Wildlife of the Scillies
5 inhabited islands, 500 uninhabited, 100 named rocks, 800 shipwrecks (the worst of which saw 2000 souls perish), 26 SSSIs, A Special Protection Area and Ramsar site, an Important Bird Area, 1000 inhabitants, hundreds of thousands of annual visitors (including the late Harold Wilson) and an access boat nicknamed the Biggest Stomach Pump in UK: where could we be but the Scilly Isles? Our Society enjoyed a fascinating evening with Dr Tim Melling, a regular and popular speaker, who gave us insights into the amazing natural history of these temperate off-shore isles.
Tropical plants thrive and rare British species such as Weasel’s snout flourish. Butterflies abound. The Lesser White-toothed shrew occurs only here in the UK whilst various exotic non-vertebrates such as the Great-green bush crickets, Rose chaffer beetles and Smooth stick insects have somehow hitched rides to the Scillies and found it to their liking. Minke whales and Basking sharks frequent the seas around the islands and a Leatherback turtle has been seen. A birder’s paradise at any time of year but especially during migration periods when rare passage migrants make landfall.
The islands receive more American waders and water birds than anywhere else in UK. European visitors such as Golden orioles, are easy to see due to lack of tree cover. Stone chats come to bird tables, Wrynecks appear. No chemicals are used in farming so some British birds like song thrushes are 12 times more abundant than on the mainland. The dawn chorus is deafening. What’s not to like?
Next meeting: January 10th A year in the life of Rodley Nature Reserve.