Saturday 28 December 2019

Cattle Egrets at Walmsley sanctuary peak at 83!!! 27th Dec 2019.

Approximately half of the egrets today

I had my highest count yet of Cattle Egrets at Walmsley this afternoon, a magnificent 83 birds!

After about 35 came in near 3:30 pm there were regular groups of about a dozen that kept me having to do another count.
Finally just before 4pm I managed to count 83 before they all flew off at 4:05 pm.

I'm thinking this reserve must be a pre-roost gathering place as this isn't the first time I've seen this behaviour.

We don't have any animals grazing the site at present as it is way too wet so it is only being used as a stopover and a place to wash & drink in the freshwater.

I wonder how many we will have if the weather turns cold.

Here is a short video of them that I put on Youtube.... apologies for the quality as video is not my speciality!

Cattle Egrets at Walmsley

Friday 13 December 2019

Drake Goldeneye at Walmsley sanctuary this morning. 13th Dec 2019.

A cracking drake Goldeneye sheltering from the gales at Walmsley bird sanctuary, Wadebridge this morning.

It was doing a lot of diving and looked to catch one fish before being harassed by some Gadwall and flying off only to return a few minutes later and continue feeding.

 A long time since I saw on of these in the reserve.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Barn Owl bits & bobs. North Cornwall, November 2019

Well I made 2 of these barn owl nesting boxes yesterday and successfully installed both in 2 barns in North Cornwall today (with a bit of help!).

Surprised to open the door of the barn this morning to see an owl flying around and then disappearing into thin air!
I saw it go up to a dark corner where we can't find any holes to the outside but couldn't find it again.
I'd been convinced it had been using a broken window for access but it was at the opposite end of the barn.
I did however capture a short bit of camera trap footage that showed an owl leaving via the broken window. The bird looks quite dark but I think that's because it's filmed from above in semi-dark conditions.
Keep watching because it's a fleeting fly-by near the end of the short snip.

I collected several pellets from this barn a few weeks ago and most of them contained skulls & bones of small mammals, notably field vole & bank vole.

Here are a few photos from that analysis although I've not seperated them to species properly yet.

Lower jawbones from small mammals

Another species that featured on the camera trap footage were bats. Not sure of the type of bats but one can be clearly seen on the left of the wall in the following video snip.
It is at the very beginning of the clip so you may need to drag it back when in full screen if it auto-starts.

Sunday 27 October 2019

Portuguese Man O' War North Cornish coast 27th Oct 2019.

I was delighted to get close to this Portuguese Man O' War this morning on our Cornwall Seal Group & Research Trust survey just West of St.Ives in West Cornwall.

We actually came across 3 different ones and despite struggling to focus on them from a very rocky deck of Atlantic Diver  I managed a few images.

Wednesday 2 October 2019

Crossbills in North Cornwall. 2nd October 2019

Male Crossbill

I finally found the Crossbills in the forest at Davidstow this afternoon at the 3rd attempt.

Well worth the wait although having spent all my time gazing at the spruce cones looking for the birds I was shocked to see them behind me in the shade and with not a cone in sight!

Also pleased to see a juvenile with them so they will have bred this year and hopefully locally.

Female Crossbill

Male Crossbill

Female Crossbill

Female Crossbill with a juvenile.

Sunday 22 September 2019

White-rumped Sandpiper, Davidstow, Cornwall. 22nd September 2019.

White-rumped Sandpiper, Davidstow airfield this afternoon. Another long distance migrant from this amazing place.

This tiny wader migrates from the Arctic of North America down to the very south of South America annually.

Sunday 15 September 2019

Migrant Hawker dragonfly at Walmsley sanctuary 14th September 2019.

August & September always produce a good show of Migrant Hawkers in the reserve.
They breed here in good numbers and as the days shorten and the mornings & evenings start to chill down these dragonflies always seem to be at their best.

Friday 6 September 2019

Brown Booby in Cornwall Sept 2019

Well it had to be done!

