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Wildfowl

Updated: Apr 23

Brent Goose Branta bernicla [BoCC5: Amber]

Dark-bellied Brent Goose (bernicla) was first documented as a visitor to Cornwall as far back as the early 1700s, and there has been regular sightings since this time, with little evidence of a change in status discernible from changes in observer coverage. Pale-bellied (hrota) was documented for the first time in Cornwall in 1953, but appears to account for a growing proportion of records.


On the Lizard the species is an irregular visitor mainly in winter and spring with records of both hrota and bernicla. High count include 22 on the Helford on 30th Jan 1933, 19 (dark-bellied) Loe Pool 20th Jan 1963 and 9 Old Lizard Head 9th Feb 2021.


Canada Goose Branta canadensis

Increasingly common. The first documented record was of four local escapes that were seen on the Helford in 1957 prior to this being established as a feral species in the south-west. The only other early record is of one was seen out to sea off Old Lizard Head on 20th January 1963, the origin of which is uncertain. However, that winter saw a considerable influx into Cornwall, and by that time it had already established as a feral species in the east of England and this seems a more likely origin than transatlantic vagrancy.


The first records of definite feral birds are of singles seen at Loe Pool and Helston Boating Lake 14th May-18th Jul 1975 and Hayle Kimbro and Loe Pool 26th Apr-16th May 1976. It became regular thereafter, though on the south Lizard was only common from 2006. The highest count is of 123 on the Helston Boating Lake on 4th Jul 2021.

Canada Goose on nest at Bray's Cott. Ilya Maclean


Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis [BoCC5: Amber]

Rare. All records given (singles unless otherwise stated).


1938: 7 on 4th Sep (Loe Pool).

1959: 15th Nov-5th Jan 1960 (Loe Pool).

1980: 5 on 30th Dec (Mullion).

1988: 12 Oct (south Lizard area).

1990: 2 on 1st Nov (Loe Pool), 3 on 4th Nov (Predannack).

1992: 22nd Jan (Helford).

1993: 6th Oct (Gunwalloe).

1997: 1st-13th Jan & 1st Dec (Loe Pool).

1998: 2nd May (Lowland Point).

1999: 13 on 8-11th Mar (Porthleven)

2002: 7 on 13th Dec (Helford)

2013: 1st Dec (Loe Pool).

2017: 2nd Jan (Gunwalloe)

2019: 2 on 20th Mar (over Old Lizard Head), 1 Soapy Cove (20th Oct).

2022: 1 on 1st Apr (on Helston Boating Lake)


Snow Goose Anser caerulescens

Two white morph were on Mullion Golf Course on 19th Apr 2008.


Greylag Goose Anser anser [BoCC5: Amber]

Historically, in the 1700s, this species was documented as being quite common in Cornwall, though in the 1900s up until c. 1990 it was rare with only a handful of sightings- one at Loe Pool from 6th Nov 1965 to 15th Jan 1966 is one of the few documented records. It is currently scarce, though a feral bird has attached itself to the Canada Goose flock semi-resident on the Helston Boating Lake. Some records probably relate to genuine wild birds from the continent. The highest count is of 8 over Mullion Golf Course on 22nd Dec 1939 and 6 flying over Lizard Village on 11th Apr 2018. A bird of the Siberian race (rubrirostris) was at Kynance on 19th Nov 1983.


Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus [BoCC5: Amber]

Historically rare in Cornwall, and fitting this pattern all records are relatively recent (singles unless stated).


1988: 12th Oct (over Caerthillian), 5th Nov-19th Apr 1989 (Loe Pool).

2006: 7th-14th Oct (15 around Lizard Village and Windmill Farm).

2012: 30th Sep (6 in off the sea over Lizard Downs).

2019: 13th Oct (Lizard Point and then Housel).

2020: 12th-19th Sep (2 Predannack and then near Grade Marsh).

Pink-footed Geese Grade Marsh. Ilya Maclean


Tundra Bean Goose Anser serrirostris [BoCC5: Amber]

Taiga are much more faithful to wintering grounds, so vagrant wanderers more likely to relate to Tundra Bean Geese, though none on the Lizard have been identified to species level. Bean Goose were documented by Rodd (1864) as being the most common goose in West Cornwall in harsh winters in late the 1800s, with "considerable flocks" recorded across most of southern and western Cornwall in harsh winters such as in 1890, though there is no specific mention of the Lizard.


