BOAT TRIP TO ST MARTINS WITH VISITS TO: LOWER TOWN – HIGHER TOWN – CRICKET PITCH AREA – DAY MARK AND MOORLAND
WEATHER: another lovely day, plenty of sunshine, light breeze and quite warm
We had to dash down to the quayside from the breakfast table because the first boat out to St Martins was due to depart at 8:45 and we wanted to be on it . We made it with time to spare.
The 30 minute boat trip produced sightings of a few Kittiwakes, Shags, Cormorants, Oystercatchers and a couple of Grey Seals. We landed in Lower Town and began the long walk to Higher Town where our main target bird was to be found. Along the way we saw very little in the way of migrant species but lots of common garden birds were active.
A view of Hugh Town Port from near our Guest House
At one point we could see the beach just below us, several wader species were down there: we saw Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Curlew, Greenshank, Ruddy Turnstone and Oystercatcher. When we reached Higher Town is was just after 10am and my group wanted to stop for coffee and a cake at the bakery, so off they went. But I walked down to the Cricket Pitch near the Higer Town Quay and joined a bunch of birders waiting for the NORTHERN PARULA to show.
Ruddy Turnstones on the beach - can you see them?
It didn’t take long before the bird came out and gave us a wonderful show, it remained in view for at least 20 minutes and then it disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. My group turned up 5 minutes later, oh dear, putting coffee before a mega bird is a not recommended!!
my best shot of the Parula this morning
We waited for 1 ½ hours and still the bird was absent, so we went back up to the bakery for lunch and another coffee. In the meantime we had listed Common Kestrel, White Wagtail, Greenfinch, Stonechat and a flyover Grey Heron. Apparently, at the bakery, a Wryneck had been spotted not 10 minutes before we had arrived but that too had disappeared.
the rugged coastline of St Martins is beautiful
After lunch we took a very long walk to the Day Mark, which is a huge tower painted bright red and white and was used for navigation by shipping in the treacherous sea around the islands. We found a few birds but once again not many migrants. Common Redstart and over 20 Northern Wheatears was all the migrant species we saw. Many Stonechats, Meadow Pipits, Linnets and Goldfinches were also found. A few Rock Pipits were seen in the rocky coves and Barn Swallows were in good numbers too.
my patient group waitying for a view of the Northern Parula
We made it back to the Higher Town Cricket Pitch area by 3pm and then spent another hour waiting and eventually watching the Parula, everyone got to see it except for Sue, who had chosen to go to the bathroom at the wrong time!! Doh!!
a much better picture of the Parula - taken by Phil Naylor
We got back to the Quay for the return boat and set off back to St Mary’s, we added Sandwich Tern to the day list. Three of us walked to Porthcressa beach back in Hugh Town and in a small quarry near the beach we added Garden Warbler to the trip list.
Grey Heron standing in a field near the cricket pitch
Other interesting sightings for the day include: Comma, Speckled Wood, Red Admiral and Peacock Butterflies, Hummingbird Hawk Moth, Rabbits, Seals and Brown Rats!!