Over the weekend, my partner and I found ourselves with a couple of days off together. As the sun had decided to make a rare appearance, we agreed that we would spend as much time as we possible could outside. Our first excursion was over to Poldhu beach, also sometimes known Black Pool Cove, Mullion. The beach has a dog ban from Easter through to October due to how busy it gets, so we still get to enjoy it for the next month. The cove here and round the headland at Gunwalloe, both are quite changeable and when we arrived in the morning, a small pool had appeared further up the beach and the dogs spent a happy time paddling, dunking their heads underneath the chilly water to look for rocks at the bottom.
Whilst we entertained Lexus and Laika, Justin and I debated where to go and explore, and as per usual, settled on the decision of ‘lets just go and see what happens’. We dropped the dogs back at home; Lexi’s leg isn’t currently good enough for him to walk any distance, and headed towards Penzance. Travelling in a van can really change the perspective of journeys you have taken previously; being that little bit further up means you can suddenly see things you never could in a car. I forget sometimes, that even thought they don’t have the drama of the Scottish Highlands, Cornwall does have rolling hills, despite its unfair label of being ‘boringly flat’. We passed through Marazion and peered out at people walking the path to St Michael’s Mount, which is revealed at low tide, the castle appearing to glitter in the sunlight.
As we passed Penzance, a few ‘which turning?’ questions were fired out as we approached roundabouts and we eventually found ourselves taking the turning that led down the steep slipway to Sennen Cove. As it was half term, the beach on the right was fairly busy, with some brave souls even venturing into the water. First stop was the local café where we grabbed some cake and stood in the sunshine overlooking the water, eating thick slabs of rich tiffin and coffee cake. Not exactly the best idea before climbing the steps to reach the coastal path, but despite the feeling of having large rocks in our stomachs, we made it to the top and went to the watchhouse to look out across the water.
The West coast of Cornwall is famous for it’s fantastic bird watching opportunities, and Sennen is no exception. Along the shore line 3 egrets sat at random intervals, too far out for me to ID properly. An oystercatcher began to call when another flew to join it, before together they continued pecking around the rockpools for their lunch. In the sky was a mixture of gull species and I identified herring, greater black-backed and Glaucus gulls, and between them, large white birds with thick black wings tips. Every now and again, one of the circling individuals would suddenly dive downwards, reaching high speeds, their long neck outstretched. Their sharp beak would hit the water and the birds would disappear beneath the waves. Gannets are an honour to watch when they are hunting, they divebomb towards the ocean with the most incredible aerodynamics, reaching up to speeds of over 60mph. Their dives, which will start as high as 30m above the waterline, help to propel them under the water, giving them the opportunity to hunt deeper than most other species. The dives are powerful, but gannets have air sacs in their face and chest to help cushion the impact.
As we were watching the acrobatics take place, 3 dark shapes cut through the water, dorsal fins rising and falling with the waves. Bottlenose dolphins are seen fairly often at Sennen and whilst we only spotted 3 breaching the surface, pods of up to 15 individuals have been sighted in the area, and more may have been staying underwater. They seemed to be making their way in towards the shore, but a few metres out, where the water appeared shallower, we lost track of them, assuming that they must have changed direction.
Before we continued our walk, I let a couple heading up the headland brandishing large-lensed camera’s (something I had disappointingly forgotten to bring with me) know about the dolphins; sharing the excitement with others is something I always do, hoping that others can share in those special wildlife moments. Around the headland, we watched as two rock climbers scaled the rock face and another photographer dared herself closer to the edge to try and photograph the corvids which swopped around the crevices of the rock face. A pair of jackdaws argued as they flitted in and out of a hidden space. It is too early for them to be nesting already, but pairs tend to stick together, forming very strong bonds with each other throughout their lives, so it is possible that this pair was window shopping. Jackdaws like to nest in small spaces, and whilst it seems the majority of them seem to be in mine and my neighbours’ chimneys, rock faces are highly favoured spots to start a family in. They will start to lay around April time before babies fledge around June.
The sun was short-lived, and the rain set in causing us to make for home. The dogs had been alone for a couple of hours, so it was about the right time for another walk anyway, albeit a slightly soggy one, before the 4 of snuggled up under a blanket in front of a film as the came down outside the window.