Thursday 31 October 2019

Wanting Something to Happen....14-15th October 2019

This was rapidly turning into one of the slowest birding holidays that we'd ever had in Cornwall. Perhaps we had just cleaned up too early on by getting all of the good birds on offer, Red-eyed Vireo, Barred Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher etc, quickly after we arrived and also, because we already had a pretty impressive year list, by our own standards anyway, it was difficult to find any further additions. The weather hadn't been kind, it had been very wet but that is usually a good thing in Cornwall at this time of year, although not so good when the rain is torrential, The main problem was that the wind direction had been from the West and the South-west and that was acting as a buffer to any birds that would normally migrate in from the continent. Of course strong westerlies do help in bringing North American birds to our shores, hence the Red-eyed Vireo, but most of those type of rare finds had been confined to Ireland and Scilly so far this autumn.

We were so desperate to see something new that we thought we may as well go and have a look for a White Stork that had been frequenting the fields between St Leven and Porthgwarra. I say desperate because the Stork would be an uncountable bird since it was one of the birds purposely released in Sussex earlier in the year and thus does not count as a truly wild bird in much the same way that the Ferruginous Duck seen at Helston doesn't. But with nothing else new to go for and the valley birding proving so fruitless so far we thought, "why not?". Our own track record with seeing White Storks is very poor, with only the one near Buckingham over ten years ago on our lists but of course, with all the released birds flying around the country, any sighting of a White Stork these days will be open to conjecture as to its provenance. We took the coast path from Porthgwarra which proved to be a stiff exercise particularly for those of us with short legs! On our way we were entertained by several Ravens which appeared to be having a great deal of fun playing in the stiff breeze that battered us from the south.

I looked longingly out to sea, I still need lots of seabirds for the year list, but could only see Gannets and the odd Kittiwake out there. Everybody else was reporting Balearic Shearwaters, Sabines Gulls and rarer Skuas from the coast but, as per normal, they were eluding me. We saw our first Choughs of the trip but only noticed them after they'd passed overhead when they called loudly. Jackdaws were easier to observe and were a constant accompaniment as we trekked along the clifftop path.

We failed to find the White Stork so it was a bit of a wasted walk in the end. In keeping with our usual luck, or lack of it, that day was the only day that the Stork had decided to go somewhere else, on every other day it was still to be seen feeding in the fields along the clifftop path. The only excitement provided, other than that by Corvids, was by a Sparrowhawk that rushed past twice in pursuit of any Meadow Pipit, Linnet or anything else that it might surprise.

After slithering our way down the rocky path, made a little bit more precarious by a fine drizzle that had set in, we thought we'd try our luck a bit further along the coast at Penberth Cove which is a beautiful spot and is usually a really good place to find Yellow-browed Warblers which favour a certain patch of willow trees close to the parking area. At first nothing appeared in the trees which overhang the path but then I noticed some movement right at the back. The small bird was too energetic even to be a Yellow-browed and would be a Crest of some description. When the tiny bird had flitted through the trees and come right to us by the path, it hovered briefly at a small yew sapling. At this point I was still watching through my binoculars rather than trying to take photos and I observed the striking white supercilium of a Firecrest, our first of this trip but again not a year tick since we'd seen several earlier in the year. Photography is difficult under the trees because little light penetrates through the canopy so when I finally managed to capture the bird the images proved to be very poor. Whenever I visit this spot in bright sunny weather there never seems to be anything to get photos of!

Another bird was also active in the trees but materialised into a Goldcrest and not the hoped for Yellow-browed Warbler. In fact after watching for nearly thirty minutes more it was clear that the two Crests were the only birds save for common species such as Wren and Robin that were at play in the trees.

We took our usual walk around the "block" which takes in other wooded areas and the rocky cove as well as gardens. A second Firecrest was active in the old gnarled tree by the coastguard cottages, different since it was a female whereas the one earlier with the bright orange crest was a male. The old tree provides an even denser canopy than the other trees so I didn't even bother trying to take a photo. The only other birds of note were Green & Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a Jay that perched right at the top of a tall tree.

Quite predictably as soon as we left we the cover of the trees it started to rain heavily once more and by the time we'd got to the car we were pretty soaked through yet again. Luckily we were able to dry out in the excellent Logan Inn at nearby Treen.

