Support for the Nightjars on Rosewall Hill

For Sale: Member Ian Brabner has an Opticron telescope and zoom lens for sale at £750 ono. Please see the For Sale section for further details.

*Seabirds Count – survey 2017* A census of breeding seabirds has been organised in the UK and Ireland approximately every 15 years since 1969-70. Together with the JNCC and partners we will be surveying the whole of the Cornish coastline over the next few breeding seasons to continue this work. To take part or find out more please see *Seabirds Count*

Young Scientist of the year – a couple of young birders would like you to take part in their garden birdfeeding experiment, more in the news section Here


One of our members, Vivian Stratton has requested that we notify our members of a serious conservation issue with breeding Nightjars and other species in West Cornwall,  –

” I could do with some of the members that attended the Nightjar evening at Rosewall Hill with me a few weeks ago to contact me with regards to saving the Nightjars on Rosewall Hill, as they have failed this year as the farmer has allowed his horses onto the hill, contravening the agreement he signed with the National Trust. The horses have trampled the young Nightjars, killing them, which happened two years ago and I have been told that if I can get some support from the CBPWS, RSPB and Cornwall Wildlife Trust we can change this policy and save one of the three pairs left in West Penwith. 

I am hopeful of the support of all the members representing all three societies.

I would be grateful if this message can go out to any members of the CBWPS or RSPB, as well as this problem being more widely publicised. If there are letters either to me or the National Trust ,they will put the matter into the hands of Natural England who will then ensure that the Nightjars, Dartford Warblers, and all the breeding birds get full protection. Last year we lost a catastrophic 80.8% of all breeding birds on the Rosewall and Buttermilk Hill. This figure will be higher this year because of the loss of the Nightjars and Dartford Warblers, both Scedule 1 Breeding Birds, that require special protective measures when breeding and the National Trust and the farmer will not protect these valuable species. I have also lost three Cuckoo chicks this year being trampled to death by the herd of Exmoor Ponies, we have not reared any Cuckoos on this National Trust Land for 7 years, because of being trampled by the ponies, the main host for the Cuckoo is the Meadow Pipits which nest on the ground, where over the last five years i have lost 91% to 93% of all the nests. I have 5 species of birds that no longer breed on this moorland because of the activities of the Exmoor Ponies during the breeding season. I spend four to six hours a day, every day, monitoring the breeding birds and recording and document all success’s and failures that occur here. My detailed documentation goes back five years where each year we are looking at between 81% to 84% loss of all breeding birds on Rosewall and Buttermilk Hill, this is a catastrophic loss, and just cannot go on.

If West Cornwall is to retain the rare, and common breeding birds, something has to be done to protect the species for generations to come after I am gone. A letter, or email to the National Trust sharing my concerns will go a long way and I need as many people as possible to respond to this.

Thankyou, Viv Stratton”

Vivian can be contacted at –


More information from Viv on the breeding birds –


I record and document all aspects of the Wildlife on all types of habitat, where my current records go back to 1957, therefore 60 years of records.

I have recorded in detail all the breeding birds on the Rosewall and Buttermilk Hill with these observations for the National Trust and English Nature for the past 4 years with 2017 being the 5th year. These records are up to 2016 unless otherwise stated. I spend 4 hours every day on Rosewall/Buttermilk Hill and on many occasions particularly during the breeding season spend as much as 6 hours a day observing all breeding species, therefore in the course of a year I spend a total of 1,600 hours intensely monitoring, recording and documenting, all the bird species, breeding birds, mammals, wild flowers, butterflies, moths and dragonflies.


Nightjars are Category 1 birds requiring a protected status for breeding birds. It is a ground nesting bird resulting in a loss of 50 % due to horses trampling the nest eggs and young. On the evenings of the 31st May 2017 and the 2nd June 2017 I had small groups of Ornithologists watching the Nightjars when the horses came galloping through the nest site, disturbing the birds, we last observed the horses galloping through the nest site on Saturday  8th June when the young Nightjar was trampled to death, and has led to a failed breeding attempt. The Nightjars have not been seen since last Friday 7th July, which is causing great concern and the worry is that they may not return next year. A loss of 100%

Meadow Pipits are ground nesting birds where 21 pairs bred but only three pairs were reared resulting in a loss due to horses trampling the nest, eggs and young. A loss of 85.8%

Cuckoos are a Red Data Listed bird requiring some level of protection and are reared in the Meadow  Pipits nests on the ground. They have not reared any young for 4 years resulting in a total loss of due to horses trampling the nest, eggs and young. A loss of 100%

