Seawatching in Cornwall – Late Summer

An Introduction to Seawatching in Cornwall –  Late Summer 

  1. Where to go

  2. When to go

  3. Seawatching – the basics

As the first of the summer storms start to batter the Cornish coastline we are now into that time of year when many keen birders around the country start to turn their attention to the iconic headlands of the South West, and Cornwall in particular, with the allure of the ‘big two’ shearwaters and the hope of something rarer proving an irresistible draw …

Cory’s Shearwater – Brian Field

Cory’s Shearwater and Great Shearwater are both regular visitors to the warmer waters of the Bay of Biscay further to the south west and the western approaches but are difficult to catch up with anywhere in the British Isles in season. Even in Cornwall, away from a handful of sites and in anything less than ideal conditions, they are not at all guaranteed – and even then it seems to be down to luck with other factors at play.

So, for the chance of large shears and the hope of a rarer seabird, firstly aim for the far west of Cornwall…



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Monday 31st July 2017

Egloshayle: 1 Cattle Egret this morning flying towards Clapper Marshes. (D Julian)

Walmsley Sanctuary (Members only): 14 Glossy Ibis. (C Selway) Also 4 Cattle Egret and 2 Brown Hare. (P Roseveare)

Porthgwarra: 05:45-13:00 3-4 Sooty Shearwater, 7-8 Cory’s Shearwater, steady but unspectacular movement of Manx Shearwater, regular Storm Petrel, 1 Arctic Skua. Also 1 Hummingbird Hawkmoth by the coast path on arrival. (J Turner)

Pendeen Watch: 08:00-08:45 Moderate passage of Manx Shearwater, 2 Turnstone, 1 Sanderling, 4 Black-headed Gull. (A Hartley) PM: Usual feeding movement of hundreds of Manx Shearwaters. At about 15:00-15:20 c75 Manx Shearwater were seen to be feeding on a bait ball herded by common dolphins. I have often seen Gannets and gulls exploiting bait balls of cetaceans but never Manx Shearwaters before. Assume only sandeels involved as passing Gannets ignored them. Hard to know how many dolphins, but five seen at surface together. They stayed near to shore in the area for an hour before moving east. (R Phillips)

Pendeen: 4 Raven, 1 Kestrel, 1 Buzzard, 8 Meadow Pipit, 1 Rock Pipit. (A Hartley)

Geevor Tin Mine: 3 Wheatear (at least 2 juveniles). (A Hartley)

Newlyn, Coombe River: 1 Dipper opposite St Peter’s Church. (S Grose)

Marazion, Varfell Farm: 2 juv Green Woodpecker feeding on ground insects in Agapanthus fields. (S Grose)

St Gothian Sands LNR: 3 adult Tufted Duck and 7 juveniles, 3 juvenile Shelduck, 1 Curlew, 11 Greylag Goose, 1 Mediterranean Gull with 15 Black-headed Gull. (S Grose)

Drift Reservoir: 7 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Little Grebe, 4 Cormorant, 1 Little Egret, 136 Canada Goose, 1 Greylag Goose, 6 hybrid geese, 1 Kingfisher, 10 Swift. (D Flumm)

Siblyback Reservoir: Hobby, Common Sandpiper, 6 Shoveler and 3 Dunlin which flew low over the reservoir heading SW. (P Phillips)

Penwithick: 3 Magpie, 2 Chaffinch, 2 Blue Tit, 2 Goldfinch, 5 Jackdaw, 3 Woodpigeon, 1 Siskin. (K Bowers)

Magpie – Kevin Bowers

Jackdaw – Kevin Bowers

Chaffinch – Kevin Bowers

Wood Pigeon – Kevin Bowers

Roseland, Towan beach: 7.30pm today Small mixed flock of feeding waders on strandline and rocky pools :-  14 Ringed Plover, 4 Dunlin, 6 Turnstone. (D Hall)

Newquay, Trevithick Manor Farm: 2 Barn Owl at 23:00. (S Grose)