2022 yearly round-up
Updated: Dec 22, 2022
As is characteristic of New Year's day, most of the Lizard birders were about and about, and quite a few good birds were seen. The 2021 goose-fest continued, with the Bean Geese and White-fronted Goose and a Glossy Ibis still in the fields between Grade Marsh and Trethvas, the White-fronted Goose flock still present near Croft Pascoe, and Dark-bellied Brent Geese at Trethvas and Bishop's Quay. The farmer, unfortunately, took a bit of a dislike the interest the geese were attracting, rounded up a shooting partly, and narrowly missed consigning Ibis to a fate more common the 19th century. An unseasonable Puffin past Lizard Point in the morning of the 1st, and was seen along with the Purple Sandpiper a bit later Toby found a Caspian Gull there, with another good candidate Caspian Gull wiith a POolish ring found by Paul at Coverack, and 6+ Purple Sandpipers at Kennack Sands. 4 Cattle Egrets at Loe Pool were also noteworthy.
On the 2nd, John saw a summer plumage Black Guillemot fly past Coverack, a Hen Harrier was seen at Trethvas, and rather unusually for the site, a Dipper was seen at Frenchman's Creek. On the 3rd, the 2021 Red-necked Grebe was joined a Slavonian Grebe at Helford Passage, found by Paul on the 5th, a Water Pipit was found at Trethvas Farm. 4 Cattle Egret were seen at Gillan Creek on the 6th, an Eider at Coverack on the 9th, but the middle of the month was otherwise quiet, aside from various sightings of geese and a Siberian Chiffchaff at Hayle Kimbro on the 12th and 3 at Helston Sewerage Works on the 16th. The next notable bird was a Bittern found by Steve B at Loe Pool on the 21st and I found a Pintail there on the 25th, which was possibly the same as that seen at Windmill Farm the next day. Cattle Egret flocks gradually increased in the Helford area, with 15 seen at St Martin and 11 at Gillan on various days.
February, typically a quiet birding month, started with a Jack Snipe at Hayle Kimbro and a Purple Sandpiper at Coverack, not a traditional site for this species. The Red-necked Grebe continued to be seen on and off, Mediterranean Gulls starting showing up in significant numbers, but a Spotted Redshank at Gweek on the 12th was probably the bird of the first half of the month.
In the second half of the month, the first signs of spring put on a show, with 34 Manx Shearwater on the 17th. Dave's Pintail at Croft Pascoe on the same day, possibly the same as that seen earlier in the year, was more characteristic of winter. I saw a 'Blue' Fulmar fly past Lizard Point on the 20th, which was one of my early year highlights. A Red-throated Diver on Loe Pool itself were also noteworthy.
The start of March was pretty quiet, but a Brambling was near St Keverne on the 8th, and 35 Puffins flew past Lizard Point on the 9th - another sign of an early spring, as was Wheatear at Old Lizard Head on the 13th and White Wagtail at Pistol Meadow on the 14th. A Short-eared Owl roaming around the Kynance Road area for a few days in the middle of the month and Glaucous Gull at Coverack on the 14th, were less spring-like, Mid March continued to be a classic mix of winter and spring migrants, with a Brambling in the Hallerarcher Valley on 19th, and Eider at Bumble on the 20th, and Red Kites over Cadgwith and Lizard Downs also on the 20th.
The best birds, however, arrived later in the month. A White-tailed Eagle was seen by the NT Rangers over Beagle's Point on the 21st, Steve B found a male singing Serin at Black Head on the 22nd, which eventually increased to 4 birds by the end of the month. While twitching the Serins, Dave found a Hoopoe on the 23rd, and the first Willow Warblers of the year put in an appearance at Goonhillyon the 25th. A few more Red Kite were seen on the 27th, along with a flyover Tree Pipit, and a Sandwich Tern flew past Lizard Point on the 29th. Good numbers of Black Redstarts, and a few Siberian Chiffchaffs, were evidently winter migrants. A pair of Gadwall at Kynance Farm Pool on the 29th, a Black-tailed Godwit at Grade Marsh on the 30th and a Great White Egret at Loe Pool, found by Steve B on the 31st rounded off the month.
