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Monday, 15 July 2013

Shag resembling Mediterranean race (P.a.desmarestii)

Possible juvenile Mediterranean Shag at the Eastern Isles Max Rowe

  Yesterday, I got up early to kayak to hopefully all the islands. However, dense fog stopped play and it was not until 09.30 that I set off from Porthloo as the fog was lifting and gave way to the calm, hot conditions that Scilly has been basking in for over two weeks now. Twenty minutes later and I had reached South Beach, Tresco. I had a stroll around the two pools and got myself a pasty and a mint chunky kitkat. All of note that I saw were 7 Greenshank and a single Common Sandpiper. Returning to the beach, 15+Crossbill flew over Abbey Drive.

This Coot was having fun chasing off the Mallards
Tresco Great Pool
The Kayak on South Beach with a misty Eastern Isles

Myself with the Eastern Isles in the distance Max Rowe

From Tresco looking towards Bar Point, St Mary's

  From Tresco I rowed the one and half miles to the Eastern Isles. This is where Max joined me and on our ways there, we ploughed into good numbers of both Common Moon and Bluefire Jellyfish. As we moved deeper into the uninhabited isles, I saw 3 Shag fishing in the water to my right. Although the light was crap, one of them looked notably paler than the others. I got Max attention and told him to get on it as it might be a possible Mediterranean Shag! we slowly drifted closer towards them. Now this is the beauty of being in a Kayak, the animal life just sit there and only move when you almost touch them! All 3 birds got on top of rock, close to the water, and started to dry off. Max got his camera out and fired off some shots, until we got a little too close and they all dived into the water and just vanished!

You can't see it in this pic, but the bird did have large pale panels in the wings

The bright yellow bill and paleness overall in compassion to the Shag beside it on the right

Note the gleaming white underparts on all the pics above. Max Rowe Two years ago, I came across a Shag also showing features of the Mediterranean race, P.a.desmarestii off Bants Carns. Last October another was seen by birders off Bryher.

Any opinions are welcome on this interesting Shag
Our Kayaks on Great Ganilly

The fog rolling in looking down from Great Ganilly
  The last time I visited the Eastern Isles was 14 years ago when that mega first for Britain turned up in the amazing month of October '99. Everyone who was here then, will remember the SHORT-TOED EAGLE gracefully drifting between St Martins and Mary's. I though, remember it for a different reason. Mark Groves does a lot of work for BBC South West. They asked him to get some footage of the eagle to show on the news and Mark asked me to join him.The eagle was mainly hunting around Martins and the Eastern Isles. It was overcast and in his rib we set off from Mary's into a cold breeze. We got wind that it was on White Island. It was high tide, so Mark thought, and he got me to climb the rocks to the top to see if it was still there. Climb the rocks!? Bloody 'el! It was steep and dangerous and many times I slipped while trying to find somewhere to put my foot in. When I finally reached the top, the eagle glided over my head and we both watched it head towards the Eastern Isles. For all my effort, I did flush 2 Snow Bunting.
  Mark beached the rib on Great Ganilly where the eagle was hovering. As we raced up the hill to get closer, we flushed an amazing 24 Snow Bunting from the beach! The eagle was just above our heads when a ring-tailed Hen Harrier came from nowhere and tried to take it out! The harrier headed off towards Martins while the eagle continued to hunt. For the next two hours, Mark got what he wanted and I probably got the best views of the eagle during it's stay.
  We returned to the rib to find that it had gone! No, it was there! The tide had come in and the rib was 10 miles out at sea! Well only a few meters really. One of us had to swim out and lift the anchor up and pull the rib in. I drew the short straw and found myself stripping off to my boxer shorts that had pictures of Thomas The Tank Engine on. Very fashionable then. I liked them anyway. I liked them so much that I had 10 pairs! I would of had more, but I was told that I brought the last pair. It didn't matter, I got 5 pairs of Paddington Bear instead. Anyways, that's enough of my boxer shorts.
  So here I am testing how cold the water was with my little toe. It was bloody freezing! After ten minutes I had got as far as my ankles. I was getting there as Mark was egging me on. 'Go on, it's only a bit of cold water. It wont hurt you' An hour later I finally pushed myself and now the water was up to my knees. I swam out and dived under and got the anchor and pulled the rib to the shore. On the beach I stood there shivering all over. 'You'll have to put some cloths on Kris or you will die from the cold' I couldn't move. However, this soon changed. From the corner of my eye I could see the Seahorse approaching us. Right at the front was George Reszeter with his monster lens and behind him were some 50 birders! Shite! What were they thinking? Here's me naked, except for my Thomas The Tank Engine boxers, on a secluded beach with an old man looking and telling me that I'm going to catch my death. You don't have to worry about that anymore Mark, I thought. I have never moved so fast in all my life! Those cloths were on in seconds. Some were back to front and inside out and my boots were on the wrong feet. I didn't care about that. The question is, did they see me naked? I pray to god they didn't see my boxer shorts!

While Max and I were climbing Great Ganilly, I told him the story of me naked on the beach with Mark. Then Mark came past in his rib!

  In the misty conditions, Max and I made the ten minute paddle to St Martins and landed at Higher Town Beach. We had a refreshing drink and I had lemon curd icecream, at Polreath Tea Room. After half an hour, Tean was our next island. As we left Martins, the fog rolled in and it was decided that we can't go on any further. Max returned to Tresco and I made the trip back to Mary's. The fog descended all around me and I was caught out and gave it a very eerie feeling being alone out there. When I saw Bar Point ahead of me, I felt safe and followed the shore until I was at Porthloo. Just as was coming in, the fog cleared to bright hot sunshine. I could of continued to do all the islands while making to Tean, but we had no idea how long the fog would linger and therefore it was too dangerous to continue. Try again another time.

Kayaks on Higher Town Beach, St Martins. Note the fog coming in

This dead Dogfish sp was also on the beach as well as lots of washed up jellyfish 

I love all the material that Willard Grant Conspiracy do. Very haunting,beautiful and disturbing. Willard Grant Conspiracy (WGC) is an alt-country band based near Palmdale, California, USA. Originally formed by Robert Fisher and Paul Austin in 1995 in Boston, Massachusetts, the band operates as a collective, with vocalist Fisher the only permanent member. Up to thirty other musicians occasionally contribute to the band, both in the studio and during live performances. WGC is currently signed to the independent Glitterhouse Records label, having previously released on Rykodisc and Kimchee Records

1 comment:

  1. That would be a nice record, i've only ever seen them off the Moroccan coast. The kayak must be a great way of getting over to the other islands in good weather.

    How frequent are Crossbills on the Scillies at this time of year, i would have thought these were 'unseasonal' to say the least?

    Laurie -