Did you see the article about CBWPS in the recent Birdwatching Magazine?

A piece on Cornwall Birds history, our reserves and some surprising finds was published in this months edition and well worth a read.

To get yourself a copy please visit the Birdwatching Magazine website here: Birdwatching Magazine

Sand Martins on a golf course? Whatever next!

In May this year, we were contact by a member of the public with concerns about a colony of Sand Martins which in previous years had suffered disturbance leading to breeding failure. The colony is on land owned by Bude & North Cornwall Golf Club, although not directly on the golf course. It is however adjacent to a public footpath and visible from a nearby public road.

I contacted the Golf Club who were very willing to help. They immediately roped off the area of the colony and put up notices asking passing walkers not to disturb the birds. I visited the colony a few days later and found it to be very busy with about 35 burrows in use and a lot of excavating going on. A Sand Martin flies in and next minute there is sand flying out of the hole.

I visited again in late June and estimated 38 burrows in use. There were birds flying in all directions with many juveniles flying with the adults. There were also lots of visits to the burrows to feed chicks not yet fledged. The good news was that there was no sign of any disturbance or damage to the colony over and above natural erosion of the sand.

My final visit was on 24th July. The colony had been vacated with no Sand Martins in sight. Again the good news is there was no evidence of any disturbance to the colony. I took a closer look and estimated that 35-40 burrows had been in use this year.

A great success story and our thanks go to Bude and North Cornwall Golf Club for their support.

Steve Ashby

Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation society AGM 2022 Annual General Meeting

This year’s Cornwall Birds AGM will take place on Saturday 23rd July. This will be held as a live event and the start of hosting our AGM’s in the summer period to better align with the submission of our accounts. The full AGM notice with full details of the agenda and nomination forms are provided in the attached file found here: AGM Notice 2022 (1)
The AGM will include presentations of the CBWPS Financial Results for the year 2021, these have been approved by the external examiners and the board, ready for members approval at the AGM. Anyone that would like a copy should email secretary@cbwps.org,uk or treasurer@cbwps.org.uk.
The AGM will take place at Stithians Reservoir – Water Sports Center at 5pm for a bird walk around the reserve and surrounding areas followed by the official business and then a BBQ. Official business will start roughly around 6pm for those members wishing to attend just for this.
To help us get an idea of numbers, (mainly for food), if you can give Joshua Howells (secretary@cbwps.org.uk) a quick heads up this would be appreciated, but not essential, we welcome as many CBWPS members as possible to join the us at the event.

15th June 2022

Helston: 2 Swift over this morning. (S Ford)

Walmsley Sanctuary Access – May 2022 (UPDATE)

***UPDATE – Swift work by Council contractors has seen the bridge now opened to traffic and pedestrains again, so access to the reserve is now possible.***

The bridge at Trewornan which is our link between parking and accessing Walmsley was hit by a lorry yesterday morning causing serious damage.

I’ve been inundated with questions about how members can get to the reserve.

The bridge is now totally closed to traffic and I imagine pedestrians as it is in a dangerous state with a section of parapet knocked away and 2 pedestrian refuge triangles hanging precariously.

It will no doubt take many weeks to rebuild and whilst our County Councillor has said it will take priority there will be a multi agency task force involved and we all know how slowly that could progress.

It is a listed structure and therefore building materials & craftsmanship will need to be monitored.

One suggestion is to park on the road to the bridge on the Polzeath / Rock side of the bridge having driven via Chapel Amble , St.Endellion or Delabole & use the usual public footpath.

Please do not block access to the hotel.

This may change however, especially when the council start work on the bridge.

Be aware that traffic at Chapel Amble for the past 2 days has been horrendous.

Highways recommend a diversion via Pendoggett and St.Teath but all routes are narrow & will be busy.

I will continue to update members when I can.

