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  • Junes DOLPHIN survey was fantastic!

    These are the days we live for! The seal survey on 11 June 2014 was as glorious as it gets! With calm sea conditions and bright sunny skies we setted off at 7:30am.
    All along the coastline were nesting sea birds, many with visible chicks waddling around the nest area. Herring gull chicks occupied many ledges on our journey out to the survey sites.
    There was a lot of commotion at the Kittiwake colony as a juvenile Peregrine falcon moved along the ledges removing chicks from their nests. Adult Kittiwakes flew in all directions squawking loudly as they did so. This Peregrine must have fledged in the last week. This is evident by its fresh and impressive plumage clearly displayed. Whereas the adult birds are currently undergoing their post breed moult.
    The Peregrine flew from the ledge to chase Herring gulls in the air for a moment before returning to the ledges, then flew again above the skyline and landed on the slope of the nearby island in the sun as we left the colony behind us. Despite this predation, the colony seems to be healthy in terms of numbers of occupied nests and growing chicks.
    During the course of the survey we saw lots of Gannets, flying by or circling and diving. We passed a large group of Manx shear waters, a Balearic shear water, 6 Puffins and a storm petrol.
    We were all at the front of the boat when Dave pointed out in front of us towards a pod of Common dolphins. They were heading for our boat so Chris cut back the speed, stopping at first and then maintained a slow and steady course as the pod joined us.
    There were 20 playful dolphins, they surrounded us, breaching into the air, riding the wake and playing at the bow and sides of the boat as another pod of 20 more dolphins joined them to play.
    It got very exciting so we sat higher to get a better view of them leaping out of and twisting underwater sideways, weaving in and out of one another. Then suddenly another 17 dolphins came to our boat and joined the others followed by another 13. By now we were all on cloud nine, pinching each other to check this was real. Never before have we been so totally surrounded by these magical creatures.
    The 70 dolphins were of mixed age, mostly between 1.5 – 2 metres in length. They stayed with us for a total of 37 minutes, continuing the same behaviours as we made our way onto the next survey site, not forgetting we had work to do!
    The dolphins carefully manoeuvred themselves alongside our boat, sometimes there was only a metre from them and us, we could clearly see all the markings and scars on their bodies and their watchful eyes peered up at us as they continued to play.
    I took so many photos that it was hard to choose just a few, so I put some of my favourites into a collage:
    Gradually the dolphins thinned out, leaving the boat in small groups not as large as the original pods that they had arrived in, until there were 4 remaining dolphins swimming at the front of the boat, swaying and weaving rhythmically underwater playing with the two bows of the catamaran as it moved through the water. These 4 common dolphins stayed with us for some distance before suddenly veering sideways and leaving us altogether in awe of the experience we had just had.
    Soon we were at the main seal haul out spot. In this particular survey we only saw 3 seals, which is not unusual given the time of year as the seals will be feeding further offshore. But it is the lowest number of seals we have ever had on a POLPIP survey! Despite the lack of seals all the volunteers agreed we may just have had the best survey ever, and all returned to normality on land with HUGE smiles on our faces :)
    All the survey data we gather is used in marine conservation and has played a huge part in designating the proposed Padstow Bay Marine Conservation Zone. A huge Thank you to Chris at Atlantic Divers, without you our important surveys would not be possible. Also a huge Thank you to all the volunteers who dedicate their time and money to make these surveys happen.


    Marine Discovery Day… Silent Auction…

    On Thursday 30th May 2013 the Polzeath Marine Centre will be hosting a silent auction. The Marine Conservation group are raising funds to keep the centre open and continue to run the awesome program of events. Funds are also used in the educational and conservation work that we as volunteers do in and around Polzeath, the area that we and so many people love. Please have a read and bid to support this important Marine Conservation event, the auction prizes are simply amazing and bidding has started at a very reasonable amount.
    This information is also available on the Polzeath Marine Conservation website: http://www.polzeathmarineconservation.com/pvmca/MDD_Silent_Auction.html
    For more information on Polzeath Marine Conservation Group, the Marine Centre, events or how to volunteer, please see: http://www.polzeathmarineconservation.com/pvmca/Welcome.html
    In the meanwhile, HAPPY BIDDING! :)
    The auction, the lots, and how it all works:
    1) Check out the Lots below.

    2) If you like what you see reply via email to joannalarvor@hotmail.co.uk and make a bid by clearly stating the lot number, lot description and amount you want to bid. Please give contact telephone number too.

    3) Email bidding stops at 12 noon on 29th MAY 2013 when we prepare for final days bidding which will be on Marine Discovery Day 30th May at the Marine Centre. If you are truly keen to keep bidding let us know: call 07906 024 258. Bids accepted between 11am and 3pm on Marine Discovery Day in Polzeath at the Marine Centre on the 30th.

