Falmouth – my new home!

Well, it is official! I have actually left Bardsey Island, and for a fairly long stretch of time at that!! I have travelled down to Falmouth with courtesy of my Mum, and will beginning a three-year course on Conservation and Ecology with Exeter University here at Penrhyn, in the heart of Cornwall. Although leaving the island is hard, I am sure it will be an enjoyable experience, with many opportunities for birding, photography, exciting wildlife and new friends!
A parting shot from the isle…a 30 second exposure during which I tried to spell my name with a headtorch (it sort of worked…)
After arriving on Saturday after a fairly long drive down, it has been fun settling into my term-time accommodation, which is actually a static caravan that i am sharing with my sister (who is studying Art with Falmouth Uni). Calm conditions and overcast skies on the night of the 12th gave the perfect opportunity to put out my small heath trap near the caravan, and take part in this year’s National Moth Night. I was very surprised to find two stunning moths in amongst the more common selection of species on the Sunday morning…a stunning CONVOLVULUS HAWKMOTH, and even more impressive male BLACK ARCHES. The latter, despite being relatively common in the UK, is a new one for me! So a little bit of a jammy first session really! I also managed to get a smart Centre-barred Sallow in a campsite on our way down to Cornwall on the 11th…

Black Arches (Lymantria monachai) are truly stunning moths, especially males such as this individual!! The antenna are highly bipectinate, and are thus very photogenic! 
Something of a surprise to have in my first every moth-trap at my new home- a smart Convolvulus Hawkmoth!

Centre-barred Sallow

A smart little micro I found in the fields near the caravan- Eupoecilia angustana

 Yesterday I visited the Lizard Peninsula with fellow course mate Will Hawkes (who also happened to visit Bardsey this summer!), my sister and Mum. We managed to dodge the rain showers, and had a pleasant walk along the coastal path towards Lizard Lighthouse. The colours of the cliffs were superb, with carpets of Hottentot Fig and Rock Samphire giving a lovely autumnal hue of subtle reds and oranges to the steep cliffs. With a strong westerly wind, a bit of searching out to sea revealed a small passage of seabirds taking place, the best of which came in the form of two Sooty Shearwaters; Gannets, Manx Shearwaters, Fulmars, and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were streaming past. Sheltering in the lee of the various earth banks was a Whinchat and small number of Wheatears. It was cool to see Choughs too- something I am a little spoilt with!

 The lovely colours of the Hottentot Fig

Looking south down the Cornwall coast from near Lizard Lighthouse
Closer to ‘home’, I am quite lucky to be situated just a matter of minutes away from two very nice freshwater lakes: namely Argal and College Lakes. From the brief explorations around these bodies of freshwater, it seems that they will make a good patch for my birding excursions: Great Crested Grebes and Little Grebes seem relatively common, and the feeding looks good for the possibility of many other species of wildfowl to drop in. It is great to already see mixed flocks of Goldcrests, Chiffchaffs, Long-tailed, Great and Blue Tits noisily making their way around the canopies of Sallow and Oak that rim the edge of the lakes. I was amazed to see the best part of 1000 Swallows skimming low over Argal Lake this evening, perhaps ahead of a night roost somewhere close by. 
I shall look forward to seeing what more the area has to offer!
Some more pics:
A backlit Swallow in the late evening light
 Great Crested Grebes
Slow shutter speed and a Black-headed Gull

A rather tatty Common Blue
This afternoon saw the thunderous rain clouds and storms dissipate somewhat, after a night of torrential downpours. We took the opportunity to have a stroll up the coast from Falmouth, to Swanpool. It was lovely and warm in the sun, and there were some nice birds to look at too! It was cool to see as many as six Mediterranean Gulls along the coast, along with the usual Black-headed Gulls, and also a single Sandwich Tern. A couple of Little Egrets provided entertainment as they stalked for blennies and small invertebrates in the rock pools. A single Kingfisher gave brief views too- a cracking bird that I really don’t see enough to appreciate! Other species we came across included Tufted Ducks, Little Grebes, plenty of Gannets and four Ringed Plovers

Looking back to Falmouth from Swanpool
A diving Gannet
 Black-headed Gulls
 2nd or 3rd winter Mediterranean Gull? There were several adult birds and a single first winter too…
1st winter Mediterranean Gull 
Little Egret

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