Pomarine Skua by Chris Townend

Tour Dates: Wednesday 1st – Tuesday 7th September 2021 (Exeter to Exeter) 
Tour Price: £1,299pp
Deposit: £300 per person
Conservation Donation from Wise Birding: £50 – £100
Minimum Number: 6 people
Maximum Group Size: 7 people

Target Species
Birds: Manx Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater, Cory’s Shearwater, Great Shearwater, Storm Petrel, Puffin, Sabine’s Gull, Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Pomarine Skua, Cirl Bunting plus scarce waders and migrants!
Mammals: Common Dolphin and Basking Shark

Tour Summary
South West England offers some of the best possibilities for seawatching anywhere in Britain, mid August to early September can produce the most exciting watches for those willing to spend some time settled down watching and waiting. Given favourable conditions the seabirds may include 5 species of shearwater, petrels, all four skuas, terns, gulls possibly including Sabine’s and many more species. There is also a good chance to see a few species of cetacean or even a Basking Shark.
With the guidance of our leader and regular Seawatcher… you will be given as much help as possible identifying the birds flying by and of course finding them, as well as seasoned tips on getting the most from a seawatch.
Of course weather conditions may not always be on our side for seawatching, o our plan for the day will be dictated by the weather
. If conditions are not in our favour for seabird, the South West at this time of year can also be very good for passage waders so we will check various wader hotspots. Scarce and rare American waders are always possible with possibilities such as Dotterel, Pectoral Sandpiper & Buff-breasted Sandpiper and there is of course always the chance of something even rarer! The valleys of Devon and Cornwall are land bird migrant traps too and the timing of the tour is perfect for scarce species like Wryneck, Melodious Warbler and Ortolan Bunting.
The week will hopefully see a combination of both seawatching, waders and land bird migration, so come and join us!

ACCOMMODATION: 3 nights in Devon and 3 nights in Cornwall
2 nights in Brixham, 3 nights near Hayle and 1 night in Brixham
Included Meals: Half board

DAY 1: Arrival Exeter and transfer to Brixham
Following a midday pick-up from Exeter train station we will then travel by minibus to the coastal town of Brixham, a journey of around an hour. Once settled into our accommodation we will head out to some of the numerous bays around Torbay where we may find some of the commoner gulls, waders and terns, such as Whimbrel, Turnstone, Dunlin, Yellow-legged Gull and Sandwich Tern that may be feeding in the area. Of course we will also be keeping an eye out for anything out of the ordinary. Dependent on the latest news from our local guide and weather, we will either visit Berry Head for some evening seawatching or visit some nearby coast for the chance of migrant land birds. Overnight Brixham

Juvenile Sabine’s Gull, Devon by Chris Townend

DAY 2: Berry Head and South Hams Coast
This morning we will visit Berry Head for a seawatching session and hope that the weather forecast is in our favour! At this time of year, if the conditions are right it is not unusual to see 3 species of Skua and Sabine’s Gull is also a distinct possibility. More expected species would include Balearic Shearwater, Manx Shearwater, Common Tern and Sandwich Tern. If the weather is really good with winds from the South or South East then rarer shearwaters are possible with Sooty, Cory’s and even Great Shearwater having been recorded off here on numerous occasions. Of course, we need some luck and patience too!
Again, dependent on the weather forecast, during the afternoon we may visit some nearby farmland to look for Cirl Buntings or we may visit one of the nearby headlands to look for scarce migrants such as Wryneck or Melodious Warbler. Overnight Brixham

Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Cornwall by Chris Townend

DAY 3: Transfer to Cornwall
Today, if the weather is favourable, we will do another swatch from Berry Head before travelling west into Cornwall. En route we will divert to any rarities that may be in the area. American waders are often appearing in the South West at this time of year if weather conditions are arriving from the Atlantic and we will check a number of wader hotspots during our journey. We should arrive at our accommodation near the Hayle Estuary by late afternoon and this will give us time to check this excellent birding site. It has a history of many great rarities over the years, so you just never know what we might find. We will visit Ryan’s Field and the wader roost at the Lelant Saltings. Some of the commoner notable species that we may find for this time of year may include Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Arctic Tern and Garganey. Rarities in recent years during September have included Green-winged Teal, American Golden Plover, Lesser Yellowlegs, Bonaparte’s Gull and much more! Overnight near Hayle

DAYS 4 – 5: West Penwith Coast
During the next two days we will focus our time on seawatching during the mornings and late afternoons and depending on the wind direction we will either watch from Porthgwarra on the south coast or Pendeen on the north coast. As always with seawatching, we just need some favourable weather conditions and a bit of luck! However, seawatching from West Cornwall headlands is always exciting as seabird movements can be very impressive with hundreds of both Cory’s and Great Shearwaters being recorded, though we would be very lucky to witness such numbers. With patience and some reasonably strong onshore winds we will hopefully get lucky with some small numbers of Cory’s Shearwaters and maybe Great Shearwaters. Balearic Shearwater are very likely and Sooty Shearwater too if the wind is strong enough, plus good chances of Storm Petrel and both Arctic and Great Skuas and a reasonable chance of Pomarine Skua. Rarer seabirds might include Long-tailed Skua or Wilson’s Storm Petrel, though we would be exceptionally lucky to see these species! Extreme rarities recorded from these headlands in September have included Little Shearwater, Black-browed Albatross, Fea’s Petrel and even Red-billed Tropicbird &Brown Booby!
During the afternoon we will change our focus to searching for migrant passerines. Species such as Common Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher and Whinchat start to pass through and though scarcer, Wryneck, Melodious Warbler and Ortolan Bunting are regularly recorded. Overnight near Hayle

Cory’s Shearwater by Chris Townend

DAY 6: West Penwith – Davidstow – Brixham
After a final morning seawatch and a check of the Hayle Estuary for any newly arrived waders and we will begin our journey back east. We will make a stop at Davidstow Airfield to check for waders as this site has one of the best records in the country for Buff-breasted Sandpiper during September. Dotterel and American Golden Plover are some of the other more regular rarities that have appeared here along with the more expected Dunlin, Ringed Plover and passerines like Yellow Wagtail. Nearby Crowdy Reservoir and Colliford Lake are also well with checking at this time of year and again, we have the time available to divert to any rarities that may be seen nearby.
We will aim to arrive back to our hotel in Brixham by early evening. Overnight Lynmouth

DAY 7: Berry Head to Exeter
We will have time available for a final seawatch off Berry Head before heading into Exeter. Alternatively, we may visit the Bowling Green Marsh RSPB reserve if the tide is suitable to check for waders, gulls and terns. We will then take the short journey to Exeter train station where the tour will conclude.

Please note this is a flexible itinerary which may need to be adjusted slightly dependent on arrival / departure times, weather conditions and the most recent information from our local guides

Leader: Mike Langman
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin en-suite rooms, all meals except lunches (starting with breakfast on day 2 until breakfast on day 7), ground transport and services of leaders.
Not included in cost: Travel to/from Exeter, travel insurance, lunches and drinks.
Accommodation: A mix of good quality hotels / guesthouses.
Single Supplement: £175
Transport: Minibus throughout.
Difficulty: Easy
We will generally birding in close proximity to our vehicle for the vast majority of the tour. Walks of up to 2 – 4Km per day when looking for land migrants and short steep weeks to seawatching viewpoints.
Climate: Be prepared for a typical unpredictable English Autumn!
Tour Start Point: Exeter Railway Station, Devon.
Tour End Point: Exeter Railway Station, Devon.

The Cot Valley, Cornwall by Chris Townend