After a morning’s revision, I was just tucking into my lunch when I came across the bizarre image of a Dalmatian Pelican looking very out-of-place on the sea off St Ives from Saturday. Further news updates revealed that the bird was still present, and flying around Land’s End at intervals! The decision between revision and seeing a pelican in the UK did not take too long to mull over, and I messaged Max Thompson to see if he would be up for taking a look at this curious visitor.
With a positive response from Max and a plan to head off in 30 minutes, I messaged around a handful more folk to see if anyone else would be up for the trip, and ended up picking up Jack Barton before heading off at around 1330. After half an hour, we stopped off at Marazion marsh to have a quick scan of the sea – with no sign of any huge white birds, we continued towards mainland Britain’s most westerly point: Land’s End.
The weather conditions were less than optimal as we pulled into the car park, with a strong and chilly easterly wind driving rain into our faces as we headed out in search of the bird. It had been over an hour since the previous report had come in on Birdguides, so we headed for an amble around the point, seeing Spotted Flycatchers, Sedge Warblers, Willow Warblers, and a nice surprise in the form of three Turtle Doves together in a ploughed field. There was, however, no sign of the pelican, although we came across several birders who had either just seen it or had been narrowly missing the bird all day.
The next few hours were somewhat frustrating as we chased after reports and pulled up at sites where gathered birders exclaimed that w’ed missed the bird ‘by five minutes; it flew off east towards…’.
As time was running out and the afternoon wasted away, we took one last look at Land’s End before heading home. As we were driving past Sennen Church and over the brow of a hill, I suddenly saw the enormous, ungainly figure of the Pelican in the distance through the front window – a rapid handbrake stall and a bundle out of the car saw us standing by the roadside and observing this truly bizarre sight: a Dalmation Pelican gliding over the English countryside…