Friday, September 24, 2004

Day 7 | Week 2 | A Speyside Wildlife holiday.

We wake to brilliant sunshine and barely a cloud in the sky. The wind has turned to the north and has a nip to it. Hopefully that sun will keep us warm. After breakfast we take a brief stroll along the sunny side of Porthcressa and the Sallyport end of the Garrison before heading for the quay and on to the Sapphire for our transfer to Bryher.

Shags on a rock off Samson

We land at Aneka’s Quay and let the crowds disperse before heading out to Fraggle Rock and in to the fields overlooking the campsite. A few Stonechats flit around a horse paddock which holds a couple of Pheasant. Our spirits are lifted when we find a Willow Warbler flycatching from a group of trees. Along the campsite fields we rustle up a couple of Meadow Pipits and a couple of Chiffchaffs feeding in a bracken covered field. This is all good stuff and sure sign of at least a bit of movement.

We wander through the maze of fields down towards the Hell Bay Hotel. The constant calling of Goldcrests gives a further clue that birds have arrived. The place is crawling with them. We come a cross a brilliantly sheltered corner of tamarisk growing through the pittasporum, some small elms and an apple tree – all soaking up the late morning sun. ‘There’s gotta be some birds in here’ I mutter. Calling Goldcrests at last turn in to little birds flitting about the elms and apple tree. ‘That can’t be it’ I blurt. ‘There must be at least a flycatcher in here’. Bingo! As if by magic a Spotted Flycatcher sallies over the trees and perches in full view of us! It entertains us for a few minutes before moving around the corner so we follow – Steve with camera already readied.

Some decent Spot Fly action at last

With hunger hitting, and with so many people on the islands, we decide to hit the Hell Bay Hotel early where Marilyn, Dave and Andrea treat me to a sumptuous crab baguette. Yummy!

The delightful Hell Bay Hotel, Bryher
What a setting!

Anyone for chess?

We wander over to Gweal Hill to look across to Hell Bay before meandering through the fields across to the Church Quay for the 2.30pm transfer to Tresco.

It’s lovely and warm in the afternoon sun and jackets are removed and stuffed in to rucksacks. We walk along Pool Road down to Rosefield. Nothing more than a Painted Lady butterfly which is at least new for the week. With little to look at, we begin to get a little silly in the afternoon sun, and are soon trying to come up with the unusual names for birds. Denzil the Dunnock seems the firm favourite! Will it stick?

At the bottom of the Great Pool we eventually find the long-staying Little Ringed Plover (but new for the trip), but there is little else other than Redshank, Teal and a Grey Heron. Abbey Pool is little better providing only a couple of Dunlin. We walk down the Abbey side of the Great Pool and scan the northern end. Pintail. Pochard. Black-tailed Godwit. Tufted Duck! Another trip tick. A double check that there is nothing else lurking and we head for the quay to get the Sea King back to St Mary’s. Eight Little Egrets on rocks off Tresco and a couple of Sandwich Terns feeding off St Mary’s are the only distraction from the flat calm crossing.

Painted Lady

We arrive back at the guesthouse to allow plenty of time for freshening up before dinner, then checklist and packing! Last day tomorrow ahead of afternoon sailing back to Penzance.

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