Tuesday, 17 November 2009

St Mary's, Holy Vale and the Airport

One thing that the Isles of Scilly lacks is much extensive woodland. However, towards the centre of St Mary's, there is a valley of tall deciduous trees called Holy Vale. This can be a magnet for tired passerines during migration.It is also wonderfully atmospheric with an almost Tolkeinesque feel to it. If you click on the photo of the sign above, the last paragraph warns the walker to beware of slippery roots and the uneven path.I visited this area twice during my week, firstly with my friends. This was on a bright day and the light for photography was quite harsh.So I went back a second time on my own when it was a bit more overcast to try and get some better shots. I wanted to convey how you have to wend your way inbetween the tree trunks and over the worn tree roots, so I got down closer to the ground to try and get a better perspective to show this. If you want to bird while walking through this place, you really have to take your time and watch your step. It's hard to be looking up and around for the birds while making sure you don't go arse over tip! When I went this second time, it was pretty quiet birdwise. It has been known in the past to hold some stonking rarities though.

I did get to see some birds in this area. This Chiffchaff was sitting in the sunshine at Higher Moors which is an area of reeds just before entering Holy Vale.

I think this Goldfinch was actually at Lower Moors having a quick preen in the sunshine.

This Dotterel (first seen here on the golf course) is in it's more drab winter plumage. In summer they have a wonderful chestnut red belly, the female being brighter than the male.
This second photo is taken from the airport of the same individual. This is only my second ever Dotterel sighting. One day, I'd love to see one in it's summer plumage!To give perspective on how far away this bird was, the photo below was again taken from the airport with a wonderful view of some of the other islands in the background. If you click to enlarge, you should see the Dotterel a bit better! (-: We didn't want to get too close to this bird as it seemed quite alert and we didn't want to flush it. Dotterels are mountain birds. It breeds in small numbers up in Scotland and further north in Scandinavia.While we were up on the airport (Sundays only as there are no flights on that day), I managed to get a couple of shots of this Stonechat on gorse.I love this shot (the background is the sea by the way). If you click on this photo to enlarge, you will see the tiny dot of a fly that this bird was after.There were some lovely skies while I was on the Scillies, but I think this is my favourite, taken from the airport, looking south out over the Atlantic Ocean.


sharon said...

Great photos again Jenny! I love the look of the woodland, seems almost magical in a fairytale kind of way.

dog trot farm said...

Jenny Wren your photos always amaze me, I feel like I'm walking right beside you. Now if I could just convince Eve to fly over the big pond and have a proper visit. I'll keep working on her!

Kelly said...

...those roots are very Tolkeinesque--a total fairyland. I can imagine little doors and windows among all those gnarly and knotty roots. Love the bird portraits as well...the goldfinch has such a brilliant red on him.

Mary said...

Wow...every one of the bird photos was terrific! I love that little red faced one. And that shot of the bird after the fly...amazing! I could see the fly without clicking, but it looks even better large. All those roots would have had me on my butt for sure! Trying to look up at birds and down at my feet is always a challenge and this place makes it a real necessity!

Chris said...

Hi Jenny,
AS you said, not too many woodland but the atmosphere in this one is fantastic. I love the stonechat pictures, they are gorgeous! A nice trip in the area again with nice birds and landscape pictures!

Eve said...

I thought I saw an elf there in the wood Jenny. That is quite a landscape! I love the stonechat catching the fly, great shot! That was fun and you can tell Julie is she's buyin I'll go with her!!!

Anonymous said...

Yes Eve, a naughty little Elf armed with a Nikon.{:)

I liked the Stonechat shots Jen especially the imminent fly catch. The Dotterel was a good find, so its off to Northern Norway in the summer then.?

Rural Rambler said...

Jenny the last photo of the sky at the airport is indeed a beautiful photo. I love the "I'm lookin' at you" look the fluffy red faced little bird is giving you. The stonechat and fly picture is amazing! The nature trail with all the roots and limbs and trunks oh my!!!

Jenny said...

Hi Sharon, yes it's a great bit of woodland. I hope you get to go to the Scillies one day.

Hi Julie, I wish you lots of luck with that!!! (-: If you ever manag it, I know we'd have a blast!

Hi Kelly, it really does have a certain atmosphere there, dark and damp, but not in a bad way if that makes sense. Our Goldfinch is definitely one of our more colourful birds!

Hi Mary, in a way those tree roots are a blessing as it makes you go slow and so you appreciate the place that much more.

Hi Chris, Stonechats are much like Wheatears in that they tend to pose so nicely. Love them!

Hi Evie, I'll tell my friend Jane you thought she was an elf!!! (-: She'll laugh her head off! AW! Poor Julie! (-:

Hi Roy! HA! love it! A few years ago I had my hair cut a little elfin like! (-: I'm not sure about Norway, but Scotland might be on the cards. We shall see.

Hi Pix, glad you enjoyed the post, like the Stonechat, our Goldfinches are so photogenic.

Quiet Paths said...

All of this is just fantastic. Your bird shots in this post were especially endearing; they are so handsome / pretty when they are perched preening. It is a magical place. Lovely!

Leslie said...

Your photographs are terrific, I have enjoyed visiting and going along with you through the woods.

Shelley said...

I really love your finch! And what a neat walking path - as long as you're not tripping on those roots!

Jenny said...

Hi Christine, I'm glad you've enjoyed it all, one more post and then it's goodbye to Scilly!

Hi Leslie, many thanks for dropping in on my blog and taking the time to comment. Glad you enjoyed it.

Hi Shelley, yes, that Goldfinch is a stunner. The atmosphere at Holy Vale is really lovely.

TonyC said...

Hi Jen, shots of Holy Vale - another of my favourite spots on the islands.