There is one documented record of a ‘Bean Goose’ near Kynance on 9th Jan 1982. In 2021, two Bean Geese were recorded with a Russian White-fronted Goose near Ruan Major on 22nd Dec (J Foster). By 26th Dec, the group had grown to 5 Bean Geese and on the 27th, what was considered to be a different flock 8 Bean Geese and a Greylag Goose were seen near Grade Marsh (J Foster, R Wilkins et al). The racial identify of these was subject to quite a bit of debate. Structurally they appeared more similar to Tundra Bean Geese, but the long bill on at least several individuals prompted some observers to question whether they were Taiga Bean Geese. The general consensus was that they were of race serrirostris as opposed to the more commonly occurring rossicus Tundra Bean Geese. They stayed until early 2022.

Two Tundra Bean Geese and an albifrons White-fronted Goose near Ruan Major on 22nd Dec 2021. Joe Jones.


White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons [BoCC5: Red]

In the 19th century this bird documented as being quite common in Cornwall, particularly during harsh winters, though there are no specific records for the Lizard. Nevertheless, the association with cold winters remains as the highest count is of 50 (unraced) recorded flying up the Loe Valley on 31st Jan 1963 during an exceptionally cold winter that brought a large influx of wildfowl, with numerous others records of White-fronted Geese elsewhere on the Lizard.


It is currently a scarce visitor and both albifrons and flavirostris have occurred. All post 1963 records are given (singles unless stated):


Unraced:

(1970: 7 "grey geese" seen at Loe Pool on 7th Nov were thought to be this species).

1979: 31st Jan (3 at Goonhilly).

1982: 6th Feb (Coverack), 11th Nov (Lizard area).

1993: 1st Nov (2 Kynance).

1994: 25th Sep (3 Kynance).

2001: 18th Dec (Loe Pool).

(2012: 1st Nov (10 Constantine)).

2013: 20th Jan (Goonhilly).

flavirostris:

1988: 28th Dec (10 Goonhilly)

2012: 30th Oct (3 Coverack and Lizard Village)

2017: 30th Oct (Hellarcher Valley).

albifrons:

2011: 15th Nov (2 Grade Marsh and then 3 Cadgwith), 14th-16th Nov (3 Trethvas Farm).

2021: 22nd Dec (Grade Marsh), 27th Dec (16 in field opposite Croft Pascoe).

Greenland White-fronted Geese over Lizard Downs 30th Oct 2012. Tony Blunden


Mute Swan Cygnus olor

The history of Mute Swans in Cornwall is relatively little known, as there are no registered swan marks. It has probably become more common however, as in the late 1960s, the only documented breeding on the Lizard was from Port Navas creek.

It is currently a regular breeder on several water bodies on the North Lizard (e.g. Loe Pool, Helston Boating Lake and at various locations on the Helford). Occasionally documented elsewhere – e.g. a single in Porthleven harbour and occasionally nearby offshore sporadically between 2017 and 2021.


Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus [BoCC5: Red]

Formerly scarce, now rare and in the late 1800s was documented as being more common than Whooper, a phenomenon that held true in Cornwall in some years right up until the mid 1900s.


On the Lizard most records are from Hayle Kimbro. All sightings are given:


1951: 14th Jan (2 Hayle Kimbro, 1 Helford).

1956: 29th Feb (6 Hayle Kimbro).

1959: 21st Nov-13th Dec (1 Loe Pool).

1962: 11th Feb-18th Mar (6 Hayle Kimbro).

1963: 12th Jan (1 Loe Pool), 4th Mar (9 Hayle Kimbro).

1968: 5th Jan-4th Mar (2 Hayle Kimbro and Kennack Sands).

1969: 8th-10th Dec (11 Hayle Kimbro).

1972: 18th Nov-9th Dec (Hayle Kimbro).

1975: 8th Nov (2 Hayle Kimbro).

1982: 8th-14th Jan (up to 11 Hayle Kimbro).

1983: 30th Oct (4 Coverack).

1985: 20th Nov (1 Hayle Kimbro).

1989: 23rd Nov (1 Loe Pool).

1992: 18th Jan-8th Feb (4 Cadgwith).

1993: 10th-11th Oct (2 Port Navas).

1996: 18th-21st Jan (1 Gweek).

