Monday 31 May 2021

Looe island seal survey and bird monitoring. 27th May 2021.

Nesting Oystercatcher

It was a great privilege to be back on Looe island again this month for our regular Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust survey in conjunction with the Looe Marine Conservation Group and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

After a bit of a "jigging around" of days we alighted on the new jetty at about 8:45 to be met by Jon & Claire the wardens and several members of the CWT Marine group who had spent the night on the island.

It was also a pleasure to meet up with the 4 CWT volunteers who are going to be resident there for 2 months of the summer. What a fantastic opportunity for them and I'm sure they'll be worth their weight in gold helping to get lots of the jobs completed.

We had a maximum of 6 seals, with 4 hauled out and 2 in the water during our low tide count, there was quite a bit of disturbance from boats and kayakers with one group causing me to get vocal as they came in under the main cormorant colony and caused a lot of stress to the birds.

I won't post the images of those causing the disturbance as there were young people involved and it was the fault of their leaders and instructors so they will be contacted separately.

Apologies for the poor quality of some of the images as I suffered from a rare phenomenon in Cornwall "heat haze"! This causes degradation of the images on pictures taken from a distance and it really was a problem with the long distance seal photos.


Grey seal hauled out.

Grey seal in the water

Here are a few more bird images from the day.

Cormorant colony

Cormorant colony

Cormorant portrait

Cormorants displaying

Cormorants displaying

Cormorants displaying


Oystercatcher nest with 3 eggs

Another Oystercatcher nest with 3 eggs

Oystercatcher pair.

Great black backed Gull


Bar-tailed Godwit


Sunday 23 May 2021

Grey Herons at Walmsley sanctuary May 2021.

A head above the irises. 

 I've had fun watching the herons in the reeds and iris patches catching small fish & frogs for the past few weeks.

I love picturing the bird in it's habitat with just the head poking out of the vegetation.

They are such magnificent birds that I'm always trying to get them in flight as they hunt across the reserve.

Here are a few from a couple of days ago.

Sunday 16 May 2021

Kingfishers on the River Camel, Cornwall. 2021.


Adult male after bathing

I've been watching & photographing 2 nesting pairs of Kingfishers on the River Camel this spring. I hold a Natural England Schedule 1 licence to photograph them near to the nest as it's an offence to disturb these birds when nesting and of course it's not in my interest to cause any disturbance as then I'd get no pictures and more importantly the birds might fail to breed.

As it was one of the pairs failed and the other pair fledged at least 3 young yesterday (15th May).

The pair that failed had just started feeding young with the male active and the female still brooding the clutch. It was a cold rainy few days and I'm not sure of the cause of failure but it could have been their limited ability to catch prey when the river became muddy or one of the adults being taken by a predator or something as simple as the burrow collapsing.

Adult female taking a break from digging the nest burrow. Note the earth on the bill.

The female at this nest was very pale coloured on the breast and I did wonder if she was a late bird from last year and wasn't experienced although I did watch her take a brook lamprey & deal with it well.

Female with a brook lamprey

Female with a brook lamprey 

Male with salmonid

Male kingfisher

Male kingfisher  

Female kingfisher

Female kingfisher after a bath

Female Kingfisher with a bullhead


Male kingfisher with a brook lamprey

After taking many hundreds of photos of "birds on sticks" I played around with fast exposures and tried to catch the birds visiting the perch, usually after emerging from the water as they usually dunk in the river after leaving the burrow to clean off any earth and fish slime from the nest.

Slow shutter speed!

On the 15th May the young left the confines of the burrow to a bright new world. I saw 2 young and the adults were still carrying food to the nest so at least 3 young. Eventually one more emerged and sat in an alder sprig in the bank calling for food.

A newly emerged youngster

Female kingfisher with a bullhead and a begging youngster

Photobombing from the male

Female kingfisher with a bullhead and a begging youngster

Female kingfisher with a bullhead and a begging youngster

The adult female would not let the youngster have the fish but kept teasing it by putting it to its beak and then taking it away again. I guess some kind of training for their future survival.

Finally I watched a lone young kingfisher sat on an old water diversion board, spending time looking into the water....was it looking at its reflection for the first time or eyeing up its next meal?

 Always a great pleasure to be able to spend time in the company of these amazing and beautiful creatures. Hopefully they'll soon start on 2nd broods to keep the numbers up on our river.