Sunday, May 23, 2004

We wake to a brilliant sunny morning with a bright blue, cloudless sky. We make our way to Lower Moors where we are greeted by a singing Blackcap which refuses to show itself. Along the trail we hit on a hidden Reed Warbler singing loudly to our left and a Sedge Warbler sat up to our right. The Sedge gives good views but is drowned out by the Reed which sings from its hidden perch. A Willow Warbler sings from the top of a willow and from the hide we get close views of a couple of Moorhen chicks. Along the trail we find a few stands of Royal Ferns.

At Old Town Bay the beach is busy with Sunday sun-seekers so is devoid of birds. We head around Tolman Point where we hear a Whimbrel calling from up towards the airport. We stop to scan the skies for it when Ray spots a Peregrine circling over the airfield. We manage to get the scopes on it and everyone eventually gets views before it stoops and is lost from view.

The walk up to Giant's Castle is brightened up with a few Linnets and a Rock Pipit feeding its young. The sea is deep blue and flat calm. Ray picks up a Guillemot sat offshore and Gannet, Kittiwake and Fulmar are all seen heading past the headland before Sylvia spies the head of a Grey Seal close inshore. Common Blue butterflies dance around the heather but rarely settle for any length of time.

We enjoy our lunch on the near-deserted beach of Porthellick. A Ringed Plover pipes mournfully and we soon see why – it has chicks taking cover at the top of the beach. The sun beats down on us in this sheltered bay and at least one of us takes the opportunity to stretch out on the beach and doze.

We venture into Higher Moors from where we view Porthellick Pool which holds Shelduck, Gadwall (including a pair with five ducklings) and a Grey Heron. Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff serenade us and provide good views. Our walk round the loop trail sees us enjoying a trio of bright butterflies - Red Admiral, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell which flit around the sedge areas which have terrific stands of Yellow Flag (Iris). Our second Blackcap of the day sings loudly from a nearby bush but despite a long search, we fail to see the hidden songster.

At the entrance to Holy Vale we enjoy a group of Swallows sat on the overhead wires. Along the trail we dodge the Hemlock Water Dropwort - tall Cow Parsley-like plants which are deadly poisonous! The dense foliage closes in all around us and the sheltered trail is blisteringly hot, stuffy and heavy with the scent of fresh spring foliage. The 'Cathedral' is largely devoid of birds, apart from a lone Spotted Flycatcher at the top of the trail.

Walking along the track to Four Lanes End, we enjoy the rich flowers. On Scilly its hard to know the natural plants from the introductions - a tapestry of species grow together enlivening every view. One field in particular is dazzling with a huge spray of Corn Marrigolds.

Along Telegraph Road we encounter even more Linnets and get good views of a lone Swift as it sweeps back and forth in search of its aerial prey before we ourselves take the turn down Porthloo Lane to Juliet's Garden for our own much needed sustenance!

Suitably replenished we make our way back to town before our evening walk back up to JulietÂ’s Garden for our splendid dinner - a more than fitting end to a fantastic first full day on the magical Isles of Scilly.

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