Adrian Langdon 16/05/22


CBWPS Membership Secretary Role

Sadly Carol Hughes, Cornwall Birds Membership Secretary, has decided to step down as Membership Secretary for personal reasons. Carol has in three years vastly improved a system that was much in need of upgrading. We are very grateful to Carol for all she has achieved and wish her well for the future. Carol has agreed to stay in post until a successor has been appointed.

In the meantime, we would love to hear from anyone who would be interested in becoming our next Membership Secretary. You will be the first point of contact for prospective and new members, keeping in touch by phone and email and ensuring new applications are smoothly handled. You’ll also be in regular contact with existing members, updating records and keeping them up to date about membership information and subscriptions.

You will also be an important source of information for the Board of Trustees, keeping them in touch with membership trends. We are looking to introduce new ways of joining Cornwall Birds, especially to attract younger members, and making our subscription payment methods easier. The Membership Secretary will be at the heart of these changes.
If you are interested (or know someone who might be) please contact the Chairman (Mark Grantham) or Vice Chairman (Bruce Taggart) via email using chairman@cbwps.org.uk or taggart.bruce@gmail.com

Military Exercise Cancelled at Colliford Reservoir

Swift action by Cornwall Birds and the South West Lakes Trust has led to the Ministry of Defense deferring a proposed full blown military exercises at Colliford Lake on Bodmin Moor.

Dave Conway, Cornwall Birds warden at the Loveny Reserve contacted the board last week with news of the proposed exercise. It was scheduled to take place in the middle of the breeding season in an area of the Moor where large scale military vehicles would be deployed in key Curlew breeding territories. Very few pairs of Curlew now breed in Cornwall and the exercise including troop movements and low level flights by Chinook helicopters, would have caused considerable disturbance to a variety of moorland nesting birds!

Mark Grantham, Chair of Cornwall Birds and Jeremy Fielden, Environment and Engagement Ranger for South West Lakes Trust, expressed their concerns to the Ministry of Defense who on learning of the potential harm that they would cause decided very quickly to cancel the operation and look at alternatives or defer it to later in the year.

An excellent result!

Can you help the West Country’s Cirl Buntings this spring?

  • The RSPB are appealing for volunteers to help carry out this year’s Cirl Bunting Survey across Devon and Cornwall between April-August
  • Last year volunteers recorded Cirl Buntings in almost 60% of the 2km by 2km survey squares
  • Six of these survey squares recorded Cirls for the first time
  • This year extra volunteer support is especially needed in the South Hams and South Teignbridge area
  • Just over 30 years ago Cirl Buntings were in a state of serious decline and had already vanished from Cornwall and Somerset. With the support of the RSPB, farmers and landowners have been able to bring the Cirls back from the brink.

The RSPB are appealing for volunteers across Devon and Cornwall to help them carry out their annual Cirl Bunting Survey, between April-August of this year. People can register to take part in the survey on the Cirl Bunting Action Hub, visit: bit.ly/RSPBCirlHub

Here volunteers can select a 2km by 2km survey square local to their home on the RSPB’s map and plan a survey route through their chosen patch along Public Rights of Way and covering the areas that cirl buntings are likely to make their homes. No specialist skills are needed to take part other than an interest in birds and a pair of binoculars. The Cirl Action Hub offers guidance on how to identify cirls by sight and sound.

Volunteers will be asked to visit their chosen survey square twice; first visit before the end of May and second visit anytime from June to the end of August, leaving two weeks between visit one and two. They will then record information about any cirl bunting they see or hear and submit their findings either online or via post.

This year the RSPB are putting a special shout-out for surveyors in the South Hams and South Teignbridge area, which had low coverage last year.

Just over 30 years ago Cirl Buntings were in a state of serious decline and had already vanished from Cornwall and Somerset. With the support of the RSPB, farmers and landowners have been able to bring the Cirl Bunting back from the brink.

