Bonus row in Serica

Got a bonus row last night with the  ‘American’ crew at the Isles of Scilly World Gig Rowing Championships. I say ‘American’ as there was only one American in the boat – the rest of use were English! Nevertheless we were rowing in the Super Vets Race for Gloucester Gig Rowing Club from Massachusetts!

We had borrowed the St Mary’s Gig Serica which was built in 1967.

A slight problem was that the gig leaked rather badly ….. Serica obviously hadn’t been in the water for months and wood had dried out.

Hey ho – all part of life’s rich tapestry!

The weather was pretty good for the race from St Agnes even if the tides weren’t so kind.

With a boat half full of water and a crew that had never rowed together the result was inevitable but nevertheless it was great fun.

 

 

 

 

Peninnis Head

I spent the morning yesterday on Peninnis Head – it was very breezy and cold.

The ‘lighthouse’ on the point

Thrift by a rock

White horses out at sea

A Ring Ouzel

A well marked male was very skulking and elusive – the best photo I could manage

A cracking Wheatear

The islands are fully of wheatears at the moment – amazing that none stay to breed – all the birds are migrants on their way to the uplands

Out to sea the Royal Marines were battling the waves on their way to the Islands – must have been an uncomfortable crossing

They finally arrived – four landing craft in all – with their valuable cargoes – 4 gigs ready for the weekend

Two smaller craft were moored up by the Quay

More Scilly Birds

It was a glorious day on Scilly yesterday – I walked over 12 miles and my shorts and flip flops had their first outing of the year too. I photographed a selection of common birds and re-visited the Little Bittern.


A Wheatear


One of Scilly’s numerous and very tame Song Thrushes


A Mallard at Higher Moors


A Gadwall at Higher Moors


A Dunlin approaching full summer plumage


A Coot


A Blackbird – Scilly Blackbirds have very red bills


A reflection of the Little Bittern


Off hunting again


Backlit in the late afternoon sunshine

Little Bittern at Lower Moors

I was lucky enough yesterday to get a tipoff from Spider, a resident birder on Scilly who told me that there was a Little Bittern at Lower Moors on St Mary’s. Little Bitterns can be very skulking but this adult female was very obliging.


Little Bitterns are very small herons – the Collins Field Guide describes them as being smaller than a Moorhen. They are agile climbers. Here the female is in hunting mode.


She has seen a fish and pounces


Head right up to swallow


Here is a second sequence of her catching a fish


Attack


Success


A head on shot


At last she come right out into the open


This is probably my favourite photograph

Until pretty recently Little Bitterns were considered very rare passage migrants in the UK. In 1984 a pair bred in Yorkshire. Then in 2010 they bred in the Somerset Levels for the first time and have bred there again since.

The Somerset Levels have seen a concerted effort by RSPB, The Wildlife Trust and Natural England to create new and extensive wetland areas and this combined with climate change has attracted Little Bitterns to the UK.

It will be interesting to see how their colonisation develops and whether they spread to the large habitat creation projects in the East Anglian Fens at places such as Wicken Fen, Lakenheath Fen and the Great Fen.