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Americans in Cornwall

That’s what I went looking for but I only found one. This sideshow to my Hayle trip included the target of a pair of vagrants from across the Pond. The pictures on BirdGuides are pretty unequivocal so there should have been no confusion about them. This turned out to be not strictly true.

The first one was easy but took a while to track down. I’d missed both birds on the falling tide in the morning so had caught the train to St Ives to waste the hours until the rising evening tide.

Bloody hell! It comes in quick on that estuary. At five o’clock Lelant Saltings was as dry as the Sahara. When I returned at half six it was all water. I thought I’d missed the window but, cutting a long story, the Bonaparte’s gull did oblige by doing its semi-tern act in the middle of the expanse. It was a long way off but not so far that its plumage wasn’t distinguishable from black-headed gull.

Fab. The second bird, being a wader, had nowhere to go so again a long story led me back to Copperhouse Creek (not Pool apparently). I began to have misgivings about the previous day’s grey plover. I’d been sort of cursory with it. Had it been so ordinary?

Sure enough, there was what looked like a somewhat dark grey plover. This would have been tempting to call an American golden plover and I daresay the unscrupulous would. But it wasn’t right. The primaries did not project much beyond the tail. The bird was preening so this was easy to see. I wasn’t happy.

Then the bird flew and its black axillaries made it all grey plover. In fact the species’ upper parts are not as pale as you might think and my Collins Bird Guide also notes that a juvenile can resemble a young American golden plover. So, a dip but not really. I like grey plovers.

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