Friday 18 May 2012

Heading back to Portsmouth

Well the end of the first seven day 'Island Retreats' cruise is near, as we pound into the sea heading back to Portsmouth.  The cruise didn't start off too well, with two days alongside in Portsmouth due to the ship failing an inspection.  The crew worked hard and managed to rectify the problem that had been detected, and we sailed directly to the Channel Islands, missing a few stops which had been planned, but managing to put together a pretty good itinerary for the remaining time we had.

Not really a wildlife trip, this was more a visit to islands to see the way of life, and a trip into St Malo, France to see Mont St Michele, the famous UNESCO World Heritage site.  We had a day and a half on the Isles of Scilly, with a beautiful sunny day for our visit to Tresco and Bryher Islands yesterday.  And an overcast and slightly cooler day today with a morning visit to St Mary's.  I headed off on the birding/nature walk with Tony, and then split off and caught up with my good mate Bob Flood.  Always great to catch up with him and talk about whats new in the seabird world, and we wandered some of the local fields looking for a woodchat shrike that had been seen the night before.  This was the second attempt at finding woodchat shrikes here on Scilly with Bob...and we drew a blank on this one also!  Never mind found a couple of yellow wagtails, including what was probably a flava subspecies individual, and then to Bob's for a beaut piece of chocolate cake and a coffee.

Headed back to the ship just before midday, on the way spotting the male hen harrier that had been reported from Bryher earlier in the morning as it struggled across to St Mary's, being chased by a herring gull.  It was apparently refound on St Mary's a little while later after I called Bob.  But as luck would have it Bob phoned me about 1.5 hours after I had left to say he was standing watching a male woodchat shrike!  AHHHHH!  That's birding!

A few Manx shears as we left Scilly, but not a lot else other than a few gannets and fulmars.  A little bumpy, but the wind is forcast to drop.  The next cruise begins tomorrow afternoon and is far more wildlife focussed with some great stops planned - Lundy & Grassholm and Great Saltee amongst others.  Can't wait!

One of the few wildlife photos I took this cruise, a robin in Tresco gardens

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