|Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus)|
Most mornings, whilst the weather has been so good, I've been out with my ringing trainer Kester down one of the nearby valleys - Nanjizal. Mention the name of this place to bird-watchers anywhere in the country and you get a glassy-eyed reaction from everyone.... it's one of those very special places in Cornwall that, in the past, has turned up some unbelievably rare birds like the first British Alder Flycatcher in 2008 that had made it over to our shores from North America. Even the more scarce birds that many birders travel to see like Hoopoe, Wryneck, Melodious, Icterine and Aquatic Warblers turn up here annually and sometimes in 3's or 4's (at the right time of year).
|Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and Robin in the nets.|
Even though most of the birds caught in the nets so far have been standard fare such as blue tits and blackbirds, chiffchaffs and willow warblers as it's still a little early for those scarcities to come in, we do get the odd cracker in the nets..... a bird that I watched zip into the net low down, which at first I thought was a Sedge Warbler, turned out to be a rather nice 3J Grasshopper Warbler (3J means that the bird is a youngster from this year and has not completed its post-juvenile moult - which in turn means that it hasn't quite got all of its proper feathers ready for its migration to Africa for the winter). The reason it's called a Grasshopper Warbler is because of its call, a long reeling which sound a little like a grasshopper (but goes on much longer!). They can be infuriating to see in the field as they skulk around in thick vegetation, so to get one in the hand and get up close and personal with one was great.
|Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)|
|Male Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus)|
|Male Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus) underside|
small numbers (<20), but here they were everywhere.... I lost count after 300! The south-west tip of Cornwall is great for these little gems, but countrywide few strongholds remain.... to my knowledge the area around Studland Heath in Dorset and Prees Heath in Shropshire are the only main areas that you stand a good chance of seeing one of these beautiful blues. The reason they are called 'Silver-studded' is due to the markings on the underside of its wings which show silvery-blue metallic spots which can be found next to the orange at the edge of the hindwing.
|Skylark (Alauda arvensis)|
The good weather held up for a while, peaking on a day with no wind, no clouds and a scorching 28 degrees, which was great for all of the holiday revellers coming down to the hide, but even thought the sea was so calm we hardly saw anything. The only sightings of note were the previous Basking Sharks but with a turn in the weather, we had a surge of wildlife and on the 6th of July it went a bit crazy. When I got down to the hide there was a strong SW gale blowing around force 6-7 and the sea was choppy with white horses breaking everywhere. I really felt as if we were going to be right out of luck seeing anything and I think that the tourists thought so too as no-one bar a single guy from Norfolk decided to brave it. It was a shame they didn't, as during the day we got to see a fantastic array of seabirds including no less than 58 Cory's Shearwater, 8,000+ Manx Shearwater, 2 Sooty Shearwater, 15 Storm Petrel and 2 White-beaked Dolphin.... who says that wildlife's easier to see when it's sunny.... it was a brilliant day as I'd never seen the White-beaks or the Cory's before, so two new wildlife ticks for me!
This weather has continued since then, with no signs of letting up, but hopefully it will so we can have a little bit more summer-time and also we can get the nets back out.... it's been too windy so far, but next week.... who knows?!