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Tuesday 28 April 2020

The Lockdown Garden - Week 17, 20th-26th April, 2020

With the enforced lockdown (which we Peglers are more than happy to abide by) due to Covid-19, this blog is going to take on a somewhat different look for the foreseeable future. It's my intention to post on a weekly basis with my day-by-day garden wildlife sightings. Initially, I also intend to do a bit of a catch-up with some of my other garden sightings since we returned from the Isles of Scilly on 16th April, and went straight into lockdown. Whether I manage to stick to this intention remains to be seen!

And just in case anyone thinks that the Week 17 refers to week 17 of lockdown, it doesn't - it's the internationally recognised calendar designation of weeks, and the basis of my wildlife recordings.

Monday, 20th April

Just 13 species of bird put a foot down in our garden (I don't record fly-overs), with nothing particularly exciting being seen. This is par for the course in late-spring, with numbers in winter usually around the 20 mark.

Butterflies included a Small White, and an Orange-tip.

Small White (Pieris rapae) - garden on 20/04/2020
Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines) (female) - garden on 20/04/2020
A solitary Grey Squirrel graced us with its presence that day.

That night, Elon Musk's Starlink satellites were due to pass overhead at around 22h00. Lindsay and I went outside to look for them but failed, in spite of it being a totally clear night. However, by torch light, I did spot this spider. It's a poor photo, not helped by the fact that I'd dialed an exposure compensation of -5 (!) into the camera in anticipation of photographing Starlink and had to apply massive correction afterwards, but I think it's a Rabbit Hutch Spider.

possible Rabbit Hutch Spider (Steatoda bipunctata) - garden on 20/04/2020
Tuesday, 21st April

The number of bird species was down to just 12 - again with nothing remarkable.

We had 2 butterfly species visit:- Small White and Green-veined White.

Green-veined White (Pieris napi) - garden on 21/04/2020
Wednesday, 22nd April

Just 12 bird species once more.

The 3 butterfly species were Green-veined White, Small White, and our first Large White for the year.

The Grey Squirrel was back again

No photos this day

Thursday, 23rd April

The garden trail cams revealed an overnight visit by our first Hedgehog for a few days (we had been getting up to three a night, but numbers suddenly dropped a couple of weeks ago).
We also had a rare visit by a Red Fox.
Birds in the garden were up slightly to 14 species. Here are a few:-

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) (male) - garden on 23/04/2020
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) (female) - garden on 23/04/2020
Dunnock (Prunella modularis) - garden on 23/04/2020

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) - garden on 23/04/2020
Butterflies were Orange-tip and Small White, but not photographed.

I did take a quick shot of 'nothing', just to check the camera settings before I started, and decided to keep the image which is of bluebells - sadly, not the English Bluebell but an introduced foreign species/cultivar.

Bluebells - garden on 23/04/2020
That night I put out the moth trap, and caught just 3 moths of 3 species - and two of the three were from the outside of the trap! I was surprised that one of these was a Cinnabar - sadly a bit tatty. My thanks to @MothIDUK for the ID on the pug.

Bright-line Brown-eye (Lacanobia oleracea) - garden moth trap on 23/04/2020
Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae) - garden moth trap on 23/04/2020
Oak-tree Pug (Eupithecia dodoneata) - garden moth trap on 23/04/2020
Friday, 24th April

We managed 15 bird species this day, although nothing remarkable was seen, and no bird photos taken.  

We had three butterfly species, being Peacock, Small White(2), and Orange Tip.

Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines) (male) - garden on 24/04/2020
I was also attempting to photograph other insects. This bee was difficult to photograph.

Hairy-footed Flower Bee (Anthophora plumipes) (female) - garden on 24/04/2020
I was rather pleased with the photo of this St. Mark's Fly.

St. Mark's Fly (Bibio marci) - garden on 24/04/2020
I'd been pondering for some time about my moth trap. I often find as many moths outside, or on, the trap as I do inside it - and I suspect that there would have been many more outside if the local Robin hadn't plundered the surrounds. It's structurally all clear plastic, and I've been wondering if it would be more productive if the collecting box was painted black. As the light cover is also clear plastic, I've been finding the occasional moth sitting on that.

