Archive for October, 2019

West Country 2019 (9): Bodmin

Posted: October 11, 2019 in cornwall, UK
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St Petroc is reputed to have founded a monastery on the site of Bodmin in the 6th century naming the place Petrocstow. Certainly, by the time of the Doomsday Book, the monastery held land across this part of Cornwall and the associated settlement was the largest in Cornwall at the time. The name Bodmin is probably derived from the Cornish for ‘dwelling of the monks’ and was recorded as early as 1100, although there are plenty of variants in documents including Bodman, and Bodmyn.

Bodmin was the centre for three Cornish rebellions. the first in 1497 when a Cornish army marched all the way to Blackheath in London in protest against increased taxes. here it was met by the Royal army, which defeated the rebels in battle. This unrest probably led to Bodmin being the place where the usurper Perkin Warbeck, masquerading as one of the ‘princes in the tower’ was proclaimed King Richard IV before moving east. However, once the army came up against forces loyal to Henry VII, it soon surrendered. The third rebellion was in 1549 when people in the west country objected to the imposition of the new prayer book by Edward VI. They advanced into Devon and besieged Exeter, but after fighting a number of battles, they were forced to retreat.

Bodmin briefly served as the County town of Cornwall from 1835 until 1876, when the administration moved to the newly created city of Truro. Bodmin’s former jail, courthouse and Barracks are now open as museums

Day 5: Our location today was the RSPB reserve at Bowling Green Marsh, just outside Exeter in Devon. The reserve sits at the confluence of two rivers, the River Exe and the River Clyst.

There were around 500 Black-tailed Godwits and 100 Eurasian Teal on the scrape with smaller numbers of Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler and Pintail. Sue spotted a Common Sandpiper on one of the islands and a Marsh Harrier over the Reed-bed. Also present were Grey Heron and Little Egret. Walking back to the car along the River Exe, we saw more Black-tailed Godwits and a couple of Eurasian Curlew feeding along the mudflats.

Black-tailed Godwits
Eurasian Curlew
Common Sandpiper

West Country 2019 (7): Slate

Posted: October 9, 2019 in cornwall, UK
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During our travels, we found lots of examples of slate in the Natural landscape. Lovely subtle colours.

Now I will confess to a liking for fudge, so I was delighted to find this shop in Wadebridge. Unfortunately, it was closed!

A wet day saw Sue and I start day 4 of our trip to the West Country at Davidstow Airfield looking for a Buff-Breasted Sandpiper which has been present for a couple of days. We found a number of Ringed Plover and lots of Meadow Pipits, but not the Sandpiper.

Ringed Plover

Our next stop was at Crowdy Reservoir, where a Northern Wheatear and a Grey Wagtail were on the dam.

Grey Wagtail

We stopped at Wadebridge. On the river Camel, we found a Little Egret, a Lapwing and about 30 Common Redshanks.

Our final stop was further up the estuary at Rock. The tide was low and the sandbanks exposed but apart from an Oystercatcher, a Raven, some Cormorants and Gulls there was little to see

West Country 2019 (4): Boscastle

Posted: October 4, 2019 in cornwall, History, UK

Sue and I went to the picturesque village of Boscastle on the North Cornwall coast. Historically, the harbour was important as it was the only harbour on the north coast for 20 miles. During its active time, it was used to import limestone and coal and exporting slate. The village is at the confluence of 3 rivers before they reach the sea.

On 16 August 2004 a flash flood, caused by heavy rainfall flowing down the rivers meeting a high tide, caused extensive damage as the water rose above the river banks and harbour walls. 50 cars were swept into the harbour and a number of buildings were seriously damaged including a number of the villages historic buildings. Amazingly no people were killed. The National Trust, which owns a lot of the properties and land in the area and other organisations set about restoring the village to its pre-flood condition.

Sue and I came across this dinerin Wiltshire as we travelled down to Cornwall

Not quite what you expect to find in rural Somerset!

The second day of our trip to the West Country was going to be mostly travel, but we started the morning at Winterbourne Downs for another attempt to locate the elusive Stone Curlew. Sadly again we were unlucky. But we did see a number of Hummingbird hawk moths and a Brown Hare.

From here we made our way to our base for the next two weeks. The cottage is on the edge of Bodmin Moor near Camelford. Delightful, it is in a wooded valley and we have a running river at the end of the garden. As Sue went out into the garden Sue flushed a Dipper from the river which flew off. Hopefully, we will see it again during our stay. The trees surrounding the garden are busy with birds: Coal and Great Tits plus Robin and Nuthatch. An overflying Raven adds to our late afternoon enjoyment of the garden.

Day one of our trip to Cornwall and Devon saw us making an afternoon stop at the RSPB reserve at Winterbourne Downs. This reserve is on disused farmland and is being allowed to revert to Flower Meadow with additional planting to support seed-eating birds, which have seen a decline due to modern farming techniques. It also supports a population of Stone Curlew, a rare breading bird which is only found in East Anglia and in this area of central England.

Arriving at the reserve we made our way along the old railway bank to the screen overlooking the area where the Stone Curlews are found. We were encouraged by the news that 6 had been counted this morning, but always aware that Stone Curlew are one of the best-camouflaged bird species and once they are lying on the ground it is almost impossible to see them. We spent an hour looking over the fallow field but could not locate any Stone Curlews. Whilst we were there a Corn Bunting called and flew into a  tree behind us. The Corn Bunting is a species which was once common on farmland but which has been very much impacted by the changes in farming.

Corn Bunting.
Photo by Steve Riall ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/sriall/ )

On our way back to the car park, we spotted a Painted Lady on the vegetation and this was the highlight amongst the numerous butterflies that we saw on this sunny afternoon.

Also got some good pictures of Brimstone Butterfly