Friday, 16 November 2012

A new broom

After 11 years as voluntary warden of the reserve, I've decided to stand down and let my natural successor, Dougy Wright, take over. Dougy loves the place as much as I do and I've no doubt it will be in good hands.

 Dougy birding in Hungary back in 2008

Sunday, 5 August 2012


There was a noticeable influx of the large hoverfly Helophilus trivittatus evident at the farm yesterday. I counted 30+ and they far outnumbered the resident Helophilus pendulus. These are almost certainly immigramts from the Continent.   They are larger and paler than pendulus and their face is entirely yellow.  Pendulus have a dark stripe down the centre of the face.

Helophilus trivittatus

Helophilus trivittatus

Helophilus trivittatus

Helophilus pendulus

Helophilus pendulus

Friday, 3 August 2012

Have you seen Erica?

Cornish Heath (Erica vagans) grows only on the Lizard peninsula

Bell Heather (Erica cinerea)

Mixture of Bell Heather and Cross-leaved Heath (Erica tetralix)

Mixture of Western Gorse (Ulex gallii) and Cornish Heath

Tuesday, 31 July 2012


Well the weekend's BioBlitz was a great success, with twenty or so attendees (some of whom stayed all night, studying moths etc in between short bouts of sleep), plenty of sunshine and only a little rain.  The final species count is yet to be tallied as there are some that remain to be identified from photographs or descriptions, but there's no doubt that a number of new species have been added to the reserve list.

I want to thank everyone who came along, and in particular Sally Luker for helping to get it organised (and baking cakes) and Sue Scott, who brought along masses of equipment (including the mobile tea-shop) and lots of identification guides and took on the recording.  Special thanks too to the group who came all the way from Reading.  One of those intrepid travellers, Christopher Foster, has written his own take on the weekend here.

Here are some photos from the event (thanks to all concerned for permission to use them):

Meadow Grasshopper (Sally Luker

Minor Shoulder-knot (David Fenwick)

Campion moth (David Fenwick)

Eristalis hortocola (Christopher Foster

 Ichneumoid fly (Christopher Foster

Wood Sandpiper (Christopher Foster

Scaeva pyrastri (Andy Pay

BioBlitzers (Christopher Foster)

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


We're holding a BioBlitz at the farm on 28th/29th July, starting at 2.00pm on the Saturday and ending 2.00pm Sunday. A BioBlitz is to wildlife recording what the Le Mans 24hr is to motor racing and involves finding and identifying as many species as possible. We have invited local (and not so local) experts in various fields and hope they will help us to build on the reserve's species lists.

There will be moth-trapping, small mammal trapping, pond-dipping, birding, invertebrate hunting, botanising, hopefully bat-detecting and much more.  The information centre on site will serve as a laboratory and tearoom.  The Lizard is pretty special when it comes to hosting rare species of all sorts of things and there are sure to be some goodies on the farm that haven't yet been discovered (as well as lots that have!). Everybody is welcome and for those who want to make a weekend of it, there is a campsite just down the lane.

Here are some examples of what we should find, photos taken on a rare sunny day on Sunday. The first two are hoverflies - the top one is Sericomyia silentis but the second is at yet unidentified.  Below them is a Scorpion Fly (Panorpa communis) photographed by Dougy Wright.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Thin pickings

Usually when I'm away something good turns up at the farm, e.g. Buff-breasted Sandpiper or Woodchat Shrike. This year I was abroad from mid May to mid June and it appears that I've missed precisely nothing, except a lot of wind and rain.

Here are some shots from yesterday of a Clouded Buff moth, a young Slow Worm and patch of Ragged Robin, of which we have plenty.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

May birds

A few nice birds have called in over the last few days. Not for the first time, some of them were seen along the approach road.  On Thursday Ian Griffiths saw a Turtle Dove on the wires just by the gate, then later that day he was driving back out when a male Golden Oriole flew down the road ahead of him. Yesterday Dougy Wright was watching one of three Dunlin which dropped in on the Plantlife pool when it was dive-bombed by a Short-eared Owl! And today I saw an immature male Marsh Harrier, probably the one which has been around since last November, along with the three Black-tailed Godwits and a Little Egret.  The two godwits which were in winter plumage last week are now rapidly gaining their breeding colours.

A few odonata are finally beginning to emerge - Broad-bodied Chaser and Emerald Damselfly both made their first appearance yesterday.

Thanks to Griff for the photos of Garden Warbler and Turtle Dove (taken through the car windscreen!), and Dougy for the Dunlin and Short-eared Owl.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

At last, a touch of Spring.

With blue skies and a hint of warmth in the easterly breeze, it felt like Spring today (for the first time since the end of March).  It was a nine warbler day at the farm: Grasshopper, Reed, seven Sedge, three Blackcap, Garden Warbler, three Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, 15 Willow Warblers and two Chiffchaffs - all singing. There was a steady passage of Swallows flying north: I counted 35. Amongst the supporting cast were two Swifts, two Cuckoos, male and female Peregrine, two Whimbrel, six Skylarks, seven Wheatears, three Song Thrushes and six Linnets.

There were very few butterflies around so I was pleasantly surprised when a Painted Lady flew by.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

April showers - and the rest!

