Sennen Cove to Land's End

Sunday, March 29, 2015 Adam Tilt 1 Comments

Back to Cornwall and having already visited the most southerly point in mainland Britain it only seemed logical to visit its most westerly as well, Land's End. Far better known than the Lizard, Land's End has a certain mystique associated with it which is sadly spoiled, in my opinion at least, by the presence of an amusement/entertainment park. Quite what place a Shaun the Sheep experience has to do with this stretch of coastline I will never know but nevertheless it was a place we simply had to visit. But how to do it? I really didn't want to line the coffers of whoever is responsible for such a carbuncle so instead we parked at Sennen Cover where our modest parking fee would go to the upkeep of another traditional harbour instead. Far more responsible in my books and as if to agree the RNLI had posed their latest lifeboat perfectly.

P1110569 - Sennen Cove


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Scaup, Lesser Scaup, Bonaparte's and Iceland Gulls

Saturday, March 28, 2015 Adam Tilt 4 Comments

I had been planning to continue the Cornwall blogs this evening but those will have to wait a little while longer following one of our best days birding for quite some time. Earlier this morning the outlook couldn't have been less promising however with heavy rain battering against the windows, strong winds tearing across the valley and a cloud base down almost to sea level. It was only when the worst had passed that we decided to venture out to Sandy Water Park with the vague hope of relocating a Scaup which had been reported there earlier in the week. In truth I expected it to be long gone so was quite happy picking my way through some of the other residents when Emma piped up that she'd found it. She was right. There, right up against the near shore, were a small group of Tufted Ducks with our target bird slap bang in the middle. I couldn't believe our luck! A brief jog (I won't admit to a full run obviously) soon had us in range and through the vegetation I managed to find a clear view.

P1110928 - Scaup, Sandy Water Park

Up close this adult male was absolutely stunning with intricate feather-work to rival anything else I've ever seen. Having it in such close proximity to the similar Tufted Ducks also allowed its larger size to clearly be discerned, something which only became more obvious as it woke up and went for a little swim.


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Mullion Cove and a Porthleven Sunset

Friday, March 27, 2015 Adam Tilt 4 Comments

On our way back from the Lizard Emma demanded we stop in at the Chocolate factory near Mullion and who was I to say no. My only condition was that afterwards we headed further down the road for our first ever visit to Mullion Cove itself. The name was a familiar one to me due to its status as a classic Cornish fishing village and it also featured quite heavily in both news stories and photographs from the January 2014 winter storms. Damage from that episode had resulted in reports that the National Trust (owners of the harbour) would cease carrying out repairs as the frequency and severity of such events continues to increase. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to find that repairs were in fact being undertaken during our visit. As it turns out minor work will continue to take place but with the understanding that at some time in the not too distant future a tipping point will be reached when it will become necessary to call a halt to all future works. If or indeed when that happens it will be a terrible loss to both Cornwall and our country's heritage as Mullion really is a pretty special place.

P1110511 - Mullion Cove


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Return to the Lizard

Thursday, March 26, 2015 Adam Tilt 4 Comments

Another walk we wanted to repeat this trip was from Lizard Point, as far south as it's possible to get in mainland Britain, out to Church Cove before looping back and heading in the opposite direction to Kynance Cove. Conditions were perfect with the previous day's haze finally lifted and temperatures warming considerably. Before that though we had to stop in at Helston boating lake to catch up with a Whooper Swan which had been present for a good couple of days and seemed to be quite settled.

P1110421 - Whooper Swan, Helston

As with all my previous encounters this individual was calling fairly regularly but was also being surprisingly aggressive to the gathered Mutes. Considering its smaller size you'd have expected the opposite. Also present were the usual inland water suspects including upwards of fourteen Shoveller, two Grey Wagtails, another singing Chiffchaff and this supposedly dozing Tufted Duck.