I usually limit myself to once a week for the trap, mainly for the sake of the moths, but also to save my time! However, with a very low catch the previous night I decided to experiment as weather conditions were predicted to be similar. I made temporary modifications by wrapping black plastic round the outside of the box and covering the clear top of the light unit with reflective foil in the hope that this would reflect more light down onto the collecting vanes (the idea is that the moths bump into the vanes and drop down through the funnel into the box where they have a nice bed of egg-box sheets to rest in) rather than attract them to the top where they'd sit until flying off again.

It seemed to work in that I only found one moth outside the box, and there were six moths inside the box. The total was 7 moths of 4 species. I'm only showing one of the three Early Grey as they were all very similar. However, I'm showing both of the Shuttle-shaped Dart as there is considerable colour variation between the two. Sadly, the last two specimens I'm showing were a bit the worse for wear. Confession time! When I first trapped an Early Grey and looked it up in the field-guide, I misread the name - for several months I had it as an Earl Grey. Lindsay and I even had discussions as to what other moth species might be named after teas!

Early Grey (Xylocampa areola) - garden moth trap on 24/04/2020

Shuttlle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta) garden moth trap on 24/04/2020
Light-brown Apple-moth (Epiphyas postvittana) (female) - garden moth trap on 24/04/2020
Brindled Beauty (Lycia hirtaria) (male) garden moth trap on 24/04/2020
Saturday, 25th April

We had a return visit from a Hedgehog in the early hours.
Bird species were back down again, with just 13 species. We did have some excitement, however, in the form of our first 2020-fledged bird of the year - a Robin that was already full of attitude, and showing its first red feather on its breast. I must try and photograph it as it has become a regular visitor.

Only one butterfly was noted that day - a male Orange-tip.

That night, I broke my 'once per week' rule yet again as I wanted to see what would happen if I put the moth trap over on the other side of the garden. It resulted in 9 moths of 8 species, of which only Light-brown Apple-moth and Brindled Beauty were repeats of the previous night's catch - the latter unfortunately being a re-trap of the same specimen. Muslin Moth, Brindled Pug, and Powdered Quaker were all 'garden lifers', although not at all rare.

Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) - garden moth trap on 25/04/2020 (1 of 2)
Pale Prominent (Pterostoma palpina) - garden moth trap on 25/04/2020
Muslin Moth (Diaphora mendica) (male) - garden moth trap on 25/04/2020
Powdered Quaker (Orthosia gracilis) - garden moth trap on 25/04/2020
March Moth (Alsophila aescularia) - garden moth trap on 25/04/2020
Light-brown Apple-moth (Epiphyas postvittana) (female) - garden moth trap on 25/04/2020
Brindled Pug (Eupithecia abbreviata) - garden moth trap on 25/04/2020
Sunday, 26th April

This day we had 15 species of bird visit the garden. One of them - a Dunnock - has taken to spending much of the day probing for food round the moss on a garden wall. It seems to have become a daily ritual.

Dunnock (Prunella modularis) - garden on 26/04/2020
Only one butterfly was seen, but it did pose nicely for me - eventually!! Here she is, ovipositing.

Green-veined White (Pieris napi) (ovipositing) - garden on 26/04/2020
That ends the round-up for the week. We ended with just 15 species of bird and 5 species of butterfly for the week.

OTHER INSECTS & SPIDERS - 16th March to 19th April, 2020

Moths and butterflies for the period have been left for later posts. Here are some of the other insects and spiders that were seen during the period
The Dark-edged Bee-fly is an insect that I first noticed in the garden last year. This year they have been plentiful. That long proboscis looks quite formidable, but is purely for collecting food! I think that they're really cute.

Dark-edged Bee-fly (Bombylius major) - garden on 27/03/2020
While I was photographing the Bee-fly, this spider crept out onto the wall beside me. I have absolutely no idea of the species, and would welcome any suggestions.

spider sp. - our garden on 27/03/2020
Just over a week later, this was my first shieldbug of the year. As it was final instar, I expect that it had over-wintered.

Common Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina) (adult) - garden on 06/04/2020
The next day I photographed this Red Mason Bee that was high up on the wall of the house.

Red Mason Bee (Osmia bicornis) (male) - garden on 07/04/2020
OK, so not wildlife, but I couldn't resist a shot of the moon that night.

the Moon - from the garden on 07/04/2020
A few days later, I took this shot of a hoverfly in flight.

