Thursday, 29 October 2009

Southward Beach on Bryher

After joining up with my friends again, I think we had about an hour before our boat back to St Mary's was due to pick us up. So rather than rush and try to do more of the island, we decided instead to wander slowly along Southward beach in the sunshine. Also we would be wandering in the right direction! I should say at this point, that on any island, if you miss the boat back to St Mary's, unless you can find someone with a small boat and pay them probably alot of money to get you back to St Mary's, you are stuck on that island until about 10.30 the next day! I'm sure it must happen many times.

Just before we got to the beach, I saw and fell in love with this old boat that has probably seen it's last wave. Shame!Southward beach is a long stretch of sandy beach on the sheltered east side of Bryher. In the distance, you can just about see our destination back at the quay. It was lovely just to wander slowly along here. The weather was perfect, the air was as fresh as can be and we had no need to rush. How rare is it nowadays to have absolutely no pressure on one's time!?I love this shot. I'm not even sure why really. I do know that when I saw it on my comp screen that it reminded me of an Eve Sweatman photo, hers come naturally, mine come by accident! Really!Oystercatchers are fairly common on the islands. They're really characterful birds with a lovely distinctive whistling call. This bunch were loafing around on the sand minding their own business.............until muggins here got a bit too close for their comfort. They didn't go too far though and I made sure I walked further up the beach once they'd settled again. They're striking birds in flight. Unfortunately in this photo that patch of seaweed in the water makes it look like it has long legs and I don't know enough about photoshop to get rid of it. Help Evie! (-:When you have more time than usual to soak up a place, you start to look at details as well as the overall scenery. Well that's what happened on this day anyway! (-: I loved this slimey bright green plant? covering the rounded pinkish granite stones on the beach.Again, the seaweed caught my eye. I love the colours and textures of this stuff and the way the sunlight lifted it from being just a dull bubbly mess.I guess all these different seaweeds have their own names. It's not something I'm likely to try and find out, I just enjoyed them while I had the chance.Then all these different shells caught my eye, so I did a spot of shell watching. Here are some of my favourites...I thought this one looked like a heart. I wished Chris could be there with me sharing this day (slushy I know, but what the heck) (-:Shushhhhh! Don't tell anyone, but I gathered up some favourite shells to take home as a memento. Here they are. Hopefully the beach wont miss them too much!
I thought this one looked quite snug on it's own surrounded with seaweed and it seemed to glow in the sunlight.I like this one enlarged and have got it as my desktop background at the moment. The colours are fabulous.I couldn't work out what this was at first, but I think it must be some sort of sea anemone? Any one out there know different?I'll finish with a photo of the sunlight throwing an amazing pattern on the sand through the shallow sea water. This was taken as we were waiting for the boat back at the quay.This was without doubt my best day of my time spent on Scilly. Bryher is a beautiful little island. The weather could not have been better and even though we didn't see very many birds at all that day, the scenery on the west side and the beach on the east made it one of those perfects days that doesn't fade from the memory.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Bryher - untamed beauty!