    4) Additional lots may be added on Marine Discovery Day at organiser’s discretion…
    LOT 1

    BIRD WATCHING WITH DEREK JULIAN – Derek is our very experienced and knowledgeable resident ornithologist and professional bird watching guide. He is offering a fantastic day for three people to go bird watching anywhere in the County. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the birds in their natural habitat. Derek is happy to drive and can provide all equipment required.
    UPDATE BIDDED so far: £10
    LOT 2

    PRIVATE DINING – A FINE DINING FOUR COURSE EVENING MEAL FOR FOUR PEOPLE plus petite fours – Courtesy of Nick Pickles. Nick a talented local cook and owner of PIKNIX, has offered to provide a wonderful evening of food at your home (within 10 miles of Polzeath) or at his home which is situated on Tristram Cliff, Polzeath overlooking the ocean. This is a superb opportunity and a wonderful way to celebrate a special occasion or just to treat yourself to some locally sourced, where ever possible, and freshly prepared food.

    Matching drink/wine can be discussed and agreed separately, at additional cost.

    UPDATE BIDDED so far: £120


    LOT 3

    ROCKPOOL RAMBLING WITH ABBY CROSBY – Abby our resident marine biologist, chair of Polzeath Marine Conservation Group and a marine officer at CWT has offered to take a family of 4 out onto the rocky shore in Polzeath. Explore and learn all about our amazing marine wildlife with Abby – find a celtic sea slug or identify seaweed – whatever your findings this activity will be great fun.
    LOT 4

    DIGITAL MARKETING HELP – How do you get people talking about your business? Do you know your pinterest from your instagram? Do you know when it’s best to send out your tweets?

    Harry Wild the director of public relations at Paul Ainsworth No 6 is offering a tailor made two hours to discuss all your business communication needs. With a couple of year’s digital marketing experience at The Eden Project to boot, she is the perfect person to explain all the techy geekery in your digital marketing and social media to help you get your business seen by the masses.
    LOT 5

    HELP WITH HOUSE CLEARANCE, DECLUTTERING AND ONE TIP TRIP – LIVE WITHN 10 miles of Polzeath? Wanting help sorting out your house? – got too much stuff and want to declutter? –Well one of our super volunteers has generously offered a day of her time to help you do just that. This lot relates to light items, so no fridges or furniture to be lifted, but does include one trip to the tip – although contribution to fuel will be required. A fantastic offer which may just be the push you need to spring clean and get ready for summer in your home.
    LOT 6

    GRASS CUTTING BY HENRY – Awesome Henners from the Tubestation in Polzeath has once again offered to go green and mow the lawn of a local highest bidder. Last time he did this Martin Taylor at the campsite won him – eeek that was a lot of grass!! If you live in Polzeath or nearby and need help mowing your garden lawn – bid for Henry.
    LOT 7

    PRIVATE SURF COACHING/VIDEO SESSION – Alex Espir private surf coach and founder of Initiative Surf is offering a video surf coaching session in Sept/October later this year when he is back from working in Costa Rica. If you want to improve your surfing technique go for it with this fantastic lot.
    UPDATE BIDDED so far: £15

    The wonderful team at the Valley Caravan Park, Polzeath, have scored a blinder with this donation which will be offered as two separate lots. To view the campsite see www.valleycaravanpark.co.uk. “The Park is situated in a valley leading down to the sea, with the entrance only 200 yards from Polzeath’s sandy beach” it’s been kept as natural as possible with ducks and moorhens roaming free. Recently upgraded this caravan park is a great base for a seaside holiday.
    LOT 8

    UPDATE BIDDED so far: £20
    LOT 9

    UPDATE BIDDED so far: £20
    Wow!!!! Please note these two breaks are for a family rather than a group, no dogs allowed, term time only (not during school holidays), heating is included but no linen provided.
    LOT 10

    WHITEWATER GALLERY 30” x 16” WAVE SHOT ON CANVAS. The highest bidder can choose from any of NICK WAPSHOTS fantastic published wave shots and have it printed onto a 30 x16 canvas. A truly fantastic keep sake of your time in Polzeath.
    UPDATE BIDDED so far: £20
    LOT 11

    PAINTED PORTRAIT FROM A PHOTO OF FAMILY MEMBER OR PET. Wonderful local resident Reg Ironside has offered to paint a portrait of your most precious photograph. Choose a picture of a family member or a pet and wait for an amazing portrait to be created by this talented artist.
    UPDATE BIDDED so far: £20
    LOT 12

    HAND PAINTED PICTURE OF A TIGER Reg Ironside has also kindly donated this beautiful hand painted mounted picture of a tiger 11” x 14” – see photo below:

    LOT 13

    MUSSELL BOWL – Second hand but still needing a good home – this mussel bowl would look great in your seaside home. 11 inches along length of bowl… no damage. See attachment or photo below:
    UPDATE BIDDED so far: £12

    mini-mussel shell bowl

    LOT 14

    COWRIE COASTER – We love cowrie shells – this coaster is awesome – again second hand but needing a loving home – 10 inches in diameter. Minor damage to one shell on underside. See photo:

    mini-cowrie shell coaster
    LOT 15

    BAYLIS AND HARDING – WILD ROSE AND RASPBERRY LEAF SCENTED SMELLIES including shower cream , body wash , and moisturiser (3.3floz 100ml each), plus body wash sponge in a presentation pack. Kindly donated by BERRYS AND GREY of Polzeath.
    LOT 16

