Male Mallard at Helston Boating Lake

Helston Boating Lake was the venue for the January 2009 Cornwall Wildlife Trust Photography Group meeting, where once again we were making use of another popular public open space. Also known as Coronation Lake the site is at the edge of town in the sheltered valley of the River Cober and is very popular with young families feeding the swans & ducks, children getting to grips with tri-cycles, and the not so young piloting their radio controlled boats from the safety of the boathouse.

Ring-bill Gull at Helston Boating LakeThrow a group of around 30 photographers into this mix, all sporting long lenses & a variety of tripods and the general expectation is that there "must be something rare about". In the days leading up to the meeting there had indeed been a minor rarity here in the form of a Ring billed Gull, but on this particular morning it was conspicuous by it's absence, (in the finest traditions of Blue Peter, here's one I prepared earlier!).

There were however a number of Tufted Ducks to grab the photographers attention with their beautiful golden eyes peering out from the black (male) or chocolate brown (female) of their heads. Many of the group spent time trying to capture Black Headed Gulls in flight, A Great Spotted Woodpecker hiding amongst the branches above us at Loe Poolsome with their heads beginning to darken for the spring. Mute Swans were also a favourite subject, even the humble Mallard can look beautiful when you study the detail through the barrel of a long lens.

Sadly the very nice waterside café was shut for the winter so we moved off down the River Cober towards Loe Pool in search of further creative sustenance! The banks of the river had almost been breached by the winter deluges and here & there pockets of bank erosion had been lined with willow fencing by local naturalist & environmental consultant Martin Rule.

TCeltic Garden Snails he sound of a Greater Spotted Woodpecker crackled through the cool winter air above us, but the vocalist remained partially hidden allowing only a few hurried shots of his rather vivid rear end. The many Lichens draped from the willow carr made interesting close ups, while those trying for reflections in the water that lay in & around the base of these trees were frustrated by the ripples caused by the breeze & other photographers!

After lunch the majority of the group moved to Gunwalloe Church Cove on the west coast of the Lizard peninsula where almost everyone became engrossed in photographing the Snails that had congregated amongst the intricate stone work of the Celtic cross memorials. This, despite the fact that no one had initially shown any enthusiasm for my suggestion that the snails at Gunwalloe would The Atlantic pounds the shore at Gunwalloe Church Covebe a good subject for our band of happy snappers! It's seems strange that a creature that supposedly doesn't like salt in a domestic garden would congregate out in the open in a spot which is very exposed to the salt of sea spray.

The sea between Church Cove & Poldhu, urged on by the strong winds, was pounding into the cliffs with incredible force. The spray from these violent impacts being hurled right up over the cliffs causing real problems for any lens trying to capture the drama, but needless to say it was fun trying!

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