Saturday, September 18, 2004

Day 8 | Week 1 | A Speyside Wildlife holiday.

After breakfast we all do our own thing. Alan and Wendy have decided to forgo the return sailing on the Scillonian III and have booked on the 1pm chopper. Charles makes his way over to Tresco while Alan, Wendy, Bill, Pam and Terry head for the Garrison, bumping in to me while I’m searching for a reported Melodious Warbler. But no with the Melodious, but Terry and me add Kittiwake to the weeks list when a flock of 13 flap lazily between St Agnes and the Garrison. We bid farewell to each other again and Steve heads off to meet the incoming group off the Scillonian.

Day 1 | Week 2 | A Speyside Wildlife holiday.

Marilyn, Andrea and Dave met each other on the quay in Penzance and boarded the Scillonian III for their sailing over to the islands. The crossing was far from magical with many passengers being ill. A few birds are seen including Manx and Sooty Shearwaters.

I greet the green-gilled trio on St Mary’s quay and we walk to the guesthouse for a rest and cuppa before we head off to up Penninis Head in search of a Dotterel (the same one I and the other group chased round St Mary’s yesterday). The walk along Peninnis takes us along the side of Porthcressa. Its low tide and the sea is at its lowest leaving large pools separated by huge rocky formations. A single Little Egret flits from pool to pool in search of tasty morsels.

Little Egret

The sky is brilliant blue and the sun is getting hotter. The light south-west wind does little to cool us. Wrens, Blackbirds and Dunnocks line our route towards the head. The end fields are busy with Wheatears and Linnets. But no sign of the Dotterel. We stop for lunch by the old millstone before heading down to Old Town Bay. One field is crawling with Meadow Pipits – more than I have seen in the last week, which is another good sign of things beginning to move. Another Little Egret is hopping around the rock pools in Old Town Bay but there is very little else other than gulls searching through the exposed seaweed for a snack.

We take the Lower Moors Nature Trail to the hides. A Grey Heron is stalking the opposite edge – about 50 feet away from us! It tries to tackle a large eel, but the eel gets the better of it and wriggles free.

Grey Heron

A Snipe tries to sleep on the island in the middle of the pool and a juvvy Moorhen picks through the thick green weedy top.


‘Tchuw. Tchuw’. A Greenshank flies in but lands out of view. A minute or so wait and it appears in front of us revealing a delicately marked juvenile. It poses in front of us, standing on one leg, while preening. Steve can’t resist and his camera is son clicking.


We move on to Shooter’s Pool where a handful of Linnets are bathing in the puddles. A Willow Warbler is hopping around one of the clumps of reeds and we all manage a glimpse of this bright individual with a nice lemon yellow wash to its face and chest.

The sheltered Rosehill section of the trail provides only moor low feeding Swallows and House Martins. The walk back in to town finds both Peacock and Red Admiral on the same ivy bush and several White Wagtails flitting around Porthmellon beach. We spend a few minutes watching some guy on a surfboard thing being propelled using a mini-parachute thing (there’s probably a name for this but we can’t think of it!). It’s pretty impressive whatever it’s called!

After our first meal together we go through the first day’s checklist and I explain what lies in store for the rest of the week. Marilyn, Andrea and Dave all head for Will Wagstaff’s (the Scilly Birdman) evening talk on the Wildlife of Scilly.

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