Exploring Penzance and Mount’s Bay

Despite a rather bleak forecast for the day, I decided to join forces with fellow photographers Max ThompsonJack BurtonJack Barton and Rhys Kaye, and head down to the coast around Penzance for the day. A few tempting long-staying rarities in the form of Pacific Diver and Hudsonian Whimbrel were enough to give the extra boost of enthusiasm to our day out, despite heroically dipping on both during our visit.

We arrived at Penzance mid-morning, and walked along the shingly beach to Newlyn harbour, scanning through the gathering flock of 150+ Herring, 5 Lesser Black-backed, 30+ Greater Black-backed and Mediterranean Gulls on the beach front. The tide was quite low, which made it difficult to scan the sea for any divers present offshore; nevertheless, we were consoled by a single Great Northern Diver within Newlyn harbour, which was feeding alongside some 10 Cormorants. After brief scan of the gulls in the harbour, we were pleased to come across the smart first-winter Glaucous Gull which has been frequenting the area recently. It gave superb views, being seemingly unaffected by our close proximity, and so we were treated to a good half hour watching the bird here.

We then decided to head over to the far side of Marazion to Prussia Cove, with the aim of walking back along the stunning stretch of coastline in search of the Hudsonian Whimbrel (where it had recently been seen). After a misty and very grey start to the day, the clouds cleared away, the wind eased, and a bright sunny sky prevailed for the afternoon – this allowed temperatures to soar to around 16’C! A comfortable temperature for January…

The walk along the coast from Prussia Cove around to Perranuthnoe was stunning – a superb stretch of coastline. There was plenty of wildlife out and about too, with Kestrels hovering overhead, a couple of Black-throated Divers lingering in the bay, a handful of Fulmars eyeing up potential nest sites on the cliffs, and a pair of Buzzards being harried by Carrion Crows. We were surprised not to come across any flying insects, although Gorse Shieldbugs were present in good numbers within the spiky rosettes on the European Gorse bushes. A relatively long hike with several exploratory detours eventually terminated in a characterful little tea shop in Perranuthnoe for sunset. We were then informed that we had been looking in the wrong area for the Hudsonian Whimbrel, and that it was in fact roosting amongst a flock of Curlews further around the coast; a sprint along the coastal path in the dying light of the afternoon saw us desperately scanning the various bays, but no such flock was found. Hopefully we’ll have better luck next time!

A great trip in another picturesque part of Cornwall – thanks to Max for the chauffeur service!

Smuggler’s Cove, on a ridiculously warm and pleasant January afternoon!
This smart first-winter Glaucous Gull has been frequenting the area around Penzance and Newlyn for the last few days, so it was great to come across it at such close range within Newlyn harbour. Certainly the closest I have been to one of these beasts!

a tame Oystercatcher forages around for some wriggly prey, a fair sight easier than its usual bivalve diet requiring a tactical employment of its stout bill.  This individual actually revealed itself to have a ‘stump’ as its right leg, although this didn’t seem to impede its feeding
Common Kestrel 

A pair of Buzzards along the coast towards Perranuthnoe were being mobbed fairly determinedly by the local Carrion Crows 
St Michael’s Mount and Marazion, as the low cloud cleared away

Stackhouse bay, on the way to Perranuthnoe

Perranuthnoe – just a little late for picking out a Hudsonian Whimbrel along the tideline!


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