Writing blogs hasn't been high on my agenda, as I hadn't been birding much, or at all, now that I'm fully-employed once again (for the first time in 20 years – and it feels a bit odd). I hadn't even walked the local patch at anytime during the summer, which was a first, let alone ventured further afield.
But from a personal level August, in particular, had been a memorable month.
A three-day trip to northern France to celebrate(!) my 60th birthday, was followed by four days in Cornwall, including a day trip to the Scilly Isles, and concluded at the end of the month with a week in Mallorca.
Much of this time off was spent birding, and while the sightings never hit the heights of recent weeks across the country – I seemed to arrive at most places a week too early – I enjoyed it all very much.
As so, from the top, northern France. To cut a long story short, Annie and I went back to the La Grenouillere, where we stayed for our 25th wedding anniversary two years ago (see here). The two-star Michelin restaurant run by the brilliant Alexander Gautier, produced food even more memorable than our previous visit. A very relaxing way to reflect on 60 years on this currently locally perplexing planet of ours.
|Alexander Gautier in the his kitchen at La Grenouillere|
|Gin drunk, food and wine to come|
Coincidentally, we stayed in the same cabin as we did then, and even sat at the same table for our 11-course tasting menu. All good stuff – and the gin and wine were top notch.
|Black-winged Stilt at Parc du Marquenterre|
On my actual birthday, we went to e Parc du Marquenterre, where the usual suspects were present, numerous Spoonbill, Black-winged Stilt, Cattle Egret and a Great White Egret, but the highlight of the day was a Hen Harrier that flew through one of the scrapes.
|Little Egret and Great White Egret|
|Ring-tail Hen Harrier|
I hadn't been to this part Cornwall since I was a five-year-old, so both Pendeen and Porthgwarra were sites I was keen to visit. Seawatching was high on the agenda, as was the hope of seeing a few large shearwaters.
But while 12 months earlier, Cory's and Great Shearwaters were seen in abundance, it was notable how few sightings of either there had been leading up to that week. And during my four days, none at all.
|Gannet with Manx Shearwater at Pendeen|
Pendeen (two mornings and an afternoon) offered only an handful of Sooty Shearwaters. But the highlight here was actually the huge numbers of Manx Shearwater seen one morning – in their thousands – more than I have ever seen in my life. Streams of them scythed passed this spectacular coastal birding point, probably in the region of 10,000 during the day. A couple of Balearic Shearwater went through, but sadly I couldn't pick them up in the scope.
For the final two days I spent most of my time on boats. I booked a day trip to the Scilly Isles via the Scillonian III on a glorious day, which was a great experience. I'd never been on the Scillonian or to the Scilly Isles before, so it was a must-do trip.
|Traffic chaos in Hugh Town|
|The Scillonian II|
|View of Hugh Town|
|Bonxie on the return journey|
|Shearwater II in Penzance harbour|
|Out at sea with Duncan Jones at the helm|
|Manx Shearwater on the water|
I've discovered I love heading out to sea, so will plan more trips doing the same next year.
NEXT BLOG: MALLORCA REVISITED