A bannere.full


WEATHER: very misty at first, sunny and warm all day, 20C

Our last full day had arrived, it was another beautiful sunny day, we spent it around The Lizard looking for the Northern Harrier which had eluded us thus far.

The heathland at Goonhilly was fog-bound when we got there, we couldn’t see 50 meters ahead of us, but the sun was warming the air and we hoped that the mist would soon burn off. From the car park we walked through some open scrub with scattered bushes which we were quite lively with birds.

our view of the heath first thing this morning

Chaffinches, Blue and Great Tits and both Willow Warbler and Common Chiffchaff were seen, in fact a small area was alive with warblers. We couldn’t see any other warbler species so we moved onto the heath. The mist began to lift and by the time we got out into the wide open space it was practically clear.

a flock of Golden Plover - count the dots! There are 87 birds there!

Many Meadow Pipits were dashing about, Stonechats flitted from the gorse to the heather and back again and the odd Skylark flew over. A distant flock of Golden Plover circled the area before dropping down out of sight. Wood Pigeons, Crows, Jackdaws and Rooks flew across our horizons keeping us busy with our binoculars just in case one of them was the Harrier.

We stayed out there for a couple of hours, it got quite warm and the light was superb, but the Harrier did not show. Large flocks of Golden Plover could be seen every once in a while, Skylarks were up singing and Stonechats ‘clacked’ from the gorse.

We then walked back to the bus and drove to the nearby Kynance Cove. The top car park at Kynance overlooks large tracks of Lizard Down as well as giving views back towards Goonhilly. There was a bunch of birders standing near the entrance to the car park with their scopes trained on the heath.

a view down to Kynance Cove

We quickly parked the bus and walked back to the birders who told us that we had missed the Harrier by 10 minutes! Doh!! We didn’t seem to have much luck with this bird, anyway, we stood with the group and scanned the heath for a while with no further sightings.

We ate our picnic lunch by the car park, Red-billed Chough called from the cliffs and later some of the group walked down to see them. We also noted Rock Pipit, Northern Wheatear, Dunnock, Raven and some Gannets from the car park area.

The group then split with a couple staying with the bus whilst the rest of us walked down to the very picturesque cove. It was crowded with tourist and birders, a sighting of Snow Buntings yesterday had brought a few birders down to the cove but the buntings were not found today.

Whilst the rest of the group enjoyed an ice-cream and/or a coffee I walked back up to the heath to spend another session scanning the area. There was an unbelievable number of Red Admirals on the wing, hundreds of them dashed across the area in a constant stream, this lasted all day! We also noted a large number of Clouded Yellow Butterflies, I must have counted 20 in a short period of time. A Monarch Butterfly had also been seen in the village of Lizard today.

My scanning of the heath produced nothing new but I did notice many people sitting in a tower hide about a mile away near the windfarm. We learned later back at the car park that the Harrier had been seen extremely well from the tower about an hour previously.

It was now 2pm and really quite warm, probably too warm for Harrier activity but we drove to the tower just the same. Of course, we saw no Harrier from the Tower, we watched Kestrels, a Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzards and plenty of corvids. A long walk gave us sightings of a few more species, Mike saw a Green Woodpecker and we all watched Goldcrest, Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits, Common Chiffchaff and the usual Robin, Dunnock and Stonechat.

By 4pm we were all tired, but we spent another short time scanning the area from a raised pathway near the Tower but the Harrier did not show, so we called it a day.

Tomorrow we disband, the tour ends at 11am. Five of us have a couple of hours to spare so we are going down to Marizion Marsh, the others, Debbie, Brenda and Mary are catching early trains for home. At dinner, the Woodchat Shrike was voted bird of the trip with Red-billed Chough coming second.