A collaboration of coast and countryside organisations on The Lizard Peninsula

World War Two airfield building finally gets its wings.

The World War Two Light Anti-aircraft Crew Hut at Windmill Farm had to be repaired several years ago to make it safe. Whilst carrying out the repairs it was modified to hopefully provide a suitable roosting site for barn owls and bats.Barn Owl chicks being ringed at Windmill Farm - Richard Moore

Barn Owl chicks being ringed at Windmill Farm - Richard Moore

Occasionally the West Cornwall reserves team stick their head through a broken window to see if any of the desired species have taken up residence, over the past year we have had the pleasure of seeing adult barn owls roosting.

Birding on the south-west Lizard

Around and about Lizard Point is known as a good area for birding, but travel a bit further north and west, and there is plenty to see. The whole area is well served by a network of footpaths, most of which have The Lizard village as a hub, so the best sites are all very accessible.

Kynance Cove and Valleys

There are two valleys leading down to Kynance Cove (SW684134), both of which have scattered scrub, reed, iris and saw sedge beds, with further denser scrub and willow carr developing further up the valleys onto the heath.

Kynance Cove (photo: Tony Blunden)Access to the lower stretches from the carpark is very easy, but frequently narrow, wet and often overgrown tracks allow somewhat restricted access to the upper valley areas.

The valleys hold and funnel migrants with nearby open heath, and host breeding sedge, willow with occasional grasshopper warblers, chiffchaff and blackcap.

Great news: Lizard chough Nora and her new mate now have chicks!!!

Earlier this season we had some sad news when the resident male chough ‘George’, who was quite a colourful character (LINK: http://the-lizard.org/index.php/article-archives/birds/640-farewell-george-an-unexpected-goodbye-starts-a-new-chapter-for-the-lizard-choughs ), vanished without a trace. After four weeks on her own, as the only chough left on The Lizard, Nora managed to attract a new mate. Chough loveThis was a surprise to us local volunteers as most of the choughs were, at that point, based in west Penwith and we didn’t expect any of them to move our way in time for this nesting season. But, as new breeding pairs began to establish out west it pushed some of the younger unpaired birds out and 3 young males came our way. We waited on tenterhooks, would they reach us?

It’s fledging time....

Right now hedges, trees, heath and grassland as well as nestboxes are all of a flutter as the breeding season gets into full swing. Birds are busy diving into all manner of hidey holes and secret places, beaks packed with insect food for their hungry chicks. Egg-laying season is typically between late March and May, although some species can have many broods with chicks into August. For a small garden bird such as the greenfinch, it can take over two weeks for the eggs to hatch and a further two-three weeks for the chicks to fledge the nest. Just before baby birds are ready to tentatively extend a wing, wiggle a tail feather and take flight for the first time, they leave their nest or fledge. Fledglings then spend a couple of days on the ground developing their final flight feathers.

Fledging Whitethroat Fledging Whitethroat

The fledglings will appear fully feathered (with perhaps some downy fluff here and there) and spend these days hopping around in broad daylight – hence why so many members of the public are convinced they need rescuing.

Farewell George: an unexpected goodbye starts a new chapter for the Lizard choughs

Many of you who follow the choughs will have heard of ‘George’, otherwise known, by local children, as ‘Champion chough’. He was the bird that usurped the original male at Lizard Point, stole his mate and, after losing her a fortnight later, was left to foster the original pair’s last brood. After a dramatic start to 2013, George proved himself a champion by raising these two chicks entirely on his own against all the odds!


George and one of his 2014 chicks (Photographer: Terry Thirlaway. Copyright National Trust)

‘Champion chough’ nested near Lizard Point with a new mate (Nora) ever since; successfully raising 8 chicks. The pair started nesting again in early March this year, so we geared ourselves up for another season of nest watch, but to our horror ‘George’ vanished; leaving his mate the only chough on The Lizard and taking with him any hope of a brood of Lizard chicks this year....

...Or so we thought!

Where to Find Birds on The Lizard - Late Winter/Early Spring

As with much of the natural world birds are coming to life about now. For those that like to get out and about this article describes a few good areas, on The Lizard, to see birds at this time of year. I will start with a Lizard location that is not on The Lizard (but hey ho it is a great walk and a good place to easily see birds).


Chiffchaff Bittern

Loe Pool (SW 647250)

The best place to park is opposite the boating lake in the Penrose Amenity Area Car Park. The circular walk around the perimeter (from the car park) is just over six miles and it is a fairly easy walk but can be muddy in places. Start at the water works where you will see Chiffchaff - this is a great place to familiarise yourself with this lovely little species.

Balearic Island visitors

Skua 20100427 161943 (12560085194)

Fig1: Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus)*

The Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus is Europe’s only Critically Endangered seabird with a population thought to be around 3200 breeding pairs (18000-25000 individuals). The breeding population is mostly restricted to the Balearic archipelago but the seas around Cornwall are very important foraging areas especially for young birds.

Choughs nesting on the Lizard

Nesting ChoughsEarly April – The choughs in Cornwall have been very busy nest building over the last month or so, some pairs have quite a bit of work to do where their nests have been blown out by winter storms, others at less exposed sites only have to refurbish last year's nest and line it with new sheep's wool, cattle hair, or soft grasses. Younger pairs go at this with great enthusiasm sometimes building a couple of nests in different places before they settle on just the right one. Once a pair decide on a nest site they normally use it for their lifetime, but they can move, probably in response to changes around the area or another species moving in a bit too close for them to feel comfortable.