My good friend John who made the move to West Cornwall a few years back and who very kindly keeps me abreast of any interesting developments bird wise while I'm in this part of the world, had sent me a message informing that a Hippolais type Warbler, possibly Melodious, had been glimpsed very briefly at Pendeen that morning. We've only ever seen one Melodious Warbler before, at Lands End in 2010, so had to get there and look for ourselves even though the bird had been "found" nearly four hours before. The bird had been spotted in the garden of the Count House which sits above the lighthouse overlooking the sea. The wind was very strong on the headland but straight out of the south so the seaward side of the garden was sheltered more and that was where the possible Melodious Warbler had been seen. I walked along the thick hedge that borders the garden, pishing loudly and immediately a yellowish green warbler popped up on to a branch and stared at me before disappearing into cover again. No real excitement though since the inquisitive bird was a more common but not too dissimilar Willow Warbler. 

Willow Warbler
The next half hour of searching the garden didn't produce any other birds other than a Robin but there is a lot of cover and anything could have been hiding in there. I turned my attention to the sea but you need winds with a northerly element in them to produce at Pendeen and there were only the usual Gannets and Kittiwakes passing. A quick scan of the surrounding rocks and cliffs came up blank too. On the way back to the holiday cottage we tried Sennen Cove to see if there were any Black Redstarts, still required for the year list, on the beach rocks. Not this time but I did find a couple of late Sandwich Terns and more Mediterranean Gulls.

Our second year tick-less day in a row then but late news emanating from the Lizard got us more excited for the following day when a Booted Warbler was reported from Caerthillian Cove, where we'd seen the Barred Warbler on Saturday. In fact one birder tweeted out that he'd seen the Booted Warbler, a Yellow-browed Warbler and a Red-breasted Flycatcher in virtually the same scope view plus the Barred Warbler was still there so it seemed as if all of the birds were on the Lizard and not in West Penwith! We'd leave early the next morning.

Now we knew how to access the Pump House at the top of Caerthillian Cove directly, we joined a group of fifteen or so birders just as it was getting light at the sallows where we'd seen the Barred Warbler on Saturday. An hour later though with no sign of anything interesting and after chatting with some local birders who knew the area rather better than myself, it became apparent that this wasn't the place that the Booted Warbler had been seen. When we'd twitched the Barred Warbler a local birder had told me that despite the Pump House being "loosely" a part of the Caerthillian Valley, it wasn't really what he knew as the Caerthillian Valley but rather just a "tributary" of it. The main valley was much bigger and wider and continued inland for over a mile towards Kynance and the moors beyond. Therefore everybody was looking in the wrong place! Josh, who we'd now met almost wherever a decent bird had been reported, had already strode off to find the correct spot and we followed best as we could but we are less intrepid and able so had to keep to paths as against going straight across fields. We retraced our steps back to Portreath Road and looked down into the Caerthillian Valley proper and saw several hitherto unnoticed birders scanning the valley sides. Making our way down a fairly steep path to the valley bottom where a stream gurgled through we spotted both a Willow Warbler and a Chiffchaff preening after bathing in the stream.

Willow Warbler

A chap came walking up from the other direction and we asked him if he knew where the Booted Warbler had been seen. He did but it appeared that "it wasn't around here, no, not at all" but "right at the top of the valley, up there" as he pointed to the north. I asked the easiest way to get there and he suggested that we return to the village and then take the path to Kynance Cove, adding "where the path dips to cross a stream, scan the trees there" but as far as he knew, "there's been no sign of the Booted Warbler but the other birds are there". First though we had a last look for the Barred Warbler to no avail so did indeed retreat back to the village.

A coffee and a bowl of chips later we walked down the path towards the spot where the Booted Warbler had been seen the evening before. There were a couple of other birders at the spot and they told us that they'd seen the Red-breasted Flycatcher but that the rarer bird must have gone. We found the Flycatcher quite quickly but viewing was distant across the valley. At least we had some nice bright sunshine for a change and it was nice to stand out in the warm instead of being cold and wet! Mrs Caley spotted the Yellow-browed Warbler close to the Flycatcher, it looked resplendent in the bright conditions, but there'd be no point in taking photos at such distance. We also managed to find a couple of Goldcrests in the same area.

