Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Land's End Cornwall, and we thought it was.!!

After leaving the Lizard peninsular area we headed off to our next port of call.  Any sun that had been struggling to show its face had definitely given up the cause, and was completely obliterated by low cloud. We headed for Marazion, and here we had always planned to do different things for the remainder of the day. The good looking one would visit St Michael's Mount, while I would go birding at Marazion Marsh. So on arrival at the marsh, my Daughter dropped me off complete with day sac, camera and tripod, she headed back to St. Michael's Mount car park, and had timed the tide right, she would be able to get to the mount by walking the causeway in her wellies. I could still see the car disappearing down the road as the first few heavy spots of rain began bouncing on my head. Undaunted I set off onto the reserve in an optimistic mood.
    The reserve comes under the umbrella (pardon the pun) of the RSPB, in fact its their most Southerly reserve, and has a large area of reed bed. I found the first footpath and set off to see what was about, just as I did a little brown flitty thing (this is my Daughters stock description when trying to explain what she has seen, it was a little brown flitty thing) caught my eye but quickly disappeared into a patch of thorn bush, so no ID there. Now the rain was really beginning to make its presence felt, I plodded on trying fool myself into thinking overhanging trees would keep the bulk of the rain off me, they didn't.
   Long story short, I covered most of the reserve and the only bird I saw (apart from the little brown flitty thing) was a Swan, which looked as miserable as I felt, as by now I am soaked through.
  I decided to head for the St. Michael's car park in the hope I might find some shelter, but there was only a small tea room, which was so tiny three people would fill it. By now the wind was blowing a hooley driving the rain horizontally, so I stood by the North side of the tea room waiting for my Daughter to return.
    When she did, she said she had enjoyed the Mount, but the walk back across the causeway had been a bit hairy because of the wind.
     We had already booked our B&B for the night in Marazion, so  that's where we headed , for warm showers and to try and get our gear dried out.

The famous Land's End signpost.
The following morning we left Marazion and headed for Land's End, driving through the beautiful village of Mousehole on the way, not the kind of place you would want to visit in the tourist season, as the streets are so narrow.
    Shortly after leaving Mousehole the fog rolled in and driving became hazardous, at first we thought we would drive out of it but we didn't, and in fact from that point on we didn't see a thing for two and a half days, welcome to Cornwall.
    We finally arrived at Land's End, and then had to pay an extortionate price for the privilege of parking there. The fog was so bad we could only see a about half a dozen cars distant on the car park. we decided to sit in the car and see if the fog would lift, we got quite excited at one point because we began to see buildings appearing, only for them to disappear again, leaving us nothing to look at but the nearest cars.

Again there was a bit of a break in the fog, so we made a move, and it stayed reasonably clear just long enough to get a few photos.

Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)

The outlying rocks of Land's End.

Cormorants on distant rocks.

Adding to a nest somewhere on the cliffs, don't know where we never saw them.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Cornwall, Kynance cove

And so our Cornwal road trip continued, heading South towards the Lizard peninsular and Kynance cove. we had a good few hours at the cove pottering about, fine drizzle set in as we left the car, but soon blew through. This turned out to be a warning of what was to come. Its quite a steep clime down to the cove, and thoughts were already running through my mind, as to the hard work my old legs would hve to put in to get me back to the car. Also at this point another warning of things to come, as the wind started to blow a gale (literally) , also not much on the birding front, apart from gulls.

Looking down into the cove from the beach cafe.

Looking East from the beach.

Looking West.

This time with part of the Lizard in the distance, and visibility beginning to deteriorate.

Herring gull.

one of the rock channels through which the sea pours onto the beach.

One of the many rock island close to the beach, amd the wind is really kicking in at this point.

The sea only needed to hit a submerged rock , and a huge fountain would appear only to be wipped away by the wind.

Herring gull.
We left the cove and the peninsular area and headed for our next port of call , and a bad end to the day. all will be revealed in the next post.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Cornwall, The Eden Project part two.

So to continue our visit at the Eden Project , as previously stated the grounds are extensive with all kinds of different plantings, including vegetable plots growing a wide variety. After walking round half of the gardens we headed for the biomes, and the rain Forest being our first one, this by the way is the largest indoor rain Forest in the world. There are even aeriel walkways weaving through  the canopy, and waterfalls and streams. Some birds have managed to find a way in , and now nest inside. We saw Robin, Blackbird, and Hedge sparrow, there may be others, but only saw those three.

Looking up through the canopy.

There was an amazing array of tropical plants and lots of them in flower, most of them I didn't recognise.

