Newquay and surrounding areas

Better known for its surfing than its birding, the popular summer tourist destination of Newquay has some hugely under-watched areas. The habitats on its estuary, headlands and countryside provide the late winter/early Spring birdwatcher with a great opportunity to find there own good birds whilst enjoying a wide range of resident species.

Gannel Estuary (photorasa.com)

The Gannel Estuary

The Gannel Estuary, situated on the south side of the town is predominantly sand as opposed to mud and therefore lacks the food content required by waders. It does however provide an ideal roosting area for a large number of gulls including up to 2000 Herring Gulls and closer inspection of these flocks can provide fruitful with Glaucous, Iceland (almost annual), Laughing and Franklin’s Gulls all recorded in recent years. Mediterranean Gulls can be found amongst the 2000 strong flock of Black-headed Gulls. The saltings do suffer from disturbance by dog-walkers but despite this species like Jack Snipe, Water Pipit and Snow Bunting can be encountered. To the east of the saltings lies Trenance Park Lake. This is always worth a second look as it has held Lesser Scaup, Laughing Gull and Ring-necked Duck.

Porthjoke Valley and Beach

Porthjoke Valley and Beach

Porthjoke – Situated between the headlands of Kelsey and West Pentire is the sheltered valley of Porthjoke. This under-watched hotspot is the place to be if like to find your own birds with species such as Firecrest, Richards Pipit and Woodlark seen in recent times. Hoopoe, Quail and Sardinian Warbler have also been recorded in early spring in the valley. The surrounding cliff top fields may harbour Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer and Lapland Bunting amongst the flocks of Chaffinch and Skylark.

Towan Head

Towan Head

Towan Head is the local sea-watching hotspot and is a good alternative to St Ives Island. Winter gales can produce a large westerly seabird passage which can involve thousands of Gannets, auks and Kittiwakes accompanied by rarer species like Grey Phalarope, Little Auk, Puffin and Balearic Shearwater. Eider, Common Scoter and Long-tailed duck maybe encountered sheltering in the calmer waters to the North of Towan Head. All three divers may also be seen. Purple Sandpiper and Black Redstart are also winter visitors to the headland.

Porth Reservoir

Porth Reservoir

Porth Reservoir – Despite being the main body of open water in the area, Porth reservoir does not hold large numbers of wildfowl. It is more a case of quality over quantity with the possibility of Goosander, Goldeneye, Smew and Scaup to be located amongst the small number of Pochard and Tufted Duck. One or two Bitterns are regular winter visitors to the reed bed and the surrounding woodland has held all three woodpecker species, although Lesser Spotted is now extremely rare. Other species can include Kingfisher, Water Rail and Siskin and Dippers are occasionally seen below the dam.

(P.Freestone 2015)

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