Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It's the middle of Summer and, as a worker over here, it's all hands on deck. The islands are full to the brim with people enjoying what has been so far a very sunny and enjoyable season. People are occupying their vacation in all manner of different ways. I however have not really had as much free time to get out and play with my camera as usual. This does not mean that I have not seen some rather interesting things. For me the winner is not a living thing but this rather amazing car/boat. While going about my job on St Marys Quay this decided to 'drive' past...

On the wildlife front there are still butterflies and moths galore across the Scillies, and we are welcoming even more avian arrivals as they us our archipelago as a pit stop on their travels. The most noticeable are the Little Egrets and Grey Herons. I have been here for eight years and the number of Little Egrets visiting each year has gone up and up, I believe 31 is the largest count in one group on Tresco. I am yet to get a picture I am happy with of these quite elegant birds. Next mini project methinks.

I got this Grey Heron as he was heading off to roost in the trees between the Abbey and the Great pool. Sometimes there can be up to twelve perched in quite clear view. I just quite like the silhouette effect.

I have been meaning to talk about the Chaffinches we have on the Island. To get the best view of these pretty little birds head to the Garden Visitor centre and buy a slice of cake. If you sit outside you'll find on or near your table within seconds.
They reside on the islands and can be seen throughout the year. The population living near the Abbey Gardens seem to feed on Clotted cream and carrot and orange cake. On the flipside we have a population on the Rowesfield side of the Island and these behave a little more normally. During the Autumn months it is well worth scanning the flocks often feeding on the ground for Bramblings. A rare visitor that likes to hide amongst flocks of chaffinches.
I have been wanting to see a Clouded Yellow all summer and not seen a single one on Tresco. However on a quick jaunt to St Agnes with my visiting parents and within a minute or two of stepping off the Quay I decided to make a bit of a fool of myself chasing one around with my camera. Whenever I got within shooting distance the bloody thing flew of another six feet, waited for me to approach and did it again. At the point I realised I was giving an insect the 'V' sign and I decided I should stop chasing.
I was happy to find out that St Agnes, and St Agnes alone, seems to be teeming with them. All over the island they seem to be enjoying the Birds Foot Trefoil and the Thistles. This following picture shows another Clouded Yellow not quite emerged properly from his chrysalis. You can also see the not yet 'set' wing folding out.
I stumbled across this Cinnabar moth caterpillar on a footpath, and although survival rates for caterpillars are very low, after this guy has spent the winter cocooned away I may be fortunate enough to photograph it as a fully grown black and red moth next summer.

At this time of year the island takes on a tinge of purple. Towards the North End the Heather takes over and the rest of the island whether it the Abbey Gardens or the roadside Agapanthus blooms everywhere. I have to admit that although I enjoy it's presence on the island I do get a little blasé about it being everywhere. But when I stop and take a moment to actually appreciate it I realise what all the fuss is about.



Down by the bird hide the House Sparrows are still trying to be marine birds. It can be quite entertaining watching them fly from reed to reed often landing right on the tip straining the stem until it bends down to the surface. The adventurous birds fly off at the final second only to repeat the game again. I usually try to use a very fast shutter speed when taking pictures of things in motion, this time I slowed it down to try and capture a bit of the motion in the picture. Can't quite decide which I prefer, I think its the quicker speed.
It is quite interesting to note the different 'tribes' of sparrows across the islands. As well as the new 'Lakeside Gang' there is a clan frequenting the Abbey Gardens who are more than happy approaching the visitors and sharing a meal from the same plate. Towards Rowesfield there are thousands of them living off the grass seeds with the linnets and pigeon that are far more wild and extremely noisy.
At this time of year the wealth is flowing on the islands, super yachts come by, people drive car/boats, lobster shells fill the bins but I still love the simple things on the islands....



  1. Lovely post Max. Great to see and hear about so much going on. I am always delighted at different bird behaviour-I think I would prefer to be the Chaffinch near the Abbey Gardens-carrot and orange cake-yummy!
    Car boat is fantastic-I would love to drive it into the sea-it must be really weird at first.
    I have never seen a Clouded Yellow-and to catch it emerging is fantastic.
    Don't work too hard!

  2. I love this blog Max. It truly encompasses the islands. Only wish (as always, we could have stayed longer) but hey ho such is life! (p.s. check out the 'e' on your keyboard. It seems to be missing off some of your print)

  3. Lovely .. enjoying this blog, having just left Tresco for another year. :( I enjoyed the song thrush that came into Sandy Lane every day, completely fearless, hopping around my legs as I washed up and even followed me along the corridor to the bedroom. And the equally fearless blackbird who greeted me each morning when I opened the patio doors. These simple things are what makes the holiday such a pleasure. Forget car boats .. Firethorn is my favourite vehicle - could ride around the islands all day every day and never be bored!