1997: 22nd Nov (2 Loe Pool).

2011: 28th Jan-20th Feb (up to 7 Hayle Kimbro).


An unconfirmed record of one on Helston Boating Lake on 16th Feb 2015 at the same time as a Whooper Swan was known to be present is the only record in the last decade.

Bewick's Swan Windmill Farm, 30th Jan 2011. Tony Blunden


Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus [BoCC5: Amber]

Historically rare: only recorded in Cornwall on seven occasions between 1924 and 1950, and first recorded on the Lizard on 14th Jan 1951. It is currently a scarce winter visitor, though in the last 20 years or so has become the most frequently record swan on the south of the Lizard. The highest count is of 15 at Croft Pascoe on 9th Nov 2002. A bird, initially a young bird, took up residence on the Helston Boating Lake from Jan-Jul 2013, Jan-Mar 2014, Dec 2014-Jan 2015 and Feb-Apr 2016.

Whooper Swan, Croft Pascoe Pool. Ilya Maclean. This bird later took up residence on Helston Boating Lake and occurred there for several consecutive winters.

In Nov-Dec 2023 two Whooper Swans took up residence at Croft Pascoe. Photo: Steve Wood.


(Black Swan Cygnus atratus)

Escaped birds reported a few times. Records include 4 at Gunwalloe on 7th Sep 1989 and singles at Porth Navas late Aug-10th Sep 1991, Loe Pool sporadically 15th Feb-15th Aug 1992 and in 1996 and 2000, Mullion 12th May 1993, in the Helford in 1997 and 1998, 4 at Kennack Sands and later past Lizard Point on 17th Aug 2017 and on Helston Boating Lake on 1st Apr 2021.

Black Swan Helston Boating Lake. Ilya Maclean


Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca

Feral populations of this species established themselves in Norfolk in the early 1800s and birds were also introduced to Tresco in 1845 and held in private collections more widely. Claims that specimens obtained in Cornwall in the 19th century were of wild origin therefore cannot be taken seriously. There are two such records from the Lizard area: one shot near Gunwalloe in Nov 1848 and in shot in the Autumn in 1849 on the Helford. One suspects these originated from Tresco or from private collections in Devon.


There is just one recent record: of a wondering bird on Loe Pool on 2nd Dec 2011 and then sporadically on Helston Boating Lake on 26th Dec 2011-13th Jan 2012.


(Muscovy Duck Carina moschata)

First recorded on Helston Boating Lake on 18th Feb 1995 and Loe Pool on 23rd May-30th Jun 1998. Now quite common with five frequenting the Helston Boating Lake. All records relate to escapes, most probably from local collections. Also a record from the Helford on 8th Jun-25th Dec 2000 and at St Keverne on 5th Aug 2017.


Shelduck Tadorna tadorna [BoCC5: Amber]

Carew (1602) lists Shelduck as edible although "these content not so much with the stomacke, all with a like savorinesse". He also refers to breeding birds in Cornwall in the 16th century, though it appears not to have done so again for c. 300 years. Authors in the 19th and early 20th century describe it as a irregular winter visitor, predominantly in harsh winters.


Post 1600s nesting in Cornwall was first noted in the early 20th century, but on the Lizard breeding was first documented near Tremayne Quay in 1933. Numbers thereafter increased and it is now a regular though declining breeder on the Helford and occurs sporadically elsewhere on the Lizard. The highest count away from the Helford is 5 flying past Lizard Point on 10th Feb 2019 - poor compensation for those who missed the albatross.


Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea

Birds seen in Cornwall are thought possibly to originate from moult gathering in the Netherlands, though the origins of these birds is not known with certainty. One shot on the Helford River in 1892, the year in which a great invasion occurred into the UK is probably of genuine wild origin. A single was also seen at Hayle Kimbro on 2nd Oct 1991 (A Pay), at Poldhu Cove on 3rd Dec 1991 (A Pay) and on Helston Boating Lake 2nd-3rd Jun 2021 (I Maclean et al).

