May 2021

31st. Ham Wall. The weather has become decent with tempreatures >20C at last. Cuckoo (heard), 2 kingfisher sightings, hobby, photos of little egret and bittern below.

little egret

Little egret

Bittern

26th. Cycled to Marazion and back. Three black-tailed godwits on Hayle Estuary, c90 sanderling Marazion. In the evening an amazing blood supermoon rose over Porthkidney beach directly opposite my bedroom window!

supermoon

supermoon

Supermoon

24th. Sea watching off the Island, St Ives in a strong NW wind. Great northern diver in winter plumage and a mystery skua. The short bi-coloured bill, white in outer primaries and barred upper tail coverts all fit with it being a long-tailed skua, perhaps a third calendar year (thanks Rob van Bemmelen and Rueben Veal for advice). Probably can't rule out Arctic skua however. Birds of this age are rarely seen in British waters, mainly spending time in the Southern Hemisphere. Rubbish photo below.

long-tailed skua?

23rd. Great work by Bristol City Council at Ashton Court. Large areas have been fenced off to protect skylarks and green-winged orchids, and the orchid meadow is spectacular.

Ashton Court

Ashton Court

Ashton Court

Ashton Court

green-winged orchid

22nd. Nagshead RSPB, Forest of Dean. Pairs of spotted flycatchers and pied flycatchers, male redstart and a tree creeper. No wood warblers, a species that has declined catastrophically since the 1990s.

Pied flycatcher

Pied flycatcher

19th. Back to see the peregrines in the Avon Gorge. Three birds at one stage (2 females). The last two photos were taken in the evening when the bird was lit but the background was not.

peregrine

Peregrine

Peregrine

peregrine

Peregrine

14th. We were joined by Kurt and Adrian and walked from Kynance along the coast towards Predannack, cutting back inland at the serpentine quarry. The serpentine rocks in Kynance Cove are stunning. These igneous rocks are peridotite , rich in magnesium, and were dominant rocks in the Earth's mantle. As the rocks were thrust upwards due to plate tectonic movements starting in in the late Devonian, hydrothermal waters transformed them into the beautifully coloured red and green serpentines.

Serpentine

Serpentine

Serpentine

Landscapes with hairy greenweed, primroses, thrift and spring squill.

Hairy greenweed

Primroses

Thrift

Spring squill

Birds included whitethroat, skylark, fulmar and ravens feeding recently fledged chicks.

Whitethroat

Skylark

Fulmar

Fulmar

Ravens

Raven

Insects included common blue, a small pearl-bordered fritillary and this oil beetle.

Oil beetle

Some plants: Lizard specialties included hairy greenweed (top), prostrate broom, bloody cranesbill, and spring sandwort (no photo).

hairy greenweed

Prostrate broom

Bloody cranesbill

We also saw heath spotted orchid.

heath spotted orchid

At Windmill Farm we saw slow worms and toads. There is a plaque here to a Bristol botanist I remember - Lewis Frost. I think I remember Lewis wandering into the staff common room smoking a cigarette, and wearing a suit. He taught genetics, but his passion was the flora of The Lizard, where he took students and did much to help establish nature reserves there. Windmill farm was purchased by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society with the support of the Lewis Frost Memorial Trust in 2001. There is a fine obituary here. Apparently he was born Louis, but the Registrar disproved of foreign names and wrote Lewis on his birth certificate.

Windmill Farm

Lewis Frost plaque

Slow worms

Bristol

13th. Penzance - still 36 purple sandpipers near the Jubilee Pool.

purple sandpiper

Trewidden Gardens has the finest stand of Dicksonia antarctica tree ferns in the Northern Hemisphere. They grew from Australian stock that were planted in 1902.

Trewidden

Female large red damselfly.

large red damselfly

Nomad bee, probably Nomada flava

Nomad bee

Dawn redwood Metasequoia glyptostroboides, a deciduous conifer.

We then visited Hayle millpond, to see the turtles there. The story goes that they were introduced in 1895 from Holland, and were either European pond turtles, or Caspian turtles. The ones we saw were looked like river cooters from the US (the last photo looks more like a yellow-bellied slider with its toothed rear scutes and face pattern)! I wonder if people have randomly introduced their pet terrapins into the millpond following the earlier introductions. We saw at least four.

Hayle Millpond

river cooter

river cooter

river cooter

river cooter

And this one has a hint of a red-eared slider in it. There are probably some intergrades.

terrapin species

Then we went to Carnsew Pool, and watched the waders move towards us as the tide came in. there were 4 whimbrel, ca. 50 dunlin, ca. 40 ringed plover, 2 sanderling and 2 turnstone.

whimbrel

dunlin, ringed plover, sanderling

sanderling

Ringed plover

Turnstone

Turnstone

Rock pipit here too.

Rock pipit

12th. Our local male pied wagtail collecting food.

pied wagtail

Little egret feeding at Copperhouse Creek, Hayle.

little egret

We were shown an unarmed stick insect along the King George V Memorial Gardens.

unarmed stick insect

Copperhouse Creek

10th. We walked a circular route from Kynance to the Lizard. Although the Cornish choughs first returned near to Lizard Point in 2001, and nested for the first time in more than 50 years in 2002, we didn't see any today.

Man o'war gneiss

9th. Excellent circular walk taking in Kynance Cove and Predannack Downs on the Lizard. We saw a cuckoo and a sedge warbler. Photos below of serpentine, spring squill, hairy greenweed, stunted ox-eye daisies, green-winged and early purple orchids, and the solitary wasp Ammophila sabulosa. I also saw a green tiger beetle.

serpentine

Spring squill

hairy greenweed

oxeye daisies

green-winged orchid

early purple orchid

Ammophila sabulosa

The spring squill on the cost path is stunning at present.

spring squill

spring squill

7th. Godrevy to Hell's Mouth. At least 42 grey seals in Mutton Cove. The squill is flowering now. Fulmars at Hell's Mouth, guilllemots and razorbills offshore, and a strong passage of hirundines (mainly swallows).

Godrevy

Hetty, Godrevy

Grey seals

Grey seals

Fulmar

2nd. My first trip into Wales since 2019 - to see the walrus at Tenby. It is a 2-3 year old male that first visited Ireland, and has been at Tenby for 43 days. It is the third to be seen in the UK and Ireland, following earlier records in Ireland and Scotland. Volunteers are helping to stop it being disturbed. It hauls out of the ramp of the lifeboat station. Red kite near Camarthen. Postscript - on 19 May the walrus was seen off Padstow in Cornwall, before arriving at Les Sables d'Olonne south of Nantes in France on 27th! By 7 June it was in Santander, Spain. By late June it appeared in the Isles of Scilly.

Tenby

Walrus

Walrus

Walrus

Walrus

Walrus

1st. Ham Wall. First swifts, garden warblers, hobby and cuckoo of the year. We saw a family of red foxes too.

Reed warbler and orange tip below.

Orange tip

Reed warbler

There was a flock of about 60 cattle egrets alongside the road to Tealham Moor.

Cattle egrets

Cattle egrets

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