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autumn natural history

Enjoy autumn flowers and bird migration in the long lost land of Lyonnesse.

September in Scilly is all about light and colour. At this time the heathland is at its best with the purple flowers of Ling and Bell Heather in flower and in places splashes of the golden flowers of Western Gorse. The lanes are rich with wildflowers too; Red Campion in all shades of pink and red, Sheep’s-bit, Rock Sea-spurrey, Italian Wild Arum and the orange seeds of Stinking Iris. Along the coast on St Martin’s and St Mary’s the wild Goldenrod should be in full flower, other coastal plants such as Tree Mallow should also be at their best, while the patch of Sea Pea should be in full bloom, if the sea has not washed it away?

September is a good time for some of the autumn specialities: in some years Autumn Lady’s Tresses can be abundant on dune grassland and the rabbit-nibbled lawns around the historic monuments. The first tiny fronds of the very rare fern Ophioglossum lusitanicum may just be appearing at its only British locality on the picturesque Wingletang Downs.

Grey Seals can often be seen in the bays around the main islands in autumn as well as on their haul-out areas in the uninhabited islands. Bird migrants should be moving through, with warblers, chats, terns and waders arriving from all directions, as well as the ever present chance of something unusual.

Our leader for this trip is Rosemary Parslow, the botanical recorder for the islands and an expert all-round naturalist, with a wide interest from marine life and insects to birds and butterflies, as well as the wild flowers. Travelling with Rosemary to most of the inhabited islands, this is a wonderful introduction to the wildlife of Scilly.

sandy shore and boats, Bryher, Scilly
Grey Seal hauled out on rocks on the Isles of Scilly
bay at St Agnes, Scilly