Ruddy Shelduck, Helston Boating Lake. Ilya Maclean


Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata

Difficult to ascertain exactly how many records there has been as sightings may relate to wandering and returning birds. Singles were seen on the Helston Boating Lake on 8th Dec 2000-16th Feb 2001, on Loe Pool on 20th-23rd Mar 2006, on Helston Boating Lake 24th Sep to 23rd Nov 2006, at Gweek on 19th Oct 2012 and at Predannack 23rd Apr 2013. A male at Polwheveral Creek 19th-21st Nov 2018 was joined by a female on 23rd Nov 2018 (D Collins), with sightings also of a female from the Helford River on 2nd Oct 2019. A male was seen at Mawgan Creek Dec 2019 to Jan 2020 (J Selby) and possibly the same bird was seen at Scott's Quay on 14th Jan 2023 (D Collins). A female was found at Loe Pool on 25th Nov 2023.

Mandarin, Mawgan Creek. Ilya Maclean


Garganey Spatula querquedula [BoCC5: Amber]

Scarce. Clarke (1902) documents this species was 'not infrequent' on the Lizard in the 19th century. Bred at Hayle Kimbro and at Croft Pascoe and possibly at Gunwalloe Marsh in the 1970s. Pairs were also seen fairly regularly at Hayle Kimbro and Gunwalloe in the 1950 and at Hayle Kimbro in 1968 and 1969. Now most commonly seen as a spring migrant, though occasionally seen in Autumn, particularly in August, including on seawatches. The highest count is of 9 at Hayle Kimbro on 8th Apr 1969 and Loe Pool on 9th Aug 1993.

Female Garganey, Chapel Lane Pool, 30th March 2019. Tony Blunden

Two male Garganey, 20th Apr 2014. Tony Blunden


Male Garganey on Helston Boating Lake, 23rd Apr 2024. Ilya Maclean


Seasonal trends of initial sightings of Garganey on the Lizard Peninsula (where dates available). Blue: pre-2020 records. Red: post-2020 records (including 2020).

Blue-winged Teal Spatula discors

Just one record of a bird on Loe Pool on 2nd Oct 1991.


(Wood duck Anas sponsa)

Though not officially on the British list, records in 2005 (coinciding with the Laughing Gull influx) and in 2022 (after a November storm), are intriguing and as with a few other records in Cornwall is suggestive of genuine vagrancy. The 2005 record was of an adult that was flushed off Hayle Kimbro and then shot on 24th Nov (A Pay). The 2022 record was of a pair that were seen flying in off the sea and landing on Loe Pool on 6th Nov (I Maclean).


Other records, bar perhaps a 1st winter bird seen on Helston Boating Lake 16th Oct 2005 and into 2006, are more likely to be escapes. All other records are also from Helston Boating Lake, where singles were seen on 17th Oct-9th Dec 1996, 28th Jul-30th Sep & 22nd Nov 1997, 7th Jul, 26th Oct & 28th Dec 1998, 1st & 19th Jan, 2nd Feb & 12th Dec 2000-6th Feb 2001 and 23rd Feb 2005.


Shoveler Spatula clypeata [BoCC5: Amber]

Fairly common on Loe Pool and Helston Boating Lake in winter. As with other dabbling duck species this species is most common during colder winters, but unlike the other duck species, numbers do seem to be holding up and it is now probably more common than historically. Away from Helston and Loe Pool it is scarce, and most frequently seen at Hayle Kimbro or Croft Pascoe. High counts are of 68 at Windmill Farm on 20th Jan 2008 and 64 at Windmill Farm on 1st Feb 2009.

A pair of Shoveler, Helston Boating Lake. Ilya Maclean


Gadwall Mareca strepera [BoCC5: Amber]

Rare until the 1940s, though currently fairly regular. While the species increased during the 1950s and 1960s, with regular small numbers occurring on Loe Pool, there is perhaps a suggestion that it has declined since then as its occurrence there is rather sporadic. The main sites remain Loe Pool and Helston Boating Lake. A count of 73 at Loe Pool on 28th Dec 1996 was a new county record.


A male Gadwall in Loe Valley December 2023. Ilya Maclean


Wigeon Mareca penelope [BoCC5: Amber]

A regular winter visitor, this species was probably historically more common as 17th and 18th century records document large flocks as being a regular occurrence. As with several of the other ducks, large numbers appear to be most associated with harsher winters, notably the highest count being of 1000+ at Loe Pool on 12th Jan 1963 during an exceptionally cold period. The the more recent cold winter of 2010, fairly large flocks were also seen on e.g. Grade Marsh. Also quite commonly seen on seawatches during migration.