Cheilosia grossa - our garden on 12/04/2020
Two days later, I was in the garden with the camera once more. This spider was tiny - the 'cannonball' that is sitting on is an Ivy berry about 6mm (quarter inch) in diameter. I have no idea what species it was, and help would be welcome.

spider sp. - our garden on 14/04/2020
This hoverfly was also one of the smaller species.

Eupodes luniger - our garden on 14/04/2020
I have no idea what species this bee is. I think that these two shots are probably of the same specimen.

bee sp. - our garden on 14/04/2020
The next day I was out with the spiders on the Ivy berries again.

spider sp. - our garden on 15/04/2020
That brings me to the end of this rather long blog post. Looking at the weather forecast, I suspect that next week's report will be rather shorter, so I will probably add butterflies as the subject of the catch-up.

Thank you for dropping by. Take great care, and stay safe in these difficult times.

Sunday 19 April 2020

Another Scilly Sojourn, Pt.2 - 13th to 16th March, 2020

Herewith the second part of my account of our March visit to the Isles of Scilly. You can find the first part here:-

Friday, 13th March            Porthcressa - Peninnis - Porthcressa

The portent of the day and date was not lost as the weather forecast was for a very wet and windy afternoon. After breakfast I had a spell at Porthcressa before setting off for Peninnis. My time by the beach was mainly spent photographing wagtails, and the Greenshank.

Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba ssp. yarrellii) - Porthcressa, St. Mary's

Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) - Porthcressa, St. Mary's
The walk up Buzza Hill and along King Edward's Road yielded nothing, in spite of careful scanning of the adjacent land, until I was approaching the gate which lets on to Peninnis Head, when a group of six small birds briefly landed on the dry-stone wall before dropping down over the wall. I did manage to grab a shot before they disappeared behind the wall. I have previously mentioned that the coarseness of the drystone walls on the Scillies is probably a great factor in the abundance of Wrens here. This shot, showing two of this group of birds, will, hopefully, give you some idea of this.

Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) - Peninnis Head, St. Mary's
I quickly made my way to the gate and onto the head, and found a couple of the birds. I confess to having had a problem with identification, other than the fact that they were clearly pipits. I put out a query to the local WhatsApp group and was informed that they were Meadow Pipits. For some reason, and I can't put my finger on it, they seemed rather different to the Meadow Pipits that I am used to seeing - and I've seen a lot of them in Scotland on a regular basis!

Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) - Peninnis Head, St. Mary's
I took some shots of gulls while I was up on the head.

Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) - Peninnis Head, St. Mary's
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) - Peninnis Head, St. Mary's
Without a doubt, Stonechat is one of my favourite small passerines, and I can never resist trying for a shot of one. This is certainly not one of my best, but at least I had the pleasure of seeing one!

Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola) (male) - Peninnis Head, St. Mary's
The weather was starting to break up a bit, and I'd already had to resort to putting my camera into the bag a couple of times to keep it dry, so I headed back to base.

Just before I reached the beach, I stopped to photograph a flower. I've no idea what this is, but they grow in profusion on the islands, and add a vivid splash of colour. I guess that they are a naturalised cultivated flower, rather than a wildflower.

flower - Porthcressa, St. Mary's
As I approached the beach, I could see the two Great Northern Divers were there again. They were not as close to the shore as I would have wished, but I watched one grappling with a crab.

Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer)- Porthcressa, St. Mary's
At first, I thought that the second bird was playing with a bit of weed. However, I can see, on examination of my photos, that it had caught a pipefish and was having difficulty getting it head-first into its gullet. I'm relatively certain that this was a Snake Pipefish, as it was a good size and did not have any visible banding on the body.

Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer)- Porthcressa, St. Mary's
It was now lunch time and time to go back to base before the heavy rain set in.

The girls had set themselves up to do some pebble painting whilst on the Scillies, bringing acrylic paint in tubes and in 'paint pens', and paint brushes with them. However, once there, they found a distinct shortage of suitable pebbles to paint on. Somewhere, they'd seen painting on sea slate - pieces of slate that had had their edges warn smooth by the action of sea and sand. It became my duty, whilst out looking for birds and other wildlife, to pick up any bits of suitable sea-slate that I found. I'm pleased to day that I was able to keep them well-supplied, to the extent that we even brought some home with us at the end of the stay.

