The Garden Diary 2008

August (part 2)

On the Lizard - part 3

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5 August - Another day of rest, thanks to probably the most miserable weather so far. After lots of rain overnight, it eased by the morning, but it remained misty, and drizzle fell continuously all day. The forecast for the rest of the week is not encouraging, with perhaps one reasonable day possible in the next four! The start of August couldn't have been much worst for families on holiday in this part of the West Country.

Buff Footman Moth (Eilema depressa)


Just one subject for photographs today - another Footman moth. I'm having a bit of a problem with this one. Thanks to Tim Norris for identifying it as a Buff Footman (Eilema depressa).



6 August - Yet another wet day - at least there has been a different moth to photograph -

Dingy Footman Moth (Eilema griseola)



But first, another Footman Moth - this time a Dingy Footman (Eilema griseola) - again, thanks to Tim.



Dingy Footman Moth (Eilema griseola) eggs


This Footman is definitely a female. I actually collected her late last night and didn't photograph her until this morning, by which time she had laid a group of eggs in the container.



Flame Shoulder Moth (Ochropleura plecta)



The new species (at least for me) is a Flame Shoulder Moth (Ochropleura plecta). It was very active, and I was only able to take a few photographs before it flew off and hid itself somewhere in our caravan awning.



Well, what a difference a few hours can make. With the rain pouring down I switched on the tv to see a weather forecast around 3.30pm and the first map to appear showed the Lizard Point clear of cloud by 5pm - we didn't bother with the rest of the forecast as we headed there!

Lizard Lighthouse on a sunny evening


It was still raining when we parked but there was blue sky towards the western horizon. By the time we had a meal in the Polpeor Café the rain had stopped at the skies were brighter.

Soon we (and the lighthouse) were bathed in very welcome sunshine as the rain clouds moved away to the north-west.


Looking west from Lizard Point on a sunny evening


And to the west an equally bright scene.





Down in Polpeor Cove the sea was much calmer than on our last visit, and with the tide out the beach was covered in torn Laminaria seaweed.



I wondered if the improved weather would bring out the Chough family, but while the family group didn't appear I did see one youngster feeding (this bird two red rings) and what I think were the parents flying off beyond the lighthouse.

A flock of Gannets passes Lizard Point


Out to sea, the Gannets posed a puzzle for us. We often see them fly past in groups, and they are always heading west in the late afternoons and evenings. Where are they going?

Perhaps we should come down here in the mornings to see if they fly east then!

A flock of Gannets flies by the furthermost rock off Lizard Point



Here, the group is passing low over the most seaward rocks at Lizard Point.



Ships, and a flock of Gannets off Lizard Point

While most groups keep low over the sea, occasionally the sun catches the white of higher fliers, in this case passing a ship called Sea Kestrel (although I fail to see any comparison between it and a Kestrel!).

Out of interest, the ship in the background is called Odyssey Explorer - a sort of modern day treasure hunter, used amongst other things to search for old sunken ships and their valuable cargoes.


When we headed back for the caravan we also returned to the grey, overcast skies that had hung on over that part of the peninsular.


7 August - A much better day and we spent it at Porthallow!

While we could see several heavy rain showers out at sea and over the land off to the east, apart from a few spots of rain over a couple of minutes during the afternoon Porthallow Cove remained bright and sunny just about all day, with the sea flat calm.

One of the caves north of Porthallow


I did some snorkelling, although with all the bad weather that there has been I wasn't surprised to see that the water was not as clear as it could be.

As this picture suggests, I also did some kayaking. I didn't venture far today, just to the sea caves and then on to Turwell Point where I took another look at the rock pools.



A prawn in a rockpool at Turwell Point


The Shanny weren't interested in the camera today so I turned my attention to this prawn instead.

This picture also includes an out-of-focus self-portrait as I held the camera below the prawn and point it upwards. The blue of the prawn's pincer makes an interesting contrast to the rest of its colour scheme.


Green seaweed (unidentified) in a rockpool at Turwell Point



And just one seaweed picture - is this the same species as the bright green seaweed that I photographed in the first couple of days of the holiday?


Fishing boat off Turwell Point


Finally, a more traditional holiday snap. We often watch the fishing boats from Falmouth pass across the bay either setting out on or returning from fishing trips, but I rarely get close to one on the kayak, especially when it has a sail up.

The float marks the position of one end of a string of lobster (or crab) pots.



