Monday, November 04, 2013

Stormy Cornwall

A long weekend in North Cornwall, predominantly to celebrate my wife Dazza's birthday, but also to enjoy the Cornish coastline and surrounding moorland. From a weather perspective we couldn't have picked a more diverse and turbulent period. Hurricane force winds Saturday, heavy rain Sunday and gorgeous sunshine today!

Stormy Cornwall
After waking on Saturday morning to a Tawny Owl calling right outside the bedroom window, we decided to start with a tour around the peripheral of Bodmin Moor after breakfast. A wild and windy start, at one stage braving the elements and battling our way down for a look around Crowdy reservoir. As you would imagine this produced very little in the gale force wind, save for a lone Buzzard and some hardy Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits. The water itself, which resembled something out of the well known TV series 'Trawlermen', was devoid of any wildfowl, likely sheltering somewhere more sensible.

Golden Plover on the moors.
However, some of the surrounding moorland held large flocks of StarlingLapwing and Golden Plover. At Padstow a small number of Shag had taken advantage of the relatively quieter waters of the bay and the local fishing boats played host to several small congregations of Turnstone feeding along the pontoons. Later in the afternoon, after a traditional Cornish pastie lunch, we moved on to Port Issac and spent a considerable time watching fascinated by the stormy seas. Lots of Gannet close in, skillfully braving the huge waves, while large numbers of Herring Gulls, not so bravely sheltering on the cliffs below. A few more interesting sights further out skimming the wave tops, but without the aid of my scope difficult to raise any positive IDs. A Peregrine also made a brief appearance along the cliff tops, scattering several Pipits, this while Dazza was taking her souvenir pictures of Doc Martins surgery!

Record shot of Dipper at Boscastle
Sunday, Dazza's birthday, a trip to Widemouth Bay for her favourite pass time 'rock pooling', which we thankfully managed to complete before the rain and high tide arrived. Personally I spent the time mostly sea watching and searching the rocks with Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Rock Pipit and Gannet to keep me amused. Mind you I'm always in awe of her patience and knowledge base and she tells me that Snakelocks Anemone, Red-sea Anenome and Tompot Blenny (a bloaty fish) were all logged. As the rain became heavier we moved on and enjoyed afternoon tea in Boscastle, after which a short walk along the river to Boscastle harbour produced Grey Wagtail, Shag and a surprise pair of Dipper. On route back to the cottage, we were entertained by several large murmurations of Starlings, which were seen at various points along the A39.

Another Dipper record shot!
Today, before heading home and with the sun shining at last, we decided to revisit Boscastle and Tintagel after yesterdays washout. At Boscastle we took a walk along the river once again, seen of 2004's disastrous floods and managed to relocate yesterdays Dippers. The walk takes you down to the harbour, where the outgoing river meets the incoming tide and here a Kingfisher was basking on a nearby rock. Several Grey Wagtail were also found along the harbour walls and waders included Oystercatcher and Turnstone. Remarkably, from a vantage point above the harbour, we also managed to pick out a small number of salmon, which were beginning to make their way upstream to spawn.

Gulls a plenty!
Our final stop was Tintagel and after walking down to the the castle, with various numbers of Meadow Pipit, Jackdaw and Herring Gull, we spent a half hour sea watching before heading off home. Still good numbers of Gannets and at least one Balearic Shearwater ID'd offshore,  a couple of Rock Pipit below our vantage point and on the surrounding cliffs a lone Kestrel and a couple of Shag.