Have you ever been ambling along our stunning coast path or meandering up and down the shoreline of Crantock Bay, surrounded by various chirps, clicks and whistles, and spotted a particularly charming little bird and wished you knew its name? We know the feeling!
We thought we’d put together a list of some of the beautiful coastal birdlife you can expect (and hope!) to see if taking a stroll along the clifftops or the River Gannel after your Sunday lunch at The Bowgie…
Not to be confused with a Common Shag which looks similar but is a little smaller, a cormorant is a magical marine bird that reminds us of when dinosaurs walked the planet. With their long necks, broad wings and long bodies, their shape can be likened to that of a reptile, diver and goose all in one. Slicing through the water, they are just as graceful when on the hunt for fish in the deep blue as they are when gliding lazily above it. Their characteristic stance of holding their wings wide, fully outstretched in order to dry themselves in the sunshine after taking the plunge makes them easily recognisable.
Often heard before seen, the oystercatcher is one of the more noisy birds on the coast and certainly one that’s hard to miss. You’ll often find them hanging out in groups and making a raucous racket, calling to one another as they fly from spot to spot. Their colouring is black and white, with a long, thin red bill and even longer pinky-red legs, which help them wade through coastal mud flats and hop about amongst rocks to find food. As the name might suggest, oystercatchers specialise in eating shellfish, particularly cockles and mussels, which they either prise or hammer open with their bills.
Photographed by Liz Burt.
The Common Buzzard
One to look out for when walking a little further inland, buzzards are fairly solitary birds that you may find sat up high on a tree branch or electricity pole watching the world go by below (or in this case, on a picturesque hay bale no doubt waiting for the twitch of a mouse in the grass!) Buzzards are the most widespread bird of prey and have broad, rounded wings to help them glide effortlessly through the air. When soaring about in open skies you can easily identify a buzzard, for its wings take the shape of a shallow ‘V’ and its tail will be fanned. At nighttime, some say you can mistake one of these beautiful creatures for a cat, as its distinctive call sounds somewhat like a ‘mew.’
Photographed by Liz Burt.
The Little Egret
This endearing bird can be found in many coastal spots, especially where a river meets the ocean. Estuaries make for particularly appealing homes due to their vast expanse of wetland for egrets to wade through, as they find food on their long, stalk-like legs. The Little Egret is actually a small heron, and is pure white with a long, black bill, black legs and surprisingly bright green-yellow eyes and feet! They feed on small fish and crustaceans, and are generally very solitary creatures, preferring life on the quiet side.
If lady luck is with you on your travels, you may just be fortunate enough to spot one of these beauties! Famous for their unmistakable turquoise-blue and fiery-orange colouring, and long, dagger-like bills, kingfishers are rare but not totally elusive. They like to hang out around slow moving or still water, such as rivers or lakes, where they sit quietly on riverside perches, patiently waiting for the perfect moment to launch themselves and skim rapidly over the water’s surface in their hunt for fish. It may come as a surprise that the UK’s one and only species of kingfisher could be seen as a black sheep, in that many other worldwide species are dry-land birds and prefer not to dwell in wetland habitats like our UK residents.
The Cornish Chough
Another rare bird, this red-legged, red-billed and incredibly playful member of the crow family has earned its Cornish identity due to its close association with our little county for several hundred years, and can now even be referred to as the Crow of Cornwall. The Chough has a very distinctive call, one that often makes it seem as though it’s having a good old natter to its other chough friends, and so you may hear this bird before you see it. Their cheeky personalities are resembled in the way they wheel about in the sky, with wings fanned out wide, climbing high before turning over backwards and dropping down through the air like stones – they definitely know how to have fun!
So there you have it, a few of our favourite local birds to look out for when out and about around Crantock – some will be guaranteed sightings, and others you may want to have a pair of binoculars handy for!
Make sure to try and snap some pictures from a respectful distance of any great sightings, and share them on our Facebook page whenever you see the #letsseayoursnaps hashtag! We’d love to see the local wildlife you’ve been spotting!
Team Bowgie xxx