May 1998                                       113

Birdwatch heading (10kb)


Early April saw good numbers of migrants passing through the islands with Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff being the most common. A few Hoopoe were noted with one on St. Agnes staying well into the month. Other long staying birds included several Iceland Gulls on the St. Maryís Golf Course. One of these was of the race known as Kumelinís Gull which had arrived from Newfoundland during February. The American Green-winged Teal was still on Porth Hellick. This bird was very elusive only swimming out of the reeds once or twice a day.

A Firecrest was at Sandybanks on 8th with the islands first spring record of Little Bunting being found on St Agnes the next day. The Stone Curlew that was on Tresco on 10th soon disappeared as did the Greylag Goose found near the Great Pool later that day. Another unusual gull found this month was the Yellow-legged Gull that was at Morning Point on 12th. The strong northerly winds over the Easter period held up most of the migrants although a scattering of Tree Pipits and Grasshopper Warblers were found. The distinctive reeling song of the latter was more commonly heard this Spring than we have noted in recent years.

When the winds eased more Sandwich Tern were seen, with 67 noted on 19th along with six Great Northern Divers. Some of which were now showing signs of their summer plumage. The first Cuckoo was heard on 18th, after which males were heard calling on all islands. These heralded an influx of Swallows, a few Martins, plus a handful of Yellow Wagtails. Although many birds arrived later than usual, some managed to be early. During the third week of the month Hobby and Spotted Flycatcher were on St Agnes, a Swift was over St Martinís and Turtle Dove was on Tresco. The Hoopoe that was on Tresco on 22nd was only present one day. However the Marsh Harrier that was on St Martinís later that day moved to Tresco for a few days. Also moving around the island was the Osprey that was originally over St. Martinís on morning of 23rd before visiting all islands over the next two days. The second Ring-billed Gull of the month was on St Agnes on 23rd along with a Little Gull.

Small numbers of migrants continued to arrived despite the westerly winds towards the end of the month. Flocks of Whimbrel were noted over the islands on 24th with a scattering of Swallows being seen most days.

Hopefully when the wind changes we will see a much larger northward movement of birds through the islands.

Will Wagstaff,
Island Wildlife Tours.

The winter gales played havoc with the shelter belt trees all over the island, the worst area was Abbey Drive which was closed for weeks to all motor vehicles, even those on bikes could not pass. Some of the trunks are still on the hill side, Steve Parks and his mate was kept very busy removing them, he has also planted some new trees and shrubs. We were very fortunate they came down in the middle of the night and nobody was killed. We did not lose many in the gardens but a lot were badly damaged and will take some time to recover.

Visitors will notice a lot of new planting has been taking place all over the garden. In the area of Mexico, Euphorbias, Aloes, and Agaves, also growing in a pot you will see a very prickly plant, its round but I did not see a label by it, any how its called Echinocactus grusonii and I used to laugh when the late Commander Dorrien Smith took his guests by it and told them it was Mother in Lawís cushing. The Grassy Walk has also had many trees and shrubs removed and a new path is being laid. The top garden field which was planted with Eucalyptus trees was open to the gales and many were blown down and the ones remaining look a sorry sight. Itís a few years ago that I went up the Grassy Walk with the Commander and the Queen Mother and on to Augustus Smith memorial to admire the lovely view. I am certain the Queen Mother could have done with a rest but there was no seat for her, and thatís the reason we put one there.

I will just mention a few plants to look out for. On Top Terrace you will find the Agaves going to flower, the spikes are well up now and should be out in May, they only f lower once and die. Not many Puya spikes this year, the record stands at twenty three which I have a photo of and was published in the R.H.S. Journal in 1967. The eucodendrons on Top Terrace, Proteas, and Ericas have been a grand show. Look out for the Strelitzias by Mexico.

I would also like to mention a new Garden Guide book by Frank Gibson which is now on sale. You will find it more up to date, with lots of photographs and information, its a bargain at f 2.50. Hope you enjoy your visit.

F. Naylor.
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