A Wigeon in Loe Valley Nov 2023. Ilya Maclean


American Wigeon Mareca americana

Rare with just two records. Singles at Loe Pool on 2nd-26th Nov 1983 and 1st-4th Sep 1991. A probable hybrid was also seen at Windmill Farm on 18th Jan 2009.


Probable hybrid America x Eurasian Wigeon, Windmill Farm. Tony Blunden


(Chiloé Wigeon Mareca sibilatrix)

A single bird on Helston Boating Lake on 8th Nov 1983 was doubtless an escape.


Mallard Anas platyrhynchos [BoCC5: Amber]

Historically, though common as a winter visitor, and more common than currently during harsh winters, it was a rather scarce breeder. For example Penhallurick (1969) documents only a total of 6 pairs on the Lizard: on Hayle Kimbro, Loe Pool and Gunwalloe, though acknowledges that likely several pairs were missed. It currently breeds more widely, including on Helston Boating Lake, though periodic influxes during winter, if they occur at all, involve markedly fewer birds. The highest count is of 800+ on Loe Pool on 12th Jan 1963. Currently most winters see just a dozen birds or so wintering there.

Historic (1982) breeding distribution of Mallard on the Lizard. Large squares indicate confirmed breeding, medium-sized squares probable breeding and small squares present in the breeding season and possibly breeding.


Black Duck Anas rubripes

Probably the same returning male was seen intermittently at Loe Pool from 1st Sep 2000-6th Dec 2003. Specifically: seen 1st Sep 2000, intermittently on 8th Aug-23rd Nov 2001, 31st Aug-29th Oct 2002, 9th Jan 2003 and 23rd Sep-6th Dec 2003.


Pintail Anas acuta [BoCC5: Amber]

In Cornwall generally it was common in the 1800s, but since this time has steadily declined and on the Lizard is now quite rare,with no records at all between 2015 and 2021. However,2022 was quite a good year for the species, with one at Loe Pool on 25th Jan, at Windmill Farm the next day and then at Croft Pascoe on 17th Feb. Two more were seen flying over Church Cove on 5th Oct, and another at Grade Marsh on 17th Dec. As in 2002, it can turn up on any of the moderate to large-sized water bodies on the Lizard. High counts include 9 over Gunwalloe on 23rd Feb 1941, 8 on Loe Pool on 18th Jan 1955, 12 on Loe Pool on 12th Jan 1963, 5 on Hayle Kimbro on 25th Feb 1992 and 5 at Windmill Farm on 24th Jan 2007.


Teal Anas crecca [BoCC5: Amber]

Fairly common in winter, though appears to have declined substantially in the last decade or so, coinciding with mild winters and reduced feeding at shooting ponds. In the 1950s bred at Porkellis Moor near Wendron, but there are no known breeding records from the Lizard. The highest wintering flocks occur in harsh winters: 400+ on Loe Pool on 12th Jan 1963, 400 at Grade Marsh on 5th Dec 2010 and 420+, likely the same flock, at Croft Pascoe on 27th Dec 2010.


Green-winged Teal Anas carolinensis

All records are of drakes at Loe Pool (singles unless otherwise stated):


1987: 7th-9th Jan & 19th Dec

1994: 27th Oct-3rd Mar 1995

1995: 30th Nov-31st Dec

1998: 13th Dec-31st Mar 1999

1999: 17th Oct-19th Feb 2000

2000: 28th Dec-18th Feb 2001

2001: 16th Oct-16th Feb 2002

2002: 25th Dec.


Difficult to determine how many birds are involved as many records likely relate to the same returning individual. Nevertheless, 2 were seen on 20th Oct 1999.


Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina

Rare with just 7 records. Singles were seen at Loe Pool on 29th Dec 1961-17th Mar 1962, 4th-11th Jan 1969, 29th Sep-3rd Oct 1985, 5th Jul & 7th-12th Nov 1989 and 8th-10th Jan 2010 (A Pay), the first also recorded on Helston Boating Lake. A female or 1st winter was also seen on Grade Marsh on 25th Mar 2006 (B Cave).


Pochard Aythya ferina [IUCN: VU][BoCC5: Red]

Common on Loe Pool in winter and with little evidence of a marked change in status. It also occurs on Helston boating lake fairly regularly. It is very rare in the south Lizard area with just 3 records (21st Mar 1980, 10th Feb 1993 and 23rd Jan 1997). The highest count is of 150 on Loe Pool on 12th Jan 1963, an exceptional cold spell that resulted in a large influx of wildfowl to Cornwall.

