Friday, 27 November 2015

Wildlife watching attracts over 24,000 people to The Lizard Point in Cornwall, but what is there to see?

Lizard Point – photo Barry Batchelor
Located at the most southerly point of mainland Britain, against sea sculpted cliffs carpeted in rare and exotic flowers, The Lizard Point, in Cornwall is a great place to spoil yourself with top notch wildlife watching within a stone’s throw of a cream tea or ice cream and an eclectic mix of gift shops.

Whether you’re a keen birder happy to watch thousands of special seabirds on migration or you’re relatively new to wildlife and you’d enjoying watching the local seals swimming, feeding, hauled out or ‘bottling’* nearby, there’s something for everyone at Lizard Point. 

(*’bottling’ is when a seal rests vertically in the water with just their head poking out from the surface of the sea).

Seal pup Keeley 2014 - photo Terry Thirlaway
From April to September every year, an enthusiastic team of weather proof volunteers are on hand at the National Trust wildlife watchpoint to give you great views of wildlife through binoculars and telescopes, and it’s absolutely FREE. 

This year we’ve welcomed over 24,000 visitors giving them great views of things like:
basking sharks
grey seals
barrel jellyfish
Lizard choughs 2015 - photo Terry Thirlaway
wild Cornish choughs
the resident gulls….and much more.

As well as getting over 24,000 people closer to nature, the wildlife watchpoint also works with the Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust , Cornwall Wildlife Trust , RSPB  and the BTO to submit wildlife data to national recording programmes. 
Basking Shark - photo Green Fire Productions* 

This year the team of 30 watchpoint volunteers, collected over 3600 wildlife records from 132 different species seen from the watchpoint, and this doesn’t even include the local plant life! Unfortunately not all of our data is accessible online yet, but you can see a full-list of the bird’s that have been seen from Lizard Point on the Bird Track website. Click here and search for grid ref: SW 7011

For a fantastic story of discovery about a rescued seal who had her pup on the Lizard click here

We’re open daily from 10am – 4pm, from April to mid-September (weather permitting) | TR12 7NU. 


We are always looking for enthusiastic people to join the team. You don’t need to be an expert, you just need to be friendly and have an interest in wildlife. If that sounds like you, and you’d like to get involved please get in touch: 

Lizard Wildlife Watchpoint 2014 - photo Shannon O'Grady

‘It’s great that we have the chance to talk to so many people about wildlife. What really inspires me is the joy that so many people get from seeing a seal, a basking shark or a chough in real life for the first time….sharing the amazement and the excitement of folks most treasured wildlife experiences never gets old. I love it and always will!’ 

– Michael, watchpoint volunteer

- Cat 

* Basking Shark - photo Green Fire Productions [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, 20 November 2015

Delving into the past at Porkellis

Over the past two years I’ve been working on an archaeological project on Tyack’s engine house at Porkellis Moor, which is part of the historic Penrose Estate in the old mining village of Porkellis. We were aiming to understand more about the mining archaeology in the area and to preserve some of the historic features, which are part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site. The site consists of the engine house, which is a scheduled monument, the shaft, a smithy, a magazine, a flat rod trench and a balance bob pit.

Clearing the flat rod trench
The first phase of the project was to conduct a survey and produce a report on the archaeological and built heritage at Tyack’s engine house, detailing the historic development and the site’s present day context. Once this was complete, the second phase of the project was to carry out repair works identified by the report.
The smithy before...
...and after ivy removal and re-pointing 
The report uncovered some interesting findings. Tyack’s engine house dates to 1859 and is a rare surviving example in the Wendron Mining District. It was constructed to facilitate the deep shaft mining of the Tymorgie Lodes and represents an important phase in the development of mining and extraction techniques in the area. Not only was it a vital building for the industry in the 19th century, but it now acts as a symbol of this once dominant local industry and testifies to Porkellis’s role at the heart of the tin industry.  

Engine house before...
...and after ivy removal
Building work began on site at the end of the summer. The ivy was cleared off the engine house and the out buildings were repointed with lime mortar. One of the biggest jobs was to cover the shaft with a metal grid, so that it was safe enough to remove the old barbed wire fence.

Now the work is complete we are aiming to keep the buildings free from ivy and to keep the vegetation under control so that these beautiful, historic buildings can be seen.

Porkellis History: The previous owners of Penrose, the Rogers family, bought part of Porkellis Moor in the 1930s in order to close down the mines to stop pollution flowing into the River Cober and eventually into Loe Pool further downstream. The National Trust inherited this along with Penrose when the Rogers kindly donated the estate in 1974.

View of Tyack's engine house from the road approaching from the north
With thanks to Natural England for part funding this project through a Higher Level Stewardship agreement, MRDA Architects and MC Quick building contractors.

Laura, Penrose Ranger.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Making the most of Autumn

Once the expectations of summer have passed, this year we were treated to a few weeks of rare still, warm autumn days...fantastic weather to make the most of getting outdoors and harvesting natures bounty. The Keskowithyans Schools Partnership have been looking at food one of my favourite things with almost all of the schools coming to Poltesco for Forage and Feast Days. I have never seen so many nettles and sea beet willingly consumed in the stews prepared by the children!
Cooking seaweed flavored bread over the fire!

Discovering safe foraging and that green things don't taste so bad after all
Crushing scrumped apples to go into the apple press was a favorite activity
Another school taking advantage of the weather was Constantine Primary School who had a fantastic rockpool on Passage Beach and among other things discovered an eggcase complete with a live and moving small spotted cat shark inside!

Half term and we had our last event for the Windmill Farm Nature Reserve Project. Over thirty people turned up for a pond dip in the the pristine dragonfly ponds on the reserve discovering lots of beasties and some lovely large dragonfly nymphs ready to come out of the pond next year. Also on at Half Term was 'Scream its Halloween!' at Poltesco where families got the chance to make their own spell, have a go at the bat on a zip wire activity, bob wormy apples and toast an eye ball over the fire, there were lots of scary things going on!

Who would have thought wormy apples could taste so good!

Creating potions in bottles using goblin eye juice, death seeds and witches fingers...the consequences of these spells are yet to be seen on the Lizard!
Brave enough to put you hand in the feely boxes? 
Our last event of the year should be a cracker! Cricky its Christmas on the 5th December 1pm - 4pm will get you into the Christmas spirit were we use the natural environment as inspiration to make our Christmas decorations including weaving your own giant bauble! Activities for all ages. Give me a shout at Poltesco (01326) 291174 or email for more details
Hopefully see you there.....

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