Saturday, May 29, 2004

Yesterday's grim weather has passed, and a return to normal - sunny, warm and wall to wall blue sky!

The reduced group of Pam, Phil, John, Margaret, Alison and Steve take a walk out to Peninnis Head. With a red-backed Shrike found on St Agnes the previous day, the hope of finding a few newly arrived migrants is raised. But dashed! Its soon obvious that nothing has dropped in, at least not on this headland, and we make do with the resident birds including the ever-friendly Song Thrushes hopping ahead of us on the paths. At the head, we manage to catch sight of a few Fulmars and Gannets over the flat sea (hope it stays that way for our crossing later!). The headland is covered in Common Blue butterflies and the occasional Small Copper. With birds difficult to come by we revert to our own method of finding new species - birding charades!

We head back through Hugh Town and up to the Garrison where we have a leisurely lunch by the Newman Battery with spectacular views across to the Western Rocks, Annet, Bishop Rock Lighthouse, Samson, Bryher, Tresco, Tean and St Martin's (only St Agnes is missing!). A group of Herring Gulls join us, but are a little wary of coming down to the few bits of bread thrown down for them.

After lunch its back to town to collect our things from the guesthouse. Ice creams in hand, we claim a corner of the green which overlooks Town Beach and the harbour. From here we can see when the Scillonian II arrives and saves us having to stand in the queue on the quay for a long time. As it happens, the boat is delayed on its return from Penzance, and we don’t leave St Mary's until 18.45h – nearly two hours late!

The sea is relatively flat and with increasingly overcast skies, the hopes for a few seabirds is heightened. Fulmars and Gannets are much in evidence, but it isn’t until we are in sight of Longships Lighthouse just off Land's End that we come across Manx Shearwaters. Steve spots a Storm Petrel, but its so quick and flying away from us there is little chance for the other to get on to it. More Manxies stream past in line after line – some coming quite close to the boat ad giving excellent views, and sightings continue almost to Penzance Harbour.

Arriving back at Penzance after 21.00h everyone is keen to claim their luggage and get to their guesthouse or start their journey. Our bags quickly materialise from the large cargo containers, and we are soon bidding one another a fond farewell.

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