April started with an unusual sighting of a Barnacle Goose at the Helston Boating Pond, found by Steve B on the 1st, along with 2 House Matins. On the 2nd, Brambling near Coverack and a Red-legged Partride near Crousa Downs were noteworthy, as were a Brambling near St Keverne and a Siberian Chiffchaff at Penrose on the 3rd, A singing Firecrest on at Gillan Creek on the 9th, and a Hobby over Lizard Downs on the 10th were noteworthy, but surpassed in interest by the first Woodchat Shrike of the year, found by Tony at Windmill Farm on the 11th, along with a Greenland Wheatear. Tony continued his run of good finds on the 14th, with a cracking male Western iberiae Subapine Warbler on the 14th at Housel Bay.
The second half of the month, continued with a run of good birds. Another Woodchat Shrike turned up at Grochall on the 18th, this one found by Dougy, with photos revealing it to be a different bird to the one found earlier in the month. A possible singing Nightingale at Windmill Farm on the 19th eluded any of the Lizard regulars, but Red-rumped Swallows over Porthoustock and Lizard Village, found by Paul and Steve K on the 22nd, coincided with an influx of Red Kites and a few Whinchat. On the 23rd, there was an arrival of Ring Ouzels, with singles seen at Windmill Farm and Caerthillian, and three seen at Predannack. Large numbers of Wheatear and a Pied Flycatcher were also seen. On the 24th, a few Redstarts and Lesser Whitethroats arrived too. On the 26th, Stuart stepped out of his front door to find an Osprey over Cadgwith, and on the 28th I saw a Little Ringed Plover as it flew around Kynance Cove calling - a patch tick for me! The Red Kite influx continued, and a few Hobbies put in an appearance and the first Swift of the year was seen at Higher Bochym. Last notable bird of the month was an Osprey seen by John while out shopping at Lidl in Helston on the 30th.
Birding in May started with a Whinchat at Housel, a Spotted Flycatcher at Windmill Farm and a late Siberian Chiffchaff at Caerthillian on the 2nd. Best bird of the day, however, was a Richard's Pipit found by Tony along Chapel Lane which later relocated to Windmill Farm. It took a little while to pin-down and ID the large Pipit and Windmill, but always good when you can firm up your Dick's as John would say (and indeed did). Migrant arrivals continued on the 3rd, with Tree Pipits, Lesser Whitethroat, a Spotted Flycatcher. On the 4th of May, another Woodchat Shrike was found, this time near the edge of the meadows at Kynance. On the 5th, a Serin flew over Penmenner Road. The rest of the first half of the month was otherwise pretty quiet, other than a steady trickle of commoner migrants, the expected Great Northern Divers, and an unseasonal Lesser Redpoll at Higher Bochym on the 14th.
The second half of May picked up a bit, with a Pomarine Skua past Cadgwith and a Sooty Shearwater past Bumble Rock on the 16th, Another Sooty Shearwater was seen flying past Lizard Point on the 17th, and a Nightingale tuned up in Tony's garden on the same day. On the 19th, Tony continued his run of good finds, with two Serins around Lizard Point, a Rose-coloured Starling was found near Man-O-War drive and Purple Heron turned up at Bray's Cott. Both were found by visiting birders. On the 20th, a Collared Pratincole was reported from Predannack Airfield, though somehow eluded Tony who was at the site all day. A few Common Crossbill in Croft Pascoe woods were, however, small recompense for those searching for the Egyptian Vulture seen by Stevie V flying south over Deveron, which which never reached the Lizard, on the 22nd. Off-Lizard birds, were a feature of late-May, with a Roller found near Praze-an-Peeble on the 24th. The end of the month, saw a few more Red Kite arrive, but the only birds of note were possible a White-tailed Eagle and Long-legged Buzzard , both seen by the mystery Predannack birder, and among several sightings of unusual birds from area over the course of the year. Unfortunately, as with the Pratincole, these seemed to elude being seen by others.
Purple Heron at Bray's Cott. Joe Jones
Crossbill. As is quite common at this time of year, a small flock turned up at Croft Pascoe.
