Monday, 20 April 2015

Also on Scilly...

The Great Blue Heron eclipsed most other news from Scilly this weekend, and while we missed what looked and sounded like a fantastic day on Sunday, there were still a few scarce species and migrants to catch up with after we left the Heron on Bryher on Saturday lunchtime. Best of these was probably a Jack Snipe which bobbed comically outside the ISBG hide at Lower Moors - on the pool which has had the privilege of playing host to both of Britain's Great Blue Herons.
Jack Snipe, Lower Moors (152nd species photographed in Britain this year)
Jack Snipe
Common Snipe for comparison - bill length and size the most obvious differences
As well as being on the first boat over to Bryher on Saturday morning, we were also on the first boat off at 1330, having spent several hours admiring the Heron. Although tempted by Tresco's Black Duck, it would have complicated the logistics and involved travelling back in an open boat as opposed to the covered luxury of the Falcon, so we headed straight back to St Mary's for a few hours leisurely birding before our return flight. If there were Scilly Shrews on Porthloo Beach they were keeping their heads down, though Wheatear, Whimbrel and White Wagtail provided an alliterative trio of birds to admire.
Wheatear, Porthloo
Whimbrel (#153), Porthloo
White Wagtail, Porthloo
Moving on to Lower Moors I saw my first Sedge Warbler of the year, hopping around the reed stems of Shooters Pool. I heard one on the way to work on Friday but didn't have time to stick around to look for it. A Heron dropped in out of nowhere but sadly it was not the Great Blue returning, just a regular Grey Heron. But it did give some idea of how awesome the views must have been for those fortunate enough to see the GBH from this spot.
Sedge Warbler (#154), Lower Moors
An obliging bird
The sound of the camera caught its attention
I have travelled to the islands many times in autumn, but it was the first time I had been there early enough in the year to see Bluebells. There was a good display of these and wild garlic in several places, the Old Town churchyard, where we failed to find a Wryneck, providing one of the best, along with close views of Song Thrushes, which are famously tame on Scilly, and the local Blackbirds.
Blackbird, Old Town Churchyard
Song Thrush, Old Town Churchyard
All too soon it was time to head back to the airport for our return flight. Sitting in the departure lounge tired, wind-blasted but happy, it was quite a contrast to the emotions of doing the same on the mainland 10 hours earlier. We approached Lands End in glorious sunshine, a fitting end to a successful and very enjoyable day.
Grey Heron, Lower Moors
Compare to the Great Blue Heron in the previous post
Swallows at Porthloo found rich pickings over a smelly bit of seaweed (#155)
Their flight speed dropped as they approached enabling a few shots to be taken

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