Sunday, September 01, 2013

West Penwith Wildlife

Our annual pilgrimage to the far west of Cornwall yielded a excellent haul of wildlife images. This post very nearly didn't happen due to the mysterious case of the disappearing SD card. The card then miraculously and happily appeared at the bottom of a very unlikely rucksack on our return. Phew!

The wildlife was dominated by a strong passage of Manx Shearwaters over the sea on several days but the only Balearic Shearwater to show, which landed very close to the house and well within filming range, unfortunately left before I could fire up the equipment. Otherwise the highlights were an amazing Ocean Sunfish, several Basking Sharks, a single Harbour Porpoise and a couple of playful Grey Seals that approached the canoe near the Minack Theatre. I'm sure one was purposely surfacing just behind the boat and expelling air suddenly to try and make us jump.

Ocean Sunfish Mola mola

You get an idea of scale as this medium sized Basking Shark passes the Pilot Gig 'Brisons' just off Sennen Cove.

Basking Shark Cetorhinus maximus

This Slow Worm appeared on the path in front of us during a long walk in the Bosigran Farm area between Zennor and Pendeen.

Slow Worm Anguis fragilis

One of the more intriguing beasts was this tiny, early instar nymph of a scarce bug spotted by Alex while climbing in the idilic, secluded cove of Green Bay near Porthcurno. It really is very small indeed but rather distinctive with the spiky and hairy legs and antennae and striking colouring. It is a specialists of soft cliffs and dunes.

Boat Bug Enoplops scapha, 2nd instar nymph

The Emperor Moth is striking enough as an adult, but as a caterpillar it is a mean, green, eating machine.

Emperor Moth Saturnia pavonia, larva

OK, some more insects. No pics of the Red Admirals, Clouded Yellows and Painted Ladies that were around the coasts (and over the sea at times) though I'm afraid.

Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum

Field Grasshopper Chorthippus brunneus

Oh yes, and birds. Sennen Cove has had increasing numbers of Mediterranean Gulls every time I return and this year there were 30 or so. Here are a few in different plumage states and a Kittiwake, a species that joined them in varying numbers on the shoreline.

Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla

The default passerine of the clifftops:

Stonechat Saxicola rubicola

Canon Powershot SX50 HS

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