tundra regions of the Northern Hemisphere.

Northern Shoveler (anas clypeata)

Goosander (mergus merganser)

Greater Scaup (athya merila)

Greater Scaup
Northern Shoveler

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Sparrowhawk (accipiter nisus) At Stithians

The Bewick Swans were special, but this Sparrowhawk was sublime as it posed perfectly for me in low light conditions, with rain and thick cloud. ISO was 1000 and the shutter speed 1/160th of second.

Bewick Swans (cygnus columbianus) At Stithians

A long day at cold Stithians Reservoir payed dividends today, John Swann and I arrived at the res to find the warden doing his excellent work and clearing the paths to the hides. Asking if the Bewicks had been seen, the answer was a resounding "no" they have only been seen in the afternoon. So it was chin up get in the hides and lets see what comes and go. The morning drifted by with some nice local species, one being a stunning Sparrow Hawk allowing JS to grow his already large year list. By lunch time and the onset of hypothermia, and no Bewick Swans ,we decided to have a look around the fields of the dam, to see if we could find out where they may be feeding.
Unsucessfully we returned to the Stuart Hutchens hide and there they where all eight of them, four adults and four juveniles.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Great Northern Diver, Great Northern Loon, Common Loon

A comment in my last entry prompted me to do this post. One of my favourite followers from Montana asked the question, is the Great Northern Diver the same species as the North American Common Loon? The answer is yes, the Great Northern Diver, The Great Northern Loon and the Common Loon are the same species, their Latin name is Gavia Immer. Their main range is in North American breeding in deep water lakes and bays in woodland, but a breeding population of 300 to 500 birds exists in Iceland. These are more likely, the Great Northern Loons, we see, overwintering in Cornwall, the far south west of England. So thanks for that Mona, that will teach me to be more accurate with my narratives, and to anyone who hasn't checked out Montana girls blog just click on this link below it is well worth it.
I have uploaded two images I took about a year ago of a Great Northern Loon I captured in Newlyn Harbour.

Monday, 3 January 2011

More From The Cove

Long Tailed Duck


Slavonian Grebe
Great Northern Diver

Slavonian Grebe At Sennen

I returned to Sennen Cove today hoping for closer shots of the Long Tailed Duck, no luck with the duck but this confiding Slavonian performed for me. The light levels once again a problem using high ISO settings but I had a productive couple of hours, with Great Northern Diver, Long Tail Duck but distant, Grey Plover, and close Dunlin, Sanderling and Ringed Plover.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Long Distance Long Tailed Duck

This handsome, full adult, Drake Long tailed Duck was photographed today at Sennen Cove. I would love to get closer to this stunning duck (tomorrow hopefully). Please click on the image to enlarge

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Round Up Of New Years Eve

Pale Bellied Brent Goose

Black Redstart At Newlyn Lighthouse Pier.

Eider Duck

I photographed these two Eider Duck yesterday just off the promenade in Penzance. The distance and the poor light made photography difficult. New years Eve was a good day for birding and photography, lets hope it is a sign of things to come.