Sunday, 11 January 2009

Snowy Owl twitch to Cornwall

Yesterday I got up early and joined a couple of birding friends to make a 3.5 hour trip down to Cornwall in the extreme south west of England to see Snowy Owl. This would be a life bird for me and a British tick for the other two. This is the first twitchable Snowy Owl on the mainland of Britain. The bird has been spending its time between the town of St Ives and the small village of Zennor on some bleak but beautiful moorland near Trendrine Hill. Below are a couple of photos showing the countryside, the second showing the sea if a bit hazy looking!
After about a 1/2 mile or so walk up onto the moorland following other birders (about 50 there at the time) and loaded down with scope, camera and bins, I settled down to watch the Owl from a safe distance (no one wanted to flush the bird). It was a cracker of a bird and I had absolutely stunning views through my scope.
Here I tried to get some photos. The first shot shows how far away I was, this was taken with my 70-300 lens. The other shots are cropped down. Not exactly sharp, but I'm glad I have these as a momento of the day.
I'm afraid the Owl was flushed a couple of times, first by some walkers who just didn't know it was there and secondly by a dog walker who just didn't seem to care (he could see that about 50 odd people were standing back and watching something, but just walked right through us and right past the bird!) Shame for us and the bird!

After watching the Owl for an hour or so, we made our way back to the car via this stunning scenery. Here is my friend Jane leading the way.Me smiling AFTER having seen the bird! (-:That peaty path was getting quite mucky by the time several birders had tromped up and down it!The view looking out to sea near Porthzennor cove. Tomorrow I'll post some photos from the rest of the day spent down in Cornwall.


Quiet Paths said...

Jenny, Matt and I have been marveling at your photos and travel notes this morning. Cornwall is a place we've always wanted to visit. Some movie inspired us...can't remember now which one. Fantastic photos and I'm so happy you were able to venture out. The terrain looks happily rugged to me. We had snowy owls at the bird refuge a few years back. Lot so them. There were white spots all over the place for about a month.

Jenny said...

Hi Christine, glad you enjoyed my post. I certainly enjoyed the day!
Cornwall is a great place with beautiful coastal scenery and lots of history too. If you ever get over here, then I'll volunteer to be your chauffeur in Cornwall! (-:

Anonymous said...

Hey Jen,
That is some life tick, brilliant bird, well done. The photos are pretty good considering the poor light you had to contend with. It certainly put a smile on your face. (Love the hat {:))

Shellmo said...

Jenny - shame on that dog walker! But you captured some marvelous photos! I've always wanted to see and experience the snowy owl. Your flight photos are magical!

Jenny said...

Hi Roy
I was meant to go down with some other friends last weekend but was too poorly, so I was very glad that I could make it yesterday.
The hat....hmmm flattering isn't it! (-:

Hi Shelley
I hope you get to see a Snowy Owl too. Are they not likely in northern Michigan? They're amazing charismatic birds.

Steve B said...

Congratulations!!! What a thrill. We had a snowy here in Gloucester (MA) last month and I couldn’t find it. It was hanging about one of the wharfs. You got you life bird and some memorable shots. CONGRATS!

Eve said...

This is just so great Jenny!! I'm so glad you got your Snowy Owl! You did a beautiful job on the photos and post! I would have loved to walk that mucky path with you, but we probably would have giggled too much and scared the owl away!! Morgan and I drove around Point Peninsula yesterday and got a few nice birds. Two Ravens were the top prize!
Oh one of these days I have to have you define...tick, twitch, and twitchable!! You probably already did this for me but I'm old!! hahaha!!

Mary said...

Incredibly beautiful! I would so love to see a snowy owl! Your photos are wonderful both sitting still and in flight! Aren't dog walkers sometimes the worst? I see them at the wetlands quite a bit and they usually scare whatever I'm trying to photograph. sigh.

Quiet Paths said...

Jen, we might take you up on the Cornwall tour. I'll reciprocate by taking you up on the ski life for the view of your life....

I quite like that hat.

Jenny said...

Hi Steve, sorry you didn't catch up with your Snowy. Jane the lady I went down to Cornwall with used to live for a while in Boston USA and said that they used to congregate at the airport there. That would be amazing to see as you were touching down! (-:

Hi Evie, wish you could have joined me too. Tick is just ticking off a bird either on your life list or year list or whatever list. Twitch is when birders (they're called 'twitchers') will go for just one bird in order to tick it off either their life list or year list. I wouldn't call myself a proper twitcher as am not obsessed with just ticking off the bird, but will make a day of it with other birding.

Hi Mary, I hope you get to see a Snowy one day. I've had a couple of run ins with dog walkers when they've been disturbing breeding birds, tho nowadays people seem so aggressive that I probably shouldn't confront them.

Hi Christine, one day...... (-:
Hmmmm a sky lift ride sounds intriguing! (-:

Celeste said...

Wow! How cool, I lived in Cornwall for many year and was never lucky enough to see a Snowy Owl.