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Wild Cornwall – Out on the Edge

Synopsis

Cornwall: way out on the far western edge of Europe, a rugged finger of land pointing out into the ocean. Peregrine falcon, sea trout, kingfisher, dormouse, dolphin, adder, barn owl and grey seal – they all must try to survive the storms of winter and the challenges of breeding season. The rugged 420 kilometres long coast of Cornwall is a mix of high rocky cliffs, surf battered sandy beaches, sheltered tree lined inlets and estuaries. Here, the sea dominates everything.

Winter storms grow in strength and ferocity on their journey over the open ocean, and crash against the rocky cliffs and beaches. As water temperatures rise, predatory mackerel follow huge shoals of tiny whitebait into shallow water. On their heels are even bigger predators – bottlenose and common dolphin.

The seas around Cornwall are some of the most bio-diverse in Europe, home to the huge grey seal and basking shark, the second biggest fish in the world. At the other end of the scale spiny seahorses live, hunt and breed amongst the sea grass.

On remote rocky beaches, grey seals gather to breed, while the high cliffs are home to breeding seabirds such as shag and cormorants, fulmar and gulls – and the peregrine falcon, the fastest creature in the world. Only 30 years ago it was extinct in Cornwall, but now almost every available territory is occupied by a pair.

The cliffs are also home to common lizards and adders, Britain’s only venomous snake. Both hibernate underground through the wild stormy winters, emerging to bask in early spring sunshine.

Ghostly white barn owls hunt over the grasslands, drifting back and forth like huge moths as they search for small mammals. Through the spring and summer they are hunting hard to feed their chicks, hidden in an abandoned old wooden barn.

Kingfishers are fierce hunters of the forested river valleys. These living jewels dive to catch small fish in the crystal clear waters. The birds nest in burrows dug deep into the river banks. We take a look underground into their nest chambers to film the chicks as they hatch and grow.

Cornwall is one of the best places in Britain for bats. Daubenton’s bats specialise in feeding just above the waters’ surface. As night falls, they patrol up and down along the crystal clear water, snatching emerging insects as they hatch on the water’s surface. If the bats don’t get them, the trouts will.

Changing seasons and weather both above and below water take us on a journey through the Cornish year. Wild winter storms make way for the explosion of new life in spring, followed by gentle summer nights, only to welcome the falling leaves and swirling mists of autumn. Time lapse and slow motion will abstract the turning year and the ever-changing and sometimes extreme weather.

Produced by Terra Mater Factual Studios