Friday, 11 October 2013

First Two Days on Scilly

Wednesday October 9

Too early a start to-day, I was still asleep. Sod’s law. The alarm went off at 6.15, we packed and left the TraveLodge.... to re-pack, change shoes, don binoculars etc., in the car park.

I’d booked an off road car park near Crowlas which only took 15 minutes to reach. Asked to arrive by 7.45 at the latest, we arrived twenty minutes early and were offered and accepted, a hot drink. We were the only passengers to-day.

Early at the car park, early at the jetty, late on the boat - we stood watching all the large cargo containers being delivered by fork-lift, chained and lifted swinging onto the deck.
The sole car treated thus made an alarming clang as it was landed. We later found that it belonged to the blasphemous, disabled, woman birder who used to get about in a buggy. Ensconced on the open stern deck, we waited aeons before departure. All so casual. I fetched a hot drink and a newspaper from the cafe and people-watched.
Open Sea as we left Penzance
The two and a half hour journey on a pretty calm sea was enhanced by three separate sightings of dolphin pods, several of them leaping clear of the water. Diving Gannets alerted me to the presence of the first pod, shoals of fish attract both species. A steady stream of Gannets encouraged me to try some photos using my Canon 50x Midi. Most of the time, I couldn’t find any birds in the screen ! Must practice more.

At last we arrived, via the southern approaches, disembarked, found the taxi and Pam went off to unearth our bags from the very bottom of a cargo crate. Carrying everything up the still - and seemingly increasingly - steep steps and stairs was a chore which Pam took on, me helping near the top. I was feeling the worse for wear to-day. After a rest and a drink, we shopped in the Co-op where they were still unloading to-day’s cargo. We had to wait for the bread and sultanas.
Supper was a pasty from the Kavorna, the butcher’s, round the back of the paper shop,(now a shop called Ploughman’s, still a butcher but with home - made bread and pasties) had sold out. The pasty was very ordinary apart from the quantity of pepper. We shall not be buying from there again.
I’ve hired a buggy for to-morrow morning, to be collected at 9 from Porthmellon. I wish I’d made it 10.

Thursday October 10
Still wish I’d made it 10.......I didn’t wake until 7.30, my longest night for months. Out for 8.30., ill prepared mentally for the trudge to Porthmellon, especially school hill in a strong northerly wind. The Cart Hire place is on the way to the Dump, run by a very affable older Scillonian. The carts are a deep yellow and either 2, 4 or 6 seaters. Open-sided with a roof and front windscreen. Fun.
The plan was a brunch at Old Town. The cafe was closed and Tolmans not open until 10.We walked as far as Lower Moors entrance and then into the track on the left looking for Project Pool with its Bluethroat and Purple Heron. Some men later told us that it was accessible by a small and very wet and muddy track behind the new school. That’s that then.
Back to sit on the wall, enjoying a Wheatear and some Pied Wagtails. ‘Hello’ from the was Betty Joiner, who’s been on the island a week. As always, an enjoyable chat before she left to meet Steve and ...Old Town Cafe opened. We didn’t have to walk to Tolmans. Bacon and egg on toast and a hot drink later, and a short chat with Liz, Tony's partner, we trundled off to Newford Duck Pond. Three birders already there had seen nothing and neither did we. The Arctic and Yellow-browed Warblers seem to have gone overnight. I walked towards Trenoweth Farm seeing a rabbit, Dunnock and Carrion Crow, returning to find Pam trying to drive the buggy into a field - via a closed gate. She stopped short fortunately. Two older men were much amused. Mixed up feet she said.
Time to sample the delights of the German cafe. They’re actually Austrian and make great cakes. I had Lemon Drizzle and Pam, Sacher Torte. Our first Scilly Song Thrush entered the lovely, airy conservatory which serves as the sitting area.
By now, the sun was shining, the sky blue and the wind had dropped. Truly a time to admire Scilly at its best.
Parking roadside near the entrance to Porthellick Bay, we walked the narrow track towards the pool and the sea. We heard a Yellow-Browed Warbler call loudly from the sallows, but only glimpsed this elusive bird . I also heard a Blackcap and we both saw ChiffChaffs before entering the small Sussex Hide. The two male occupants didn’t stay long, telling us that they’d seen a Kingfisher. We stayed for an hour and a half, admiring Moorhens ! The only other birds present were Teal and Mallard and up to 20 feeding Swallows. Until Reston and Pat arrived and a Snipe flew in. Both Reston and I clicked away as it got ever nearer, not put off by the machine gun like noises from the hide. Great.

Pam and I left to walk to the Beach, finding the seat unoccupied. Hurrah. How blissful to sit in the sun scanning the water free beach. Some birds at last. Ringed Plover, two+ Greenshanks, Rock Pipits, two Wheatears, one Meadow Pipit and a few Oystercatchers.

Far end of Porth Hellick - all I could get in using my 300 lens

Dragging ourselves away, we met the two men from the duckpond who asked if the buggy was still in one piece!! Cheeky. We’ve met some very friendly people to-day, mostly older men, many birders seem to be on Tresco viewing the Sora Rail.
3.30 is a little late for lunch. Maybe Juliet’s garden with its wonderful sea views from the terraced tables would provide. We both had the oddest farmhouse pate and toast we’ve ever had and shared a bowl of cheesy chips. Too much carbo.
One Grey Heron and a couple of Curlew added from Porth Loo beach, dropped off the buggy and started the trudge home. Via the Dairy first, to view a first for Scilly moth, a Blackneck, which Steve Joiner, Betty’s husband had trapped. He brings a light and fixes it over a cardboard box.

So pleased to get back after an eight hour day and the painful steps to the flat.

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