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Marazion to Penzance - Migrants, Purple Sandpipers and Pasties

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 Adam Tilt 4 Comments

After having walked for over seven hours the previous day a more relaxed approach on Monday seemed like just the ticket. To that end we headed over to the RSPB reserve at Marazion where hopes were high of picking off some early spring migrants. Almost immediately we could hear singing Chiffchaffs with at least five individuals dotted around the main ponds though there were likely many more spread throughout the surrounding vegetation. Also in fine voice were a couple of Cetti's Warblers before overhead the real stars of the day arrived. A small flock of hirundines coming in off the sea consisted of at least fifteen Sand Martins and five Swallows, our first of the year and another major milestone passed in my personal wildlife calendar. The same birds seemed to remain over the reserve for our entire stay but I have my suspicions that there were actually several small flocks moving through with similar proportions to the first. Other sightings included a couple of Little Grebes, two Grey Heron, Little Egret, Teal, Common Snipe, Canada Geese, Cormorant and a superb Kingfisher which flew right overhead as it passed upstream. More evidence of Spring came in the shape of several paired birds including Oystercatchers next to the road and these Shelduck which flew in just before we left.

P1110367 - Shelduck, Penzance


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Praa Sands to Porthleven - Surf, Tin and a Whale Bone

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 Adam Tilt 6 Comments

Our first full day in Cornwall dawned dull and overcast but with no rain forecast we just had to get out along the coast. We were down this way last year and walked the coastal path between Praa Sands and Porthleven then, a repeat of which seemed just the ticket to stretch travel weary legs. Setting out we noted that the masses of Pied Wagtails seen the previous evening were mostly absent, presumably having moved on if my migration theory is correct, but our attention was soon taken by more human interests out at sea. Despite there being only a light breeze surf conditions were absolutely fantastic with some of the best rollers I have ever seen crashing ashore. Stretching almost the entire length of Praa Sands out to Rinsey Head they were so clean and crisp that the gathered surfers couldn't fail to catch them with some truly epic distances being covered. I'm sure those of you around the world will be little impressed by our British offerings but these sure made for a nice change over the broken waves we normally experience. Needless to say my sense of balance, or lack thereof, would have precluded my producing anything quite so spectacular so hats off to those individuals shown below.

P1110300 - Rinsey Head


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Little Bunting at Forest Farm

Sunday, March 22, 2015 Adam Tilt 10 Comments

I've been thoroughly enjoying my local birding of late which may explain the reason why the long staying Little Bunting at Forest Farm has thus far evaded my attention. Last Saturday however found us on the long drive south to Cornwall for a well earned week away, a route which rather handily runs within a stones throw of the aforementioned reserve. It would have been rude not to pop in given such proximity and so it was we found ourselves finally paying respect to Glamorgan's most recent star attraction and my first lifer of the year.

P1110266 - Little Bunting, Forest Farm


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My Wild Life

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 Adam Tilt 0 Comments

The Wildlife Trusts (of which I'm a member of the South and West Wales branch) recently launched a new campaign entitled My Wild Life. Its premise is a simple but powerful one, to get people talking about what nature means to them and how it helps them in their everyday lives. By sharing these stories the aim is to build an ever bigger voice speaking out on behalf and for our wildlife and wild places. This all comes on the back of recent research which has shown that access to nature can have a huge benefit to a persons general health and well-being. The benefits associated with increased physical exercise are perhaps obvious but it's the less visible improvements to an individuals state of mind that should really be celebrated. What would we as the human race become if that vital contact with nature were removed?

And that brings me on to my own #MyWildLife contribution. Gower - My Escape.

