Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Not so Scilly

Manx Shearwaters from the Scillonian

Common Sandpiper - Porth Hellick

Nightingale - the Garrison



Lesser Yellowlegs - Porth Hellick

Lesser Yellowlegs

23rd August-1st Sept.2009

An opportunity to visit the Scilly Isles is not to be missed but I was a little apprehensive when Jan's sister invited us to join them for part of their holiday. Mainly because of the fact we would be camping but also because of the drive and the Scillonian crossing. Getting soft in my old age I think, but I was keen for Jan to visit the islands. In the event I needn't have worried on any account, even though the weather contrived to make life as difficult as possible. The only downside was the B and B we stayed at in Penzance, which was basic to say the least. I wouldn't say the place smelt but the fact that each bed had a towel and a handy sized Gas mask told its own story and the fact that when we checked in we were given a key and a can of air freshner should have alerted us not to expect 4 star facilities.
We stayed on deck the entire crossing and I kept an eye open for the odd Fea's Petrel gliding past the boat. I did see a Cory's Shearwater though, a couple of Balearics and a handful of Manx Shearwaters. The biggest surprise though was a Whimbrel which flew along with us for a while.

Gill and Nick met us off the boat and we walked up to the Garrison camp site to find everything set up. After a bit of lunch I felt Jan and Gill would have loads to talk about so I thought it best to go on a little orientation programme to Porth Hellick. Would you believe it there were some birds there. As my good friend Ciaran would say it would have been rude not to - have a look that is. The hides at Porth Hellick proved to be where most of the bird watching action was during the week with a number of wader species dropping in. Star of the show on the first day though was an adult Lesser Yellowlegs.
The afternoon weather was very pleasant and we all enjoyed a Bar-b que before battening down the hatches at bed time in preparation for the predicted overnight storm. The heavy rain and almost gale force winds persisted into the morning but my birding instinct was to get out and see if any new birds had been brought in. A walk round the Garrison produced some good migrants ; a Nightingale by the Tennis courts, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers in the pines but they had been there awhile. There were a few other birders around but not many and the general concensus was that nothing had been brought in by the storm. There were 20 or so Wheatear at the seaward end of the airfield as my search widened but apart from the odd Whitethroat and Willow warbler not much else was found.

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