The visit to Par Beach Pool by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust Photographic Group on the 23rd November 2008 was new territory for me, and when I arrived there I once again had misgivings about a meeting which was based around such a popular place with Joe Public.
However our guides, David Chapman & Nigel Climpson, had already planned to move to nearby Spit Point on the western fringe of Par Sands for the first part of our visit, which at the time was sheltered from the strong winds that were building up.
The rock pools of Spit Point provided some interesting photo opportunities including a heavily marked Shore crab – Carcinus maenas which had settled in half a mussel shell. The Shore crab’s carapace has 5 quite pointed “teeth” like projects along each side of the leading edge, a useful means of identifying this common inhabitant of the intertidal zone.
Turnstones explored the rocks, dodging the incoming tide, in their search for food, Shags/Cormorants fed close offshore, while Oystercatchers moved off nervously at the approach of photographers with tripods blazing.
While I was busy indulging in my woodlice fetish by photographing a group of the Common Rough Woodlouse - Porcellio scaber the rest of our happy band were getting excellent shots of a female Goosander which was posing nicely close inshore. Did I miss the shot of the day or did they?!
Porcellio scaber is the woodlouse that you are most likely to come across in your house or outbuildings here in deepest Cornwall and is one of over 35 species of terrestrial isopods, (woodlice), found in Britain.
It is a common mis-conception that Woodlice are pests, perhaps because they readily wonder into our homes & gardens. However woodlice generally feed on material that is already rotting, and as such they help speed up natural decomposition, a really valuable function in the wild but not perhaps in the home!
Returning to Par Beach Pool we were greeted by a number of rainbows as bands of showers did their best to deter us. However eventually we all ventured over to the edge of the pool where there were large numbers of mute swans gathering in eager of anticipation of the glut of bread bribes that were about to head their way. Of course there was considerable variety in the quality of the bribes being offered ranging from fresh home made Granary to ageing Tesco economy loafs (no names………. Mr Chapman), but the Swans didn’t seem to mind.
It really was amazing to see how bold the Swans were, clustering around anyone they suspected as being a dealer in their favourite recreational titbit. Even those of us not carrying bakery products were subject to a body search from these beautiful white giants of the bird world.
There was really nothing unusual here, but the joy of this meeting was the spectacle of seeing so many wild birds at such close quarters. Close enough to check out their personal hygiene!
Canadian Geese, Moorhens, Coots, & Mallards were all very obliging, but the Grey Herons & a lone Little Egret on the far bank remained aloof from the proceedings.
Eventually the showers became too heavy particularly when the hail kicked in and one by one we called it a day. Once again I found that judging a site on it’s over popularity is not always valid, and that the advantages of having a wildlife community that is used to having people around at close quarters can be a bonus for the photographer! All in all another great way to get out & about in wintry conditions.
Below is a link to a gallery of more of my images from the Par Beach Field trip. To start viewing the images click on the thumbnail below.
Once loaded, if you hover your mouse over the gallery you will see text buttons two thirds of the way up each side of the image. Click on the left to go back to the previous image and on the right to go to the next image. To exit the gallery click on the cross at the bottom right of the viewer.
Images from other members of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust Photographic Group taken on the day, including Nigel Climpson's master shot of the female Goosander (!) and albums from Delia Trathen & Clive Kingsley can be found here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CornwallWildlifePhotographyGroup/photos/album/0/list
Please note you have to join the Yahoo!Group to be able to view these CWTPG photos.
Par Beach Pool (SX085533) can be found just off the A3082 Par to Fowey road at Polmear. There is ample parking and toilets available.
Spit Point can be accessed via a small car park (just south of the railway underpass at SX074529) on the A3082 Tregrehan to Par road. Go through the tunnel at the rear of the car park, under the railway and follow the footpath around the edge of the Imerys China Clay Dries until you reach the coast.