The girls spent most of this wet afternoon painting and I spent time going through the photos on my camera. However, I found myself being urged by the girls to have a go at painting. In the end, I gave in. Armed with just four colours of paint pen, and a bit of slate of a suitable size, but with slightly rough edges so not overly useful to the girls, I had a go for half an hour or so. I was working largely from memory, and the most positive thing that could be said about my effort is that it is, I believe, recognisable as a Little Owl. However, it was not good enough to tempt me to repeat the exercise! Nevertheless, I have kept it as a reminder of my limitations!

can you see what it is?
Fortunately the rain eased off that evening in time for me to go and collect a pre-ordered take-away fish & chip supper from the Kavorna Cafe without getting too wet.

Saturday, 14th March     Porthcressa - Watermill - Toll's Hill - Porth Hellick Down - Old Town - Peninnis - Porthcressa

The day was forecast to be warmer, with some sunshine in the morning, changing to cold and windy later in the day. I decided, therefore, to have a relatively long walk in the morning, and a late lunch. After an early breakfast I called Toot's Taxis for a ride to Watermill Lane in the north east of the island. I was told that they'd pick me up at 09h00 so, with time on my hands, I spent a short while by Porthcressa beach. Little was seen, however, but I did take a few shots of Rock Pipit, once more!

Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus) - Porthcressa, St. Mary's
One of the islanders had commented to me earlier in the week that he was concerned that the number of crows on the island seem to be increasing dramatically. I was certainly seeing more than I have done on previous visits. I did photograph a pair together on the beach that morning.

Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) - Porthcressa, St. Mary's
My taxi arrived right on the dot of 9, and soon whisked me off to the top of Watermill Lane. A walk down the lane yielded nothing of interest, and when I got to the last stretch where the path drops down to the cove I found a sea of muddy water and decided to give it a miss as it was too early in my travels to get wet feet. I could, however, see a dubious pair of 'Mallards' which had probably ventured away from Newford Ponds.

My plan for the morning and early afternoon was to follow the east coast of the island all the way round in a southerly direction until I reached base once more. so I followed the coastal path, seeing little until I got to Toll's Hill, where a walk round the headland had me photographing a Shag at Trenear's Rock.

Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) - from Toll's Hill, St. Mary's
By the path above the approach to Gilbert Porth, a Dunnock was singing its heart out.

Dunnock (Prunella modularis) - by Gilbert Porth, St. Mary's
A view to Gilbert Porth showed a group of Ostercatchers on the sand.  I took a few very distant shots from the north side, but got closer views from the south.

Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) - Gilbert Porth, St. Mary's
I stopped to photograph a Wren by Darrity's Hole.

Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) - by Darrity's Hole, St. Mary's
I can't resist trying to photograph Oystercatchers in flight, as the contrast in their wings is particularly attractive. However, this one was a bit far away!

Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) - by Porth Wreck, St. Mary's
I now made my way up onto Porth Hellick Down and was trying to take some photos of an 'inland' Rock Pipit when I noticed a distant kestrel. Not knowing if Common Kestrel was unusual on the islands, I took a number of shots in poor light. It was the next day before it became apparent that this was an exceedingly rare Lesser Kestrel - you can read my account of how this unfolded here:- In that post, I included some very poor back-of-camera shots. Here are some slightly better ones from the shots I took. I wish I'd known what I'd seen at the time as I'd have hung around longer to try and get better ones. Please excuse me adding rather a lot of images at this point - I can say with a high degree of certainty that I'll never photograph this species again!

Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) (male) - Porth Hellick Down, St. Mary's
Innocently continuing on my way, I arrived at Porth Hellick and saw, for the first time, the poignant memorial to Sir Cloudesley Shovell. I couldn't help but think 'what a wonderful name'!

Sir Cloudesley Shovell memorial - Porth Hellick, St. Mary's
I paid a quick visit to Porth Hellick Pool, but saw nothing of note and so headed on to Salakee Down, round the end of the airport, past Porth Minick, and down into Old Town. As I passed the edge of the bay, I photographed a Grey Heron that took off and flew out towards Carn Léh.

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) - Old Town Bay, St. Mary's
By Carn Léh Cove, I photographed at Carrion Crow. The light was just catching the feathers nicely.

Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) - by Carn Léh Cove, St. Mary's
I then went up onto Peninnis Head, and it was getting rather cold, and very windy by now. No wildlife was photographed but, as always, the rocks were inspirational. How did that hook-shape develop?