Male Pochard, Helston Boating Lake, Dec 2023. Ilya Maclean


Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca [IUCN: NT]

One at Loe Pool on 16th Mar 1955. A tame bird of suspect origin was first seen at Helston Boating Lake on 6th Jun 2018 and remained for several years, but was last seen on 4th Oct 2022.

Ferruginous Duck Helston Boating Lake. Ilya Maclean


Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris

Rare. Difficult to determine total numbers, as some records likely relate to returning birds. All records are given and all bar two are from Loe Pool (singles unless stated):


1981: drake 7th Jan-4th Mar.

1987: drakes 7th Mar, 4th-12th Apr and 9th Nov-24th Jan 1988.

1988: drake 31st Dec 1988-29th Jan 1989.

1989: drakes 10th Apr, 17th Jun-16th Nov.

1990: drake 22nd Jan, 22nd Feb-26th Mar, 29th Sep-20th Apr 1991 (up to 3 drakes and a juv).

1991: drake intermittently 10th Aug-20th Nov 1994 (may have involved more than one bird).

1995: drake 2nd Mar.

1998: drake 11th-25th Oct & 1st Nov.

2000: 30th Aug-4th Sep.

2001: 21st Oct-13th Apr 2002 (up to 2).

2005: 19th Dec.

2006: 2nd Jan-27th Mar, 7th Nov, 5th-23rd Dec.

2012: 16th-19th Nov.

2013: 1st Jan-6th Feb (up to 2).


The only records away from Loe Pool are one at Trudnoe Farm Pool, Mullion on 28th Mar 1991 and one on the Helston Boating Lake from 3rd Jan 2023 (J Foster).

Female Ring-necked Duck, Helston Boating Lake. 19th Feb 2023. Ilya Maclean


Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula

Common on Loe Pool and on Helston Boating Lake. Rare in south Lizard area though there are occasional spring and winter records. The highest count is of 300 at Loe Pool on 12th Jan 1963.

Tufted Duck, Helston Boating Lake. Ilya Maclean


Scaup Aythya marila [BoCC5: Red]

Occasional on Loe Pool where the highest count is of 12 on 23rd Nov 1991. Rare elsewhere: 2 flying past Bass Point on 17th Apr 1970 and a single past Lizard Point on 28th Oct 2018. Also singles at Helston Boating Lake on 10th Mar 1956, 12th-17th Jan 2018 and 3rd Jun-30th Jul 2021, and at Hayle Kimbro 12th Oct 1977 and 17th-29th Mar 2010, on the latter date in the company of Lesser Scaup. The highest count is of 15 at Loe Pool on 6th Jan 1997.

Lesser and Greater Scaup Hayle Kimbro 29th Mar 2010. Tony Blunden

Greater Scaup Helston Boating Lake 12th Jan 2018. Tony Blunden


Seasonal trends of initial sightings of Scaup on the Lizard Peninsula (where dates available). Blue: pre-2020 records. Red: post-2020 records (including 2020).


Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis

Rare, with just 6-7 records, most from Loe Pool where 2 were recorded 18th Jun-19th Oct 1997 (S Bury) and singles 14th-24th Oct 1999 and 29th Nov 2008. Away from there, singles were also recorded on Helston Boating Lake on 8th Nov 2008 (T Blunden, may have been the same as the Loe Pool Bird) at Hayle Kimbro on 17th-29th Mar 2010 (A Pay, B Cave) and at Helston Boating Lake on 4th Nov 2019 (D Collins).

The 2008 Lesser Scaup on Helston Boating Lake. T Blunden


(King Eider Somateria spectabilis)

A probable first-winter male was seen flying past Coverack on 7th Dec 2020 (J Foster).


Eider Somateria mollissima [IUCN: NT][BoCC5: Amber]

Irregular winter visitor, most common around Helford Mouth, though seen at various locations elsewhere. Historically it was probably slightly rarer than at present only being reported in 7 years in Cornwall has a whole between 1931 and 1951, but is certainly annual at present. On the Lizard, the highest count is of 15 on the sea off Porthleven 17th Feb 1969.