Church Cove on the eastern side of Lizard village is another favourite place of ours and is a really good spot for finding rare and scarce birds. The week before we arrived there had been a Red-eyed Vireo in the churchyard trees, some folk believe the Porthgwarra bird had relocated from there, and yesterday both a Red-breasted Flycatcher and a couple of Yellow-browed Warblers had been reported. We parked the car and bumped into Josh yet again, we are definitely on the same wavelength. He had already found a Yellow-browed and a Firecrest in trees next to the stream just outside of the church grounds. We were soon on our own again though when Josh went wandering off to check somewhere new, I think it was his first time in Cornwall and he was keen to explore every inch of it. The trees by the stream are tall and I craned my neck to view the upper canopy since I could hear the Yellow-browed Warbler calling. It took a while but eventually the bird appeared in the open and paused long enough for me to fire off a couple of shots.

Yellow-browed Warbler
We were joined by another birder who asked "what was around?", I told him "there's a Yellow-browed in these trees" and he then instantly found the Yellow-browed Warbler in another tree just up the road where we were both able to track it more easily. Even though the birds new position was more at eye level it was in deep shade where the bright sunlight wasn't penetrating. But at least the Yellow-browed ceased its urgent quest to find food for a while and posed beautifully for us all to admire it.

A quick walk down the lane towards the cove yielded very little except for Goldcrests and Chaffinches so after another quick look at the Yellow-browed warbler which was still flitting around the same trees we jumped in the car and headed off back to West Penwith. On our way we stopped to see the male Ferruginous Duck at Helston again. It was initially hiding but just as we going to give up it swam out from behind a small island and came to within metres of us. Three days ago we had watched the bird dozing during a spell of heavy rain, now we could appreciate the duck in all its glory in fabulous sunshine.

Ferruginous Duck
Back at the cottage I went out alone to check the bushes and scrub that surround the farm and also to see if any Short-eared Owls were flying around on Bartinney Downs, a part of which could be seen from the farm. There were no Owls of any description, it is probably still a week or two early for them arriving back into West Cornwall, but I did meet some much more exotic birds on my walk when the farm flock of Guinea Fowl crossed the track ahead. The eight Guinea Fowl are a feature of the gardens here and one morning I found them all stood right outside the cottage door. There are six normal plumaged birds and two white ones. 

Guinea Fowl
The Guinea Fowl hadn't just attracted my attention since a big dog Fox, presumably, had also noticed them and was stood looking longingly in their direction. I sincerely hope the Guinea Fowl have a safe roosting spot somewhere on the farm!

Thursday 24 October 2019

Into the Valleys,13-14th 2019

Our main pursuit when coming to Cornwall during October, other than twitching rare birds, is to "work" the valleys and hopefully find a rare bird of our own. Unfortunately fortune hasn't smiled on us yet and we've never found a "mega" or even a "rare" and so far have had to settle for just a few self found "scarce" birds that everybody else finds as well, such as Yellow-browed Warblers and a Wryneck. But every year on almost every day of our holidays we walk at least one of the famous Cornish valleys in search of that elusive mega. My dream is to find a Black & White Warbler or a Northern Parula, both North American species, but in truth I'd take anything!

So it was, on yet another rainy morning, that we set out to explore our favourite, the Kenidjack Valley just north of St Just. In years past we stayed in a fabulous cottage right at the top of Kenidjack and could walk straight out the door to access it. Sadly that cottage is no longer available so now we park outside of it instead. We have spent countless hours both exploring the Kenidjack and standing patiently next to some bushes, especially the ones at the Donkey Paddocks, waiting for a bird to appear. From near those bushes you can also access the coast path that runs through "Poldark" country towards Botallack and where we found our Wryneck, very distinctive since it was lacking a tail, a few years back. This morning though as well as raining it was also very windy so we wouldn't be retracing our steps and venturing up there.

It turned out to be a disappointing couple of hours with very little showing in the inclement conditions, the best birds we found were a pair of Blackcaps, a couple of Goldcrests and two Chiffchaffs. Not really what we hoping for at all.

After grabbing a coffee in St Just's new and instantly forgettable cafe, except for the noise, (the new fad of "industrial" type of interior decor doesn't suit us at all) we headed back to Nanquidno thinking we may as well have another look, if still present, at the Red-breasted Flycatcher and have a wander down the valley. Amazingly the weather had cleared and we were greeted with warm sunshine!

Heading northwards from the parking area, Nanquidno runs south to north as opposed to other valley on the west coast which all run east to west to reach the sea, we reached the few cottages that sit lower down the lane. A Grey Wagtail and a Robin were attacking their own reflections in one of the windows and judging by the mess on the glass had been doing so for some time. On our approach they became shy and the Grey Wagtail decided to go fly catching on the house roof where it showed off its natural talent by snaring fly after fly with ease despite the breezy conditions.