The first noteble birds of the month were a Golden Oriole at Kynance on the 1st, a possible breeding Black Redstart at Dean Quarry on the 2nd and a singing Nightingale, found by Stuart, at Kynance on the third. the Oriole found by a visiting birder, John fared best among the Lizard regulars, with 3 Rose-coloured Starling in Lizard Village, also on the 3rd. A Sooty Shearwater and possible Cory's Shearwater on the 6th were signs of things to come, but a Turtle Dove at Housel Bay was more typical. The middle of the month was rather quiet, but sightings of small numbers of Sooty Shearwaters, Storm Petrels and Cory's Shearwater on the 26th and 28th, kicked-off an extraordinary seawatching season,
Despite a promising start, extraordinarily good weather throughout most of July, meant that good seawatching conditions were few and far between. Nevertheless, a distant Skua on the 2nd was probably a Long-tailed Skua. On the 24th, things kicked-off in earnest when Paul, Joe and I saw 110 Cory's Shearwaters, 4 Great Shearwater and a few Sooty Shearwater past Lizard Point. Two Green Sandpipers at Hayle Kimbro on the 27th were more of a sign of the drought conditions that prevailed through much of the summer, however.
A feature of early August was good numbers of Green Sandpiper moving - I managed to get one on my garden list as it flew over calling one evening, and Dougy saw up to 8 at Windmill Farm. By the 10th, commoner migrants were starting to move, with several Spotted and Pied Flycatchers and a Tree Pipit seen. Bird of the first half of he month was undoubtedly the Lizard's first CASPIAN TERN, seen by Tony and Dan flying past Lizard Point on the 3rd. Dave's Icterine Warbler, found in the bushes opposite the toilet block at Kynance on the 11th was also a great find. 30+ Balearic Shearwaters past Lizard Point on the 13th was also notable, as were good numbers of Whinchat and a Pied Flycatcher on the 14th.
Though good weather prevailed for most of the month, Dave's Icterine was a a harbinger of things to come, when Tony briefly saw an unmelodious-looking hippo trundle though his garden. 14 more Balearic Shearwaters past Lizard Point, indicated that the sea-watching season was hotting up. On the 16th 10 Black-tailed Godwits dropped into Windmill Farm for a visit, were probably different to the 24 seen by Dan at Pistol Meadow on the 22nd. On the 18th, 4 Great Shearwaters and 26 Storm Petrels flew past Lizard Point and Bumble Rock. On the 19th I joined in with the sea-watching, with a 3 Great Shearrwaters and 2 Sooty Shearwaters, but highlight of the morning was undoubtedly a Great White Egret that flew in from the sea harassed by a Bonxie. On the 20th, the Uni lot went out on a a boat in Falmouth Bay at saw 3 Wilson's Petrels. Tony kindly requested they usher them his way, and they promptly obliged when one flew past him at Bumble Rock. The best I coulod manage, was a Red-backed Shrike at Caerthillian.
Things went a little bit mental on the 21st, when at least 5 and probably closer to 10 Wilson's Petrels flew past Lizard Point and Bumble Rock, seen by most of the Lizard regulars at fairly regular intervals throughout the day and more than doubling the total Lizard haul of this species to date. A handful of large Shearwaters, and a Long-tailed Skua were also nice. 3 Cory's hung around until the 21st. On the 25th, John took a brief break from cleaning his septic tank, and promptly joined the Red-backed Shrike club, by finding one in his garden/ On the 27th, Dougy found 2 Dotterel on the airfield. Despite high numbers of Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper were in short supply this year, but John managed one over Caerthillian on the 28th. His good fortunate there continued, when he found the first two Wrynecks of the year on the 29th. August was rounded off nicely, when Tony heard a probable American Golden Plover over Old Lizard Head on the 31st.
