Sunday 19 April 2015

Great Blue Heron

Had a brilliant day trip to the Isles of Scilly on Friday. There were quite a few nervous souls during the morning Scillonian crossing - many of those on the boat had dipped either on Wednesday, Thursday or both, and they were understandably apprehensive about connecting. As it turned out the Great Blue Heron played ball on Bryher throughout the day, favouring Big Pool and giving excellent views from the Hell Bay Hotel.

This was my first visit to Bryher and I can only echo what everyone else says - it's a bloody picturesque island that still looked great despite the bouts of early afternoon drizzle. The heron, on the other hand, didn't look so thrilled about life but soon perked up as the rain abated. A typically imposing individual with long snaky neck, the neck and underparts were washed with a rustiness not normally seen in Grey Heron. The thighs were quite a bit paler but tinged rufous on close views, while the neck and upperparts were a mix of dark greys and blues, and the crown obviously dark. A couple of shots below, more on my Flickr pages:

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

After almost an hour in its company half-a-dozen of us decided to charter the Falcon over to nearby Tresco to try the wintering American Black Duck. Tresco is another island that I'd not previously visited before and, like Bryher, is really very pleasant. There were a bunch of hirundines over Great Pool and it really looked ripe for a Red-rumped Swallow, but alas it was not to be. A 15-minute yomp round to Abbey Pool produced the Black Duck right away, showing near to one of the close islands and loosely associating with a couple of Mallards. It soon powered off towards the centre of the lake at the sight of a group of over-excited NGBers (for some of whom it was a tick) and with time at a premium, we bid farewell to this most glorious of dabblers and headed back to the quay.

Black Duck

Rather than slog around St Mary's for the final 45 minutes we retreated to the Mermaid for a celebratory pint before boarding on the Scillonian. It always impresses me how much you can fit in to these day trips to Scilly, and indeed see with a slice of luck. The crossing back produced a Basking Shark off the Cornish coast between St Levan and Mousehole and, bar a stop to dip the Hayle Ring-billed Gull, our next port of call was fish and chips in Indian Queens.

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