Sunday, 8 April 2012

An Easter break in Boscastle

I was looking forward to another weekend in North Cornwall, since it would hopefully give me the chance to catch up with some spring migrants and also the opportunity to walk the cliffs in search of Puffins. We set off early Friday morning and were crossing the northern tip of Bodmin Moor when a Sand Martin flew past in front of the car.....maybe a good omen!!

After a short break upon arrival in Boscastle I unpacked my camera gear and headed out onto The Stitches. There are strips of scrub at the eastern end and these usually act as a great migrant trap, with the fields being a great place to look for Northern Wheatears, larks and pipits. Two Barn Swallows dashing low across the fields were my first migrants, and a pair of Common Ravens were croaking overhead, twisting and turning as they tumbled from the sky. Other than a handful of singing Chiffchaffs and an occasional Blackcap, that was it migrant wise, although resident birds were in full song with Dunnocks and Chaffinch's being very vocal and prominent.

Male Dunnock

With not much happening on The Stitches I headed to the cliffs and a view of the sea. The cliffs were alive with auks, the most visible species being Razorbills on the land facing cliffs, with Guillemots being abundant on the seaward side. I spent a few minutes scanning the face of the nearest offshore island...Meachard, before turning my attention to the sea.

Razorbills on Meachard, off Boscastle
The odd passing Northern Gannet and the resident Herring Gulls were the most visible species, but a scan with my scope revealed a load more auks and around 30 European Shags on the water. Scanning west along the coast it was possible to see auks crammed on the ledges of two distant off shore rocks, Grower Rock and Short Island. I continued to scan and soon picked up two Puffins sat on the sea preening; after a while they took flight, circled briefly, before landing on the seaward side of the more distant rock, Short Island. I usually see Puffins on this rock and also another nearby one, that is just out of sight called Long Island, so it was good see them still there.

The rugged north Cornwall coastline, the two islands are
Grower Rock (nearer) and Short Island.

Another stroll around The Stitches yesterday (Saturday) morning, again produced very little in the way of migrants so I headed back to cliffs to scope the sea. The Northern Fulmars were settled down on the cliffs, with a few circling around on the wind, Herring gulls and Jackdaws were also paired up, but that was all.

With not much happening at sea I headed down Valency Valley, primarily to check up on the resident Dippers, but there seemed to be very little activity around the nest site. When birds are incubating there is often limited activity around the nest site, so lets hope that this is the case and not that the nest has been predated. I did see two further down the valley by the car park, but they were only fleeting flight views.

Fulmars, Boscastle

This morning I overslept and didn't head out until gone 10am, by which time most of the migration was probably over, assuming that is that there was any. There seemed to be more Chiffs and Blackcaps around and a single House Martin flew east, but again that was it. A rabbit was tucked into the vegetation around the field margin, so I thought seeing as it is Easter Sunday I would include a picture of it.

An Easter Day Bunny

A feeding flock of Herring Gulls, Gannets and Fulmars were just off shore, so I watched intently for a glimpse of a Harbour Porpoise or Common Dolphin, but it was not to be....hardly surprising as the sea was a bit choppy this morning. 

Grey Wagtail on the River Valency

With a lunch date planned with my wife and mother-in-law I headed down to the village centre; there were loads of people around but this did not deter a pair of Grey Wagtails that were busy nest building, oblivious to the hussle and bussle around them. 

Have to say I was slightly disappointed with my weekends birding and with heavy rain forecast tomorrow I don't think tomorrows birding is going to improve!!

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