Dawn proved to be misty once again so we set off with high hopes and faith, little else, for our big day in Cornwall. Our first stop at the Hayle Estuary provided a good variety of birds including a couple of Mediterranean Gulls and a single Little Gull, whose dark head was developing well.
As everyone knows a combat army moves on its belly, particularly Armitages , so we made an obligatory stop at a Morrisons for a cooked breakfast ( well we needed to let the weather improve, didn't we!) before moving out for further action.
Our main "area of search" was Mount Bay where we hoped to pinpoint the Surf Scoter that has been there for some time. Whilst we spent quite a time in the area we didn't see the bird and it wasn't until later that we met some birders who advised that it can be well out from the coast and very difficult to locate. However, some compensation was finding two Red-necked Grebe coming into summer plumage and a Great northern Diver, besides a few Common Scoter , Eider and a single Gannet. Nearby Marazion Marsh produced little other then excellent views of a Common Snipe. We moved the short distance to Penzance (gaining a glimpse of the Scillonian 111 and paying due homage in the process ), before walking around the docks to try and locate the adult Glaucous Gull which had been reported. It was perched out on its own on the farthest most point on the harbour wall but gave some good views once we'd located it. We also got some good views of Rock Pipits searching around the various items of marine equipment on the jettys.
Our next target area was Helston Sewage Farm (only the best locations for these boys! ) in search of reported Firecrest or better. Well, best weighed in with a male Blackap, a couple of Chiffchaff and a tantalising Goldcrest . but nothing better, so we moved on Carnon Downs Sewage Farm. Here the weather improved with bright sunny conditions, which seemed to provoke activity around the surrounding boundary planting. The place was alive with Chiffchaff types, at least one tristis, several typical collybita but ,also, some more subdued birds ( are we getting abietinus wintering too? ). A birder was patiently taking pictures of as many individuals as could be captured momentarily within the ever moving body of this frenzied Phylloscopus feeding flock, so better evidence might emerge. A single Firecrest kept coming into view , another Blackcap showed, but of the reported Yellow-browed Warbler we had nothing prior to our necessary departure time.
Our final navigational challenge was the Parr Beach Pool located within a local park and caravan area. A slightly unlikely place to find a full adult male Ring-necked Duck, but there it was in the middle, seen immediately and providing excellent views. The day had improved as time had passed! our final call of the day was to Roadford Reservoir, SW of Exeter, where the final hour of real daylight provided less than sufficient time to view what is a vast and enticing area. A small group of Goosander and 30/40 Pied Wagtails preparing for roost was the most we could salvage from our vantage point prior to our accepting our efforts had now come to a close.