Cornwall - August 2008

Friday 8th to Friday 15th August 2008

Here are the main birding highlights, with a few photos, of my holdiay last month in Cornwall. Although definitely a non-birding holiday, I did fit in a couple of sessions of sea-watching at Hella Point, Porthgwarra which was quite rewarding, and usually had my bins close at hand!
(Photo above: Porthgwarra)

Day 1 – Friday 8th August
We stopped here in the afternoon to have our picnic on the beach near Wherry Rocks. Birds here included c7 Ringed Plover c7, a Dunlin, two Oystercatchers, 2-3 Rock Pipits, a White Wagtail and 3+ Pied Wagtails.

Our home for the week was a cottage in Lamorna, situated on the south coast of the Penwith peninsular between Moushole and St Leven. The wooded valley supports a lot of common species, including a rookery in the public gardens. The roadside Buddleias provide food for large numbers of butterflies, especially Red Admiral and Large White, plus Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell. The small village sits straddling a wooded valley, with a stream running down to the pretty cove. The stream apparently has Dippers, though I didn’t see any, but then most of the stream runs hidden through private land.

Day 2 – Saturday 9th August
Lamorna Cove:
On a wet and windy day, I wandered down to the cove carrying only my bins to find a good number of seabird movement. Within half an hour I saw 30+ Manx Shearwaters, two probable Sooty Shearwaters, a probable Great Shearwaters, 50+ Gannets and 30+ Fulmars, plus two Shags.

Day 3 – Sunday 10th August
Hella Point, Porthgwarra:
The first of my two visits here, and the much improved weather produced a poorer showing of birds with just one Manx Shearwater and 10+ Kittiwakes plus Gannets, Fulmars, 15+ Shags, and several Great Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls between 9.40am and 11.10am. On the small beach, around five Rock Pipits were finding food among the rocks.

Lamorna to Mousehole coast-path:
Linda and I walked this lovely stretch of coast after I had got back from Hella Point. The highlights were 3+ Stonechats, and two Peregrines chasing an Oystercatcher – I don’t know of they caught it as the pursuit continued out of view! Butterflies included a Wall (below), Grayling, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Large White, Peacock and Speckled Wood.

At Mousehole itself, nine Turnstones (below) were picking among the boats the harbour at low tide, and were very approachable.
(Below: Great Black-backed Gull at Mousehole)

Day 4 – Monday 11th August

Lelant Saltings, Hayle Estuary:
Waiting for the train to St Ives, I didn’t see seven of anything, but a scan over the upper reaches of the Hayle estuary (above) produced 12 Little Egrets, 15 Redshanks, 15 Oystercatchers, 20 Ringed Plovers, 50 Dunlins, three Curlews and a Grey Heron.

At Porthgwidden beach, a Sandwich Tern was fishing beyond the rocks. Other birds included a juvenile Razorbill and five Shags.

Lamorna Cove:
Back at the cove in the evening, a short watch out at sea produced a Manx Shearwater, six Gannets and a Fulmar.

Day 5 – Tuesday 12th August
Hella Point, Porthgwarra:
A return visit to Hella Point (above) in the morning was more fruitful than on Sunday, with three Balearic Shearwaters, 18 Manx Shearwaters, three Great Skuas and a Common Scoter all passing west between 8.00am and 10.00am, plus loads of Gannets and Fulmars. Later, the Rock Pipits in the cove were very accommodating as I photographed them.
(Below: Gannet at Hella Point)

After a visit to St. Michael’s Mount, the late afternoon falling tide attracted 15 Ringed Plovers, (juvenile below) three Dunlins (second photo below) and eight Oystercatchers. A Grey Seal was lurking not far from the shore and surfaced briefly a few times.

Day 6 – Wednesday 13th August
Geevor Mine workings, near Pendeen:
A winding, but mainly sunny day, and looking out to see from the café with my bins, I spotted two Manx Shearwaters passing south, also several Gannets.

Land’s End:
Late afternoon at England’s most westerly point (below), with a much reduced wind there were only a few Gannets and Gulls passing, plus a good number of Swallows. In fact Swallows seemed to be present everywhere I went during the week.

Day 7 – Thursday 14th August
A gloriously sunny day brought out several dragonflies in the village with three Darter sp. And a Hawker sp. Two Ravens over added to my tally for the week, as did a calling Nuthatch near the cottage.

Trewoofe Orchard:
At this lovely garden near Lamorna, open most days jointly for the National Garden Scheme and R.N.L.I., more Odonata were active with at least 10 Beautiful Demoiselles, all bar one being males, several Common Darters and two Emperor Dragonflies. A Green Woodpecker and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were calling in the grounds.

A walk from Porthcurno west along the coast-path with Linda produced a singing male Chiffchaff near Porthgwarra, a few Common Blues (female below) and a Metallic Green Chaffer Cetonia cuprea (second photo below).

Back at Porthcurno late afternoon eight Swifts and two House Martins were feeding above the car park.

Day 8 – Friday 15th August
The final day, and after leaving Lamorna we stopped off at Lizard Point (above, looking north towards Kynance Cove). Whilst sap drinking coffee at The Most Southerley Café, I heard a distinctive call and looked around to see two Choughs just north along the cliffs, an English tick having only seen Choughs before in Scotland on Islay. Other birds of note around the point were a Manx Shearwater, c15 Gannets, two Fulmars, a Little Egret, two Shags, c20 Cormorants, an Oystercatcher, a Wheatear, Eight Linnets and two Kestrel. A nice way finish to the week.

Cornish trip bird list: -
Great Shearwater (probable)
Sooty Shearwater (probable)
Manx Shearwater
Balearic Shearwater
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Mute Swan
Ringed Plover
Common Redshank
Great Skua
Great Black-headed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Herring Gull
Sandwich Tern
Feral Pigeon
Wood Pigeon
Collared Dove
Green Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
House Martin
Meadow Pipit
Rock Pipit
Pied Wagtail
White Wagtail
Long-tailed Tit
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Carrion Crow
House Sparrow

And here's a slideshow of lots more photos: -


qohelet said…
I've been in Land's End, and it's funny you have to pay for the parking but not to see the spot. Something like this happens in Italy in the Temples' Valley, near Agrigento. Bye.

Popular posts from this blog


Shapwick Heath & Ham Wall RSPB, Somerset

Brandon Marsh