I'd got fed up with everyone asking me "I suppose you've been down to see the Brown Booby!"

Me answering "No" and then thinking perhaps I'll pop down at the end of the week if it's still there.

So went down with a couple of friends this morning to Kynance Cove on the Lizard, the most Southerly point in England and filled my boots with the sight of a magnificent bird taking regular feeding forays in the bay beneath the high cliffs above the cove.

This is one of the most beautiful places in the UK and to be graced by such a stunning bird was even better.

The light was poor with a forecast of rain by 11 am so it put on a good show in the time we were there. The light made auto focus difficult as there wasn't the contrast particularly when it was "brown side up" but better when the white on the breast and belly showed toward the camera.

All in all well worth the trip which was relatively short compared to that of most of the other birders that thronged the clifftops.

If it stays around I may even pop down again... who knows!

It's not everyday a first for the UK turns up even if this is a different one to the north coast bird a few days ago.

Tuesday 3 September 2019

A few of this week's waders in Cornwall. 3rd Sept. 2019.

Buff breasted Sandpiper

The Buff breasted Sandpiper was at Davidstow this afternoon and when most of the birders had departed it decided to take a wash and brush up. This was the time for photos when it had other things on it's mind.

Buff breasted Sandpiper

Buff breasted Sandpiper

Buff breasted Sandpiper 

Another from Davidstow was this juvenile Ringed Plover.

Juvenile Ringed Plover.  

Finally a few Turnstones in variable plumages from Trebetherick Point last evening on the high tide.




Monday 26 August 2019

Adders at Windmill Farm reserve on the Lizard, Cornwall 25th Aug 2019.

Female Adder

Pair of adders at Windmill Farm yesterday on our Cornwall Wildlife Trust Photographic Group field trip to the reserve on the Lizard.

The female is the brown one & she looks pregnant, male is the darker black one. Thanks Dougy!

#cornwallwildlifetrust #cbwps #wildCornwall

Male Adder

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Hedgehog. Hungary July 2019

Sometimes I find the simple shots work best.

Nothing more to add other than I like it!

Monday 12 August 2019

I hate this! .... but it needs to be seen! North Cornwall coast 2019.

"Looks like a dead Gannet on the port side" came the cry from the Cornwall Seal group spotters aboard the Atlantic Diver along the North Cornwall coast on a day that we'd all of been secretly happy if it'd been called off due to the weather conditions!

I grabbed the boathook whilst others grabbed cameras and armed with my camera & boathook waited for the skipper to bring the boat alongside the bird.

A fairly regular thing to spot a dead seabird in the Atlantic but I don't think any of us aboard were expecting the full horror of seeing this gorgeous Gannet with its garland of bright orange "chafe" netting.

I have a passion for watching & photographing Gannets, they are one of the most beautiful of our seabirds and a joy to watch whether flying, diving, nesting or generally just lazing on the water.

Sadly the story for this bird got stranger as we looked at it on board.
The netting looked to go down it's throat and was tightly held through it's beak and around the neck.

Then we noticed a mark on the top of its head which on closer inspection looked like an embedded air gun pellet, right in the middle of the crown.

Below is a link to the Cornwall Seal Group & Research Trust report on this bird which they sent for a post mortem and it does show that sure enough it had been shot in the head.

I'd like to think this was done by a well meaning person desperate to put this poor bird out of its misery and whoever did it was either an incredible shot or did it at point blank range probably in a boat. That then throws up the question of why would someone take an air rifle out to sea?

The pellet hadn't penetrated the skull very far as the gannet has a toughened skull to take the pressure from all the diving it does from great heights.

I guess we'll never know the true story but we do know that "Ghost fishing" gear is responsible for many seabird deaths and probably will be for ever as it doesn't seem to degrade, even in the North Atlantic.

My thanks to Sue Sayer and all involved in letting me link to her incredibly detailed report.

Cornwall Seal Group link to more details and data about this bird....

The air gun pellet lodged in the skull 

This is how we prefer to see a gannet!