Posts Tagged 'Cornish Chough'

Happy New Year One and All

Happy New Year to all my readers and thanks for your continued support in following my blog. There’s a lot that will be going on the blog in 2012 so keep a look out!

The Cornish Crest depicts a fisherman, a miner and of course the Cornish chough. To find out more about the history of the crest and the relevance of the figures click here.


The Cornish Chough By John Harris

With a slow internet connection today I am unable to upload any images. However, on trawling the net I have hauled in this lovely poem about the Cornish Chough.

Written by the Cornish Poet John Harris (1820 -1884) who lived in Bolenowe Carn, a small village near Camborne. At the age of 12 he went to work at Dolcoath mine where his poetry was his escapism from his hard and painful life in the mine. It is said he was so poor he could not afford a pen and paper so used to write his poems on paper grocery bags with black berry juice.

So on that note please enjoy the wonderful poem called The Cornish Chough

Where not a sound is heard
But the white waves, O bird,
And slippery rocks fling back the vanquish’d sea,
Thou soarest in thy pride,
Not heeding storm or tide;
In Freedom’s temple nothing is more free.

‘T is pleasant by this stone,
Sea-wash’d and weed-o’ergrown,
With Solitude and Silence at my side,
To list the solemn roar
Of ocean on the shore,
And up the beetling cliff to see thee glide.

Though harsh thy earnest cry,
On crag, or shooting high
Above the tumult of this dusty sphere,
Thou tellest of the steep
Where Peace and Quiet sleep,
And noisy man but rarely visits here.

For this I love thee, bird,
And feel my pulses stirr’d
To see thee grandly on the high air ride,
Or float along the land,
Or drop upon the sand,
Or perch within the gully’s frowning side.

Thou bringest the sweet thought
Of some straw-cover’d cot,
On the lone moor beside the bubbling well,
Where cluster wife and child,
And bees hum o’er the wild:
In this seclusion it were joy to dwell.

Will such a quiet bower
Be ever more my dower
In this rough region of perpetual strife?
I like a bird from home
Forward and backward roam;
But there is rest beneath the Tree of Life.

In this dark world of din,
Of selfishness and sin,
Help me, dear Saviour, on Thy love to rest;
That, having cross’d life’s sea,
My shatter’d bark may be
Moor’d safely in the haven of the blest.

The Muse at this sweet hour
Hies with me to my bower
Among the heather of my native hill;
The rude rock-hedges here
And mossy turf, how dear!
What gushing song! how fresh the moors and still!

No spot of earth like thee,
So full of heaven to me,
O hill of rock, piled to the passing cloud!
Good spirits in their flight
Upon thy crags alight,
And leave a glory where they brightly bow’d.

I well remember now,
In boy-days on thy brow,
When first my lyre among thy larks I found,
Stealing from mother’s side
Out on the common wide,
Strange Druid footfalls seem’d to echo round.

Dark Cornish chough, for thee
My shred of minstrelsy
I carol at this meditative hour,
Linking thee with my reed,
Grey moor and grassy mead,
Dear carn and cottage, heathy bank and bower.

 Special thanks to the Camborne Old Cornwall Society

The Lizard Point, Cornwall

Lizard Point at the end of the Lizard Peninsula is Britain’s most southerly point at 49°57′ N for those sailors out there. It is approximately 10 miles from the nearest town of Helston and is well worth a visit, just to say you have stood on the most southerly point of mainland Britain. The scenery is spectacular all year around but especially in Autumn as many of the plants growing in the cliffs die back and the different colours look stunning.

So last Sunday my parents, Becky and I headed off to the Lizard. I’ve also loved visiting the Lizard and its various villages (which I will touch on in later posts) all my life so we had to pay it a visit on our whistle-stop tour of South and West Cornwall. The land mass of the Lizard is approx 14 miles square and is mainly made up of serpentine rock, a very attractive rock used for decorative purposes such as columns in stately homes, museums,  as well as many smaller items some of which you can buy as souvenirs from the shops in the Lizard village.

The coast surrounding The Lizard is very hazardous to ships and many a ship has met its grave end in these waters. The area is known as the ‘graveyard of ships!’

We parked up in the National Trust car park and walked the short walk down to the Point. You can take your chance and try to drive to the car park on the point where you can sit in your car and admire the view!  However, this small car park does get incredibly busy, is accessed by a narrow road and you will often meet cars coming the other way. My advise for Sunday afternoons and high season is park in the NT car park.  There are two ways down, one with steps which is slightly quicker or if you prefer a more leisurely gradient take the longer route, it must take all of 2 minutes more!

Once you get to the point, you will see a gift shop, a cafe and a NT hut, all worthy of a look. The cafe in particular is a lovely place to stop and soak up the view, with its small terrace outside you can enjoy some lunch or just an ice cream, these lucky people in the picture bottom right kindly demonstrated sitting on the terrace and soaking up some rays.

The picture bottom left shows the old lifeboat station built in 1914 with the original one being built on the site in 1859. In 1959 a new lifeboat station was built in Kilcobben Cove and now houses the new Tamar class lifeboat. To find out more about the  Lizard RNLI and the amazing work these people do click here.

The largest rescue was in 1907 when a 12,000 tonne liner, the SS Suevic hit a reef near the Lizard Point. 456 passengers including 70 babies were saved over a 16 hour period as RNLI crew from the Lizard and surrounding villages rowed out repeatedly to save every soul onboard.

SS Suevig 1907 The Lizard

The Lizard is a haven for flora and fauna, from rare coastal plants that thrive on the south facing cliffs to various seabirds. Also you may be lucky to spot basking sharks off the point in the summer!

And finally, I have often heard rumours of sightings of the Cornish Chough over the Lizard Point. This was something I really wanted to see but didn’t want to build my hopes up. On walking down my Dad got chatting to a gent he had known from years ago, he and his wife both had binoculars around their necks and looked like keen bird watching enthusiasts. We stood on the west side of the point (by the cafe)  looking at the cliffs in the hope of seeing a Chough. With plenty of Jackdaws flying about how would I distinguish a Chough from a Jackdaw? Then, with his binoculars raised to his eyes this keen birder shouted ‘there’s one’, with the distinctive loud ringing call, its fanned wing tips and its more acrobatic maneuvers than the Jackdaw how I was to confuse the two? O, and its bright red beak and feet where a bit of a giveaway too!

The Last Chough vanished from our cliffs in 1971.  30 years later the Chough naturally returned to Cornwall and now with the help of the RSPB and its volunteers who protect the nests from egg collectors The Cornish Chough is back and breeding in Cornwall!  To find out more about the Cornish Chough Project click here.

Walkers on cliff tops at The Lizard Point, one spots the Choughs!

Cornish Chough, The Lizard

So if you are in Cornwall today, kicking your heals wondering what to you, why not head down to the Lizard? You will be well chuffed to see a Cornish Chough. (I had to get that one in there somewhere!)

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