Saturday, 10 August 2019


I'd seen the storm forecast for south west Cornwall this weekend and hatched a plan to spend a couple of days with the Jims hoping we might experience something special from a sea watch at Porthgwarra.

We set off in the middle of the night on Thursday and arrived at Porthgwarra for first light Friday finding the car park full and once we got to the rocks seating was limited but we settled in and started the watch. Things started slow but the weather was as expected with 50mph winds in our faces and heavy downpours assisted by the winds to make things a little more challenging.
After six hours we picked up our first ever Sooty Shearwaters and year ticks with Manx and Balearic Shearwaters. I picked out one of the passing Storm Petrels and we were entertained by good numbers of Bonxie moving west along with a single Arctic. (A Pom was reported but nobody in the group seemed to know about it)

It was the weather that we'd hoped for.
A few hardy souls left
The cover
When in Cornwall.....
We left to try to connect with Cornish Chough which the Jims needed for a year tick but failed locally and at Lizard point in miserable conditions.

Rare blue skies at the Lizard
After some refreshment and food we had a decent nights sleep at Travelodge before returning to Porthgwarra this morning to find again that by 5.30am the car park had filled and seating was again at a premium. We'd hoped today would be the day but things were very slow. A Sooty and a Storm Petrel the only highlight of four hours on site with Balearic and Manx again present in good numbers. We left at 11am to find that in the next two hours three Cory's flew close by but that's birding and we had a 320 mile journey home to consider and also wanted to visit Labrador Bay in Devon on route.

Labrador Bay
Labrador Bay 
One of the Cirl Buntings sheltering form the wind
Once at the bay we quickly found at least six Cirl Bunting and a nice surprise in the form of a Great Green Bush Cricket which was a first for me and quite a stunner too.

Great Green Bush Cricket
Massive beast
The journey home took us past Stonehenge which prompted a short but welcome break as Jim had never visited this iconic attraction.

Year list now 275
Life list now 405

A great couple of days birding in good company both with the Jims and the very helpful friendly group among the rocks at Porthgwarra that included quite a few very familiar faces some of whom departed pretty quick on news of a certain Swift with a white rump in Yorkshire. I'll return to Porthgwarra another day when I hope the other large Shearwaters will oblige.


  1. Good to see you and the Jims down there, Brian. Shame the birds hadn't read the script this time round, but that's seawatching for you - always hard to predict. It seems that the big shears just aren't around in any numbers this year, or at least not yet.

    If it's any consolation, none of the birders that stayed all day on Saturday (including some v experience seawatchers) knew anything about the 3 Cory's reported...

  2. Always good to bump into you Dave, my first go from Porthgwarra and even though it was slow it was still very enjoyable. The locals were more than helpful and I picked up my first tickable Sooties having seen a few from Kent and Norfolk just too distant to be 100% so that was good. Must admit I thought we'd missed those Cory's by a few minutes so that's good to know we didn't. (might have been the guys in the cove). Hopefully bump into you again at some point this autumn and good luck with the Common Hawker!