8 August - Unbelievably, a second mainly sunny day, with no rain at all, and an unexpected encounter at Porthallow.

During the morning I used my sea scooter for a long snorkelling session. The water is getting clearer slowly and I used the scooter to 'wander' between Nellie's Cove (just to the left of Porthallow) and the first of the caves.

Underwater off Nellie's Cove, Porthallow


The sea bed is interesting in that it is mainly rock, as seen in this picture, with deep chasms, similar to the approaches to the caves. These were too deep to explore today - I need to do that at the lowest tides.

seaweed on underwater rocks off Nellie's Cove, Porthallow




While much of the rock is barren, there are clumps of seaweed to bring colour to it.


A shoal of very small fish off Nellie's Cove, Porthallow



As far as fish were concerned, these are the only ones that remained within range of my camera! The only large fish that I saw were just above the bottom in the deeper water, out of reach of the camera.


Another cave just north of Porthallow



Before heading back for lunch I went ashore by another of the caves.


Another cave just north of Porthallow - interior


Although it has one of the narrowest entrances, you can stand upright once inside. While the cave I photographed yesterday has a solid breccia roof, in this one that layer must be much thinner and is incomplete, allowing a constant drip of water (the vertical streaks you see in the picture).

As usual, towards the back of the cave the gravel floor slopes up to meet the roof.



After lunch and a long pause I set off again, intending to snorkel in the same area again. However I was beaten to the spot by another kayak, crewed by a couple and their dog (suitable equipped with its own life jacket!). They has just come across an adult Grey Seal exactly where I'd been snorkelling earlier on.

A Grey Seal appears behind a kayak


We spent a long time just sitting there, just occasionally adjusting our positions as the seal appeared to be as inquisitive about us as we were about it.



A Grey Seal inspects me


It was a real challenge to spot where it would appear next, although it seemed to know how to come up behind you, which made taking its picture a bit hit and miss.

Much of the time I was more concerned with watching rather than fiddling with the camera


A Grey Seal looks around


In one occasion it appeared so close I could clearly smell its very 'fishy' breathe!

Eventually it seemed to lose interest in us and vanished, although the couple saw it later, further along the coast.



9 August - I suppose two good days deserve a downpour, and today another 'complex low' has brought more rain than all that has fallen over the last week or more! By this evening the field that our caravan is sited on is absolutely sodden - we even have puddles inside our awning!

Cormorants on Shag Rock, off Lizard PointDespite the weather, we headed for the Lizard this morning, and for a while the rain eased up.

Along with the rain it has been very windy today and needless to say the seas are turning rough again, although still not enough to dislodge the Cormorants from their perches on Shag Rock. Having said that, there were numerous arrivals and departures while I watched.


The tide was going out while we were there, so I headed down into Polpeor Cove to photograph the Rock Pipits that regularly scour the seaweed left behind by the tide.

Rock Pipit in Polpeor Cove, Lizard Point


The conditions were rather unfriendly but I managed to get a few useable shots as they darted about.

They are very flighty birds and are easily sent into flight by each other.


Male Turnstone in Polpeor Cove


While there were numerous Pipits about, they were joined amongst the seaweed by a single adult male Turnstone in his summer plumage.

I'm afraid that my attempts to photograph him were even less successful than my efforts with the Pipits.


As I got back to the top of the path out of the cove the sound of a Chough had me looking skywards just in time to see six fly right over the point, heading towards the lighthouse. Before they reached it they were joined by two more, making it the largest Chough group I've every seen here. A representative of the National Trust (who own the Point on behalf of the nation) tells me that yesterday there was a flock of nine here (and in good conditions for photography - although that has to be balanced against the seal experience!).

It was as I talked to him that the heavy rain started to fall, continuing for the rest of the day, leading to  'our' field becoming absolutely water-logged. With more bad weather in its way we have decided to go home a few days earlier than planned, packing tomorrow ready for an early start on Monday.

It's another holiday that has gone by without us catching sight of any Basking Sharks. It seems that there have been fewer this summer along this part of the coast. Also, I haven't even seen any jellyfish (nor have other people I've spoken to). That was a bit disappointing as I would have loved to have pointed my Olympus at them!


Beetle (unidentified), Pinetrees campsite11 August -  On a dry morning, which was good for us as we got ready to leave there was just one addition to the diary in the form of this beetle that landed on the caravan awning.

I've looked through my insect guides and cannot identify it.



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