Saturday, 19 August 2017

Cornwall - Day 4, Marazion and Penzance Pelagic, 12th July 2017

Although we hadn't been able to book one of the Mermaid II boat trips along the coast, we managed to book their pelagic out to sea in the hunt for sealife and birds - this was a day I had been waiting for ever since the seabird arrival a month or two ago. We set off mid-morning, and took a diverted route towards Truro then along the coast to Marazion. After walking to St Michael's Mount, and seeing a Shelduck flying off, we were walking back when a large group of waders flying towards the beach caught my attention. I walked towards them and was still 50m away until some tourists (typically) spooked them, only allowing me a few decent pictures. 
Among the group of 60 strong were c.40 Ringed Plover, 8 Sanderling, 10-15 Dunlin and also a single Black-tailed Godwit. 
There is one bird slightly confusing me - it looked similar to a Curlew Sandpiper type bird, but also similar to Dunlin. I would appreciate any help with ID. (Picture 6+8)  

Black-tailed Godwit etc.


Sanderling, Dunlin and Ringed Plover

Ringed plover (ad + juv)


Dunlin (back) and Sanderling?

Dunlin and Sanderling

Dunlin (front) and Sanderling/Dunlin?
Later on, after a horrible Cornish pasty, I came back and a few of them were feeding not too far away. Then I spotted another new bird which was a Rock Pipit. Not one but around 10. The last picture was an incredible bird - it is an uncropped picture, as the bird came and sat within 3 metres off me, with an inquiring look!

Rock Pipit

Rock Pipit

Rock Pipit

Rock Pipit

Rock Pipit
We wandered into Marazion Marsh for about 20 minutes, where there seemed to be Stonechats everywhere, as well as Linnets, Sedge Warbler, Buzzard, Kingfisher, Kestrel, a few Beautiful Demoiselle and a caterpillar. 

Sedge Warbler

Cinnabar moth caterpillar?
At 4:30pm, we were ready at the quay to start the 3 hour voyage towards the ocean in the hunt for some good birds. We left at precisely 5pm. En route, I was easily able to add to my awful seabird list with Gannets flying past and diving in numbers, while Fulmars followed the boat. With the boat frantically bobbing out it was very difficult to get any good pictures throughout the trip unfortunately, so I mostly stuck to observing the birds. 
Eventually, I spotted the first Manx Shearwaters of the trip too; unfortunately there were only 2 Common Dolphins seen. 2 Sooty Shearwater flew past, along with a Cory's which I missed.

Manx Shearwaters (heavily edited!)

Manx Shearwater
When we were out and off to sea further, the first Storm Petrel made an appearance and a Great Skua began swooping in and out of the waves. 

Great Skua

Great Skua
As the journey progresses, 2 Great Shearwaters came through, and 40+ Storm petrel danced on the water as well. A surprise Black Tern came fishing as well. 

juv Black Tern
An hour went by, and more Storm petrels continually came in. The skua entertained us further, while eyes searched through the birds looking for the Wilson's Petrel. Eventually a 'bigger petrel' was sighted. We finally got our bird. 2 Wilson's Petrel flew around 20-30m from the boat for 5 minutes, while all the other seabirds continually dashed in and out. A great experience with 8 species I'd never seen before added. Sadly I barely got a picture worthy of being posted of a Petrel, let alone the Wilson's Petrel, so I can't really tell from my pictures which bird it is. 

Wilson's Petrel

Fulmar, Storm Petrel and Wilson's petrel (higher on the image, on the right)


Gannet (nearly got all of it!)

Sooty Shearwater (barely)
An excellent day birdwatching. On the way back 2 Whimbrel flew past, while the Fulmars and Gannets followed us back. 
On the journey back, I was shattered and fell asleep. A mistake - my dad spotted a Barn owl sitting on a '40mph' sign. That was the only Barn Owl seen on the trip.

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