Diane and her group booked me for a mornings guided tour with the hope of seeing Cornish Choughs. Target species can never be guaranteed, so we always make sure we have a back up plan and go to an area with varied habitats to ensure we see as many species as we can.

Looking for Choughs in the beautiful Nanquidno Valley

Nanquidno Valley in the far west of Cornwall has just that. Nice areas of grazed cliff tops, ideally suited to Choughs, small woodlands, water filled ditches and of course rugged coastline and the sea. On our arrival the clouds had gone and we were treated to a lovely warm sunny autumn morning. Chiffchaffs were in good numbers in the valley, chased by the resident Robins and Dunnocks and Goldcrest and Coal Tits called from the pines near Nanjulian Mill. The first of three Sparrowhawks flew over and at the bottom of the valley we took a bit of time over the different plumages in both Linnets and Stonechats. The sea was quiet but produced diving Gannets, always a crowd pleaser, Fulmars, Shags and gulls.

Our first of three Sparrowhawks
Some nice flocks of Linnets along the coastal path

Finally, I heard a familiar call and looked up to see two Chough overhead with a flock of Jackdaw. They soon parted from the crowd and gave us spectacular views both in flight and feeding on the cliff edge below us.

We were limited to just four hours of birding, so a quick look in at the Hayle Estuary added to our tally, but with the tide well out there were not too many new birds to add. It did give me the opportunity to point out the differences between Mediterranean and Black-headed Gulls though and look at a few commoner waders at close range through the scope. The new British Birds Pocket Guide came in useful today too!! So all in all we saw about 50 species and at least our target bird gave memorable views for the group.

Massive thanks to Diane and the gang for booking us and also to Tim and Anna Drew, regular Cornwall Bird Tour clients, who recommended us to Diane. Thoroughly enjoyed the company, scenery and birds today and look forward to seeing you in the future.

Species Lists:

Nanquidno – 30+ Linnet, 60+ Jackdaw, 6 Stonechat, 2 Chough, 4 Buzzard, 3 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, 10+ Chiffchaff, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Fulmar, 3 Shag, 20+ Gannet, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Raven, 2 Coal Tit, 10 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Jay, 8 Swallows. Also Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Goldfinch, Rook, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Robin, Dunnock, Wren and Blackbird recorded.

Hayle Estuary (Lelant Saltings) – (No counts, just species seen) Sparrowhawk, Raven, Med Gull, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Curlew, Redshank, Canada Goose, Shelduck, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Swallow, Oystercatcher, Rock Pipit, Buzzard, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Grey Heron, Little Egret