Surf Scoter Melanitta perspicillata

Rare with just 6 records. An adult drake was shot at the Helford on 16th Dec 1906. Singles were also seen at Loe Pool on 29th Oct-5th Nov 1998 and 23rd Oct-11th Nov 2002. Singles were also seen flying past Lizard Point on 31st Oct 2015 and 31st Dec 2019 (T Blunden). The most recent record was of a juvenile bird at the north end of Loe Pool from on 28th Oct 2023 to early Nov 2023 (I Maclean).

Surf Scoter on Loe Pool, 2023 (Joe Jones).


Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca [IUCN: VU][BoCC5: Red]

Scarce winter and spring visitor with most records from the outer Helford (26 birds), where up to 9 were recorded on 13th Feb-30th Apr 1970, up to 6 on 11th Nov 1980-22nd Feb 1981, up to 4 on 20th Nov-31st Dec 1971, 2 on 16th Dec 1906 (with the Surf Scoter) and 2 on 6th-14th Dec 1975.


The other regular site is around the Porthleven and Loe Pool and Bar area (20 birds), where records involving multiple birds are of 2 on 20th Mar 1955, 30th Nov 1957, 18th Jan 1964 and 24th Dec 1997 and 4 on 4th-26th Nov 1983. Singles also recorded in that area on 3rd Dec 1972, 6th Apr & 13th-22nd Nov 1976, 19th Nov 1977, 27th-30th Oct 1987, 19th Nov 1989, 1st Dec 1991 and 7th-13th Feb 2021.


Also fairly regularly seen past Lizard Point with two past on 16th Apr 2004, 15th Nov 2015 and 24th Feb 2017 and singles past on 10th Apr & 28th Dec 2016, 2nd Jan and 4th Feb 2017, 6th Mar 2018, 5th Jan and 20th Jan 2020.


Other records are of 2 past Bass Point on 12th May 1974 & 1 on 7th Nov 1982; 2 in Housel Bay on 19th Oct 1997, and singles 1 at Lowland Point on 12th Nov 2018, at Cove1ack on 21st Nov 2018 and 4th-29th Nov 2020, past Church Cove on 22nd Nov 2019 and past Coverack on 21st Oct 2022.


Common Scoter Melanitta nigra [BoCC5: Amber]

Fairly regular. Seen most months with a peak in Jul on seawatches from Lizard and Bass Point, but in winter off Loe Bar. Observer coverage makes it hard to assess whether there has been a marked change in status, the most notable pattern being fewer sightings off Loe Bar and Porthleven, but far more seen on seawatches.


Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis [IUCN: VU][BoCC5: Red]

Scarce winter and spring visitor with most records with most records from the Loe Pool and Bar area (38 birds), though birds visiting there are also occasionally seen on the Boating Lake. Records include (singles unless otherwise stated):


1937: 19th Nov.

1949: 26th Feb.

1957: 14th Dec (2).

1958: 30th Jan.

1965: 3rd Jan-23rd Feb.

1967: 19th Nov.

1970: 1st Feb (2).

1975: 18th Jan (2).

1976: 7th Nov-20th Mar 1977.

1979: 14th Jan-17th Mar, 2 on 30th Jan.

1980: 21st-23rd Jun.

1983: 14th Nov-14th Apr 1984 (up to 3).

1985: 27th Oct-3rd May 1986 (up to 2).

1988: 13th Nov.

1989: 7th Mar-1st May and 4th-26th Oct.

1991: 21st Oct-22nd May 1992 (up to 6).

1994: 3rd Nov-17th May 1995 (2).

1997: 14th Mar.

2001: 17th Nov-13th Apr 2002.

2004: 29th Oct-29th Dec.

2008: 13th Feb.

2010: 1st Jan-16th Mar and 23rd Nov-26th Mar 2011.


Other records are (singles unless otherwise stated):

1963: 5th Oct (Lizard Point).

1969: 12th Dec (Helford).

1970: 12th-23rd Apr (Helford, up to 2), 19th Dec-6th Mar 1971 (Helford).

1985: 9th Nov (Porthleven)

1986: 12th-13th Mar (Mullion)

1988: 10th Nov-20th Jan 1989 (Poldhu)

1989: 8th Apr (Helford, 3), 29th Oct (Lizard Point).

2019: 27th Sep (Lizard Point).

