Sunday, 18 March 2018

A Trip to St.Ives in Cornwall

Thursday 15th March and an early start saw us heading down to Penzance on the train with clear skies and sunshine all the way. Arriving in Penzance at just after 9am and I headed off towards Newlyn while David wandered around the town.

On the walk to Newlyn a quick look off Jubilee Pool and there were 50+ sanderling and 17 purple sandpipers roosting on the rocks with turnstones while a quick wander around Morab Gardens revealed 2 singing blackcaps and a singing chiffchaff.

Grey Squirrel, Morab Gardens, Penzance

Off Tolcarne Beach 2 winter plumaged bar tailed godwits were feeding on the sandy shoreline and a 1st winter Mediterranean gull was roosting on the rocks amongst the black headed gulls. At Newlyn Harbour the usual gulls were loafing about but I couldn't find any white wingers although there were a few adult lesser black backed gull amongst the usual herring gulls and great black backed gulls and the usual tame turnstones were pottering about the quayside.

 Bar-tailed Godwit, Tolcarne Beach, Penzance

Turnstone, Newlyn

I walked out to the end of the harbour wall and scanned offshore, picking up at least 4 grey seals poking their heads out of the water and a very smart looking 1st winter Iceland gull resting on the water while further out 3 great northern divers were resting together with a smaller diver species further out again but too distant to pick up any great detail.

 Iceland Gull, Newlyn

Iceland Gull

After meeting David at Wetherspoons for a quick beer we headed back to the train station and caught the train to Hayle but just as we alighted off the train it began to rain and so our walk along the estuary to St.Erth railway station was a wet affair with just wigeon, teal, grey plover and bar tailed godwit to show for our efforts - more annoyingly the rain had stopped by the time we arrived at the station! We caught the train to St.Ives and from the train I saw a redhead goosander along the estuary while enjoying the stunning views and on arriving at St.Ives the rain began to fall again.

After checking into the hotel we had a quick walk around St.Ives in the rain where more tame turnstones were running around the harbourside while just offshore I had some nice views of 2 winter plumaged red throated divers. Gannets were flying around offshore and diving for fish and I had a brief view of at least 2 common dolphins underneath them. Also seen were 3 Sandwich terns roosting on buoys and diving for fish before they all flew off towards Hayle.

 Herring Gull from the Hotel Window, St.Ives

 Turnstone, St.Ives

 Red Throated Diver, St.Ives

Rainbow View from the Hotel Window, St.Ives

The following day was glorious with sunshine and warm temperatures and wandering about St.Ives I watched at least 6 Sandwich terns flying around offshore with just a few gannets, the odd grey seal poking its head out of the water and just 1 red throated diver. The harbourside turnstones were fun to watch and they gave some great views and it was interesting to watch a carrion crow pick cockles out of the sand and smash them open by dropping them on the nearby concrete steps.

 Turnstone, St.Ives

 Grey Seal, St.Ives

 Cockle Smashing Carrion Crow, St.Ives

Red Throated Diver, St.Ives

We had lunch overlooking Porthminster Beach and it was lovely to watch Sandwich terns and gannets diving very close to shore while the red throated diver busily preened itself on the water before it was time to catch the train back to Plymouth - a great break away and needed after the recent stresses and strains.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Seasons Turn and Time Marches On

My dear father-in-laws funeral was held on Friday 9th March and it was a sad, solemn, poignant, humourous, emotional and reflective day with heavy rain making the grave side a treacherous quagmire and fraught with visions of elderly relatives slipping over and falling into the grave - but a grand send off for a lovely man, Rest In Peace Dear Dabber.

Very fortunately we had a weeks annual leave pre booked for the week after the funeral and so on Sunday 11th March we had a quick walk around Saltram before the forecasted rain arrived - unfortunately everybody else had the same idea and it was very busy, not helped by it being Mothers Day. Not much was seen on the walk and we got back to the car just as the rain began to fall but 3 greenshank on Blaxton Meadow on a low high tide with 100+ redshank, 2 curlew, shelduck and gulls were noted along with a male and 2 redhead goosander fishing near the railway bridge with 1 of the redheads just managing to swallow a large fish it caught and brought to the surface before it was mobbed by the other 2 (later 3 redheads were seen together preening on the mudflats with the male roosting on the water nearby).

 Goosander, River Plym

Goosander, River Plym

Tuesday 13th March and a beautiful spring day with sunshine, light winds and mild temperatures saw us heading off to Stoke Point for a walk, something we have wanted to do for a while but have been thwarted from doing due to weather, work and family stuff. While washing the dishes before we left the house for our walk I noticed an oil beetle in the bay tree outside, presumably tempted out by the mild weather and a new species for the back yard.

 Oil Beetle, Back Yard

Oil Beetle

The footpath at Stoke Point as expected was a complete and utter mud fest after all the recent heavy rain and we spent a lot of time looking down negotiating our footing and not at the scenery and wildlife but it was a lovely walk as usual none the less.

Stonechats, meadow pipits and skylarks were singing and songflighting, a peacock butterfly was sunning itself on a rock, a female kestrel was busy mobbing 4 noisy and displaying buzzards, 2 ravens flew over cronking and a large peregrine was sunning itself on a clifftop rock before flying off. I had a very brief view of a probable Dartford warbler flying over the gorse near to a pair of stonechat before diving into cover but the highlight was a male wheatear flying up to a fence post by the footpath before flying off never to be seen again - spring is definently here.

Peregrine, Stoke Point

Wheatear, Stoke Point

Wednesday 14th March and the weather was foul, a complete contrast to the previous day with wind and heavy rain. I decided to head over to Torpoint anyway for a walk to nearby Wilcove where a male green winged teal has been overwintering but which I haven't had the opportunity to look for until now (due to weather, tides, work and family stuff). It wasn't too bad when I left the house but by the time I arrived at Torpoint it was chucking it down with rain and after the 20 minute walk to Wilcove I was soaking wet. Luckily I quickly found the male green winged teal feeding out on the mudflats with some Eurasian teal, its white breast flashes being almost luminous in the gloomy conditions. After 20 minutes I had had enough with my optics and myself being thoroughly drenched through and just as I left a bonus whimbrel flew over calling before landing on the rocky foreshore. A quick look off Marine Drive at Torpoint before catching the ferry back to Plymouth gave a nice view of the wintering Sandwich tern flying around but I was very glad to get home and out of my wet clothes after a successful but soggy trip.

 Green Winged Teal, Wilcove - gloomy record shots

 Green Winged Teal

 Green Winged Teal

Green Winged Teal

And so time marches on, life goes on but not the same and spring is just around the corner.