Monday, April 29, 2013

Past few days...

I couldn't really think of a particular theme for this post so I thought I would just put a few pictures up that I took over the past few days. I have just come back from a wander and for the first time this year heard the monotonous babble of a couple of Reed Warblers around the Abbey pool. Coupling this with hearing my first Cuckoo in the woods up by Borough Farm it may be safe to assume that Spring has finally arrived.

 I suppose another sign of Spring is the arrival of the Swallows which have arrived en masse from their winter hangouts in Africa. Due to the fact that they are mind blowingly acrobatic in the air and also eat and drink on the wing makes them a nightmare to photograph. Above is my best effort so far...

Late in the year as it is, the shrubs and trees are finally becoming leafy and the Island is certainly starting to look greener. You can still see Blue tits, Great tits, Goldcrests and the like through the gaps in the foliage.

 These two shots are of birds called Whimbrels. There seems to have been an influx of these around the south west of England as they pass through on their Spring migration from South Africa  en route to the Arctic Tundra to breed. They will have travelled over six thousand miles by the time they arrive. There are currently about sixteen of them stocking up on food down towards Carn Near before they carry on with their mammoth journey.
I stumbled upon this juvenile Shag right on the very southern tip of the Island. I think he spotted me...

We also currently have a Water Rail residing in the hedged area just next to the church. Although not the rarest of birds these weird things are rather shy and not often happy to mill around in the open. They usually like hiding in ditches and reedy areas but this one seems to be quite content. I think they look clumsy for some reason, maybe it's just me though....

This is the closest I have been to a Grey Heron. Being up to a metre in height they are easy to spot from afar but don't like being approached. Usually looking quite regal and overseeing the nearby waters with a calm demeanour they appear all over the Scillies but you can often see them on either of the two pools. I have noticed they often loiter under the pines on the Abbey pool or perched on the island there too. Last year I saw about thirty roosting in the trees between the Abbey and the Great Lake. This picture I took on St Marys though. Oh yes and more ducklings too!

I just like this one.

This final picture I took last year. I have had two incidences with bats in the Estate office. One where I was asked by a slightly flustered member of staff (who should remain nameless, Jackie) to remove a rather confused little guy who was circling her office. The other one pictured, none of us noticed hanging from the ceiling until about half eleven in the morning, after we had been open for about three hour! I assume he had just been quietly dangling there while we typed away and drank coffee! Not being a 'bat expert' I decided to adopt the ' glass and paper' trick and set him free, but not before taking a picture with a pretty bad camera. I believe he is a Pipistrelle bat.

We have hundreds on the island and at dusk almost anywhere on the island you may spot one silently flying past in the corner of your eye.
Looking back at this post I believe the theme of Spring may be the case!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Firstly, thank you for the very kind feedback I have received from the first of my entries, I was a little nervous about writing and showing my pictures but you have made me want to write more.

At this time of year the main focus for birdwatchers and other followers of wildlife are the migratory birds that turn up over here. Rarities such as Hoopoes and Golden Orioles are worth hunting for but I find that if you are looking for something specific you can miss all of the abundant things that either reside here or are commonplace and easy to see.

We have two kinds of pheasant that wander all over the island. The Common or Ring Necked Pheasant and the one that bewilders quite a few of our visitors, the Golden Pheasant. Both are native to Asia and are bought in.

This is the right time of year to see them as currently all the males are out looking sharp and hunting for girlfriends. The Common Pheasants can end up getting pretty angry with each other and can often be seen circling each other and bouting in an avian version of fisticuffs in order to impress the duller coloured females. In my previous residence here I had a regular male Pheasant I named George that used to drop by daily and quite often peck at the back door when he was hungry. He kept this up for a couple of years until I abandoned him and moved. I wonder how he's doing.......

The Golden pheasants, which are best found in the Abbey Gardens or, at dusk, along the Abbey drive are currently very boisterous and afraid of no one. When they are looking for a mate they do not seem to be bothered even when they are within arms length.
I took these pictures of this male in the Gardens a couple of days ago. One the breeding season finishes they start to moult their feathers and look pretty tragic, If you want your token pheasant picture now is the time to take it! 

