Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Isles of Scilly

So some words about this trip.  The Isles of Scilly are magical and it was a joy to be back.  Someone did actually comment that I was there two months early.  Well my friend, I was bang on time because the place looked pristine in the radiant summer sun unadulterated by urban smog and the distemper of city life.  The highlight was a sun-soaked walk all the way round St Mary's with a convenient stop at Pelistry Bay to lie out on the golden sands and to remind myself that this was indeed the UK.

This time we opted to sail to the Isles as this time of year there are possibilities for rare seabirds and marine life.  The crossing was appreciably calm, and despite the overcast conditions, the sun was never totally hidden behind the thin veils of grey cloud.  It was a pleasant passage across, livened up with a pod of around 15 Common Dolphin flirting recklessly with the wake churned up from the boat.  A couple of Harbour Porpoise surfaced somewhere in the middle distance.  An Ocean Sunfish was also seen very close on the port side, but you had to be quick as the ferry made steady progress.

Birdlife was a little disappointing, but a couple of Storm Petrel were the best of seabirds.

This was the main reason for the Scilly trip, having booked a ticket on the Sapphire in the hope for some of our rarer seabirds.  The skipper headed out 11km southwest of the archipelago, cut the engine and the wait began.

Let's cover the sightings first.  A new bird came in the form of a juv Long-tailed Skua that flew round the boat a couple of times allowing Joe Pender to take some stunning photographs.  It's one of the many things he does best.  In addition, there were at least three Great Skua, a juv Kittiwake, and the imposing sight of two Blue Shark that were landed by the prolific fishermen.

The thing was, that I wish I could have appreciated it more.  What I discovered was that bobbing up and down on the choppy seas for three hours had a profound affect on my equilibrium.  I don't wish to labour the point but I hocked my guts out for much of our time there.  This was a little inconvenient, acutely embarrassing, and palpably frustrating.  At the time, I couldn't have given a flying fuck if a Wilson's had turned up.  In some ways, I'm glad it didn't - I'm not sure how much I would have appreciated it.  It was bad - I couldn't even bring my camera out to take any photographs without immediately feeling woozy.  Apparently this is normal for first-timers.  It was scant consolation.

Other sightings were ten Greenshank, a single Dunlin and Green Sandpiper on Porth Hellick, a couple of Willow Warbler on the Garrison, and two Northern Wheatear by the airfield on the island walk.  The Painted Lady above made an appearance on the final day.

Needless to say, I upgraded my ferry ticket to the comfort of a 15 minute flight back to the mainland.


  1. Replies
    1. JL - words now included - now that I've finished spewing out my guts into the Celtic Sea (or wherever I was).