Scilly Isles – Tresco

Here’s the second bloggy instalment from our recent trip to the Scilly Isles – this time covering Tresco. Tresco is the second largest of the islands and was just a short boat ride away from where we were staying on St Mary’s. As with all the Scilly Isles, you can’t really move for beautiful beaches and stunning views.

I particularly liked some of the rock formations which looked like they’d come out of a Flintstone movie!

Tresco is perhaps the most touristy of the “off islands”, but within minutes of getting off the boat we were all by ourselves on a butterfly filled lane crossing the island. I’d visited the Scillies as a child with my parents and one of the things I remember most vividly was the abundance of butterflies (of course there were generally many more butterflies around everywhere back then in the 1970s).  So it was a delight to walk down lanes and be surrounded by them again. Meadow Browns were by far the most common species.

We saw lots of Red Admirals all over the Scilly Isles – far more than we ever see in Malvern. This is probably because most of them are migrants that get blown or fly over to Scilly from mainland Europe.

The lanes had plenty of the other common species too like Speckled Woods, Large Whites and Holly Blues.

My favourites though on Tresco were the Small Coppers and Common Blues – both small jewel like butterflies. It was blue butterflies in particular that I remember from childhood, so seeing those here was lovely.

Tresco also supplied us with another new bird species – the stonechat (thanks to Neil for the identification). We saw lots of these little birds and heard even more.

Tresco has a very tropical feel to it, with lush vegetation pretty much everywhere. There were loads of these absolutely massive Echium plants – many of them at least twice as tall as me, although admittedly I am only about 5 foot 1!

Many of the stone walls were covered in large succulent plants, like something off an alien movie. They are Aeonium plants and there were several different varieties around the Scillies.

Tresco seemed to have far more of these bright yellowy orange flowers  (Gazania – thanks Neil!) than the other islands.

Blue (and white) agapanthus were common everywhere; whether in gardens and verges like this,

or seemingly naturalised on open ground.

The areas further from habitation tended to have more natural, as in more British looking flora. Lots of the island was covered in gorgeous purple heather which was teeming with insects.

Bees were abundant everywhere – Tresco and indeed all the Scilly Isles must be bee paradise with all those flowers. Most of the ones I saw looked fairly familiar, but Tresco had a lot of these ones which seemed a bit different. The good people of the Facebook bee group suggested they might be Cliff Mining Bees (Andrena thoracica), although apparently we can’t be sure about this one as it had collected so much pollen it has obscured the vital bits for identification!

Tresco is famous for its tropical Abbey Gardens. Unfortunately we spent so much time dawdling around the island looking at butterflies (and admittedly eating a very good lunch at the Ruin Beach Café) that by the time we got to the Gardens there wasn’t really time to go in. So the entrance below is as close as we got.

Although it would no doubt have been nice to look round the gardens, there was so much tropical plant life all over Tresco that I don’t feel we missed out too much. And it’s always nice to leave something new for the next visit!

 

 

30 Days Wild – Day 29

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_29

Day 29 of 30 Days Wild and we were down on the beach enjoying the seaside atmosphere. First up a brunch sitting outside at a café that we’ve been going to for about 30 years – think the menu was pretty much the same as it had been all those years ago too, although there was now a Specials board with exotica like Houmous wraps!

StarlingsWe sat outside and were joined by a greedy flock of starlings, who clearly understood café culture. The adults were initiating the young ones into the delights of eating alfresco and watched us keenly to see if we were going to give them anything. They had competition from a couple of seagulls, but thankfully the gulls didn’t actually join us on the chairs like the starlings did.

The view out to sea was the same as I remembered too. Oil supply vessels sitting out at sea, were lined along the horizon.

View

The North-East of Scotland has miles of sandy beaches stretching past Aberdeen up into the sand dunes further north. The tide was in while we were there, so you can’t really see the extent of the sand from the photos. We were lucky in that the sun was shining and we had more or less blue skies, with just a bit of a breeze to liven up the waves.

Big Skies

Waves

Chris risked getting soaked to try and get some close up shots of the spray splashing up over the seawall, while I stayed safe and dry further up the steps!

Waves 2

I had thought we might go really wild and go for a paddle, but then I remembered just how cold the North Sea is and how much I really hate getting sand between my toes. In the end I guess we were both just Too Lazy to Paddle!

Too Lazy

We headed back into town through the harbour. Aberdeen is a big industrial harbour – all concrete and metal. But even here we found some unexpected delights. These orchids were thriving between the fence and these huge rusty metal chain links. A little splash of colour of nature fighting back.

Orchid

Today was a much more relaxed, lazy day than some of our previous ones and it was really nice just to chill out down at the beach and recharge out batteries.

Ivy leaved toadflax 30 WEEDS

And finally the second last weed in 30 Lazy Garden Weeds – the Ivy Leaved Toadflax. This pretty little flower grows out of our walls at home. For some reason the name Toadflax makes me think of the names of Hobbits in Lord of the Rings, or of some of the rabbits in Watership Down (no idea if the name Toadflax was actually used in either of these of course). The flowers are like little purpley blue snap dragons. They have a clever mechanism whereby they face the sun until they have been fertilised and then they face back to the wall, so that the seeds when they form get embedded in cracks more easily. A clever little plant!