Over here the Linnets have started arriving and although very common and often overlooked as they are small and brown, a closer inspection can often reveal the male's pinky/red front. I think they are quite pretty.
They usually hang around in gangs and can often be seen on short grassy areas or perched on gorse bushes or brambles. I took this picture down at Borough Farm but you can see them dotted all over the island.
Even these guys (Bluebottle) can be quite interesting close up. I'd challenge any artist to recreate those colours in his palette. If you click on the picture and enlarge it you can make out quite a bit of detail.
Even though the birds in the Abbey gardens are quite partial to mopping up pasty and scone crumbs from people's plates in the Garden Café they still find the time to catching their own food every now and then. One of many Song Thrushes on the island.
Finally although a bad picture, I took this on the North End of Tresco at sunset. I quite like it

Monday, April 22, 2013

So after the introduction I would have thought that some kind of start should be made. I shall be honest and inform you that one of the subjects I shall post is purely due to the fact that I am quite proud that I got the photos of one subject  and the other is due to the fact that if I want people to read my blog I have to put in something that everyone likes.....
We have had what has been reported to be up to nine Short Eared Owls on the island for the duration of the winter. They can be seen down by the woodpile towards the Carn Near end of the island and are most active at dusk. I heard about these guys quite some time ago and spent a ridiculous amount of time down there during wind, rain and shine trying to see them. Over the weeks I kept hearing reports of people seeing them however when I decided to try and find them they never showed. Then for about one week I seemed to hit the jackpot with up to seven appearing for me almost on arrival daily.
Once they have left their roost they spread across the heathy part of the island towards Pentle Bay and the two lakes often perching in the trees and shrubs. Towards sunset the light cast across from the west can really make for potentially very  good photographs if you have the skills and a keen eye.
I have to mention that their soundless flight makes them seem a little magic!
And now for what I hope is the crowd pleaser. Ducklings!
It's that time of year when it is worth checking the reeds around the two lakes for the high pitched squeaks of the fluffy little guys. I actually took this picture at the duck pond on St Marys yesterday but I have seen others just by the bird hide closest to the shop and Island office. There were eleven at first but unfortunately I'm quite sure a few of them became snacks for the black backed gulls that also frequent the area. It is well worth checking anywhere on either pool for them following mum across the water going from one place to the other to feed or hide. These guys feed themselves from the day they are born.
Mum-A female Mallard
And one more just because they are awesome...

Sometimes it's worth getting up really, really early. Sunrise from Old Grimsby across towards Blockhouse Castle.

My Humble Introduction

So I haven't quite figured out exactly what the purpose of the Web Log exactly is but I thought I'd try and see if anyone out there is interested in what I do in my spare time I suppose.

My name is Max and I have been living quite happily on Tresco,  Isles of Scilly for the last seven years. I have always been quite interested in nature in general and enjoy knowing what I am looking at when out wandering. A little while ago I bought myself a Canon camera and decided to try and photograph the things over here that have kept me interested over here for the last seven years and still continue to do so.

Tresco is approximately two miles by one and has a plethora of different micro environments from the heathland on the North End to the dunes and beaches down south. I am lucky enough to live a stones throw away from the two lakes on the island and often can be seen meandering almost aimlessly around seeing what I can find. I have to confess that since being over here I have developed an interest in the bird life that these islands have to offer and feel that this subject will dominate what I will post. However things such as plant life, the sky and almost anything I find interesting will probably make an appearance.

I suppose I'd like to create a site that both regulars and newcomers to Tresco can feel they can look at anytime they have a desire to see what is happening here in the natural world and possibly learn something too. I must state that I am an amateur at the photography and my knowledge is far more inferior than many people out there both resident on Scilly and beyond. However I may bestow upon you a little information that may make visiting here a little more pleasurable.

I don't think there will be any particular order to this site and any feed back is more than welcome.

Finally I suppose I should also state that this website is in no way affiliated with Tresco Estate and all of the opinions and information come from my tiny little mind alone.