Sennen on Boxing Day

A few photos from a sunny Sennen Cove on Boxing Day

The sea was pretty strong and mushy – not a single surfer in the water – Cape Cornwall on the extreme left

Waves breaking over the quay was high tide approaches

Down to the village from Mayon Cliff

The coastguard lookout

The sun setting with the Longships lighthouse to the right

Down to Land’s End

An Eastern Black Redstart at Mousehole

Went down to Mousehole in West Cornwall yesterday to see if I could find and photograph the Eastern Black Redstart. Took around 30 minutes to find it.

Super looking bird – it is a sub species of Black Redstart from the Middle East – it has this lovely red breast

It would sit on the rocks and then fly off into nearby garden – it was also being harassed by a robin who obviously wasn’t so keen on the red breast

A poor picture but you can see the red breast and the red markings on the under tail

black-redstart_Here is the UK sub species for comparison

There was also a Grey Wagtail on the beach too

Kurt Jackson – revisiting Turner at the RAMM

Kurt Jackson is a contemporary British artist who lives on Cornwall. He has visited 12 locations in Devon and Cornwall where JMW Turner worked in the 19th century. He has then painted his depictions of the places where Turner went in an attempt to explore the changes and bring in an ‘environmental slant’.

His paintings along with the Turner works are currently part of an exhibition at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) in Exeter.

Some more background detail

Jackson’s depiction of the source of the Tamar and the Torridge
‘fog, rain and bog’

Through the trees to Okehampton Castle behind

Exeter Quay

I really enjoyed the exhibition and will be going back again – it runs at the RAMM until the 4th December – entry is free

The Dalmatian Pelican near Padstow

I went to Padstow yesterday to go and look for the Dalmatian Pelican which has been knocking around in Cornwall (and Devon) since May. It is is the first time this species has ever been recorded in Britain – it normally lives in south eastern Europe.

It is a huge bird – much bigger than a swan

It is quite a scruffy bird – one of its ID features compared to its more common cousin the White Pelican

This flight shot shows the limited black on the secondary wing feathers – White Pelicans have much denser black secondaries

The Camel Estuary where it has been living for the last month or so

The Dalmatian Pelican was originally seen on the Land’s End peninsula where it stayed for a few weeks before it went to the the Helford. It has also been to Devon on the Torridge near Barnstaple.

It was a six mile round trip walk to see the bird along the Camel trail from Padstow towards Wadebridge and I was also able to try out my new ‘Scopac’ – a rucksack type of devise with enables me to carry my tripod / telescope on my back – brilliant – should have got one years ago

In celebration afterwards I had a pint of  Proper Job and a Rick Stein take-away fish and chips (after all I was in Padstow) – it may have been expensive (£8.20 for the F & C) but it was the best fish and chips I have ever eaten.

A trip to Lansallos

I gave a talk yesterday to the National Trust Rangers in Cornwall on the State of Nature, how we got there and what we need to do going forwards. People seemed pleased with my talk! Afterwards I went for a walk down to the quiet and isolated beach of Lansallos. Here are a few pictures.




Well worth a visit if you can handle the tricky navigation and incredibly narrow roads ……

Sea kayaking in Cornwall

I’ve just got back from a week’s holiday sea kayaking in Cornwall on a course organised by Sea Kayaking Cornwall – the same company I went to Scilly with (see here).

Four of the five days were spent on ‘expeditions’ of various lengths tied in with paddling and rescue skills, the other day was spent learning about navigation and charts in the morning and capsize/rolling practice in the afternoon. Here are a few pictures from the week.

Sea Kaying Cornwall 10On the first day we went on a short paddle from Swanpool Beach near Falmouth around the coast to Maenporth. This is the wreck of the Ben Asdale – a trawler that ran aground in 1979 – full story here.

Day 2 we paddled from Praa Sands around to Kenneggy Sands – we did a bit of rock hopping and played in the surf at Kenneggy.

