Thursday, October 29, 2015

Isles of Scilly

Helen is Cornish, hence we have moved to Cornwall now.  One of her childhood memories is of the Isles of Scilly and in particular how beautiful they are.   With our 20th Wedding Anniversary approaching she did some research and settled on a week-long trip on the islands, basing ourselves on one of the smaller inhabited islands, Bryher.  We chose to stay at Hell Bay, a hotel with a reputation for excellent food, this being a treat trip!

We planned a boat trip out (with the hope of seeing sea birds) and getting the plane back, however as the departure approached we realised that i would have to check my camera gear for the flights, a risk i'm not prepared to take so we ended up confirming the Scillonian III both ways.

The trip out was remarkably smooth, pond-like in fact, and the sun was shining as we approached the islands:

We caught the connecting boat to Bryher on arrival and checked in to the hotel.  We decided to stay on Bryher for the afternoon and walk the southern half of the Island.

On the way round we saw Meadow Pipits and Starlings, they were the most common bird, as well as very accessible Goldcrests:

A Water Pipit (initially misidentified as a Rock Pipit - we really need to do more UK birding and relearn our local species):

In the sunshine butterflies still flew, albeit very scarcely, we caught sight of this feeding Peacock, it didn't hang about for long though moving from flower to flower and away:

The views on the island of Bryher are spectacular, both the landscape:

and indeed the sea-scape:

On approach back to the hotel a Whinchat:

As the evening drew in we watched a beautiful sunset from our balcony:

and then enjoyed our lavish vegetarian dinner.

Tuesday morning was bright and sunny again so we decided to head to the adjacent island of Tresco.   Tresco has a very different feel to it to Bryher.  It is privately owned and being rapidly developed and concreted over.   The top third of the island that isn't a holiday park is a shooting site.   There were hundreds of partridges many of them still in cages, waiting for the annual slaughter to start.   4,000 birds a year apparently.   They are human habituated and walk along side the visitors in the housing complexes.   What sort of person takes pleasure form this kind of arrangement?  Basically shooting tame captive birds for entertainment?

We also saw a lot of rat droppings and rats both on the northerly end and right in the middle of the holiday homes.  There were also surprisingly few wild birds on the island, no doubt these features are linked.   We got the impression that the owner is involved in a desperate money grab to get as much from the island as quickly as possible and damn the consequences.

We were then surprised to find that he also owns the hotel we were staying in, including its ostentatious display of wealth through art.  Tresco is not a place we will visit again.

That said we turned left having got off the boat, past the birds in cages and towards Cromwell's castle.   The view of the bay and back to Bryher is still pretty:

In the shadow of the castle a Kingfisher alighted briefly:

We circumnavigated the island, getting we think but can't be certain, a view of the Hudsonian Whimbrel that was by this stage proving more elusive than the previous few days.

At the southerly end of the Island a few sweeping beaches remain somewhat inaccessible, though we noted a lot of aggregate and concrete deposited the following day, ready to build a road down to the Southern jetty...

Not see this fungus before:

Some of the wild birds across the Isles of Scilly are very tame and human habituated including this Song Thrush:

We left Tresco and were pleased to get back to Bryher, it has a very different mood to it.   There's also many fewer vehicles and it's much more of what you would expect of the islands and indeed of our holiday.


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