Grey Wagtail
A Grey Heron lazily flew overhead, it was nice to be able to take a few photos of bird against a blue sky for a change! Further down the valley there were birds but little to get too excited about apart from a few Goldcrests.

Grey Heron
We returned to pay homage to the Red-breasted Flycatcher which I found almost instantly once again. Another two birders present couldn't lock onto the bird despite my directions and I heard them mutter to each other as we walked away, "he was making it up, there's no RB Fly, it's gone, tut, tut.....". Good job I posted a photo that I'd just taken on Twitter then once I'd driven out of the valley! Seems I'm not the only birdwatcher that possesses an unhealthy level of cynicism!

Red-breasted Flycatcher
The Red-eyed Vireo had been reported as still being present at the Doctors Garden in Porthgwarra and, with no other new birds to seek out, we decided to have another go at that. I hoped that in the warm afternoon sunshine I may be able to get improved photographs. If I could find the bird that is. Which, of course, I couldn't!

We walked up towards the Coastguards Cottages where we've found Dartford Warblers before but no amount of "pishing" could entice any, if indeed there were any, out of the bracken and gorse. A Kestrel entertained us as we whiled away the last hour or so of the day. We first saw it stood on top of a telegraph pole outside of one of the cottages from where it would often drop onto the ground beneath. After a few of these sorties it became apparent that the Kestrel was catching worms!

The close proximity of the young Falcon had aroused the pique of a Grey Wagtail which had been snaring flies on a nearby roof. The Kestrel being around also required the full attention of the Wagtail so it abandoned its own feeding and took a position on an adjacent wire from which it carefully kept an eye on the potential danger to itself.

After a few more moments of Kestrel watching we must have aroused the birds own interest in us since it made a swoop directly toward us! I half expected it to land on my shoulder in true "Kes" style but it passed right by and disappeared onto the moor. Nice to grab a couple of frames of it flying virtually straight at us though.

Another quick look for the Vireo proved fruitless so we drove back to the cottage musing on a slow day in the valleys but one which had had its moments. There would be one further surprise though when we passed Roskestal on the way out of Porthgwarra when I spotted a Dove perched on a wire over the road. It looked a little bit too compact and darker than the usually encountered Collared Doves, there are lots of those in the valley and elsewhere in Cornwall, and I knew instantly that it was a Turtle Dove. I pulled into a parking space and slowly exited the car to take some photos. The Turtle Dove, a juvenile, very helpfully stayed put while I took a few shots and only flew off when another car passed by. I wished it good luck if and when it chose to migrate south and a safe return next spring, maybe it would even find Otmoor. Sadly it would need every good fortune too if it happened to pass through certain areas of the Mediterranean region.

Turtle Dove

Monday 21 October 2019

BBB; Browed, Breasted & Barred. 12th October 2019

I knew that I should have been more humble when choosing the title of my last blog. Assuming birding was easy was a big mistake! After "cleaning up" with three super birds and year list additions on Thursday, Friday was almost a complete washout with continuous rain making walking the Cornish valleys extremely uncomfortable and most birds were hiding away in the cover. The only birds of note that we saw that day was the Red-breasted Flycatcher again in Nanquidno and a couple of Blackcaps in Kenidjack. We spent a large portion of the day drinking coffee in various cafes and tea rooms. At least I'd be wired ready for Saturday morning!

Red-breasted Flycatcher
It was still raining on Saturday first thing but at least it had eased to a steady drizzle. All of our birding holidays have been blighted by wet weather this year. We elected to "work" Nanquidno once again since we're staying just a few miles away and we were parked up next to the only other car before it was properly light. We found ourselves drawn to the Red-breasted Flycatcher again, just to check if it was still present, and spotted it flitting around in a Horse Chestnut tree right next to the road. A fellow birder joined us and I was happy to share the Flycatcher with him but Josh, well met, is a fine birder and would have found the bird by himself anyway. He in turn told us that he'd located a Yellow-browed Warbler higher up the valley which we were eager to see for ourselves. Yellow-browed Warblers have always been a big favourite of ours ever since we saw our first in the Cot Valley years ago. Although this time it wouldn't be a year tick since we'd already seen one in the Cotswolds (see YBW) in January.