Stonechats breed on or near the ground usually 4 pairs breed but they have not bred for 5 years resulting in a total loss, due to horses trampling nest, eggs and young. A loss of 100%

Robins – there used to be 8 pairs of Robins breeding on the hill but there are now only 3 pairs breeding a loss due to the horses trampling the nest, eggs and young. A loss of 62.5%


Dartford Warbler a Category 1 bird requiring special protective measure when breeding, these have not bred for 3 years, the loss due to the horses eating the gorse destroying the nest, eggs, and young. A pair came in 26th May 2017 but on the 29th May the horses ate the gorse where they had started to build a nest and failure to breed occurred. Loss of 100%

Linnets breed entirely in gorse and with a population of between 28 and 34 pairs, last year 2016 only four pairs were successful. The loss due to the grazing of gorse by the horses, destroying the nests, eggs and young. A loss of 89.3%

Blackbirds breed entirely in gorse and bramble with a population of 12 pairs, only three pairs bred. The loss due to the grazing of the gorse by the horses, destroying the nest, eggs and young. A loss of 75%

Song Thrush, bred in small numbers with four pairs, they no longer breed on the hill. Loss due to the grazing of the gorse and bramble by the horses, destroying the nest, eggs and young. A loss of 100%

The Wren once a very common breeder on the hill with 22 pairs breeding today there are only 8 pairs. Loss due to the grazing of gorse bushes by the horses, destroying nest, eggs, and young. A loss of 63.7%

Dunnock a once very common breeding bird here with 25 breeding pairs, only 11 pairs remain. Loss due to the grazing of gorse bushes by the horses, destroying nest, eggs, and young. A loss of 56%

Common Whitethroat at one time a common breeding bird with only one pair breeding on the hill for the past 7 years. This year 2017 there were 8 pairs until Friday 2nd June where the young were ready to fly, when the horses spent the day on their breeding territory, where only one pair is left, this was witnessed by several ornithologists who came to visit the moorlands. Loss due to grazing and the horses moving through the nest site, destroying nests, eggs and young. A loss of 87.5%

Rosewall Hill and Buttermilk Hill; this small area of moorland used to be the most productive area of heathland in West Cornwall. The loss of 80.8% of breeding birds during the last four years is excessively high up to 2016, particularly the loss of Dartford Warblers and Cuckoos and the tenuous hold of the Nightjar. Five species of birds no longer breed here on Rosewall and Buttermilk Hill, such as Dartford Warbler, Cuckoo, Nightjar, Song Thrush  Stonechat because of the destruction and loss of their nests and eggs.

The loss sadly being due to the trampling and grazing of the Exmoor Ponies on the hill, destroying  the nest sites.

The Exmoor Ponies, in 2017 were taken out from the moorland in the first week of April which led to a huge increase of Meadow Pipits, and Linnets, in fact quadrupling the numbers. Cuckoos arrived early getting down to early egg-laying, with a possibility to raising young on the moorland for the first time in four years. The Nightjars came in on the 21st May, already displaying and mating, a prelude to immediate egg laying. The young were trampled on 9th June 2017 and the adults have  disappeared from the Hill, the second time this has happened in the last five years. The Exmoor Ponies were let onto the Rosewall Hill on Wednesday 24th May 2017 and were on that section of moorland for 26 days causing havoc amongst all the breeding birds, even the demise of the all-important Nightjar, The rarest breeding bird in West Cornwall therefore, all the above species are at risk and caused the breeding failure of most species, because of the introduction of the Ponies trampling and browsing at the most important period of the breeding season, when all breeding birds have young in the nest.

Vivian Stratton  C.I.O.B. L.C.G.  B.Ed.



Friday 21st July 2017

Lizard Point: 296 Cory’s Shearwater, 66 Great Shearwater, 9 Sooty Shearwater, 1 Balearic Shearwater, 1 Long-tailed Skua, 1 Pomarine Skua, 6 Great Skua, 2 Arctic Skua, 109 Storm Petrel, 1 Wilson’s Petrel, 1 unidentifed Storm Petrel, 1 Sabine’s Gull, 1 Black Tern, 2 Sandwich Tern, 4 Common Tern, 1 unidentified Tern, 6 Common Scoter, 22 Puffin, 1 Med Gull, 2 Yellow-legged Gull. (T Blunden, S Votier, I Mclean, T Pinfield, D Collins, J Foster, M Pass)