Early September started with the usual smattering of migrants, including a Hobby, several Whinchat, more Green Sandpipers and 2 Wrynecks at Soapy Cove. On the 3rd, seawatching was the thing to do, as Tony saw 652 Great Shearwaters, 36 Sooty Shearwaters, 12 Cory's Shearwater, 2 Wilson's Petrel, a Fin Whale and an adult Sabine's Gull fly past Lizard Point, along with the usual smattering of Bonxies and Storm Petrels, the former down on previous years owing to bird flu. Tony's seawatching fortunes continued on the 4th with Long-tailed Skua past Lizard Pt. Terry found an Osprey over Kynance Road on the same day. All of that was surpassed on the 5th, however, a morning's seawatch, in addition, to Long-tailed Skua an a few Great Shearwaters and a Little Stint, Tony and I saw a BAND-RUMPED STORM-PETREL fly past Lizard Point. Probably the best bird I have ever found by some margin (see a finders account here. Later in the day, a Leach's Petrel flew past Chynhall's Point, and Paul and Joe had 2 Long-tailed Skuas at Porthoustock. Sea-watching conditions continued on the 6th, with another Wilson's Petrel seen flying past Lizard Point by by Tony. In normal years, these would have been the best seawatching days by some margin.
Astonishingly, the run of good birds continued on the 7th, when Tony found the Lizard's first BLYTH's REED WARBLER in his garden. Things quietened down for a few days until the 10th, though regular migrants such as Whinchat continued to abound. On the 10th I found a Dotterel flying over Soapy Cove and Liam found 380 Great Shearwaters in Falmouth Bay, some of which were seen by Paul off Porthoustock, along with another Long-tailed Skua. The Great Shearwaters just kept on coming on the 11th, with 79 past Porthoustock along wiht a Cory's Shearwater and over 150 past Lizard Point. On the 12th, the mystery Predannack birder struck again, this time with a Black-browed Albatross. Tony saw a Wood Warbler in his garden, in most other years a remarkable bird for the Lizard. The best others managed were a few Wryneck, Redstart and Tree Pipits. Wrynecks continued to put in an appearance on the 13th and 14th, John saw and Osprey fly over Kynance Road on the 14th, but bird of he day was another BLYTH's REED WARBLER found by a visiting birder at Windmill Farm. Good numbers of Wryneck continued to put in appearances over the next few days, but on the 16th John took me up on my predicting of good vis-migging conditions and pulled a Red-rumped Swallow out of the bag flying over Kynance Road. On the 18th, one had been joined by a Melodious Warbler at Kynance Gate found by Liam et al. Matt, when searching for the Melody had an early Lapland Bunting over. Possible bird of the day though, was Paul's small creamy-looking heron flushed from the small pond near Lloyd's Lane. In true Lizard fashion. Tony found an early Yellow-browed Warbler when looking for it.
September continued along a similar vein to earlier in the month when Rupert found a mystery harrier at Croft Pascoe on the 21st. Luckily it was relocated by Steve B a few days later, who was able to get clearer photos, and after some debate, it turned out to be Lizard's second ever PALLID HARRIER. The Melodious Warbler hung around for quite a while, and drew in a reasonable supporting cast over the next few days, including a late Grasshopper Warbler and several Whinchat. On the 24th a Dotterel was seen flying over Lizard Downs and somebody reported an Eastern Black Redstart from Porthleven. I'd been walking the dog almost daily in the area though, and didn't see it. On the 25th, 2 Green Sandpiper were seen at Bray's Cott, and on the 28th dave found 2 more Yellow-browed Warblers at Housel Bay. Ring Ouzels, a Yellow-browed Warbler and Wrynecks were seen on the 28th and 29th. On the 30th, some visitors reported a Grey Phalarope at Lizard Point. Fortunately Tony went to check and confirmed the first Lizard Red-necked Phalarope since 1891!
October can often be a little disappointing on the Lizard, promising much but delivering little. It started off on a good footing though, with a Rose-coloured Starling in the village on the 1st and a Wryneck at Church Cove on the 2nd. John saw a summer plumage Little Auk fly past Coverack on the 4th, and 140 Balearic Shearwater flew past Lizard Point on the same day. On the 5th John saw two Cattle Egret fly over t he Waterings and Tony saw 122 Great Shearwaters, 66 Balearic Shearwater, 7 Sooty Shearwaters and 22 Arctic Skua fly past Lizard Point, having missed 30+ Great Shearwaters, 2 Long-tailed Skuas and 4 Arctic Skua seen by others. On the 5th, I saw two Pintail fly over Church Cove, actually quite a patch mega. On the 8th, Steve B found Yellow-browed Warbler at Treleaver and Dave found a Wryneck down at Soapy Cove. There was a bit of an arrival of Redstarts around this time too, and a more Yellow-browed Warblers and Whinchat. on the 11th, rather astonishingly, Dave saw 6 Great White Egrets land in a field near Traboe Cross.