    HAND MADE BUNTING FROM DOODLEBUG DESIGNS. Natasha from doodlebug (see fb doodlebug designs) has offered to make some stunning bunting for us – ideal for a seaside home or summerhouse. In pale blue and cream this bunting is approx. 3m. We love it, thanks Tash x See photo below for example bunting.
    UPDATE BIDDED so far: £10

    mini-Doodlebug Designs bunting x 20


    Walk to see the Winter Waders Roost, Part 1


    6th January 2013

    There is an amazing array of wildlife around the coast here at this time of year and a winter walk in January is a great way to blow away the cobwebs whilst taking in all the beauty the coastline has to offer.
    Local bird expert, Derek Julian, took us on a guided walk to Greenaway point to see Polzeath’s winter waders roost.  There were a mixture of Polzeath Conservation Group volunteers and members, members from other VMCA’s and people with a keen interest in wildlife.  The following is an account of some of the wonderful things we saw.


    The Greater Black-backed Gull is the largest of the gulls, they are breeding locally on the islands out from Polzeath.  There are between 200 and 300 Black-backed gulls in the estuary at the moment following the Sardine run.  There have been some Greater black-backed gulls ringed in Looe, some of these have headed south to Spain.


    The Sardines are here in the estuary at the moment because they are following the nutrient rich cold water.  There is also a large amount of nutrients in the water following the rains.


    The weather on this walk was grey and drizzling rain, although the surf was looking very nice.  On our way up from Polzeath we saw some Seals in the bay.



    We saw a large number of Oyster Catchers on this walk on the rocky shore below the cliffs.  The younger non-breeding birds have their collars until around the age of 4-5 years. The adult birds do not have the collars and they live to around 25 years of age.
    There are actually two types of Oyster catcher; the first type have a blunt bill which they use to hammer the shellfish until they break, and the second type have a pointed  bill which they use to stab at the muscle that holds the shell together to prise it open to feed. Both types of the species can breed together.


    We also saw Turnstones on the cliff, these fascinating birds get their name from their feeding habits.  They are very adaptable in what they eat, they have even been spotted eating pasty!  They feed by turning stones, seaweeds and shells to feast on the invertebrates beneath.


    As we walked further round there was a large male seal in the water below and we could see two trawlers through the mist out to sea.  The Sardines are at such an abundance at the moment that they are said to be trawling in a tonne of fish in each catch. The presence of these trawlers is captivating the attention of many sea birds; Gannets,  gulls and Shags all circling the trawlers. As we looked into the circling mass of birds, Derek spotted two, possibly three Harbour Porpoise not far from the trawlers.



    Balearic Shearwaters were seen from Polzeath, outside the islands, they are not estuarine birds.  This species breed on Minorca and islands and coastal cliffs in the Balearic islands, hence their name. Most of them winter in that sea but some enter the Atlantic in late summer and reach north to the UK.  Like the similar species Manx Shearwaters, the Balearic Shearwaters only visit their nests in burrows at night to avoid predation from larger gulls.  Unfortunately the Balearic Shearwater is considered  critically endangered with extinction by the IUCN.  Manx Shearwaters, breed in Britain and go to South America in the winter.


    We saw some Sanderlings nearby the roosting Oyster Catchers.  There were over 60 Oyster  Catchers, this would be mostly down to the wind not being Northerly, otherwise they would have been blown from this area.  They are quite easily disturbed but were not distracted by our presence.  Oyster Catchers winter in the same place each year, and there have been around 300 pairs recorded in the estuary this winter.


    We were lucky to see a Purple Sandpiper in amongst a flock of Grey Plover.  The Grey Plovers have distinct black auxiliaries and the Purple Sandpiper which is a brown colour is quite tricky to spot against the seaweed covered rocks. The Grey Plover with their stubby bills feed mainly on worms and molluscs; and breed in the northern tundra in the summer months.


    Further around we sighted more seals, which brought our sightings up to a minimum of five.  As we reached the furthest point of our walk a Cormorant flew overhead, these wonderful birds have already been sighted nest-building.


    Down to the point, in the water were Black-headed gulls and around 4-5 Mediterranean gulls.  The two birds are quite similar in appearance at the moment with the black-headed gull wearing its winter plumage, with its pale head and dark ear spot.  The Mediterranean gull is slighter larger with white wing tips whereas the black headed gull has distinct black wing tips. With the weather getting increasingly grey and the drizzle getting heavier the conditions didn’t allow for me getting a photo, so here’s one I took back in July 2012 of black-headed and Mediterranean gulls roosting together on Padstow side of the bay (note the summer plumage).



    If you would like any further information on sightings of these fascinating birds in our estuary please visit the Camelbirders website:  https://camelbirder.wordpress.com/
    The next event: Winter waders walk – part 2, will be taking place on Sat 9th February 2013.  Visit the Polzeath Marine Conservation Group website for further information on this and other events running in 2013: