It is fortunate that nature is not affected by corona chaos. It just steadily gets on with doing its stuff, slowly adjusting to the seasons. Spring is trying its best to appear….the primroses in the bank, the occasional bumble bee and butterfly in a sunny corner, a chiffchaff singing from a copse and the superb blackbird singing outside the bedroom window at the first hint of dawn (it piped up at 5.43 this morning).
Coronavirus can’t mess up the coastal scenery either. In fact, unbelievably, it has made it a bit better, because there are no vapour trails in the sky. It is an extraordinary coincidence that only a month ago I was saying that the cherry on top of the iced bun that is the remoteness of Antarctica was that there were no vapour trails overhead, which kept the absence of human influence absolutely complete.
And here it was (or wasn’t). Right here on our doorstep in Cornwall. not a plane in sight. You would normally expect to see up to a dozen trails lined across a morning vista such as this.
No vapour trails here…..
No vapour trails there……..
No vapour trails anywhere……
Not having the exhaust fumes from 100,000 flights per day around the globe can only be of benefit to the inhabitants therein (or thereon).
Enough of the heavy stuff, let’s go for a bit of a paddle and see what we can find!
Oystercatchers are always good. Everything about them is extrovert and full on. They make absolutely no attempt at camouflage or being quiet and unnoticed. They kick up an enormous racket. And they are common enough to liven up virtually every trip I do.
This one is obligingly perched with a waterfall in the background, making the image even more easy on the eye.
Further offshore (and opportunities to paddle out have been few and far between due to wind) it’s quite quiet. There are not many hunting Gannets around, and few hunting Gannets tends to mean few dolphins or porpoises.
So to find some cetaceans I had to make a bit of an effort to paddle out beyond one of the most notoriously hairy headlands of the south coast…Dodman Point. It has a reputation for wild seas, which get thrown up when the wind and the tide race have a disagreement. However, with a bit of cunning planning, and a windless morning, I managed to find three Harbour porpoises rolling very quietly at the surface at the tideline, where the water moving past the end of the point shears past the more static water of Mevagissey bay.
Of course I had to take a bit of a spin around Mevagissey’s inner harbour….its charm seems to increase each time I drop by.
Back out in the open sea the Guillemots are just deciding that it’s time to put on their summer outfits. The one on the left is still in non-breeding (winter) plumage, the one on the right is in full breeding (summer) colours.
You can see why these members of the auk family have the nickname of ‘northern penguins’ *. They are remarkably similar to penguins such as the Gentoos I watched a month or two ago. Guillemots use their wings to propel themselves underwater in exactly the same way penguins do. See the similarity yourself.
*if they haven’t, they should
I was joined by a very smart looking Fulmar Petrel off Polperro. Like most birds of the open sea, they can’t resist coming over to have a look.
These are part of the ‘tubenose’ group of seabirds that have a salt extraction gland located on top of their beak to enable them to survive using the sea as their only source of water.
Here’s a close up of the tube. And study at that beak; it looks as though it’s been air-brushed and polished like a car at a vintage rally.
Eric the Eider isn’t so curious however. He’s doing his best to go unnoticed.
Grey Seals are a constant source of fascination. They too are inherently inquisitive but some are very much more shy than others. This one could be either. It is fast asleep (bottling) with just the tip of its nose above the water. My main job is to not wake it up. That would be unfair (and completely unacceptable). Observe the wildlife, don’t frighten it.
Grey seals come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. This (I think) is a this-year’s pup. It puts on a good show with a perfect three-point turn. (And you can hear a Dunnock (aka Hedge Sparrow) singing in the background)
In major contrast to the fine features of the juvenile seal, this is a grizzled old bull. I think this could have been the largest seal I have ever seen in the UK. When it rolled at the surface its back was more like a small whale. It also had a very nasty-looking scar on the end of its nose.
And I didn’t come within ten metres of another person (apart from passing cars) all day.