Thursday, October 29, 2015

Isles of Scilly - the weather changed

On Tuesday evening the weather rolled-in covering the Island with a high cloud layer.  It rained over night and on Wednesday morning the winds were up a little and skies were grey.

We headed for St Mary's to explore as much as we could between the preset boat trip times.

It's another very pleasant landscape once your are away from the main Hugh Town (which feels much like any Cornish coastal town):


We walked out to Peninnis Point in search of the Blyth's Pipit, to no avail, past a group of birders trying to continually disturb a Quail (sigh) and on round the coastline:


We did see a Richard's Pipit in the distance through a scope, in a mixed flock of birds on the airfield too far though for a picture.

As time was getting short we headed back towards Hugh Town via a cafe (which had caged parrots so never going there again) and were directed then to an area in which we hoped to see Jack Snipe, our one hoped-for species of the trip.

On the way a Starling was displaying atop a favoured perch, they are truly spectacular at this time of year:


A male Blackbird with muddy bill perched briefly on a barbed wire fence:


At the ponds we saw Common Snipe feeding:


As well as a Greenshank:



But no Jack Snipe.   We were headed back to the harbour when we stopped for a chat with a couple of birders, Heath and Mike from memory.  They knew a spot and although they weren't headed that way, they took us to it.  Sure enough Heath instantly located a roosting Jack Snipe.  Tick!  We have record shots but not a particularly impressive picture so not worth including here.

We caught the boat back and were surprised to find ourselves headed to St Martins, this being the scheduled route it turned out.  We were even more surprised when the boat headed out to the North of Tresco and into the 3-metre plus waves.   I've done a few hairy boat trips in my past whereas Helen is a very nervous sailor.  The trip was however genuinely unpleasant and felt properly unsafe given the shallow hull and the prevailing conditions.   We were over 45 degrees more than once and a number of the passengers were truly relieved to get off the boat.  We wondered if the fact that the crew were changed the following day has anything to do with this trip or not.

Thursday morning we again visited St Marys, albeit on much shorter timetable, then spent the afternoon re-walking parts of Bryher, enjoying watching the waves from the Atlantic crash into Hell Bay:



The birding on the island is a delight, Chiffchaffs abound for example:



The scenery is hard to forget:


And the Wrens are everywhere:


Friday morning we watched the waves roll into Hell Bay from our room, enjoying the extended stay until the boat departure time which the hotel kindly offered before we'd even asked.   Leaving was different as it being the last day of the season a number of the passengers were staff heading home or off on travels themselves.

The trip home was uneventful but the Scillonian really does move oddly so even with a swell of just around a metre there was a steady drain on the sick bags from the toilets.

We enjoyed our visit, enjoyed the hotel, loved the food and our walking.  We'd have liked to have had time to visit St Agnes and to see more of St Marys so perhaps another trip beckons a few years hence?

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