Porthgwarra: 37 Cory’s Shearwater, 4 Great Shearwater, 16 Sooty Shearwater, 2 Pomarine Skua, 3 Great Skua, 84 Storm Petrel, 1 ‘white-bellied’ storm petrel, 3 Balearic Shearwater, 7 Common Scoter, 1 Curlew, 7 Puffin, 1 Guillemot. (R Veal, S Rogers, M Spicer, T Mills, P&H Mitchell, D Flumm, R Archer)

Pendeen: 1 Sooty Shearwater in 15 minutes. (R Veal)

Drift Reservoir: 1 Mute Swan, 128 Canada Geese (plus 3 gosling), 3 Greylag, 2 hybrid geese, 1 Muscovy Duck, 2 Shoveler, 46 Mallard (plus 2 duckling), 1 Grey Heron, 1 Little Egret, 5 Great Crested grebe (plus 2 young), 1 Little Grebe, 9 Moorhen (plus 3 young), 4 Buzzard, 17 Lesser Black-backed Gull and 86 Herring Gull. (WeBS) Also c50 Swift, c50 House Martin, 2 Sand Martin, c20 Swallow, 5 Raven, 3 Reed Warbler, 8 Chiffchaff and 3 Bullfinch. (DK Parker, R Veal)

Marazion Beach: 1 juv Common Gull, 3 Sanderling, 1 Ringed Plover. (R Veal)

Carn Brea: 6 Stock Dove. (R Veal)

Falmouth Bay: 1 Whimbrel (past Pendennis Point with a crab in its bill), 7 Med Gull (3 ad 4 imm), 8 Sandwich Tern, 4 Kittiwake, 1 auk sp,1 Sooty Shearwater, 400+ Manx Shearwater and 300+ Gannet feeding 3-4 miles out. (D Chaney)

Gorrangorras, Penryn River: 3 Curlew, 1 Whimbrel, 16+ Redshank. (D Chaney)

Devoran: 134 Redshank, 1 Whimbrel, 6 Dunlin, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 juv Med Gull. (S. Rogers)

Stithians Reservoir: 2 Common Sandpiper, Sedge Warbler feeding young by the dam. (J St Ledger)

Maer Lake: 5 Whimbrel, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Dunlin. Good numbers of Swallows and smaller groups of House Martins. Only a small number of Sand Martins. (H Kendall & B Bryne)

Par Beach Pool: 1 Barnacle Goose, 1 ad Med Gull. (B Bosistow)

Colliford Reservoir and Dozmary Pool: 1313 Canada Goose, 20 Cormorant, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Little Grebe, 14 Grey Heron, 1 Mallard, 1 Tufted Duck, 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Great Black-backed Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Black-headed Gull, 2 Buzzard, 3 Raven, 97 Carrion Crow, 3 Magpie, 2 Stock Dove, 1 Blackbird, 3 Wheatear, 23 Meadow Pipit, 5 Swallow, 2 Pied Wagtail, 4 Willow Warbler, 4 Linnet, 1 Reed Bunting and 8 Meadow Brown.  (DA Conway)

Walmsley Sanctuary: Pectoral Sandpiper this afternoon plus 3 Cattle Egret, 3 Wood Sandpiper, 5 Green Sandpiper, 7 Med Gull including a juv. (C Selway)

Late Update, Scillonian Pelagic:

Penzance to the Wolf Rock Lighthouse: 204 Gannet, 67 Manx Shearwater, 5 Storm Petrel, 10 Fulmar, 1 Kittiwake. (V Stratton, B Craven)

Wolf Rock Lighthouse to the Isles of Scilly: 314 Gannet, 2 Manx Shearwater, 2 Cory’s Shearwater, 1 Great Shearwater, 5 Storm Petrel, 5 Fulmar, 4 Kittiwake, 2 Herring Gull, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 7 Great black-backed Gull, 120 Shag, 4 Common Dolphin. (V Stratton, B Craven)

Isles of Scilly to the Wolf Rock Lighthouse: 348 Gannet, 27 Manx Shearwater, 5 Cory’s Shearwater, 3 Storm Petrel, 7 Fulmar, 1 Black-headed Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 7 Great Black-backed Gulls, 1 Harbour Porpoise, 4 Common Dolphin. (V Stratton, B Craven)

Wolf Rock Lighthouse to Penzance: 314 Gannets, 685 Manx Shearwater, 4 Cory’s Shearwater, 5 Storm Petrel, 9 Fulmar, 3 Kittiwake, 1 Great Black-backed Gull, 2 Razorbill, 1 Puffin, 5 Common Dolphin. (V Stratton, B Craven)