Monday 28 June 2021

A weekend of seal, bird & other wildlife surveys on Looe island & the North Cornwall coast. 26th & 27th June 2021.

St.George's island Looe

Welcome to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust reserve.

 This weekend's weather was so typically "Cornish" for June, gorgeous hot sunny day with light breezes on the south coast at Looe island followed by a Sunday with strong North easterly winds and heavy rain on our boat survey out of Newquay.

Both surveys were done in liaison with the Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust, Looe Marine Conservation Group, Newquay Marine Group and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. I have been a volunteer for these groups for the best part of ten years and love every minute of being involved.

For me it allows me to follow my passion for watching & photographing wildlife and then being able to use those photographs to create some strong data which enables others to identify and record individual seals and sometimes birds that have been ringed or tagged.

Saturday 26th June.

A full day on Looe island usually starts with a short hop from West Looe across to the island with boatman Dave Butters and then a welcoming committee of John & Claire at the new island jetty. It was also great to see the young volunteers who have been on the island for several weeks now and I'm sure they're learning valuable skills whilst there.

We saw 9 seals between us although there was a possibility of a tenth but the jury's out on that one!

However there were lots of birds, including many young ones, especially gulls, great black-backed & herring gulls.

Grey Seal

Grey Seal

3 seals hauled out on Looe island

2 seals hauled on Looe island

Herring Gull chick

Adult Oystercatcher

Great Black-backed Gull

Little Egret

Little Egret

Great Black-backed Gull


Shag with single youngster

Great Black-backed Gull chicks

Shag portrait

Eider ducks

Little Egret

Oystercatcher pair with central juvenile

Juvenile Oystercatcher

Herring Gull chick

Great Black-backed Gull

Great Black-backed Gull chicks

Sunday 27th June.

We arrived at Newquay harbour just before 10 am for what was going to be a late start for our 3 monthly STAPIP survey with CSGRT aboard Atlantic Diver.

One look at the sea and backed up by the online weather forecast and we were all just waiting for the call to say that the survey had been postponed due to the weather. 

Not to be! Our skipper Chris Lowe assured us it was going to be fine as the North Easterly was blowing off the land & over our heads, tide was right & swell was good so at 10:45 we left the harbour with more than a little trepidation.

We tootled off up the coast in a Northerly direction and only spotted 1 seal between Newquay & Trevose Head which is the farthest point we survey on this the central section of our 3 part survey which takes in all the North coast from west of St.Ives to just north of Boscastle. 

There were lots of birds around with a big number of Gulls & Gannets feasting on a shoal of fish and large numbers of Manx Shearwaters oddly flying in both directions... we normally only see them heading south-west! 

Herring Gulls & Gannets

Herring Gulls

Herring Gulls

Diving Gannet

It was mid tide and rather "lumpy" between the headland & the islands and unusually there were no seals spotted hauled or in the water.

So it was a straight line trip from there to the West Pentire where there were a few seals, 7 in total there I think.

By now the weather had started to close in with heavy rain and poor visibility. Add that to a 30 mph wind it wasn't conducive to a comfortable day out!

Most of the time my camera gear was tucked up in the cabin as I couldn't risk a big wave flooding the camera with salt water.

So  not many seals and hence not many seal photos!


Seals hauled at low tide

Guillemots and a few Razorbills




Jasmina said...

Great reports and photos covering what was a busy weekend of wildlife viewing - interesting weather Sunday but we all survived ……😊

Derek Spooner said...

Great set of photos and good to see that there is at least one oystercatcher youngster still alive on Looe Island!

Ananka @ Trevor Turtle said...

These are great photos. I love the Herring Gull chick <3