Tuesday 27 July 2021

Looe island monthly seal survey with CSGRT. Sunday 25th July 2021.


Female Grey Seal

It's always a treat to go to Looe island, or should I call it St.George's island a short hop from the harbour at Looe. 

When I asked which was the correct name this is the reply from Claire who is one of the wardens on the island for the Cornwall Wildlife Trust......

*******We have two official place names - on the Ordnance Survey map it says St George's or Looe Island. When we contacted the Ordnance Survey to ask them why this was the case they said that they didn't know but that we are the only place that has two official English place names! When Cornwall Wildlife Trust were given the island the Atkin sisters were in the habit of calling it St George's Island but many people referred to it as Looe Island. Today, to simplify things it's just called Looe Island by us... but just to confuse everyone on the island we still have the old St George's Island Nature Reserve sign!******


That aside the day was full of anticipation and drama.
We had spotted a good number of grey seals hauling out as the tide dropped and our survey was set to begin at 12:15 to give us time to check all points of the compass either side of low water.

Sadly the drama came in the shape of humans aboard boats, kayaks & SUP's. They gave the seals no respite, approaching too close, making lots of noise & even letting a dog run amidst the resting seals.

Hopefully between all of us surveyors for the group we recorded most of the behaviour on stills or video. Now those with authority can hopefully decide a course of action to stop this disturbance.

Kayakers surround a hauled out female and another seal in the water

Of course when there we also monitor all other species , whether that be birds, butterflies, flowers, cetaceans, jellyfish and even fish.

There were compass jellyfish pouring out of the Looe river on the receding tide and my previous blog shows the photos but here are a couple as they were part of the day.

Compass jellyfish

Compass jellyfish

Most birds had fledged their young and there were a lot of juvenile cormorants, shags & gulls around the perimeter of the island either on rocky cliffs or sandy beaches.







Mediterranean Gull


Great black-backed Gull

A distant Sanderling

Rock Pipit carrying food   

Little Egret 

A couple of images of the stunning artichokes and hydrangeas growing in John & Claire's garden.


Lace Hydrangea

Another memorable day in paradise, not all for the right reasons but life's never simple and I did get through the day without shouting at anybody for getting too close to seals or birds!! ...Maybe I should have!

Birdlife doesn't end when we board the boat to return to the mainland as we were accompanied by a couple of herring gulls on the boat.

When asked if the birds had names our boatman Dave Haines merely said "Yes... Steven".

Took a while to sink in but named after the tough guy actor Steven Seagal!!!

Steve Woods photographs Steven Seagal!

Monday 26 July 2021

Compass jellyfish at Looe Cornwall, Sun 25th July 2021.


I went to Looe in East Cornwall to take part in the monthly Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust survey on the Cornwall Wildlife Trust's reserve on Looe island.

Whilst walking along the walkway beside the West Looe side of the river I saw lots of Compass jellyfish drifting out of the harbour area with the ebbing tide.

I only had my phone or my 500mm Nikon lens to use so quickly did a few pics on each. 

I love watching jellyfish, they're so relaxing to watch as they pulsate through the water.





When we got to  Looe island there was another jelly by the base of the jetty and whilst there was a lot of seaweed & general flotsam swirling around it was great so get a short video clip.

Here is the YouTube link to that clip...

Compass Jellyfish video clip



Thursday 22 July 2021

Kayaking amidst Mediterranean Gulls, Sandwich Terns & speedboats on the Camel estuary. 20th July 2021.

Adult Med Gull first ringed as an adult in 2017 in Antwerp, Belgium.

As Cornwall swelters in an unusual heatwave the only place I could feel comfortable was out on the water in my kayak. 

Getting a parking space at Rock was my first hurdle to overcome and it was a case of driving around in circles until any red & sunburnt tourist had decided they'd had enough sun for one day!