Peninnis Head, St. Mary's
By now, I was very tired, and somewhat uncomfortable so headed straight back via the western side of Peninnis, round the allotments, and back to base where I had a late lunch, followed by a lazy afternoon. 

That night we had an excellent evening meal in the Scillonian Club. Our granddaughter had great difficulty at first because of the number of people there and the noise, and I was delighted to see her brave it out and start to relax a bit. The struggle that she was initially having with her emotions was plain to see.

Sunday, 15th March       Porthcressa - St. Agnes - Hugh Town - Tresco - Porthcressa - Porth Hellick Down - Porth Hellick Loop - Porthcressa

When we had first arrived on the Monday, we'd been told by our driver from the airport that all but one of the St. Mary's Boatmen had their boats out of the water, and nothing would be happening until later in the week. The fact that nothing in the way of cafes or pubs was open on the off-islands, coupled with the very windy weather, meant that boat trips would not have been attractive anyway. However, the forecast for the Sunday was for calmer weather, and the first trips of the week were planned for the Sunday.

During the whole of the week, the tides were far more extreme than I'd ever seen them before here, to the extent that, on the Hugh Town side of the isthmus, barriers were up at entrances to the beach to reduce the risk of flooding. The extremely low tides gave a rare opportunity on this day to walk across Grimsby Sound between the islands of Tresco and Bryher. I had no wish to do this, as it would not be a dry walk, and I had no boots. The boat was to leave Hugh Town at 10h50 and pick up people to return mid-afternoon. 

I had formed the idea that, if the boat was going to return to St. Mary's after dropping people off on Tresco, I would do an out-and-back without landing if the skipper permitted. I then found out that the boat, Seahorse - skippered by Ryan Sloane, would first do a run to St. Agnes at 10h00.  So I'd go out on that run instead, if allowed.

During breakfast we learned that the annual gig race - the most important event in the Scillies tourism calendar - had been cancelled due to the Covid-19 situation. Many of the gigs had already been brought to the islands in preparation. There would be serious economic implications for the archepelago.

After breakfast, I had a short session on the sea wall above the western end of Porthcressa beach. The tide was in a favourable position, bringing the birds to a comfortable distance for reasonable photography - I'd guess at about 40 metres. I did take some shots of a Pied Wagtail.

Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba ssp. yarrellii) - Porthcressa, St. Mary's
I also spent a while photographing the Greenshank, which was quite mobile. If one discounts any rarity factor, I think that this was my favourite bird of the week - so elegant!

Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) - Porthcressa, St. Mary's
At an appropriate time, I made my way to the harbour to await Seahorse's arrival. On the quay I found a young Shag that I suspect was not too healthy. It didn't move as people walked by.

Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) - Hugh Town Harbour, St. Mary's
I was pleased to see that the St. Mary's ladies gig team were undaunted by the morning's news.

St. Mary's ladies gig team - HUght Town Harbour, St. Mary's
Seahorse arrived, and skipper Ryan readily agreed to let me do an out-and-back for the return fare. No sooner had we set off than it started chucking it down with rain, and the camera went into the bag. Fortunately, it proved to be a relatively short shower and the camera was out just in time to get a shot of a distant Guillemot. I'm not sure if I've seen a Guillemot on the Scillies before. Photography was extremely difficult as it was a choppy sea and, for half my attempted shots, the target wasn't even in the frame!

Guillemot (Uria aalge) - the Roads between St. Mary's & St. Agnes
The journey back was a little more calm and some sunshine was enjoyed. I took a few more photos. I think that this might be known as 'Cow & Calf', just off St. Agnes.

Cow & Calf? - by St. Agnes
Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) - the Roads between St. Agnes & St. Mary's
Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) - the Roads between St. Agnes & St. Mary's
I'd asked Ryan if, after his next run to Tresco, he was going to moor up in Tresco until the afternoon run or return to St. Mary's. On being told that he would return to St. Mary's I asked if I could stay on board for an out-and-back to Tresco too, and he readily agreed. He even let me off the boat to visit the loos at Hugh Town Harbour before we departed again a few minutes later.

The run to Tresco was a little smoother than that to St. Agnes, although not much was seen. As we left St. Mary's, a Shag was in the harbour.

Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) - Hugh Town Harbour, St. Mary's
At Tresco, the St. Agnes gig team were also out, heading towards home.

