Posts Tagged ‘Botallack’

Choughs

July 22, 2014

Normally I prefer to have reasonably OK photos on this blog. Today’s photos are less than perfect, but they represent something I am so pleased to have seen.

When we visited Botallack recently I had no idea that choughs might be on the agenda. I knew they were on the opposite coast, around The Lizard and that these Cornish choughs were the only ones in England.

Now hang on a mo. I’ve jumped off the deep end without explaining my main characters. Choughs are birds. They are members of the crow family and like quite a lot of that family they are largely black. They have bright red beaks and legs and they like the wild coastlands of the west. I was careful to say the Cornwall choughs are the only ones in England for I believe there are colonies in Wales and other areas of the UK.

Anyway, on arrival at Botallack we were greeted by a notice which entreated us not to disturb the choughs.

Almost immediately afterwards we came across a group of people with scopes and binoculars. Clearly they were birders.

‘Are there choughs about today?’ I asked them.

‘Yes!’ came the reply. ‘There are the two adults with six youngsters. We saw them fly by just a few minutes ago’.

So of course, apart from looking at mine engines we kept our eyes peeled for these delightful birds.

And sure enough, before we reached the engine houses, one flew over. My photo is utterly poor but here it is.

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Yes, it’s blurred but you can see the distinctive fingers at the ends of the wings and just make out the red bill.

Now for many, that wouldn’t be anything to get excited about, but it certainly pleased me.

We continued a walk in the area, and then got our picnic to enjoy in glorious surroundings and fantastic weather.

I got my scope out – not that it would have been any good for seeing the fast flying and aerobatic choughs, but I enjoyed watching the gannets which tend to follow much more predictable courses.

Our bit of luck came as we were packing away. All eight choughs appeared over the headland.

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This could be something like a quarter of the England population. It’s a magical sight for me.

 

 

The mine at Botallack

July 20, 2014

Botallack is close to St Just in Penwith in Cornwall. It is an amazing place and could have a family connection. My wife’s great great grandfather, William Williams was a miner and he lived in the St Just area, possibly for about ten years. He may have worked at Botallack, but there were many other mines in the area.

Botallack has an amazingly dramatic location.

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The engine houses have been built on a ledge and on a sheer cliff above the sea. The prospect of building these almost beggars belief. I wonder how much a beam for an engine actually weighs. Being steam engines they’d have needed copious supplies of coal. It was as calm a day as you could wish for when we were there but the wind can howl and the sea can rage. It can be a thoroughly unfriendly place. But what a dramatic one!

A notice in the upper house gives a bit of history.

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Crowns Engine Houses Botallack Mine

Worked before 1724 and closed in 1814?? Lower pumping house was built in 1830s and upper winding house ?? in 1858

Preserved 1954 by Carn Brea Mining Society with the help of many individuals and authorities as a tribute to past generations of Cornish miners.

What a great tribute!

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What a great place to visit as well.