I'm fortunate in that life has treated me pretty well up to now but that doesn't stop the pressures of work and everyday life from mounting. Discovering the Gower peninsula therefore was an absolute revelation. Following a day in the office I now had somewhere to escape to where my worries could be forgotten as I walked amongst spectacular scenery and wildlife. Whether it be the towering cliffs of Rhossili or the sweeping curve of Oxwich Bay there's always something new to see. Those same expansive views lend a great sense of perspective to whatever troubles may be playing out and remind me that sometimes it's more than fine to take things at a slower pace. In fact it's highly recommended. After even a short outing I'm left feeling refreshed, relaxed and ready to delve back into the hustle and bustle of modern living. At least for a couple of days anyway before my escape once more beckons.

If you want to submit your own #MyWildLife story then head over to the campaign page here and tell the world what nature and wild places mean to you.


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Song Thrush Mimicry, Whooper Swans and a Stonechat

Thursday, March 12, 2015 Adam Tilt 4 Comments

Hobbies away from birding took up much of my time last weekend but that didn't stop me from getting out on a couple of occasions. The most enjoyable of these trips was on Sunday where we spent a few hours walking the Millennium coastal path from Llanelli to Machynys. For an area once decimated by heavy industry its current guise is on the whole very pleasing with the new housing being of sound architectural standing (with just one painful exception) and of course there are those stunning views across the Burry inlet to Gower. We weren't there to discuss the merits of a redeveloped foreshore however and were much happier watching the numerous Redshanks feeding at Copperhouse. Also present there was a small group of six Teal and more unusually five Gadwall. The latter are far from a common sight at this location, at least in my experience, and these individuals were giving grand views just a few meters off the dock wall. It wasn't until we'd moved around to the golf course however that I found cause to whip the camera out for a trio of Stonechats who were just begging to be photographed. As is so often the way however they immediately decided that their interests lay elsewhere. That didn't stop me persevering and I managed to capture this perky individual through the Gorse.


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#pwc2015 Larking About

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 Adam Tilt 4 Comments

Ambling up to Bryn-bach-Common last Friday evening I couldn't help but notice a distinctive bird song filling the air. At first the sound was familiar yet hard to place, delightfully varied with a volume to match. Then it slowly dawned on me that what I was listening to was in fact my first singing Skylark of the year, not only another affirming step towards spring but also the first that I'd encountered on patch in 2015. For the Patchwork Challenge an audio id is good enough for a tick but on such an auspicious occasion I had to see the culprit for myself. Scanning the sky it didn't take long to spot the bird way up high before it dived down to ground only to re-emerge twenty meters or so further along the valley. This second display allowed the moment to be captured on camera for prosperity. Certainly not an image that's going to win any prizes but one that holds good memories for me. I was certainly grinning from ear to ear when it was taken.

P1110236 - First Skylark of 2015

The sun dipping below the horizon heralded the end of my personal avian concert so I moved onto the common proper to see what else was about. The previously mentioned corvid movement was once more in operation whilst a Green Woodpecker was yaffling away somewhere out of sight. It was looking down towards the Loughor however that I found success for the second time as a flock of six Canada Geese flew past. If you follow my twitter feed you may have seen that I spotted presumably the same birds a couple of days previous but just outside of my patch boundaries. This time though there was no doubting their credentials and I got to correct a notable absence from last years tally. The view wasn't bad either.

P1110240 - Sunset over the Loughor

Returning home I kept an eye out for Owls and Foxes but drew a blank on both scores. There was however a calling Peacock (sadly not tickable) and that sense of peace that can only be found in the great outdoors. 

2015: 46 / 2014: 64


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It's Spring (at least according to the meteorological seasons)

Thursday, March 05, 2015 Adam Tilt 14 Comments

Following a business trip to London on Thursday and Friday and dodgy weather across the weekend I was more than a little grateful for the hour or so I managed to grab out on Gopa Hill last night. Longer evenings continue to open up new opportunities and I was determined to capture another sunset, a simple goal with which mother nature fortunately agreed. What little cloud there was only helped to enhance the colours as 'that' tree which always features on my blog around this time of year was once more pressed into duty. For its previous star turns check here and here.

P1110224 - Sunset


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