Looe Island Nature Reserve: Seals, cormorants and a peregrine falcon
This is my second time to the island in the last couple of years. It is an absolutely beautiful place, an island from a fairy tale with lots of amazing wildlife to come with it.
Human inhabitants of Looe island date back to the dark ages and a visit from Time Team a few years ago uncovered some of the islands secrets. An old church used to sit on a hill in the centre of the island facing towards the mainland which was a place for pilgrims who believed the island to be a place where Jesus visited as a young boy with his uncle Joseph of Arimathea.
To compliment the islands incredible history is the incredible wildlife. In 2004 the island was handed over to the Cornwall wildlife trust to be set up as a nature reserve. We were only allowed 2 hours on the island before the tide cut us off from the mainland, so there was a lot to see in a very short space of time.
Just past the peaceful vegetable patches and the quaint little cottage that occupies the island is the south east point which faces out to the blue horizon. It’s from here in a small cove where we saw the seals. There were three of them, one of them we were told was named Lucille, a pregnant grey seal who over the years has come to name the island as her home. Her confident nature makes her very popular with the local fishing and tour boats, often swimming right up to the boats.
The island is also home to a great variety of seabirds. At night seagulls fly to the island in their 1000’s to settle down for the night in the cliff face and cormorants fish around the island. While filming the cormorants resting on a rock I heard the most beautiful sound that will get any avid birdwatcher excited. Few people will probably find it difficult to understand why anyone would call a continuous series of screeches an incredible sound, but there was an undeniable beauty about how the sound echoed across the water. Quickly pulling my eyes away from the viewfinder I searched around frantically to find the source of the noise. After a minute of searching a grey blur shot out of the cliffs below me, continuing to screech as the peregrine falcon flew at lightning speed across the water. I was delighted to have seen it!
It’s safe to say that in those two hours I saw only a fraction of the species that this beautiful island has to offer. As we packed up and left the island I promised one of the wardens that I would be back in the near future, and I completely intend to keep that promise.
Looe Island nature reserve information website: Cornwall wildlife trust