Cath Jeffs, RSPB Conservation Officer, said: “Taking part in the Cirl Bunting Survey is a fantastic opportunity to get to know the amazing wildlife on our doorstep. As well as hopefully spotting a cirl or two, volunteers will discover the other farmland bird species they share their local patch with. And most importantly, survey volunteers will be contributing directly to science. The data that volunteers help us gather over the coming years will allow us to spot trends in Cirl numbers, so that we can identify any early warning signs and act quickly to help to help ensure the Cirl Bunting population does not become in danger of being lost from UK again.”

Cath continues: “The volunteer support we received for last year’s survey was fantastic and with the results just in we’re pleased to say that nearly 60% of the survey squares which returned their data, recorded cirls in them. In fact, six of these locations recorded Cirls for the first time since surveys began in the late 1980s; this is really positive news”.

Eighty years ago, Cirl Buntings were widespread across southern England and parts of Wales, but by 1989 they were down to only 118 pairs mainly confined to Devon. These plummeting numbers were due to changes in farming practises, which made it hard for the cirls to find food and suitable nest sites.

In 1992 the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (a government-funded agri-environment scheme, CSS) launched a Cirl Bunting ‘special project’ option for farmers. Under guidance from the RSPB, farmers provided low input spring barley crops which, after harvest, were left as weedy stubbles until the end of March. This created an important source of winter seed food for the birds.

In 1993 the RSPB employed a Cirl Bunting project officer in the south west to work directly with farmers and landowners to encourage them to provide more homes for the Cirl Buntings. By 1998 numbers increased to 450 pairs and in 2016 they passed the 1000 pair mark.

During last year’s survey, volunteers Tracy and Simon Gould, made the fantastic discovery of the very first Cirl Bunting on farmland at Shillingford Organics on the outskirts of Exeter. Owner Martyn Bragg, has been carefully managing this field, with guidance from the RSPB, to give Cirl Buntings a home for the past 23 years and finally they have arrived. Martyn is “over the moon”.

Tracy and Simon said: “We signed up to carry out the RSPB survey initially for the 2sq km square containing both our home, and our local veg box grower – Shillingford Organics. We were delighted to encounter our first singing male Cirl Bunting at Martyn’s farm, announcing his presence after all these years of waiting, in ‘bold as brass’ fashion, from the dip of a telegraph wire above a wide hedge line.”

January 2021 News

Honorary Treasurer Position Update:

Following the Chairmans appeal for a new Treasurer, and the publicity on the website and social media we are pleased to say that we had three expressions of interest, all from people very ably qualified to do the job. We were due to meet early in the New Year but then lockdown arrived and everything is now on hold. The resigning Treasurer has kindly agreed to hold the fort for the time being. We hope to meet as soon as restrictions are lifted to move things forward with a financial team including the appointment of a new Treasurer.

Online Bookshop: CBWPS have a new online bookshop. Thanks to legacies and kind donations from members we have a range of second hand birding and natural history books. click Here to browse and find a bargain!

Keep a look out for colour ringed Blackcaps!

An ongoing study, coordinated by Oxford University and BTO, is investigating the wintering behaviour, movements, and breeding origin of Blackcaps that winter in Britain and Ireland, as we still know surprisingly little about these birds that now spend the winter with us. A key component of this project is a long-term colour ringing study to help monitor the potential effects of climate change and evolution of this novel migration strategy.

Over the last three winters more than 600 wintering Blackcap have been colour-ringed and around 130 fitted with geolocators, across Britain and Ireland, to track their migration and movements. A large portion of these birds have been marked in Cornwall, particularly in the Falmouth/Penryn area, but they could turn up anywhere.

If you see a Blackcap or have them visiting you garden, please check their legs for rings. Each bird has a total of three colour rings and a metal BTO ring, two rings on each leg. The combination of rings allows us to identify each individual and we can provide a history of it’s movements. Please get a photo, or note the order of the rings on the right and left legs, so that we can identify the bird.
Please report details to Greg Conway and Benjamin Van Doren at: blackcap@bto.org

COVID 19 Update Jan 4th: With a new National Lockdown in please our advice to birders remains the same – follow the guidelines issued by the government. Please see the statement from the Society on the website Homepage

December 2020 News


Honorary Treasurer Position: Would you like an exciting role within Cornwall Birds (CBWPS)? We are looking for someone with financial experience, who is confident and forward-thinking to help us grow. You do not have to have previous board/trustee experience, please read more Here

Have your say about the future of nature in Cornwall:

If you have a spare moment this Christmas here is your chance to influence the future of nature in Cornwall.

