Sunday 29 August 2021

Looe island monthly seal survey with CSGRT. Tues 24th August 2021.



The monthly Looe island survey seems to come around so quickly, it must be a sure sign of age!

Unusually for August in Cornwall the weather was superb, a bit of an Easterly blowing when we took the boat out of West Looe but as the morning went on any cloud cover cleared and the sun shone,

There were several seals in close to shore at high tide when we arrived and they then settled out on the offshore rocks as the tide dropped.

By the time we started our survey most had hauled out and we had at least 10 showing themselves as they tried to catch an undisturbed nap in the sun. Fortunately the easterly breeze kept most kayakers & paddle boarders in the harbour but a few hardy souls risked the waves but the disturbance to the seals was a lot less than in our July survey.


Grey Seal

Grey seals hauled out at low tide

Late summer can be an interesting time for birds as many are still feeding late young whilst others have started their annual migration. Birds are arriving from the North to spend their winter in the UK or farther south whilst others are leaving our shores to escape the winter in Africa or beyond.

There are however the residents and some may have "seasonal movements" but most will still be here next month and hopefully each month through the winter. Species such as Grey Heron, Little Egret, Oystercatchers, Shags & Cormorants may drift around the area but not enter into a full blown migration. That said I did find a ringed Grey Heron many years ago that had been ringed 5 months before as a nestling in Denmark so "how local is local?".

Little Egret


There was a good variety of waders about the island with Whimbrel, Curlew, Ringed Plover, Dunlin & Redshank all putting in an appearance. Here's a few photos......

Juvenile Ringed Plover

Ringed Plover

Ringed Plover with "rings".  





The good weather also brought out the butterflies and it was the most I've seen all the year with Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Large White, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper all in abundance. Having the right food palnts certainly helps and we watched them nectaring on Bramble, Ivy & Red Valerian.

Painted Lady butterfly


My sincere thanks to the Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Looe Marine Conservation Group and of course Jon & Claire for letting me take part in these surveys.

 I love doing them and feel privileged to be involved.

Wednesday 4 August 2021

Common Dolphins & birds off the North Cornwall coast. 4th August 2021.

Juvenile Common Dolphin

A mid morning phone call from my good friend Will Delacour resulted in a fantastic afternoon of wildlife watching and photography.

The tides are small at present so we only had a short window in which to get out to sea from Wadebridge and back in again on the same tide.

So we left at 1:30 pm and got back at 5:20 pm and saw masses of good stuff in between!

I've never seen so many Mediterranean Gulls in the estuary before, must have been well into 300+.

The Common dolphins didn't disappoint either with lots of small pods on 6-8 animals either busy feeding or lolling around after feeding.

Also lots of jellyfish around, compass, moon & purple/blues.

We noticed a few gannets circling in the air and immediately saw dolphins feeding below them and by the time we neared the feeding frenzy dozens more gannets arrived & were diving in amongst the gulls and dolphins.An amazing sight with the blue sky full of white gannets and the sea awash with gulls, shags & dolphins!


Gannets filled the sky

dolphin amidst the gulls

Diving gannet

Manx Shearwater

Needless to say I took many hundreds of photos so here are a few more dolphin pictures....

2 adults with a calf

2 adults with a calf

Tuesday 3 August 2021

Marsh Harrier at Walmsley sanctuary 26th July - 3rd August 2021.


I first became aware of this bird on the 26th July when it suddenly appeared perched in the top of a willow tree along the line of old slates that runs across the reserve. 

It is very dark both top and bottom and has a bright orange head around a black facial mask.This is the plumage of a juvenile marsh harrier so I'm now left wondering where it had fledged from. I'm aware there are several pairs on the Somerset Levels but sort of hope its been hatched a bit nearer to home.

Well wherever its come from it has spent at least a week now on the reserve and the Amble marshes wetland area. Not only that it has put on an amazing show for watchers and photographers with numerous forays around the 3 islands in front of the tower hide at Walmsley. At times within touching distance of the shutters.

Needless to say I've taken many photos so I will quit typing and just add a load of images of this stunning bird.

Too close to get him all in the photo!

crashing into the reeds