Isles of Scilly Pelagic Weekend 8-11 August 2008

Isles of Scilly Pelagics/Scillonian Crossings
all images taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 with x3 converter
(this camera is for sale see News page in future)

Boat trips/Pelagic were organised by Scilly Pelagics, my totals from memory were…

Scillonian Crossing Penzance to St Mary’s 8 August 2008
20 Storm Petrel, Sunfish 1, Cory’s Shearwater 1 following trawler, Arctic Skua 1, Bonxie 2, Balearic Shearwater 1 with 3 Manx Shearwater (20 in total), adult Sabine’s Gull on the sea, 1 Sooty Shearwater plus commoner seabirds.

Evening Shark fishing pelagic from St Mary’s on the Sapphire
Storm Petrel 30, Common Terns 6, Bonxie 2, Manx Shearwater 3.

9 August 2008 Birder’s Pelagic from St Mary’s on the Sapphire
Half the lads went on this one the other half spent a couple of hours seawatching from Peninis Head on St Mary’s and the rest of the day in the Atlantic Inn and Mermaid Inn with a nightcap in the Bishop and Wolf Inn (7 species of ale tried). On the boat an adult Sabine’s Gull followed the boat for 20 mins, 500 Storm Petrel, 1 Sooty Shearwater, 5 Common Dolphin were bowriding, 2 Little Egret and a Bar-tailed Godwit were seen.

Sunday 10 August 2008 Birders Pelagic from St Mary’s aboard the Sapphire
2 Sooty Shearwater, 400 Storm Petrel, 5 Manx Shearwater, 2-5 Great Shearwater, 2 Bonxie and commoner seabirds.

Scillonian Crossing St Mary’s to Penzance 11 August 2008
2 Dunlin and a Ringed Plover, Bottle-nosed Dolphin 1, Common Dolphin 1+, Common Tern 2, Great Shearwater 1 close views near Cornwall, 25 Manx, 1 and 3 Balearic Shearwater all off the Cornish coast, 40 Storm Petrel, adult Sabine’s Gull, a few large sherwater sp and commoner seabirds.

Four of the lads went on another morning pelagic with more seabirds seen.

The birds……

Great Shearwater MJM

Great Shearwater, 10 August 2008 MJM (both of above)

Gannet MJM

Gannet MJM

Gannets MJMcGill (preceding two images)

Great Black-backed Gulls in hot pursuit MJM

Now for the Stormie-fest….all images by MJMcGill

At one point a hundred were behing the boat, we logged 300-400 on 9/10th and they were feeding just 2-3ft from the boat and to our complete joy, a constant presence. I noted one with a hook through it’s wing which fed without any problem and a ringed bird. One behavioural trait I have never witnessed before was to see them diving with wings open and swimming underwater after the food. On surfacing with wings held open they resumed full flight with no effort. The delicate way they picked the preferred pieces of fish from our bait was also very interesting to see.

These incredible birds survive in this harsh world and are so tuned into it, this is the only way I know of getting close and being part of it. Taking into account the general birding and close Great Shearwaters, they were probably the highlight for me.

Stormies MJMcGill

Stormies MJMcGill

Stormies MJMcGill

Stormies MJMcGill

Stormies MJMcGill

Stormies MJMcGill

Stormies MJMcGill


The weekend was organised by Paul Marshall with the aim of getting a bunch of us together and to do a bit of birding. I organised the last one in 2000 where we did also see 2-3 Wilson’s Petrels only 10-15ft from the boat. No luck this time but it was still a set of quality pelagics with many of the same crowd.

Thanks to Paul for sorting it all out, I appreciate it and to all of my mates that attended (all nine of you) for what was for me a very relaxing long weekend and a right good laugh. I hope this set of images reminds you of the spectacular birding we witnessed. Thanks to the Scilly Pelagics team and the Crew of the Sapphire. To anyone thinking of going I hope these images insipre you to do so. I can put a trip together next year if anyone is interested or alternatively I have places on the proposed Lyme Bay Pelagic on 30 August 2008, I hope to get more images of these birds and Balearic Shearwater and more, see the News page for details.



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