Thursday, September 16, 2004

Day 6 | Week 1 | A Speyside Wildlife holiday.

Yesterday’s respite from the westerly winds was short-lived, as normal wind service is resumed and the skies look a little on the threatening side.

After our usual hearty breakfast, we make our way up Garrison Lane to look for the Wryneck some of us saw yesterday. We give it an hour or so, and although I see it briefly on one occasion it isn’t playing ball this morning.

Two of our party head off to do their own thing - Wendy back to Bryher and John not hit a small ball with some sticks (golf they call it). The rest of us depart and catch the 11.00 am bus up country. We arrive at Pelistry and take the walk along Green Lane to Green Farm where we see a Whinchat very briefly. The fields are stuffed with Linnets and House Sparrows – but little else. The walk down to and along Watermill Cove is butterfly strewn, with Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Painted Lady, Common Blue, Small Copper, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock all seen. The clumps of ivy in the sheltered sunny spots received most attention, especially from the Red Admirals. During our stop overlooking the cove we manage only a Chiffchaff, a White Wagtail and a Stonechat. It’s very disappointing.

We walk on round to Innisidgen Burial Chamber where we have lunch. Charles immediately picks up a Pied Flycatcher on the sheltered side of the large stand of pines. The near large pine is alive with Chaffinches, Wrens, Robins – loads of commoner birds but no migrants. Our lunch stop provides yet more spectacular seaviews looking across to the Eastern Isles, St Martin’s, Tean, Round Island and Tresco. The colour of the sea is a beautiful mix of deep blues and turquoises. A Grey Heron stalks one of the nearby rock pools. The grey skies have given way to another gorgeous day, and here behind the pines we are sheltered from the winds. Lunch eaten and several of us are flat on our backs soaking up some of that sun! Bliss.

We head on round towards Trenowarth where we come across possibly the same Pied Fly as earlier. There are more little bulb fields crawling with sparrows and finches – but no more migrants. Newford Duck Pond is disappointing with no warblers in the trees, but crippling views of Moorhen! We walk on down to the golf course to see if either the morning’s Dotterel from the airport has relocated, or if John is still on his round of golf. We predictably draw a blank on both! The golf course holds even more Linnets and a single White Wagtail. Juliet’s Garden was never needed more!

Beverages and slices of cakes all round give way to a near bird-free walk back in to town. We dump our bags and head back up to Garrison Lane for the Wryneck. We again stake out the pear tree it has been seen in most frequently and wait. And wait. A Hummingbird Hawkmoth relieves the boredom but disappears. Ann then spies it returning and it lands on the wall in front of us. Fantastic! I reach for my camera and click – gotcha!

A hummer

‘Wryneck, just left of the Collared Dove!’ I shout. Everyone is straight on to it. What cracking views! It sits out in the open for a minute or so before departing off down to the right (but where does it go?!). Unfortunately, John, the only one of the group who hasn’t now seen Wryneck, arrives within minutes of this terrific sighting, and despite a further 45 minute wait, we see no further sign.

Wryneck apart, it’s been a pretty hard day trying to dig migrants out of a near migrant-free island. But the day is rounded off with evening at the splendid Juliet’s Garden. Those of us who chose to walk up enjoyed excellent views of a juvenile Sanderling with the Turnstone on Porthmellon, a juvenile Common Tern, two first-winter Mediterranean Gulls and a Lesser Black-backed Gull at Porthloo and loads of White Wagtails feeding along the beaches. Superb!

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