We found the spot described by Josh and waited while straining our ears for the distinctive "tsweeeet" call of the Yellow-browed. We were stood by a clump of Willows that bordered a gurgling stream, the noise of which wasn't helping much. Viewing was tricky since we couldn't see past the first line of trees but over the next few minutes many common species of birds had either flown in, flown out or showed briefly at the edge of the trees. We heard the Yellow-browed calling but couldn't see it and were duped in turn by a Goldcrest and then a Chiffchaff that emerged from the foliage. Mrs Caley heard the YBW calling again and this time it was close. We knew it was in a Willow right above us but frustratingly still couldn't see it so we backed away up hill so that we'd get a better overview although we'd be further away. Then the small warbler broke cover by flying out of the Willows and into one of those "Laurel" type shrubs, I really must find out what they are, and showed beautifully for a whole thirty seconds or so.

Yellow-browed Warbler
The YBW then flew into a large Conifer tree at the top of the hill where we could still follow it but the overcast conditions and darkness within the overhanging needle laden branches made further photography futile. After another minute the Yellow-browed flew out and down the adjacent hillside and was lost to view.

We returned to the Red-breasted Flycatcher where a couple of expectant birders were watching but they hadn't seen the bird in nearly an hour. Cue Old Caley to instantly spot it then and show them the bird. On three successive days now I've latched onto the RB Fly within minutes on four separate occasions but then I always tell people that I have terrific peripheral vision despite being mostly blind and needing to wear specs! The Flycatcher was still hunting around the same trees but was mainly keeping to the outer branches making it easier to watch and photograph even in the low light levels, I even secured a ropey flight shot that showed the tail spread. But we were on a mission so didn't linger.....

While at the top of the hill watching the YBW, I actually managed to get some mobile reception, not always available in the valleys, and saw that a Barred Warbler had been found on the Lizard peninsular. Barred Warbler would be a year tick so it was a no-brainer to get down and see it for ourselves. I'm only vaguely familiar with the area so deciphered the location details as best as I could.

The bird had been found in a part of the Caerthillian Valley but very helpfully the finder had added "in scrub by the Pump House". The valley leads into Caerthillian Cove which was where the Brown Booby that we twitched on a brilliant day in September was seen. I parked in Lizard village and consulted the map and found the valley and the most likely access road and paths. Halfway along Pentreath Road I saw the small Pump House building but couldn't see any way down to it! There must be direct vehicular access for maintenance so obviously there was another more accessible path straight to it but rather than double back we carried on towards the cove thinking that we could pick up the coast path, follow that and come across the correct path that way. A little further on I spotted a group of around ten birders stood overlooking a small scrub lined valley that led down from the Pump House to the sea. It took us another twenty minutes or so to reach the site and then we managed to go the wrong way, ignoring the obvious path where only one birder stood, and had to navigate through high and very wet tussocky grass and scale a broken gate to reach the other birders. We joined them and I asked if anybody had seen the bird, the local eminent birder John Chapple replying" not for the last hour and a half". The area being scrutinised was a line of Sallows that grew in a deep ditch. I lifted my binoculars and announced "it's there at the left end!". It had taken me seconds to find the bird and continued my run of almost instantly connecting with birds after quickly finding the Red-eyed Vireo and Red-breasted Flycatchers on Thursday.

Everybody rushed to where I was stood in order to see the Barred Warbler, #273 for the year, but the bird quickly left the sallows and hopped into surrounding bramble bushes. I managed a quick burst of shots, none of which managed to capture the birds head! Mrs Caley had missed it so was delighted when the bird broke cover and flew further down the valley giving her some flight views at least and me the chance to get more ropey flight shots!

Barred Warbler
The Barred Warbler now had to be found again, it had landed in bramble bushes by the coast path but wasn't showing. They are renowned skulking birds often hiding away for hours before emerging briefly. We only had two on our lists before, the first in Aberdeen years ago and a wonderfully confiding adult at Titchfield Haven in December 2017 (see Barred Warbler). This was a typical juvenile, being a very pale beige and grey bird, and was more than a little reminiscent of a Wryneck when in flight and in size. A fellow birder had the foresight to walk around to the other side of the valley, there was a bridged path across the ditch next to a pond, and spotted the bird on the outer edge of a bramble patch. Initially I couldn't get on the bird so climbed the gate again and used that for added elevation. The Barred Warbler moved slightly and was now in full view although a fair way off but I rattled off some frames. Annoyingly my lens had fogged up slightly again, I must get that fixed when home, and I was finding it tricky to locate the bird through the viewfinder. Thankfully Mrs Caley had got decent views of the bird this time.

