This year the National Trust has been running the Lizard Wildlife Watchpoint at Lizard Point for the first time. The watchpoint was run in previous years by the RSPB to introduce people to the local choughs, as it is ideally located for great views of the birds coming and going from the nest site.
|Adult male (right) and juvenile chough (left) - (Terry Thirlaway)|
The new National Trust watchpoint is open until mid September and the absence of the choughs has given other species a chance to shine. Lizard Point is a great place to see passing seabirds in their thousands. This year we’ve seen Manx, Balearic, Cory’s, great and sooty shearwaters, Arctic, great and pomarine skuas, Arctic, black, roseate, common and Sandwich terns so far and a number of petrels. We have also seen countless numbers of auks including puffins, little auks, guillemots and razorbills passing through on their spring and autumn migration, not to mention the passing gannets and plethora of gulls that we have, some of which have come from Spain believe it or not.
|Kestrel - (Mark Hayhurst)|
|Common dolphins - (Terry Thirlaway)|
Lizard Point is an important haul out site for seals. Through daily observations we have recorded a maximum of 18 seals hauled out on the rocks at one time. Although seals can be seen throughout the day, sometimes quite close in, spring low tides are the best time to see seals hauled out together at Lizard Point, as their favourite rocks are exposed for longer.
|Atlantic grey seals - (Terry Thirlaway)|
A small group of local volunteers have been working closely with Cornwall Seal Group to collect information on the seals, through daily observations and photographs which are added into the Cornwall Seal Database. Individual seals can be identified through their unique fur patterns so every seal that is seen is logged in a special Lizard catalogue. Thanks to the invaluable efforts of Alec, Enid, Terry and Sue we are now getting an idea of which seals are regular visitors and which are just passing through. Seals identified around the watchpoint have also been seen as far east as Looe, west as the Scillies and around Skomer (Pembrokeshire) to the north. For more information on seals in Cornwall visit www.cornwallsealgroup.co.uk
|Atlantic grey seal - (Terry Thirlaway)|
This year, we have also had the help of Mary, our fantastic new volunteer intern. With Mary’s help we’ve been able to develop a formal recording programme for all our wildlife sightings. Every day our sightings are logged and then submitted to the relevant record centre; our bird records are submitted to BirdTrack (British Trust for Ornithology recording scheme) and any other sightings go to Cornwall Wildlife Trust and ERCCIS. So far this year we have recorded over 100 different species and submitted over 2000 wildlife records from the watchpoint, not including our botanical records. Mary has also developed a fantastic new range of factsheets and posters for the watchpoint. Working alongside the BTO, RSPB, Cornwall Seal Group and Cornwall Wildlife Trust we have held several guided walks and training events to learn more about the wildlife seen from Lizard Point and how to identify and record it.
|Lizard Wildlife Watchpoint - (National Trust)|
The new watchpoint has been a huge success not only by inspiring over 10,000 visitors but also for developing an important new wildlife recording point in Cornwall. If you haven’t been to see us yet make sure you pay us a visit before 4pm on Tuesday 16th September as this is the last day we’ll be open until next year. We are open from 10 am – 4pm daily, from April until mid September.
To keep up with watchpoint news visit:www.twitter.com/cliffthechough www.facebook.com/LizardNT
To learn more about wildlife on the Lizard visit: www.the-lizard.org.uk