A day on St Agnes

Spent the day on St Agnes yesterday

On the tripper boat …

Gugh Bar joins At Agnes with Gugh – the most famous tombolo in the world!

Pleased to see a small colony of kittiwakes surviving on Gugh – Britain’s most endangered seabird as a result of climate change and rising ocean temperatures.

Looking over to Gugh

The Devil’s Punchbowl on Wingletang Down

Cuckoo on Wingletang Down

The Nag’s Head

Male wheatear –  a passage migrant on Scilly

A colony of fulmar

An unnamed granite outcrop on Castella Down

Male Stonechat

The Troytown maze

A rock pipit

Pretty much my favourite island

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

More Scilly scenes and birds

Normal service has now been resumed after the fun and games of Gig weekend! Here are a few photos mainly from yesterday around St Mary’s.

Sailing Ship
Lovely sailing ship making its way to The Roads

Pulpit RockPulpit Rock

Carn LehCarn Leh by Old Town beach

Up to Peninnis HeadThrift in flower on the path up to Peninnis Head

Rock pipitA rock pipit on the beach

Wheatear 1Wheatear

Stonechat 1A stonechat

Some spring birds in the sunshine along with something unexpected

Whilst I was at Yarner Woods earlier in the week looking for Pied Flycatchers I managed to photograph a few other birds as well.

Great spotted wodpecker
A cracking Great Spotted Woodpecker

Great spotted woddpecker 2I think I have been spotted too

SiskinA colourful male Siskin on the feeders

NuthatchA Nuthatch

Later in the day I went over to Emsworthy looking for Cuckoos and photographed a male Wheatear

Wheatear 1Sat on one of the stone walls

Wheatear 2A migrant that is now on Dartmoor in considerable numbers

Next day I went to Woodbury and Aylesbeare Commons in search of cuckoos – no joy…. try again in a couple of weeks

Blackcap female

I found this female Blackcap on Aylesbeare Common


And at the Devon Wildlife Trust’s reserve Bystock on Woodbury Common I photographed this terrapin – wasn’t expecting that. No doubt some pet owner dumped it here when it got too big and it will now be munching its way through dragonfly and damselfly larvae – what a shame.

Icy night camping followed by whinchat, wheatear and cuckoo

We wild camped on Saturday night at Dick’s Well behind Brat Tor.

Dick's Well 1
We set up our tents in bright sunlight before our 10 Tors teams arrived later in the evening

Dick's Well 2
As darkness fell the moon rose – close by Jupiter shone brightly.

Dick's Well 4
It was a still but cold night – in the morning the tents were covered in frost

Dick's Well 3
This is my walking boot which was inside my tent all night – crusted with ice – thank goodness for my 3 season Rab sleeping bag!

Dick's Well 5
In the morning we walk back to Nodden Gate – the sun was shining again. Beside the River Lyd is this lovely matrix of habitats, moorland, gorse and small shrubs – a softly re-wilded landscape

Patches of gorse are great habitat for the whinchat – we saw a couple of birds on our walk back (this rather blurry photo was taken on the Islesof Scilly last year)

WheatearThere had also been a large fall of wheatear overnight. The previous day there had been a couple of birds – Sunday morning they were  everywhere. It is great to see and experience migration in action – it is such an exciting time of the year.


Later in the morning we walked from the Willsworthy Ranges around to Lane End and saw a couple of cuckoos – our first birds of the year. The first bird we saw was a female who performed her characteristic bubbly call. Moments later a male arrived and sang the classic cuck – coo call. Both birds were being chased around by a carrion crow – cuckoos in flight can look very like a bird of prey and I suspect the crow thought they were sparrowhawks and wanted rid of them in case they predated its nest. (This photo was taken last year in Northamptonshire by my  friend Steve Brayshaw.)




Great views on St Marys and some common birds

A great walk up to the Eastern end of St Mary’s via Porth Hellick and back via Bar Point. Sunny day and some common birds today.

Marys - thriftAt Deep Point

Men a vaurOver to Men a vaur, St Helens, Round Island and Tean

Linnet 1Linnet on gorse

Linnet 2Linnet 2

ShagA shag in Pelistry Bay

StonechatA stonechat with a woodlouse spider (Dysera crocata)


A great day in the sunshine on St Marys

A great Sunny day on the Isles of Scilly – have been exploring St Mary’s today – a keen easterly wind but very pleasant when you are out of the wind.

Oil beetle 1Readers of my blog will know I love oil beetles – here are a few photos of an individual near Peninnis Head

Oil beetle 2A nice side profile

Oil beetle 3Looks a bit angry!

Painted ladyThere are a few fresh painted lady butterflies around

Bt bumblebeeA rather dopey buff-tailed tailed bumblebee

BlackbirdBlackbirds on Scilly have very red bills

TurnstoneA turnstone on the seaweed on Hugh Town beach

WheatearA wheatear

ThriftThrift up to Peninnis Head


Wheatear – the polite name for white arse

When I had my walk around the Upper Plym I saw quite a few Northern Wheatears. They are one of the first migrants back to this country with the first ones arriving in mid March.

WheatearWheatear on a rock near Trowlesworthy

Tweet of the day WheatearLovely illustration of a wheatear by Carry Ackroyd from the book ‘Tweet of the Day’

Wheatear is a polite derivation of the original name of the bird – used to be called the white arse! The picture above shows how appropriate the old name is. Anyone who has ever seen a wheatear will normally see the white patch before focusing on the grey back.

Tweet of the Day with Carry Akroyd

A book written by Brett Westwood and Stephen Moss has just been published to celebrate the cult Radio 4 programme ‘Tweet of the Day’. To get a feel for the radio programme listen here to Bill Oddie talking about the ring ouzel.

The book ‘ Tweet of the Day’ is well written and contains lots of interesting anecdotes but for me it is made by the illustrations by Carry Akroyd – she has done 248 ‘pied vignettes’ and 36 colour pages. Here are a couple of ‘Dartmoor’ examples from the book.

Tweet of the day The cover of the book

Tweet of the day MarchThe peregrine pages – a pied vignette and a colour page

Tweet of the day WheatearThe wheatear


Tweet of the day Red grouseThe red grouse

In my opinion it is worth buying ‘Tweet of the Day’ simply for the illustrations!

Wicken Fen

I have been a big fan of Carry for years and when I left Wicken Fen for Dartmoor my colleagues asked Carry to paint a Wicken Fen landscape for me
– it is one of my most treasured possessions.

Nature's powersIf you like Carry’s work I can also recommend her book ‘Natures powers and spells’ – full of her paintings