I'm rather glad that month's over. April is one of my favourites - normally - but that was the worst I can remember. The legacy is as much standing water and mud on the reserve as I have ever seen, at any time of year, and probably more than a few inbound summer migrants which didn't survive the truly awful weather of the last couple of days. That's a pessimistic view. Maybe they're hardier than I give them credit for.

Today it was dry, sunny and with a more gentle breeze from the south-east. In the warbler line there were plenty of Willow Warblers singing, along with a few Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Sedge Warblers and a couple of Whitethroats. Skylarks are on their soggy territories and about a dozen Swallows zipped through. I counted eight Wheatears but the birds of the day were the three Black-tailed Godwits which have been present for a few days now. One is in glorious summer plumage. There were also two Whimbrel and a Cuckoo calling.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Catching some rays

The warm sunshine of the last week has brought lots of adders out to bask.

Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers have arrived in numbers, but further migration is likely to be suspended as the weather cools down.  The male Marsh Harrier is still around and a Water Pipit has been around Ruan Pool for a few days.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Hoop hoop!

The last few days of warm south-easterly winds have seen an exceptional number of early Spring migrants arriving at the farm, culminating in our fifth Hoopoe in as many years this morning.  This one was found by Dougy Wright ("Senior Assistant" to the Warden!) but it hung around long enough for me to catch up with it.  Thanks to Dougy for the photo below. The supporting cast so far has included Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Peregrine, Ring Ouzel, six Black Redstarts, a Willow Warbler and 10+ Chiffchaffs.  Speckled Woods, Peacocks, Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshells are already on the wing.

On Sunday April 8th there will be a guided walk around the reserve from 10.00-13.00.  All are welcome.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Biffa Ponds

Here's a photo (courtesy of Cornwall Wildlife Trust) of the nine new ponds at the farm. They were created in conjunction with Pond Conservation and also funding by Biffa Waste Services through their Biffawards scheme.  They should provide great habitat for some some of our rare plants, birds and hordes of invertebrates.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Review of 2011

At last - a new blog entry!! I've been entering the records for the farm for 2011 onto my MapMate program and have set out below some highlights.  It was a very good year indeed.  Firstly the birds. Those in bold are the first records of those species for the reserve:

Golden Plover 248 on 1st Jan
Snipe 49 on 1st Jan
Mediterranean Gull 9 sightings during the year
Fieldfare 200 on 14th Jan
Wigeon 51 on 14th Jan
Shoveler 13 on 14th Jan
Hen Harrier 9 sightings during the year
Bewick's Swan 7 on 30th Jan
Gadwall 5 on 3rd Feb
Teal 23 on 14th Jan
Black Redstart 5 on 25th Mar
Ring Ouzel 7 sightings during the year
Bee-eater 1 on 3rd Apr (added retrospectively - see comment below)
Marsh Harrier 1 on 9th Apr, 1 on 22nd Nov
Merlin 6 sightings during the year
Peregrine 3 sightings during the year
Hoopoe 1 from 19th-24th Apr
Short-eared Owl 1 on 19th Apr
Black-tailed Godwit 3 on 24th Apr
Whimbrel 14 on 7th May
Tawny Owl 1 on 28th Apr
Red Kite 1 on 15th May
Golden Oriole 1 on 19th May
Wryneck 1 on 19th Aug
Green Sandpiper 20 on 23rd Aug
Black Kite 1 on 29th Aug
Spotted Redshank 2 on 29th Aug
Yellow Wagtail 6 on 2nd Sep
Wheatear 20 on 4th Sep
Whinchat 10 on 4th Sep
Redstart 1 on 30th Sep
Meadow Pipit 80 on 1st Oct
Hobby 1 on 1st Oct
Tree Pipit 1 on 2nd Oct
Pectoral Sandpiper 2 on 4th Oct
Linnet 300 on 11th Oct
Yellow-browed Warbler 1 on 17th Oct, 1 on 19th Oct
Firecrest 1 on 17th Oct
Siskin 5 on 25th Oct
Bullfinch 8 on 25th Oct
Lapwing 103 on 20th Nov
Redwing 120 on 12th Nov
Little Gull 1 on 12th Nov
Pintail 3 on 22nd Nov
Greylag Goose 6 on 20th Dec
Black-headed Gull 82 on 21st Dec
Brent Goose 1 on 26th Dec
Jack Snipe 1 on 28th Dec

Red Kite

Spotted Redshank

Short-eared Owl

Best counts of singing warblers during the Spring were as follows:

Grasshopper Warbler 9
Whitethroat 12
Lesser Whitethroat 2
Blackcap 5
Garden Warbler 1
Sedge Warbler 9
Reed Warbler 4
Willow Warbler 24
Chiffchaff 6

And now, some other notable records:

Vagrant Emperor 1 on 24th Apr, 2 on 25th Apr
Lesser Emperor  1 from 28th Jul to 4th Aug
Red-veined Darter 6 on 25th Apr and many sightings of up to 3 throughout the summer
Marsh Fritillary 6 on 6th June
Roe Deer 1 on 21st Apr
Pigmy Rush 142 plants
Yellow Centaury 1440 plants
Green-winged Orchid 17 plants

We were probably the only site in the whole country to record all three species of Emperor dragonfly during the year. We had the highest count of Pigmy Rush too - not difficult as it occurs only on the Lizard!

Marsh Fritillary

Green-winged Orchid