Sea Kaying Cornwall 1
On the beach at Kenneggy Sand for lunch.

On Wednesday we went on a ‘proper’ expedition on the Lizard from Kennack Beach all the way round to Lizard Point and back.

Sea Kaying Cornwall 18
Entering a sea cave near Cadgwith

Sea Kaying Cornwall 16Emerging unscathed

Sea Kaying Cornwall 5Lunch at Church Cove

Sea Kaying Cornwall 20Approaching Lizard Point – so named after the Cornish Lysardh which means ‘high court’

Sea Kaying Cornwall 27The old lifeboat station at Lizard Point

Kennack to Lizard PointAnd here is the GPS trace of our journey – around a 12 mile round trip

Our final took us to the north coast and we had a good paddle from Portreath around the Deadman’s Cove.

Sea Kaying Cornwall 30
Inside Ralph’s Cupboard – a huge collapsed sea cave which was originally occupied by a giant called Wrath (Ralph) who was in the habit of wrecking ships, eating the crew and storing the cargo in the cave – his cupboard.

Sea Kaying Cornwall 29Looking out from the Cupboard

Sea Kaying Cornwall 6Lunch at Greenback Cove

Sea Kaying Cornwall 34It is an amazing piece of wild rugged coast – fantastic to see from the sea

Sea Kaying Cornwall 38Brilliant rock hopping through a sluicing channel

Here is my Flickr album from the week which has additional pictures in it.

Sea Kaying Cornwall 1

A really superb week – thanks to Ben and Mark who were our guides and coaches from Sea Kayak Cornwall, great also to meet and make some new friends – Sue, Stephanie, Ian, Anthony and Andy. Highly recommended.

Trevose Head acquired by the National Trust along with a very personal story

Environmentalists and conservationists haven’t had much to be pleased about in the last few weeks but at last some really good news has been announced. The National Trust has managed to acquire 220 acres of Trevose Head on the north Cornwall coast near to Padstow.

Trevose Head
By Franzfoto [GFDL (  via Wikimedia Commons

Trevose Head Lighthouse
By Herry Lawford f[CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

The National Trust has acquired the site for over £3m and are now aiming to raise £250,000 as an endowment to ensure its future management. The story featured in the Guardian this morning – see here.

This is an area of Cornwall I know very well, for around a decade my family used to holiday in the area, camping at Treyarnon and Harlyn. We used to walk Trevose Head where I used to see Corn Buntings on the farmland and dolphins and seals around the coast.

Six years ago my wife Francesca Smart died suddenly and tragically of a brain haemorrhage. She was head of the Sixth Form at the Maynard School and was a very popular person. Over 750 people attended her funeral which was held in Exeter Cathedral. After her death we set up a little Trust Fund to raise money to support environmental and education projects in the south west.

Many of her friends and mine did sponsored events to raise money. I remember well some of the teachers at the Maynard School did a mini 10 Tors event (Cesca helped the Maynard girls train for 10 Tors), Exeter Triathlon Club raised funds at their Exe Valley Triathlon and some of us ran the Great West Run and the Plymouth Half Marathon. We raised a little over £8000. This money has been split three ways

  • A third to the Maynard to support conservation / environmental projects at the School
  • A third to the Devon Wildlife Trust to support wildlife awareness projects in Exeter
  • A third to the National Trust for wildlife conservation projects in North Cornwall

I am delighted to be about to say that the National Trust money has been allocated to the Trevose Head Appeal

Cesca and I on the Lizard Peninsula in 2007

I am as certain as I can be that she would entirely approve of this.

You can support the appeal by clicking here.



Beautiful Cornwall heads towards an uncertain future

I went down to the west of Cornwall yesterday to relax and enjoy a day out in some fantastic places.

