The winter months produced a few surprises, starting in January with the arrival of eight Bewick's Swans at Stithians Reservoir. Cold weather across the country pushed a sprinkling of Waxwings our way to the delight of the birding fraternity. Wildfowl were well represented, with drake Ring-necked Ducks, Whooper Swan, a flock of seventeen Barnacle Geese in Wadebridge and some very obliging Goosanders at Par. Bitterns returned in good numbers to the county with an impressive five seen at Marazion Marsh.
In addition to our regular summer visitors there were a host of exciting European migrants. These included Hoopoes, Great White Egrets, Purple Heron, Black-winged Stilts, Gull-billed Tern, Woodchat Shrike and Subalpine Warbler to name just a few. For some, the sight of a majestic adult male Montagu's Harrier quartering the heathland of Goonhilly Downs was the highlight of the spring.
The autumn wader passage is what made 2011 so memorable. The remnants of two hurricanes, Irene and Katia, that had ravaged the eastern seaboard of America in September deposited a multitude of Nearctic wader species across the county, including Cornwall's second ever Greater Yellowlegs found at Treraven meadows, Wadebridge. Throughout September it seemed new birds were turning up on a daily basis. To cap it all off, in October there were two very special arrivals. On the 20th a Scarlet Tanager was found at St Levan, the second for Cornwall and on the 26th, a first for Cornwall in the shape of a Bufflehead discovered on a small pool on the Lizard. All in all a very exciting 2011.
Total running time: 126 minutes. Full commentary throughout.
Watch a trailer below:
"A couple of DVDs have arrived on my desk recently and, while both are bird-related and follow a general chronological pattern, they cover significant topics. The first is the latest instalment of John Chapple's annual Birds in Cornwall series which, as you may have guessed, covers birds seen in Cornwall (both common and rare) during the particularly fruitful year of 2011. John has been producing DVD records of Cornish bird since 1997, and his experience is evident in what amounts to over two hours of enjoyable footage of the county's avian highlights throughout the year.
The product comes as a double DVD set, the first disc covering the first winter period, progressing through the spring and into the summer months. For me, highlights of the first disc included some superb Lapland Bunting and Hoopoe footage, while it was most interesting to hear the singing Siberian Chiffchaff at Brew Sewage Works in the spring – a song that I'd not heard for several years and thus was grateful to have refreshed! John's enthusiastic narrative is detailed, informative and entertaining, and would be of particular help to viewers who are not so familiar with their birds – particularly the rare ones. That said I must admit I did cringe a little when he announced the wintering range of Greenland White-fronted Goose as "in the UK, mainly in Ireland.."!
As a rare bird enthusiast, I was particularly captivated by the second disc. Autumn 2011 was an exceptionally productive period for vagrants across Britain and Ireland, with Cornwall faring particularly well throughout. John has managed some magnificent footage of many of the county's Nearctic shorebird visitors throughout September – the Greater Yellowlegs, the Buff-breasted Sandpiper on Marazion beach with St. Michael's Mount forming a contextual backdrop, and several incredibly tame Pectoral Sandpipers. For anyone with similar tastes to mine, it's worth buying the DVD just for these shots alone!
But John's production is entertaining regardless of your ornithological interest – there is enough content to ensure that it is far from just something to be enjoyed by an exclusive club of Cornwall's keenest birders who managed to see each of the birds featured in the film. There is plenty of aesthetically pleasing footage, and entertaining-yet-informed commentary to ensure that anyone with a passing interest in birds is likely to find it an interesting watch."
- Josh Jones, 29-01-2013, www.birdguides.com
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