These next two posts are devoted to my favourite of the islands, Bryher. It is the smallest of the five inhabited islands at just 327 acres and has a population of only 81 resident people. For this trip my birding buddies split up. Jane and Dave went off to the island of St Agnes and in the photo below you see David and Geoff joining me on the boat over to Bryher for the day.It's always worth keeping your bins handy on these boat trips to the other islands. I was always a bit worried that I would lose my favourite birding cap. This was given to me by a very dear friend in Iowa and is irreplaceable to me. It's a Dallas County Conservation cap and fits my small head perfectly, well nearly perfectly! (-: Thanks Fred!This photo is taken from the middle of the island and shows some of the many uninhabited islands that are dotted all around the Isles of Scilly. The middle of Bryher has a nicely untidy cultivated look to it which is surrounded by the untamed beauty of the surrounding hills and headlands.As you can see the granite headlands offer shelter to these beautiful bays of soft silver sand and not another person in sight! It's wonderful!Before setting off on the coastal footpath, we enjoyed some of the flowers still in bloom on the island. These Red Hot Pokers were halfway over, but still made a wonderful sight.
One of the plants that thrives on all the islands is the Hottentot Fig, a kind of succulent I think.Here it is in flower. These are about 3-4 inches in diameter.I don't know what this tree was that was growing all over the island, but the Blackbirds, Thrushes and Starlings were crazy for these luscious looking berries. This succulent sticking out of a wall was about 16 inches across. Beautiful with the sunlight on it.We then left the cultivated middle for the footpath that follows the coastline of this tiny island. Here we're heading for the infamous Hell Bay.It looks beautiful and tranquil when the weather is lovely like we had on this day, but in a bad storm coming in off the Atlantic, there's nothing to stop the full fury and many a ship has been wrecked in this area in times past. I took a very short video here which can be seen by clicking on the youtube link: . We stopped to have our lunch up here. Probably one of the best lunch spots in the world ever!After lunch we carried on walking the coastline. Another lighthouse, I guess there is a need for lots of them here for safe shipping!At the top of the island, there were lots of Great Black-backed Gulls loafing around the cliffs and I wanted to sit and watch them for a while and try and get some flight shots. So, David and Geoff walked on down and again I was able to sit on the cliff edge and soak up the sights and sounds around me. This was the best of the shots I could get. They seemed to be very well aware of me and never came in close to where I was sitting.On the way back down to join my friends, I came across this pair of Small Copper butterflies flirting with each other. Eventually they settled down on this autumn coloured bracken which made a wonderful backdrop.This is the view on my way back down the eastern part of the island looking over to Tresco. The building you can see over there is Cromwell's Castle which was built in 1651 and is one of the few remaining Cromwellian fortifications surviving today.This photo shows the stretch of water between the island of Tresco and Bryher where during a low tide, it is possible to wade knee deep across from one island to the other. The second post on Bryher will be about our walk along Southward beach towards our pick up point for the boat back to St Mary's.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Hugh Town and the harbour, St Mary's

We had one day when it was raining hard enough to keep us indoors. Three of us had similar cameras (Canon G10 and a slightly different Canon). So we spent the time we couldn't be out birding 'playing' with different camera settings. We discovered that you can take shots in sepia! So, the next time I was out and about I decided to take some to see how they would come out. The following few shots are taken around Hugh Town on St Mary's. These islands have such an 'old world' charm that I think these sepia shots suit the place! (-: This one below is looking down onto the harbour area from The Garrison.Walking down from The Garrison into Hugh Town, if you click to enlarge this photo you can see some boats in the harbour. I'm not sure what the bell on top of this archway was used for in the past. Probably something to do with the harbour.
This is the main street in Hugh Town where most of the facilities are based (post office, supermarket, bank and various small shops). The butcher shop here made the most wonderful sandwiches! (-:Beyond these shops and houses is the harbour and quay.If you so wished, this old bus would take you on a tour of the island.This is the view looking back towards Hugh Town from Porth Mellon beach.Back to normal photos now and the following are just various shot of the harbour area on St Mary's.
These next two shots of a dog on the boat were taken within seconds of each other while I was waiting for our boat to St Agnes to leave the quay, but the second photo, taken into the light, gives an entirely different 'feel' to the day. It was overcast certainly, but it looks so much more brooding in the second shot!
This shot is seen above in sepia one day and then here on another day that started out quite misty.Coming back from our second St Agnes trip we docked directly in front of the Scillonian passenger ship. Quite an interesting angle of this ship.While waiting for various boats on the quay during the week, I tried to take some shots of the local feathered residents. This Herring Gull stuck around on the quay for a few shots.
This was one of the better flight shots that I managed. Keep practising I guess!!! (-:I was sitting in the boat waiting to go to St Agnes for the second time when this young Herring Gull alighted above me. Another shot of the backside of Hugh Town houses. On the right hand end is the Mermaid Pub. On my first trip to these islands back in 1998 I spent an evening with my friends in this pub and the weather was very rough. The waves were breaking over those window you can see there! That's what I call atmospheric! (-:I loved these Ruddy Turnstones sitting in a social group on the steps in the harbour. Looks like it might be a daily routine for them.One last shot taken from a boat approaching the harbour to dock. Still more to come from Scilly in my next post.