St Mary’s – more landscapes and birds

Another day on St Mary’s

At Peninnis

Looking back to Porthcressa

A Scillonian post-agricultural landscape


A  cormorant

An Oystercatcher

Brightly marked starling

Herring gull

Iceland gull with herring gulls

The Iceland gull


A peregrine


St Mary’s birds and landscapes

Spent the day yesterday wandering around St Mary’s, lovely sunny day and lots of swallows and martins migrating through the Islands.

A swallow on the wire in Old Town

House martin at Kitty Down

And in amongst a flock of a 100 plus swallows, house martins and sand martins was this red-rumped swallow – a spring overshoot from southern Europe. Also saw my first swift of the year today.

Looking from Kitty Down back to High Moors and Porthellick

And then this at at Higher Moors ….. the Wildlife Trust have coppiced all the willows next to the hide and as a result there is absolutely no cover when approaching the hide, so no birds at all at the southern end of the pool. Surely this could have been planned and executed differently? It will now take several years before the cover regrows and hide becomes usable again. I really hope next autumn doesn’t see the same treatment up to the next hide……

The beach at Porthloo

Which hosted this 1st winter Iceland Gull – note the bird is all white and has no black tips to the wing. A rare visitor to the UK, but this year has seen quite and influx.

From Porthloo back to the harbour at Hugh Town

The sun setting over the Atlantic (pub and ocean)


Scilly gulls – common ones, rare ones and difficult ones

The winds are from the north west now and this has stopped the flow of migrant birds coming up from the Continent. As a result we went looking for a few of the long staying vagrant birds on St Mary’s.

Iceland gull 1
This is an Iceland Gull – there have been two juvenile birds on the golf course for a while now.

Iceland gull 2
Iceland Gulls are pretty birds and are almost white as juveniles – the key feature of the species though is the lack of black on the tips of the wings.

Iceland gull 3
This is an Arctic species (thus the name) and a few dozen birds a year come south, especially juvenile birds. This is a photo of the second bird on the Golf Course.

Iceland gull 4Another shot of the same bird – this is the third Iceland Gull I have seen – all on Scilly.

Lesser black backed gull
This is a Lesser Black-back Gull – a species in decline nationally and an uncommon species on Scilly.

Herring gull
Here is a Herring Gull – the classic seagull of the southwest – the one that will steal your ice cream, pasty or fish and chips if you aren’t paying attention.

'Yellow legged' gull 2
Finally we found this bird on Porth Loo beach. On the surface it looks like a Herring Gull but it has yellow legs – see the previous picture and you will see that Herring Gulls have pink legs.

'Yellow legged' gull 1
If you took the bird guides at face value you would conclude that this was a Yellow-legged Gull. However it didn’t look quite right – the grey on a Yellow-legged Gull is darker – intermediate between a Herring Gull and a Lesser Black-backed Gull. The other ‘herring gull’ type of gull with yellow legs is a Caspian Gull but that has a large bill which is parallel sided.

'Yellow legged' gull mating
This picture helps to clinch the ID perhaps. The ‘yellow-legged’ Gull is mating with the ‘pink-legged’ Herring Gull. As the books say ‘some Herring Gulls have yellow legs’ ……

If anyone wants to comment on the ‘yellow-legged’ Herring Gull ID please do.