Saturday 30th October 2010
Haloween or not October is going out with a bang in a birding sense. An American Bittern near Zennor in Cornwall was the possible prize for an overnight drive to Trewey Common, 1 mile south of Zennor. Neil Howes had rung to ask if wanted to go and although there had been adverse reports of the bird being flushed and not being seen since midday we decided to go for it. We got a bit of sleep in the car as we waited till dawn. It was a cold, clear night and as more cars turned up we emerged to take up station on the roadside where we could view a pool the bird had been seen near, early the previous day. As the skies got brighter the silhouette of a bird was seen to fly from the pool and drop into some reeds. The view was inconclusive. The gallery grew and suddenly a Bittern got up from the reeds and flew over some conifers and across the Common, disappearing amongst the Gorse bushes. It had not been flushed. Birders spread out along the tracks around the Common and one or two found themselves in amongst the Gorse bushes. Again the bird flew up and gave prolonged flight views as it gained height and appeared to be heading well away before it was attacked by a Peregrine Falcon. In improving light as the Bittern tumbled and dropped to avoid the Peregrine it was possible to see the colouration of the upper wings and confirm we were looking at an American Bittern. The drama continued as the Peregrine made frequent swoops on the Bittern which was finally forced to the ground near some buildings with large gardens. Most of the birders including Neil and myself dispersed at this point well satisfied with the views they had had. It was time for Breakfast. Despite further searching the bird was not seen again for several hours. Other birds in the area included Greenland White fronted Geese (4), several flocks of Golden plover and many Raven.
After breakfast we had a brief look round Marazion and then the Hayle estuary. Star birds were a confiding group of Whooper Swans(2 adults and 1 juvenile) and a neck ringed Greylag goose from Sweden. Information courtesy of Lee Evans who with one quick phone call found out the origins of the goose. Impressive stuff indeed.
I would like to add that the behaviour of the hundred or so Birders at Trewey Common was excellent and self regulated, an example of Birding at its best.