As there had been several sightings of Risso's dolphins at the mouth of the estuary I thought I'd try paddling out that way to have a look around. I've been kayaking quite a long time but still haven't the strength or confidence to go out to sea. I paddled along past Rock and Daymer Bay until I met the Doom bar, a notorious sand bar at the mouth of the estuary which, as it's name suggests, has caught out many a mariner over the centuries.

I couldn't spot any dolphins although did have good views of Compass jellyfish & also Purple jellies.

A very poor pic of a Compass jellyfish taken with my phone through my polarising sunglasses!

Purple Jellyfish washing up on the shore.

It was unbelievably calm and the water looked so inviting but there were dozens of speedboats out there with crazed people shouting & screaming in excitement as I did my best to keep a good line on the kayak to avoid being tipped out. The final straw for me was when one of the boats made a bee-line for me and just veered off before "taking me out"!

Selfie time!

Daymer Bay


Rock beach & dunes.

That was enough so I headed back to the area around Porthilly in search of some birds to photograph.

Being high tide I guessed that the oyster floats would be supporting a few good birds and I wasn't disappointed as they were covered in over one hundred Med Gulls along with a few Herring & Black headed gulls. Sandwich terns also held territories at the rear of the floats.

My tactics for photographing from the kayak are to slowly drift up to the floats with my paddles low in the water until I can get a good angle on the birds. I'm using my old Nikon D300 with a 70-300mm lens. Not the best optically but cameras & salt water don't work too well together so it's a balancing act of how much expensive kit to risk for the photos.

Mediterranean Gull

Mediterranean Gull

Mediterranean Gull

Mediterranean Gulls

Mediterranean Gull 

Mostly Mediterranean Gulls. 

 There were quite a few birds with colour rings or metal rings and I'm aware of a few international projects so I tried to get a few images where the rings could be read. I sent a load of pics off to Mark Grantham of the West Cornwall Ringing Group and by the next day have had some interesting results with 4 of the birds being ringed in Antwerp, Belgium & 1 in Vendée, Pays de la Loire, France.

A few of the Med Gulls with rings


Alongside the gulls were about 10 Sandwich Terns coming & going from the floats, their constant chittering call highlighting their presence. Some had this seasons juveniles close to them and a couple were ringed with metal rings so very difficult to read from the photos.

Juv Sandwich Tern

Sandwich Tern

Sandwich Tern

Sandwich Tern

Sandwich Tern

Sandwich Tern 

Sandwich Terns 

This juvenile Shag also liked to haul out on the floats.



All in all a super afternoon and a yet again aching arms & shoulders but we have to suffer for our art!

Monday 19 July 2021

Cornwall Wildlife Trust Photographic Group field trip to Cabilla woods. 19th July 2021.


Silver-washed Fritillary

The photographic group met today at the Cornwall Wildlife Trust's Cabilla reserve just a few miles east of Bodmin adjacent to the River Fowey.

The main target species for the group was the gorgeous Silver-washed Fritillary which excelled in its aerobatic splendour in the heat of the day.

Temperatures were approaching the 30's and shade and water were most important to us photographers whilst sun was what kept the butterflies active and difficult to get close to.

However most members got shots of the butterflies and of course there were lots of other subjects around, including dragonflies & damselflies.

A 2nd brood Holly blue butterfly was feeding in a muddy patch on the track which necessitated us to lie prostrate in order to get the best angle. The crafty insect then managed to land on the camera and then the hand of Jasmina whilst others tried to take advantage of the situation and get some rather unique shots! 

Here are a few images from the day.......

Holly blue

Red Admiral

Female Beautiful Demoiselle

Large Red damselfly

Golden-ringed Dragonfly

Misc green caterpillar

Larval enclosure on Hazel branch

Larval enclosure on Hazel branch 

Female Beautiful Demoiselle

Field Rose

Here are a few more pics of the members making the most of a shady spot by the river for lunch....

This photo courtesy of Jasmina Goodair

"Faffing about in the stream! This photo courtesy of Jasmina Goodair