Saturday 26 October 2019

Cornwall Days 5, 6 and 7: 10th- 12th October 2019

10th October  
With a vague hint of sunshine and no gale this morning I headed just around the corner to visit the National Dahlia Collection just north of Long Rock. Row after row of blooms glowed in the early light and a pleasant hour was spent wandering the isles and marvelling at the variety of shapes, sizes and colours. My maternal grandad used to grow them in his East Ham garden and for a few years after I moved in there, I too gave them a go. Perhaps it's time to try them again. 

A flock of Mistle Thrushes and two Redwing both became new for the trip and a few bumbles attended the flowers. There were certainly Bombus terrestris and what I am pretty sure were Bombus muscorum.

Bombus terrestris

Bombus muscorum

Bombus muscorum

Bombus muscorum

Pollenia Hide and Seek
A circuitous route then took us back to the coast where a drop into Nanquidno revealed a surprise mini-crowd and the dinky little Red-breasted Flycatcher they were watching. It was calling frequently which made tracking it easier but other than a Firecrest it was still quiet down there.

Red-breasted Flycatcher

Red-breasted Flycatcher
This was a picture that I 'saw' but never took at Nanquidno - I even pictured it mono. My friend Richard Moorhead was there the previous day and envisaged the same shot and thus here it is...

Lunch at Porthqwarra was again Vireoless but I did encounter Messers Monkey, Lawson and Croft (not a small firm of Solicitors) which was a pleasant surprise and a Spotted Flycatcher became my latest ever. 

Eristalis nemorum - I reckon

The evening was spent at Pendeen looking into the now howling wind where the rescue helicopter was searching the raging turmoil below for someone. Locals suggested that it would be a foolish landbased fisherman...again. They spent the next half hour hovering over the area and dropped down to about 30m to let a crew member bravely out on a line. They seemed to be using him to check the rock and surf but eventually they gave up, winched him in before circling for home. 

A lone Pink-footed Goose at Morvah and two cattle loving Little Egrets rounded up proceedings as the cloudbase dropped and drizzle descended.

Pink Footed Goose at Morvah

11th October 

Rain in all its many guises was the order of today. It did not stop, only changed in the magnitude of the deluge, strength of the wind and size of rain drops (mizzle through to machine gun). A visit to Falmouth added a new Trago Mills to the list but no wondrous views across the Fal and lunch at Devoran gave me another low tide expanse of birdless mud to squint at out of the window. 

The Fal from Trago's

Devoran - now you don't see it

Devoran - now you don't see it even more
Apologies if I sound a little frustrated but it was really starting to wear me down. I came back to Penzance via the windswept St Agnes - Portreath coast road where the surf was most definitely up before a recuperative cup of tea and then fine fish 'n' chips from Lil's in Pendeen overlooking a sullen leaden sky and restless sea. 


Above Portreath

Above Portreath


12th October: 

Time to head for home but there was still time for a last visit to Porthgwarra after packing up the car as it was still dry and calm.  There were more Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests in the valley and even a Blackcap (whooo hooo) and a Lesser Whitethroat was also heard but the pesky Vireo was doing its very best to thwart my every effort to see it and I missed it three time by just a few seconds.  With five minutes left of my two hours I turned to walk back to the car but glanced round and saw a dozen pairs bins suddenly lift. I scurried (nay, ran) back to the group to glean a three second view of the nemesis of my entire week galumphing through the willows flashing olive back, blue grey crown and silky white underparts.  I said a second lot of farewells to the group and called it a day.

This wondrous Great Black Slug showed better than the Vireo...

After lunch in Pendeen we hit Penzance at 1pm and I psyched myself up for a mammoth journey home in terrible conditions but despite the driving rain and poor visibility, a 45 minute stop at the Ottery nurseries and some seriously scary M3 and M25 driving, we were home in under six hours. I kept checking my watch for some time anomaly but it really did happen like that. A perversely pleasing end to a much needed but frustrating week away.

A final Pendeen before heading off...

Thursday 24 October 2019

Cornwall Day 4: 9th October 2019

Back east today to the Lost Gardens of Heligan with the prospect of ‘changeable’ weather. We arrived not long after opening and basically had the place to ourselves bar a widely dispersed German coach party.  It was all quite pleasant and the gardens offered up the usual array of photographic opportunities.  

The Walled Gardens were still full of late colour with Dahlias and Marigolds and the huge Lady Boothby climbing Fushias and there were still, Pears, Figs,Quinces and Medlars on the espalier trees along the sheltered walls




Several different Figs

Not sure on this tree and its fruit - could find no tag

Lady Boothby
House Sparrow

Part of the rememberance installation for fallen Heligan Staff

An incoming squall saw lunch taken in the grotto near the cafe before I headed into the Lost Valley and wended my way all the way to the bottom for the first time.  The Gunnera had all been pruned back and the giant umbrella leaves placed as a protective cap over the top of the new growth underneath to shelter it from the worse of the cold and damp on on-coming winter but it was still a joy to walk amongst the exotic trees and shrubs from around the world. A severe downpour had the trees lashing around and I sheltered very successfully under a Tree Fern while a micro rainbow briefly formed in the valley as the rain ceased and the sun came back.  The rains added a lustre to the huge Rhododendron leaves and darkened the almost red trunks on some of them.  You could smell the earth.

Cut Gunnera stem

...and protective 'fur'!

Flowering Bromeliad

Not sure on this one but a huge tree with Rubber Tree like leaves

A generously loved Coin Log

Nuthatches, Firecrests, Goldcrests and Coal Tits were all vocal and Robins and Blackbirds fossicked in the undergrowth.

Down in the bottom where the valley runs back to native and wild there were still some Meadowsweet, Hogweed, Yellow Pimpernel and Red Campion in flower and I amused myself with some opportune fly watching and notched up a few species of Hoverfly with Episyrphus balteatus, Syrphus ribesii, Eupeodes corollae, Platycheirus  albimanus, Meliscaeva auricollis, Eristalis tenax and pertinax and Rhingia campestris. There were countless Cluster Flies, Green and Bluebottles and Flesh Flies and I found a nice Tachinid and several other as yet to be indentified species.

Pollenia sp - Cluster Flies

Cluster Flies paying attention to signage and two friends

Pollenia sp - Cluster Fly

Pollenia sp - Cluster Fly

Lucilia sp

Lucilia sp
Lucilia sp

Muscid sp

Not sure at all!

Sarc. sp - a Flesh Fly

Tachinid sp

Syrphus ribesii

Syrphus ribesii

Eristalis tenax

Eristalis tenax

Eupeodes corollae

Episyrphus balteatus

Episyrphus balteatus

Rhingia campestris

Speckled Woods and Red Admirals danced around and Migrant Hawkers, a single Southern Hawker and a few Common Darters were still actively on the wing.

Common Darter

Speckled Wood

Red Admiral

Great Black Slug

Back up at the top the Harvest Barn was a mouth watering display of fruit and veg from the gardens and the livestock seemed to be getting on just fine as usual!

The Hydrangeas were still in full flower and there was a superb display from white through various shades of blue to pink and burgundy. 

With more rain imminent I headed for the 50% off garden plant shop and wisely only left with a pot in each hand before the drive in truly atrocious rain back to Penzance with a brief stop for a picture of St Michael's Mount in a brief respite...