2022: 1st Dec (Lizard Point)


Bufflehead Bucephala albeola

A bird first seen at The Watering near Housel Bay on 26th Oct 2011 (G Jefferies) made its way to Loe Pool, staying to 3rd Mar 2012, with a brief visit to Croft Pascoe on 1st Feb 2012.


Goldeneye Bucephala clangula [BoCC5: Red]

Scarce winter and spring visitor to Loe Pool. Rare away from there with singles recorded at Hayle Kimbro on 21st Feb 1979, 4th-17th Jan 1983 and 8th Feb 1985, at Trevasssack Quarry Pool on 14th Dec 2010-20th Feb 2011 and past Lizard Point on 2nd Jan 2017.


There is little to suggest that the status of this species has changed much over the last 200 years, though older literature refers to this species occurring in the Helford occasionally, but does not specifically mention Loe Pool as a site for the species.


Smew Mergellus albellus [BoCC5: Red]

Fairly regular winter visitor to Loe Pool in the early 1900s, but scarcer since then. All post 1940s records given (singles unless otherwise stated):


1941: 19th Feb-6th Mar (2 Loe Pool)

1949: 5th Feb (Loe Pool).

1950: 28th Jan (Loe Pool).

1951: 6th Jan (Loe Pool).

1952: 2 11th Jan (Gillan Creek, dropping to 1 by 14th)

1963: 1st Feb (2 Loe Pool)

1979: 20th-25th Jan (Loe Pool).

1980: 3rd Dec (Loe Pool).

1986: 30th Jan (Loe Pool).

1994: 25th Jan (Loe Pool).

1995: 19th-23rd Jan (up to 3 Loe Pool).

1997: 2nd Jan-14th May (up to 6 Loe Pool).

2002: 3rd Feb (Loe Pool).

2012: 1st-15th Feb 2012 (Loe Pool).


Goosander Mergus merganser

Winter number of this species have increased considerably in recent years: prior to the 1950s it was rarer than Smew on the Lizard. Nevertheless, Loe Pool in winter is the only regular site for this species. It is rare away from there with the only known records of singles past Lizard Point on 9th Jan 2020 and over Porthleven on 10th Jan 2021 (the latter almost certainly originating from Loe Pool). The highest count is of 34 (with 5 Smew!) on Loe Pool on 3rd Jan 1997.


Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator [BoCC5: Amber]

Occasional visitor to the outer Helford and to Falmouth Bay where birds can occasionally be seen at long-distance from headlands on the north of the Lizard. Its status from these locations appears to have changed little over the last 100 years. Rare away from there, with all records given (singles unless otherwise stated):


1957: 14th Nov (Gweek).

1977: 19th Nov (Porthleven).

1979: 15th Jan (Loe Pool).

1982: 3rd Nov (2 past Lizard Point).

1983: 15th-20th Nov (Loe Pool).

1996: 30th Sep (Loe Pool).

2009: 9th Dec (Loe Pool).

2012: 2nd Dec (Loe Pool).

2019: 11th Jan (Lizard Point).

2019: 9th Oct (Coverack)

2021: 14th Feb (Loe Pool).

2022: 21st Nov (2 past Lizard Point), 2nd & 3rd Dec (Lizard Point)

2023: 2nd Jan (Lowland Point)


Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis

Now extinct in the region following the cull, but seen regularly at Loe Pool between the 1970s and 2000s, with at least 49 birds involved and indeed this site was the best in Cornwall for seeing this species:


1979: 2nd Jan-20th Feb (up to 5).

1982: 14th Jan-1st Feb (up to 6).

1985: 18th Jan-16th Feb (up to 2).

1986: 15th Feb-2nd Mar (1).

1987: 17th Jan-7th Feb & Nov 28th (1).

1989: 2nd-22nd Jan (1)

1990: 8th Oct (4).

1991: 22nd Oct-15th Feb 1992 (1)

1994: 17th Dec-26th Mar 1995 (1)

1995: 21st Sep (up to 10), 31st Dec-8th Feb 1996 (1).

1997: 3rd Jan-1st Feb (up to 2), 27th Dec-10th Jan 1998 (1).

2001: 2nd-25th Feb (1), 5th-26th Sep (up to 4).

2003: 15th Dec (1).

2004: 25th Sep (1), 15th Nov-19th Dec (up to 3).

2006: 13th-19th (1).


It was also recorded once prior to 1971, when the species was first officially admitted to the British List.

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