As regards flowers this must be the biggest attraction, if you'll pardon the pun, yes its the tallest flowering plant in the world, and here at the Eden Project they are very successful at propagating it , so always have one in the pipeline for visitors to view. this one unfortunately was at the end of its flowering season. The flowering period only last a few days , after having taken years to mature             

This photo taken from the Eden Project web site. the flower can be as much as 3 meters tall.

we had lunch sat outside in the warm sun (not knowing at the time how lucky we were. while having lunch we were entertained by a few begging birds, the Wood pigeon in the previous post, also a pair of Pied wagtails , the male of which only had one leg, also a Robin and a Hedge sparrow both of them evading the camera.
 And so  after looking round the remainder of the grounds, it was time to say farewell to the Eden Project and hit the road again. Our next Port of call The Lizard Peninsula, and signs of our next impending disaster of sorts.

Monday, 22 May 2017

The Eden Project Cornwall , part one.

My Daughter and I decided to have a week in Cornwall, so I left the Itinerary and general planning to the good looking one, as she enjoys the process and usually does a good job, with a few provisios on my part eg birding sites.
    And so it came to pass that by 9am on Saturday the 13th of May we gave the old Vauxall Astra estate a good kick and set off for the M6 South. First stop a service station somewhere on the M5, they all look the same after a while, both motorways and service stations. Second stop and our first over night B&B Exeter, although strictly speaking the B&B was a few miles outside Exeter, anyway after checking in we then back-tracked into Exeter for some site seeing, this my Daughters choice, mainly to see the Cathedral and bits of ancient crumbling city wall, (at this point I referred to my smart phone as to the definition of ancient, the voice said "belonging to the very distant past and no longer in existence" , if only. However a brave smile was pasted on my face , and I didn't complain too much about all the hill climbs, and the weather was with us, lovely warm sun, what could go wrong. The first disaster struck when I couldn't understand why the shutter button on my beloved Nikon wouldn't depress, various checks were made only to eventually find out that the battery was still in the charger back in the B&B, laugh, tears rolled down my cheeks, right. Don't worry says the good looking one you can use mine, and I did on occasion, the results of which are still in her camera !!.
    Sunday the 14th and we are on our way to our next B&B in Helston. on the way it was decided we should call at Tesco for some tin foil for our home made pack lunch, this to save money, by not buying lunches, mini disaster as we had forgot to pack the 40 meter long roll we had in the Kitchen at home. I sat in the car while the Daughter went to buy said item, at this point I have to say the weather is still on our side, still sunny bordering on the very warm, !! My Daughter arrived back jubilantly waving roll of tin foil over her head, Her jubilation soon withered when big disaster number two hit, she turned the ignition key and the car didn't start. After trying a couple more times we decided to give the old car a good rest and time to cool down, and so fifteen minutes later YAY , and we are off again.
    On arrival in Helston we decided to fill up the car with diesel to save time in the morning, boy did that Idea go down the tubes, after paying for the fuel, and my Daughter jumping back in the car , yes you guessed it , big big disaster struck, no starty engine. Its that time of night now when everywhere is shut, so we emptied the car and rang for a taxi to get us to the B&B , and booked him for the following morning to get us back to the car, in the hope it would still be there. It was , and unbelievably it started, but we now decided it wasn't worth the risk of continuing before consulting a car doctor, and with a nice little repair Garage across the road , we did just that. very kind and understanding people put the car stethoscope to the engine , and two hours and £140 later we where on the road again, and arrived at the Eden Project in time to beat the crowds.
  The least said about Helston the better , and the B&B was under par, I'm sure the people that live there love their little town, won't bother me if I never see it again, and I probably won't.
      The Eden Project for those not familiar with it, is a series of biomes built on the site of an old clay pit, the largest of which houses a huge tropical rain Forrest, and another houses plants from the Mediterranean, others have shops and exhibitions, there is also a large area of outdoor gardens, and sculptures.

All the biomes, but only a fraction of the gardens

So they are the biomes, but before we go inside, some outdoor shots.

Huge tire, don't ask I didn't.

Beautiful Iris with lovely markings.

A begging Woodpigeon, (Columba palumbus)

Quite an unusual sculpture

A section of above, mostly made of metal.

Hibiscus , not metal.

Close up of above.

Common Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina) this one landed on my shoulder

You wouln't want to be stung by this monster.
And that concludes part one. If the above had landed on my shoulder there wouldn't be a part two, (think it but don't say it)

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

A wee bit more from Castle Howard

Gadwall (Anas strepera) this female is creating quite a bow wave for a small duck.

Femal Gadwall
And we have liftoff.
A pair of Tufted duck (Aythya fuligula) these are diving ducks, so can be difficult to photograph if they are in feeding mode.

Male Tufted.
Linking to Stewarts wild bird Wednesday,

Friday, 5 May 2017

My Daughter and I had a ride over to Castle Howard in North Yorkshire, a fine building with extensive grounds and lakes. My Daughter is interested in country houses and castles whereas I was just there for the wildlife , and unfortunatly there wasn't a great deal of it.
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) there was quite a few on the big lake, but I found this one tucked away on one of the smaller lakes,
very obliging I  wonder how many eggs she is sitting.
How many worms and grubs can a Blackbird (Turdus merula) cram into its beak,? answer, a lot.

obviously somewhere near by there was a nest full of hungry chicks.