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.
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.
Our most intriguing observation though came at the hands of two Coots who were busy building their nest. With the lake being relatively shallow it was easy to watch them diving underwater to pick up sticks which were quickly added to the growing platform. All seemed to be going rather well despite a couple of domestic arguments between the pair, right up until a Mute Swan turned up and proceeded to pick through the nest in search of anything edible. This angered the Coots quite considerably and they attacked with as much venom as it’s possible to muster when you’re significantly down on both size and weaponry. Needless to say the swan eventually won out with the Coots forced to take up a distant vigil. Thankfully not too much damage was caused but what a great exchange to witness.
When we finally did make it to Lizard I headed straight down to the old lifeboat station at Polpoer Cove. For some reason I just adore this location with its abandoned RNLI lifeboat station and couldn’t resist adding another couple of photos to my already expansive collection.
I won’t include too many scenic images from this point onwards (it’s a long enough entry as it is!) but instead will focus on the birds seen as well as a little local history. First up were for the birds were numerous Fulmars, several of which were already well settled at their nesting sites but proved too fast to capture on camera. That certainly wasn’t a problem for the following Dunnock and Wren who were both in full song and happy to pose in the sunshine.
A couple of Chough continued our good run for the species but they were easily outdone by our first Wheatear of the year, a pristine male in exactly the same spot as our first of 2014. I think we also glimpsed a second individual but only one made it onto the camera before it too disappeared from view. As much as I love a Wheatear I really didn’t want to risk my neck by following it down the cliff.
Our next significant landmark was the old Lloyd’s Signal Station which opened in 1872 for the purpose of passing messages to ships out in the English channel. This was done through the waving of flags with return messages being sent back by telegraph once the ship had docked. This may seem slightly arcane in today’s modern world but it did save ships a great deal of time as they were no longer required to dock at Falmouth just in case. Given the lucrative nature of the business there were for a short time two rival stations operating from the same location. With two sets of flags waving confusion was rife though thankfully they soon merged and the rival’s building was demolished.
A short distance on and having enjoyed watching a Stonechat carrying moss to its nest we arrived at Kilcobben Cove followed by Church Cove. Both have a long association with the RNLI although over very different time periods. The Church station for instance operated between 1885 and 1899 whilst Kilcobben opened in 1961 following closure of the station at Polpoer (see above) and is still going strong. Looking at them today it’s easy to see the advances in both technology and size of the lifeboats being used. Not bad for a charity entirely funded by public donations.
Also present off Church Cove were a flock of at least twenty Guillemots though there were likely many more spread out towards the horizon. We walked up through the village itself in sweltering conditions protected from the cool breeze which had been blowing all day. The old rookery there was in fine voice with various nest repairs being undertaken but my attention was drawn to this partially leucistic Blackbird. Of all the bird species this is the one I see most often with such aberations although that could simply be down to a lack of pigment being more noticeable against black feathers.
Back in Lizard we picked up some nourishment at Anne’s Pasties before heading out once more in the opposite direction. Here a singing Skylark and at least four more Wheatears further enhanced the feeling of Spring and we couldn’t resist just sitting down and watching the gorgeous scenery unfold before us.
That pasty wasn’t bad either.