Sunday 29 December 2019

2019: the island hopping

Islands seem to feature prominently in my leisure time and 2019 was no exception: this year I managed short visits to the familiar extremes of the kingdom from Scilly to Shetland, as well as exploring some new locations on Skye and Mallorca.
Adult White-tailed Eagle near the Aros community centre on the Isle of Skye
Two of three juvenile White-tailed Eagles which sailed over the car nr Broadford
Juvenile Golden Eagle in Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye
Adult Golden Eagle, Isle of Skye
Nearly choked on breakfast when these Waxwings appeared just below my host's garden on the Isle of Skye
Bottle-nosed Dolphins off Tokavaig, Isle of Skyr
The Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye
Mallorca was a summer family holiday, and as well as providing some quality time on the beach, it also gave me my first encounters with Eleonora's Falcon, Black Vulture, Scopoli's Shearwater, Red-knobbed Coot, Marbled Duck, Thekla Lark and Balearic Warbler. The island also offered unrivalled views of Booted Eagle, Purple Swamphen, Audouin's Gull, Crag Martin, Tawny Pipit and more herons than one could shake a stick at.
Audouin's Gull, Port de Pollenca
Balearic Warbler, Formentor
Scopoli's Shearwater, off Dragonera
Crag Martin, Albercutx
Eleonora's Falcon, Cala St Vincent
Red-knobbed Coot, S'Albufera
Thekla Lark, Ermita de Betlem
The Shetland trip was a brief one at Easter (more on which in a future post), but the rare treat of a few weeks off between jobs in the autumn offered the best opportunities for island hopping, first with a three-day stay on the Isles of Scilly towards the end of October. I just missed the arrival of several American landbirds but still managed to see some quality rarities including Isabelline Wheater on Tresco, Red-throated Pipit on St Agnes and Blue Rock Thrush, Citrine Wagtail and Spotted Sandpiper on St Mary's.
Blue Rock Thrush, St Mary's
Citrine Wagtail, Salakee, St Mary's
Greenshank, Porth Hellick, St Mary's
Isabelline Wheatear, Tresco
Red-throated Pipit, St Agnes
Spotted Crake, St Mary's
Spotted Sandpiper, Watermill, St Mary's
A couple of weeks later and I was heading north to the Isle of Skye to meet up with old friends Rosy and Nigel for a few days, where Eagles, Waxwings, Otters and Dolphins provided frequent distractions from the excellent hospitality. I suspect I will be back to all of these islands at some point, if not in 2020, though having missed autumn 2019 on Shetland, a return this coming autumn feels overdue...

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