Monday, 3 December 2012

Scilly sights …

Isles of Scilly, 25 August to 1 September 2012 – Part 2


The predicted, heavy rain and strong southwesterly wind arrived overnight with vengeance and forced an urgent rethink of plans this morning. As a sea crossing was unadvisable we headed to the heathland of Halangy Down, located just to the north of Hugh Town; the site of a former Iron Age settlement and Bant’s Carn Burial Chamber (c. 5th BC - 1st AD). Here we found some welcome shelter and several adventurous Meadow Brown and a single female Speckled Wood. It wasn't until 6.30pm that the sun finally managed to push through the heavy grey cloud, though the wind was still to relent ...


With the storms of yesterday having subsided and with a brighter though blustery day forecast, the beautiful island of St Agnes was our destination for today. We spent the morning investigating Porth Killier through to Periglis and Lower Town, located to the north of the island; in the afternoon we concentrated our efforts to the south over the beautiful heather coated granite that forms Wingletang Down. The morning produced our first of six Painted Ladies, my first this season, three Small Tortoiseshell and numerous pristine Red Admiral, many seen coming in over the sea. Two Pied Flycatchers and several juvenile White Wagtail were also seen. In addition to those already mentioned, six other species of butterfly were found. These included Large White, Small White, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood, a single Holly Blue and numerous Common Blue.


Following an overnight storm, we woke to a leaden sky and strong westerly winds. As island hopping was out of the question, my son and I decided to hire mountain bikes and cycle to some of the less accessible areas of St Mary's; particularly as a glint of blue sky could be seen on the horizon. A female Green-veined White, my first of the trip, was a good start to the day as we headed north towards Telegraph Hill. After stopping for lunch at Carn Vean we headed out towards Porth Hellick Point and its Neolithic / Bronze Age Entrance Graves (c. 25th - 5th BC). Here we found Common Blue, Meadow Brown and Speckled Wood. A visit to Higher Moors and Porth Hellick Pool Nature Trail, managed by The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, provided some welcome shelter from the wind and an opportunity to photograph a pristine male Speckled Wood (ssp. insula). Red Admiral were once again seen in very good numbers, including an individual sheltering from the strong wind blowing across Peninnis Head. A single Small Tortoiseshell was seen nectaring on flowering ivy by the roadside at Carn Friars.

At 4pm, as I sit and write my diary, storm force winds and heavy rain are once again hitting St Mary's.

To be continued ...

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