Bird Watching and Butterflies on St Martins

Lets get one thing straight.  I have never been on a Bird watching or Butterfly spotting walk in my life. There are large groups of earnest looking people walking about with all the 'kit'. Huge telescopes in waterproof covers, waterproof trousers, sun, wind, rain hats, all in subdued tones and all completely absorbed in this fascinating past time.

I am the lucky one.  Firstly the day is glorious, the sun shines on the righteous and so forth.... and secondly I have my very own highly informative and experienced bird watcher.  And for the ignorant, beginners amongst us there is a vast difference between a 'bird watcher' and a 'twitcher'.  I was with a bird watcher, that is someone who stands, looks and listens.  You can work out the twitcher for yourselves because you have to be very careful not to offend anyone.

Within five minutes my guide was beside himself with excitement, 'look at that Peacock with it's wings half closed he exclaims 'with a Small Copper sitting on it's back, I've never seen that in my whole life'. 'Did you get a picture' ? he looks ecstatic. 'No I bloody didn't' I say, 'I've got sodding binoculars strangling me, a rucksack, a warm waterproof wrapped round my waist, sunglasses on my head and the camera lens to fiddle with' 'Shame' he says, 'would've been hugely rare. Let's not forget I had a notepad and pen also clenched between my teeth. I didn't stand a chance so I got a half baked picture of a butterfly wing and withered blackberries. 

My guide is busy scanning every small field, looking over all gates and listening carefully. I thought I had walked over most of the island but how wrong I was, secret paths between the high ferns spotting those elusive butterflies sunning themselves on the granite rocks warmed in the sun. 'There's a Yellow Browed Warbler from Asia' look at it's distinctive markings'.  I finally 'got it', it could become addictive....

Because we have the Spring Tides at the moment which occur when the sun and moon are directly in line with the earth and their gravitational pulls reinforce each other when the tide goes out, the low sand banks and distinctive groups of rocks between the islands can be clearly seen.  This in turn gives the sea those stunning hues but I must not be diverted by the sheer natural beauty of the islands this morning.

I stop and say 'good morning' to this young chap, he's puckering up for a kiss in the sun but I'm having none of it. 

I realise that I am utterly thrilled by my morning and promise myself another outing very soon.  Each day Viv records what he sees, going on a tour with him is riveting, even to a complete ignoramus like myself.  For the record this is what we saw in a couple of hours

Butterflies:  Peacock, small copper, red admiral, specklewood, clouded yellow (from Spain)

Birds: Yellow browed warbler (from Asia) Artic Tern, Pie Fly Catcher, Siberian Chiff Chaff, Oyster Catcher. 

The world is right here at my feet.


Frances said…
Sally, I continue to enjoy these reports from Scilly, even as each one of them shows me such a beautiful contrast to the not quite so beautiful daily sights I find on the NYC subway system. Above ground hereabouts is full of unexpected beauty, but underground it's good to just focus on the efficiency of getting from point A to B and so forth.

Thank you so much for sharing this glorious sabbatical with us. Your enthusiasm is infectious, and the sights you show us are fantastic.

Chris Stovell said…
After a fraught week, I've had the great pleasure of sitting down enjoying a slow read of the posts I've missed. I think though, what I'm enjoying most of all, is your delight in all you see around you. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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