Mullion Harbour 1
The harbour at Mullion Cove

Kynance Cove
The classic view of Kynance Cove

Kynance Cove 1
Looking west out to sea

Lizard Point
Further round to Lizard Point – the most southerly point of Britain

Old Lifeboat station Lizard
Looking down onto the Old Lifeboat Station

Seals hauled out on the rocks

The lady from the National Trust told us all about the choughs – she told us exactly where to go to see them, which we duly did and the choughs flew past. A pair with a nest of 4 chicks which apparently will fledge in a week or so.

St Michael's Mount
Then round the coast to Marazion with its iconic view over to St Michael’s Mount

Finally up to Porthtowan on the North Coast where we found some surf for 30 minutes of body boarding before a meal in the beach side cafe watching the sun begin to set. A perfect day out.

Whilst at the cafe I hooked into the wifi and read a blog by Ben Eagle called “The curious case of Cornwall: why did the Cornish vote for Brexit”. You can read it here and I recommend you do.

Ben points out in that article how much money Cornwall has had from the EU – €654m between 2007 and 2013 and an expectation of a further €600m up to 2020. Ben details some of the projects that have benefitted from that money.

On our short trip to Cornwall yesterday we witnessed first hand a number of these. We drove past Exeter University’s Penryn campus  which received around €100m (there wouldn’t be a University in Cornwall without this, let alone a Russell Group one), we drove along the roadworks on the A30 – this dualling project is EU supported and will transform road transport within the county, we saw miles and miles of wonderful coastal habitats, protected by EU Directives and funded through the Common Agricultural Policy. We benefitted from the broadband at Porthtowan again partially funded by the EU.

On Friday Cornwall County Council were asking for assurances from the Government that they wouldn’t lose out in a post-Brexit world – if you were you Cornwall I wouldn’t hold your breath!

Another of my friends Miles King  has blogged on the topic too – his blog is called “The EU Referendum: Turkeys have voted for Christmas” – you can read that here.

To be continued ….. assuming the meltdown of the Establishment doesn’t consume us all first.




A view from Dartmoor into Cornwall

Whitchurch Common is on the western edge of Dartmoor – it is on the top of the hill before the land plunges down to Tavistock and beyond. There is a large car park on the Common below Cox Tor and it contains a plaque which details the panorama in front of you.

Plaque - west Devon-CornwallYou can zoom in on the plaque to read the writing (i.e. double click on the image)

To help you I will transcribe the words / locations. From left to right (or if you prefer from south to north) it reads:-

Staddon Heights, Plymouth Hoe, Mount Edgecumbe, Roborough Down, Plaster Down, Tamar Bridge, Saltash, Whitchurch Common, Tamar Valley, Whitchurch Down, (Lands End 80 miles), Gunnislake, (Tamar Valley), Kit Hill, Caradon Hill, Kilmar Tor, Tavistock, Brown Willy, Launceston, Ramsdown, Brent Tor.

Panorama - west Devon-Cornwall
Here is a panorama of the view – you can double click the image to enlarge it – it includes all the places on the plaque and also includes Cox Tor on the extreme right.

Quite a view and worth a visit if your are in the area

Snowy Owl on Bryher

Went over to Bryher in search of a Snowy Owl. This individual animal was first recorded a couple of weeks ago in West Cornwall near St Just on the Land’s End peninsula. It is thought to have then flown over to the Isles of Scilly around a week ago.

Snowy owl 2
Despite it being a pretty cool day there was quite a haze up on Shipman Down which unfortunately means that the photos are not that great – nevertheless this is an amazingly impressive bird.

Snowy owl 3
Settled behind a rock

Snowy owl 4
The bird flew to a new part of the Downs

Snowy owl 1
Snowy owls are very big birds – they stand at a height of 2 feet and have a wing span larger than that of a buzzard. They normally live in the Arctic and feed on mountain hares and lemmings. On Scilly this individual should find plenty of rats on Bryher to eat. Will be interesting to see how long it stays for.

Short (shaky) video – amazing rotation of its head.

First time I have ever seen a Snowy Owl – happy days.