John's Wryneck in Church Cove. Ilya Maclean
One the 15th, John saw a flock of 50 Great Shearwaters off Lizard Point and on the 16th, I joined in with the Wryneck act, finding a rather late one down at the bottom of Hellarcher. Later in the day, Dave a brief glimpse of a roosting Owl in Caerthillian, which was almost certainly Long-eared Owl. However, mostly the middle of the month was pretty quiet. On the 19th, things picked up a bit with a Lapland Bunting, Brambling and Yellow-browed Warbler seen. On the 20th, Stuart found a Turtle Dove and huge flocks of thrushes started to move, including 1000s of Fieldfare. Included among them were simply astonishing number of Ring Ouzel, the final haul for the day being 54! Among them too was a possible Black-throated Thrush seen by John flying over Kynance Road. Ring Ouzels continued to be found over the next few days, but 5 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, a Lapland Bunting on the 20th and a a Velvet Scoter on the 21st were by that time more unusual.
The 22nd went a bit crazy again. First alerted to the masses by John, simply mind numbing numbers of Great Shearwaters past the various Lizard headland. The total count for Bass Point was estimated at a staggering 10,350 past Bass Point almost certainly a record count for the UK. Not satisfied by this, John took it upon himself to find the Lizard's first ever BAROLO SHEARWATER and Dave got in on the act with another BAND-RUMPED STORM-PETREL. The 100s or so of Great Shearwater that flew past on subsequent days in the month are barely worth mentioning! Late October just went from strength to strength though, with good birds seen almost every day. On the 23rd 5 Cattle Egret turned up at Gillan, but were easily eclipsed by Edward's outstanding SIBERIAN STONECHAT find at HIgher Bochym on the 24th. On the 25th, Paul got in on the BAROLO SHEARWATER act with a probable past Porthoustock along with a Leach's Petrel. On the 26th another Leach's Petrel was seen flying past Lizard Point along with several hundred Great Shearwater there and at Coverack. On the 27th, Dave M found a Red-breasted Flycatcher in Tony's garden and Edward found a Yellowhammer at HIgher Bochym, the latter now on par with the former in terms of rarity. The 28th could muster now more than a few Ring Ouzels and a Siberian Chiffchaff, but on the 29th Tony found a Pallas's Warbler and a Yellow-browed Warbler at Gwendreath. Another Leach's Petrel flew past Coverack. On the 30th I found 5 Redpoll and a another Yellow-browed Warbler while out looking for Tony's Pallas's Warbler. On the 31st I managed to get in on the Pallas's Warbler act, with really cracking bird in the sallow along Lloyd's Lane. Dave found a late Lesser Whitethroat, but unusually for the time of year one of ours rather than Siberian, on the same day
Firecrest became common in late October. This one at Church Cove. Ilya Maclean.
By November, the sea normally dies down, and the best you can hope for is a few late Pomarine Skuas or Sooty Shearwaters. However, on the 2nd Royston showed us young uns how its done and pulled a morning-shift from his van at Lizard Point. Not content with a BAND-RUMPED STORM-PETREL flying past at close range three times, 10 minutes later he found a dark-rumped Leach's-type Petrel, possibly SWINHOE'S PETREL, along with a Grey Phalarope. Stuart scored 7 Petrel's past Cadgwith at the same time, but only clinched three of them - all Leach's Petrel. Another Little Auk also flew past Lizard Point. Has there ever been a better seawatching day in November in the UK? Good sea-watching continued through to the 6th and 7th, when Tony saw 420 Great Shearwater and another Little Auk fly past Lizard Point on the 6th and Matt and co had 483 Great Shearwater, 20 Sooty Shearwater, a Kumlein's Gull, a Grey Phalarope and a Leach's Petrel on the 7th. 500+ Great Shearwater, 20 Sooty Shearwater and a Grey Phalarope also few past Coverack. I was quite busy with work, and missed out on the seawatching, but did pop down to Loe Pool at dusk on the 6th in time to watch a pair WOOD DUCK fly in and land at the Loe Bar end. Though they won't be accepted by the BBRC as such, they certainly had a very wild feel to them. We haven't got any resident feral birds in Cornwall any more. Cattle Egret numbers also reached record levels in early Nov. Steve B found 26 just south of the Helston Boating Lake, and Jake had a staggering 120 at Gillan Creek.
