Monday, 5 November 2012

First post: East meets West Part I

After 18 months of thinking about it I have started a blog at last, but instead of the birds and wildlife of my marshes you're going to get a post about my 2 week trip to the Isles of Scilly 475miles away. Hence the meanderings in the blog title.
My arrival on Scilly was a little delayed by being diverted to Newquay airport, the grass runway at St Just being pronounced waterlogged after being inspected by someone "wearing a snorkel" (the words of the airport staff). I was still in time to catch the 2pm boat to Bryher and tucked up under the roof of the wheel house I avoided the hailstorm that soaked everyone else on the boat. The Solitary Sandpiper was showing beautifully on its manure heap and finding plenty of worms which it would pick out of the muck and carefully wash in the pools of foetid water around the pile before eating them. Here's my first rubbish photo, the first of many.
The Blackpoll warbler wasn't showing but 2 Coal tits were Scilly ticks.
I spent the next day clearing up on St Marys seeing the Rosy Starling and the American Golden Plover at Porth Hellick and a Wryneck. Here's another photo. There is a rare bird in it, honest.

Back to Bryher and after a long wait the Blackpoll Warbler reappeared and showed fantastically in beautiful sunshine for a pleasantly small crowd

Next day was the Hume's (or not Hume's) Yellow-browed Warbler in the Dump Clump. It was certainly a very bright bird for a Hume's but the call wasn't a classic Yellow-browed either. The jury is still out on this one. At least there was no argument about a Red-breasted Flycatcher at Old Town Church. Later on I found myself at Porthloo with a small group of other birders enjoying the late afternoon sun checking out the gulls on the in-coming tide. Will Wagstaff got us all on to 3 ducks that had just landed distantly out in the bay. It was one of those moments where everyone was thinking the same thing, odd head shape for tufties, but no one was brave enough to put their hand up until Will announced "they're all Ring-necked Ducks aren't they!" and we could all collectively agree. The 3 ducks came in much closer after a brief flight enabling us to see more than just silhouettes before flying off to Porth Hellick where they set up home for several days. This is one of my better photos, I'm quite proud of this one
Strong winds disrupted the following days birding but the spectacular seas combined with a high tide compensated. A small group of birders gathered to watch the waves battering the harbour wall as the staff of the Pilot's Gig tried to retrieve their (thankfully) empty beer kegs.

With the storm abated the next day gave me another Scilly first when I made the crossing on foot from Bryher to Tresco. Our pre-crossing nerves were steadied by the sight of a tractor being driven across with the water barely deeper than the width of its tyres.Sadly there was no mega-rarity as a reward for getting my feet wet but this ridiculously tame Golden Pheasant provided entertainment. It loved Walkers Ready Salted crisps. Maybe it liked the colour of the packet?
 Week 2 to follow.....

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