With the wind forecast to be a persistent south-westerly for the next couple of days, I decided that they would be best spent seawatching from Porthgwarra in the far south-west of Cornwall. I headed away mid-morning, and crossed the Cornish border a few hours later.
I stopped at Davidstow Airfield for lunch, and in the vain hope of finding some waders. There was very little about as it turned out, with a couple of Wheatears being the only notable species.
I arrived at Porthgwarra at half four, and almost immediately was put onto a couple of distant Cory’s Shearwater. They were over a mile offshore, but their large size, slow flight and distinctive shape were striking. The wings were held forward and downward, and the birds flew very low over the water, sometimes ‘paddling’ and occasionally landing. They were great to watch, and as the evening drew on they came a little closer, with one bird even coming well within the ‘runnel buoy’ just before dusk. The white underside with contrasting black flight feathers, sand-brown upperside and head, and large cream-yellow bill were all seen clearly.
My final tallies for the four hour watch finished at 18 Cory’s Shearwater, 1 Great Shearwater, 16 Balearic Shearwater, 1 Sooty Shearwater and 8 Storm-Petrels. Several hundred Manx Shearwater also passed, with Fulmar, Gannet and Shag present in abundance. A pair of Chough also showed well just before sunset on the cliffs below the watchpoint.
It had been one of the most productive and enjoyable seawatches I had ever experienced, and it was only the beginning of my visit!