By the 8th, Great Shearwater numbers had slowed to a trickle, with 8 past Lizard Point, though 3 Leach's Petrel compensated for this. On the 9th John found a Little Gull at Kennack Sands and Steve B found a late Ring Ouzel at Lower Nansloe. Remarkable in any other year, 35 Great Shearwater flew past Lizard Point on the 11th. Edward also found a Siberian Chiffchaff at HIgher Bochym. On the 12th, the winds had switched to light south-easterly, and set off along Lloyd's Lane finding Lapland Bunting and Woodlark in the stubble field. Tony wondered along shortly after me and found a Pallas's Warbler in almost exactly the same spot as I had two weeks earlier, though the area having been checked to no avail in the intervening period, it was quite possibly a different bird. On the 13th a Hawfinch flew over John's garden - probably the best site in Cornwall for this species, and Dave found a Serin in the stubbles at Old Lizard Head along with a very late Whinchat
The rest of the month past buy with a trickle of noteworthy seabirds. At Lzard Point: 2 Sooty Shearwater and 5 Great Shearwater on the 15th, a Pomarine Skua on the 17th, 2 Red-breasted Meganser and a Great Shearwater on the 21st and 25 Great Shearwater, 1 Sooty Shearwater and two late Arctic Skuas on the 26th. Meanwhile Paul had 3 Leach's Petrel and 2 Sooty Shearwater from Porthoustock on the 24th on the same day that John found a Grey Phalarope at Coverack. A Kittiwake on Helston Boating Lake on the 28th, was unsual, but probably a sine of bird flu, a Snow Bunting over Poldhu on the 29th, a Brambling and Red Kite at Higher Bochym on the 30th rounded of the month.
Things finally quietened about in December, but a few interesting seabirds continued to be seen flying past Lizard Point. John saw a Long-tailed Duck, Little Gull and Pomarine and Arctic Skuas on the 1st, Dave saw a Red-breasted Merganser on the 2nd, and on the 3rd Tony got in on the act with fly-by Jack Snipe, Fieldfare and 2 Great Shearwaters, Also on the 3rd, Steve B saw two adult Yellow-legged Gulls on Loe Bar, whereas Liam had 4 Red-throated Divers there, before finding two wintering Yellow-browed Warblers at the north end of Loe Pool. On the 5th, Edward found a Yellow-browed Warbler and Siberian Chiffchaff at Higher Bochym, along with Firecrest and Brambling and on the 6th, Tony found a Cattle Egret in the lighthouse fields.
Thereafter we had a bit of a cold snap, with thousands of Redwing and Golden Plover arriving . Other noteworthy records included 14 Cattle Egret in fields around Porthleven and several around St Keverne from the 9th, a Jack Snipe and 10 Gadwall at Loe Pool along with two Siberian Chiffchaffs and the Yellow-browed Warblers still on the 15th. On the 17th, the weather warmed up but there will still thousands of Golden Plover and thrushes and c. 300 Snipe in the fields between Lizard Point at Grade Marsh. A few other interesting waders were mixed in with them, including Jack Snipe, Grey Plover, 2 Dunlin, Curlew and 2 Black-tailed Godwits. A Pintail in with Wigeon and Teal at Grade Marsh was also of interest. On the 20th, John saw a Yellow-legged Gull at Coverack and two Red-necked Grebes off the mouth of Frenchman's Creek, and Steve B caught up with two Siberian Chiffchaffs at Lower Nansloe.