St. Agnes gig team - heading for St. Agnes from Tresco
There were a few gulls about on the return.

Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) - off Tresco
There's always at least one shot in a trip that causes frustration by just missing the mark, and this was mine for the week - virtually full-frame with a wing tip missing. I was soon to find this day that, as per the old addage, 'disappointment comes in threes'.

Gannet (Morus bassanus) - the Roads between Tresco & St. Mary's
As I was the only passenger on the boat back to St. Mary's, I volunteered to accompany the boat to its moorings and be taken ashore in the tender to save them from stopping to drop me off at the quayside. This offer was gladly accepted and gave me a unique experience.

Here is a view of the lifeboat as we approached the moorings.

St. Mary's lifeboat 'The Whiteheads' - Hugh Town Harbour, St. Mary's
I was back on dry land by 11h30 and headed back to base to make myself a light lunch. The girls were out doing other things. While sitting relaxing after lunch, the message came through about the kestrel on Porth Hellick Down. The outcome was that I felt the need to go back and try and get some better shots of the Lesser Kestrel. As soon as the girls returned I told them what had happened and then phoned Toots for a taxi. I was told one would be with me at 14h15, which gave me a little time on the sea wall before the taxi arrived. This provided an encounter with a very definite White Wagtail.

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) - Porthcressa, St. Mary's
The taxi took me to the lane off Carn Friars Lane that heads towards Porth Wreck. I then hurried onto Porth Hellick Down where I bumped into an old aquaintance - the notable local birder and artist Ren Hathway. He pointed me to the Lesser Kestrel which was mainly staying near, and on, the airport runway almost a kilometre away  (no flights on a Sunday!). We watched together for quite a long while, eventually losing the bird altogether - the second disappointment of the day. A message then came in about a Short-eared Owl having been seen on the Porth Hellick Loop. I'd heard of the Porth Hellick Loop but was not aware where it was. Ren was ready to leave, having been on the down for a while and now getting rather cold, so kindly offered to show me the loop, and so we set off down the down.

On arrival, I found that I'd unwittingly passed the entrances to the Porth Hellick Loop on many an occasion, thinking that the paths just led to private property! We carefully took the loop checking thoroughly as we did so. We got to a point which looked promising and Ren said he'd just pop back down the path a little to check out the far side of the clump that we were standing by. He'd not been gone that long when the Short-eared Owl flew out of the trees ahead of me and disappeared into the distance, dropping down into a place about 200 metres away. I tried to take some shots, but failed miserably, the only shot vaguely in focus being a DAH shot, possibly not even recognisable as a SEO. I also include an extremely heavily sharpened image which does, at least, show some indication of the upper wing markings! Ren missed the bird altogether, and we were not able to pick it up later. This was, of course, disappointment No.3.

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) - from Porth Hellick Loop, St. Mary's
Ren and I then made our way to the road, where he met up with a friend who was awaiting a lift to Hugh Town. We were both very kindly offered a lift with them.

That night - our last - we dined at the Atlantic once more and had an extremely enjoyable meal

Monday, 16th March      Porthcressa - St. Mary's Airport - Land's End Airport - Ashby de la Zouch

Our flight was booked for 10h10, with Paulger's picking us up from the property at 09h10. Having packed and had breakfast I spent a short while saying farewell to the birds on the beach. While I was sat on the bench at the western end of the beach, a Wren popped up onto the railing.

Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) - Porthcressa, St. Mary's
I took greatest pleasure, however, from getting some more shots of Black Redstart.

Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) - Porthcressa, St. Mary's
Our transport to the airport arrived a little early and caught me off-guard, but we soon gathered ourselves and were on our way. Everything went smoothly, and we were four of just eight people on the 17-seater plane.

At the other end, baggage was soon collected, and we were on our way home. With a stop for fuel in Penzance, and a couple of comfort stops en-route we were home by tea time.

It had been a very enjoyable break although, with the exception of a couple of real gems, not spectacular from a wildlife point of view. We were all so very glad that we had managed to squeeze this break in together just before the lockdown came into force and we were parted for who knows how long.

We have two further visits booked to the Scillies, and are keeping our fingers crossed that we will be able to use these bookings. In the meantime, we will hang on to the pleasant memories of our previous visits.

My next post will be based on sightings in our garden, as we have not left the premises since we returned from the Scillies.

Thank you for your visit. Take good care out there. This will all be over one day!