The Warbler then flew back into the sallows and became very elusive so all of the other birders, having seen enough, wandered off leaving just myself and Mrs Caley to it. I'm never satisfied and almost always overdo it and spend too much time with individual birds but it's not every day that I get to see a Barred Warbler! We had fine, if sporadic, views over the next hour or so but it was difficult to pin the Warbler down for a decent image so I had to be happy with what I had.

We left for some lunch and to catch up on the bird news by finding a cafe with wifi. There was nothing new or interesting enough to chase so on our way back towards the Penwith Peninsular we dropped into Helston Boating Pond to see a male Ferruginous Duck. The pond was the site where we saw a Ring-billed Gull once. The "Fudge" Duck, as they are affectionately known, isn't a completely wild bird so can't be listed, since it had been released at the pond, even though it is now living wild and free. By the time we reached the pond it was raining quite heavily again but thankfully it took only a few moments to find the duck. Annoyingly, although you couldn't blame it for doing so considering the weather, it was asleep with it's head tucked away!

Ferruginous Duck
The Boating Pond held plenty of other Ducks and Gulls but in the teeming rain we couldn't be bothered to tarry and hurried away although I spared a moment to snap a fine looking Coot!

We were now at a bit of a loose end, it was only mid-afternoon but the weather was against us doing any intrepid walking down valleys or over cliffs. Fortunately a signpost for Hayle presented itself and we thought the hide at Ryan's Field would make a useful place to idle away an hour or so. Even better we could sit and eat one of Cornwalls famous pasties while we watched birds!

Armed with our delicacies from the local Philps, some people rave about them, others don't, but right there and then they were delicious, we took our seats in the rudimentary and empty shelter that counts as a hide. Ryan's Field forms part of the RSPB's reserve at Hayle and acts as a refuge for many birds particularly when the main estuary is flooded by the incoming tide. We had luckily timed our visit well and there were plenty of wading birds to search through. I usually fit in a trip here to see Bar-tailed Godwits and they were present in decent numbers. Around twenty or so fed reasonably close to the hide and as we scoffed away on our own afternoon tea, the Godwits found and devoured their own, less appealing looking snacks.

Bar-tailed Godwit
There was a lone Black-tailed Godwit as well but it was too far away for a photo. At the Hayle, Barwits seem to be more common than Blackwits unlike at most places nearer home. Most numerous were the Redshanks and they were also the most animated, continually running from one place to another and calling incessantly. I noticed a Spotted Redshank feeding amongst its commoner cousins. 

Spotted Redshank & Common Redshank
A Kingfisher sat sentry on a bush at the edge of the scrape and Curlews flew in from the main estuary calling to others of their kind to announce their arrival. Good numbers of Curlews winter at the Hayle and there were more than fifty on the marshy area to the right of the hide. In with the Black-headed Gulls were two adult Mediterranean Gulls which have become much more common in these parts in recent years. A beautiful Greenshank suddenly materialised just in front of the shelter and promptly went to sleep although it did have a good look at a passing Buzzard first. 

In the hour we stayed there was no sign of the hoped for Osprey, that had been present for the last few weeks, anywhere around the estuary, I checked Copperhouse Creek too where we did see a small group of four Pink-footed Geese in the much larger congregation of Canada geese. We finished our day by driving down Cot Valley to the small cove, Porth Nanven, where you sometimes get a Black Redstart or Wheatear feeding amongst the rocks. None there this time but there was a couple of Mediterranean Gulls just offshore although I doubt they were enjoying the constant harassment they were getting from the local Herring Gulls.

Mediterranean Gull & Herring Gull
A common sight in the Cornish coves, a Seal (Atlantic Grey?) stared forlornly, or maybe optimistically, at me from the sea. I always wonder about what Seals are thinking about when they pop their heads up and look straight at us stood on the land. Maybe they've had enough of fish and can smell the pasties. Or maybe they're saying "so you've managed to destroy our habitat, how about we come up there and wreck yours!". Of course they wouldn't need to since we've made a pretty good job at doing that ourselves.

"You B******'s!"
On that happy thought we called it a day, it had been a pretty decent one at that!