Cornwall Council have launched a Nature Recovery Engagement hub which went live on Friday to capture your views on nature recovery in Cornwall. It hosts a nature recovery survey, a map for people to pin suggested nature recovery opportunities, and the consultation on the draft refresh of the Environmental Growth Strategy. The nature recovery survey will be open until the end of January, and the Environmental Growth Strategy consultation will close on 17 January.

Some of the things we would like to see include:

    • Our most important habitats at our most important sites (SPAs and SSSIs) are bursting with wildlife and their protection and expansion are used to drive nature recovery e.g. Marazion Marsh, Tamar Estuary, Bodmin Moor mires, Penwith Moors (this should be an SSSI), etc.
    • The recovery of Cornwall’s most iconic bird the chough along with other red listed species such as cirl bunting, corn bunting, kittiwake, shag, breeding waders, willow tit, etc.
    • An expanded nature-rich corridor along our most important landscape and seascape, Cornwall’s coast, with grasslands and arable richer in plants and insects, and seas and shore safe and rich in food for seabirds and other mobile species.

What would you like to be seen done where? Nature is in trouble so think BIG!

The nature recovery survey will be open until the end of January, and the Environmental Growth Strategy consultation will close on 17 January.

Follow this link and fill in the questionnaire https://letstalk.cornwall.gov.uk/nature-recovery-plan. Please do share this link with others who may be interested.

Bookshop: We now have a new online bookshop! Thanks to legacies and donations from our membership we have received a fantastic selection of birding and natural history books with the added bonus that all proceeds go straight to CBWPS Cornwall Birds, helping to fund our continuing conservation efforts throughout the county. Find the Bookshop Here

Honorary Treasurer Position: Would you like an exciting role within Cornwall Birds (CBWPS) making a real difference to the monitoring and conservation of Cornwall’s precious bird life? We are looking for someone with financial experience, who is confident and forward-thinking to help us to grow and improve our financial resilience and long-term stability. You do not have to have previous board/trustee experience, although that would be helpful. We encourage applications from all sections of the community as we aim to increase the diversity of our Board, but if you have a passion for Cornwall’s birds and wildlife that would be advantageous. If this could be you please read more Here Update: this position is no longer open

Garden Listing: With a second lockdown upon us we are again running a garden listing league. Use email address (gardenlisting@cbwps.org.uk) and we will update the table with your sightings and highlights. See the page here for more details. Now with final tally to 1st December. (We will continue to update to years’ end as a year list)

Cornwall Birds Student Award 2020/21: This year we will again be offering an award to the student judged to have produced the best ornithological dissertation based on research conducted in Cornwall. For full details please see our student award page.

COVID-19 Update 2nd December: Society reserves are now open, however all hides remain closed, and the society walks and events program has been suspended until further notice. We will be publishing reports of rare birds in the County where it is felt it is safe to do so, please do continue to send in all records. See the Society Homepage for more information and a fuller statement from the board.

North Cornwall Choughs, Andy Taylor

Cornish Choughs: The Society is now maintaining the dedicated Chough sightings database for Cornwall, adding to the many thousands of records received from birders and members of the public since 2001. Please send your sightings to choughs@cbwps.org.uk including, date, place, 6 fig grid ref if possible, and notes on any colour rings observed.

Chough Update Dec 2020: A big thank you to everyone who sent in sightings of Cornish Choughs in this difficult year. Please see link below for an update from the team on what has been a good year for our birds, and of course do continue to send your sightings in over the winter –

Chough update Dec 2020