The Isles of Scilly is one of the most astounding natural environments in the world – and it’s right on our doorstep. The unique geographical position of the archipelago ensures a bounty of flora and fauna all year round, but autumn in particular brings an explosion of life and a very special time in this wild and beautiful region.
This archipelago of more than 140 islands off the south-western Cornish coast is feted as one of the most unspoilt places in the UK – and I’d have to agree. Its relative accessibility and the plethora of flora and fauna on display make it a true bucket list destination for nature lovers, especially avid birdwatchers. For those with a deep interest in the wildlife and natural environment, Prestige Holidays is proud to offer the opportunity to explore the Scilly Isles with a renowned ornithologist and naturalist.
Join Prestige Holidays and Will Wagstaff on the escorted Autumn Flora and Fauna in the Scillies 2018 tour, and discover the magic of the archipelago for yourself.
Top tip: See why the Isles of Scilly feature in our favourite birding destinations!
Discover the Scillies
Of the 140 islands just five are inhabited, which offers some scope as to just how wild and untouched the landscape really is. St Marys is the largest of the five inhabited islands and is home to the majority of the resident population. Throughout the archipelago there are countless walks, cycles and hikes that afford a nature lover the chance to get up close and personal to this designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and its animal inhabitants.
Climate and Geography
Located some 30 miles off the Cornish coast, the archipelago is one of the largest in the world. Due to its isolation and geographic position, it enjoys a temperate oceanic climate, meaning conditions are far milder than throughout the rest of the UK. It rarely experiences any frost or snow; however, being on the receiving end of the mighty crashing Atlantic means that it’s always rather windy. Its position puts the archipelago in the path of the warm Gulf Stream, allowing a host of plants and flowers not found anywhere else in the UK to flourish here with abandon.
Flowers and Trees
The habitat is a haven for exotic botanical species, many of which you’d be likely to see at home in tropical or sub-tropical climates. It’s quite astounding to see them in the UK, and when I’m in the Scillies I often forget I’m not actually somewhere like Australia, South Africa or the Canary Islands. During autumn the landscape is ablaze with wildflowers, with my personal favourites, the fuchsia-coloured proteas, in abundance. The accommodating climate affords a profusion of plants, cacti, succulents and floral blooms, including the rare orange birdsfoot and dwarf pansy – the only place they can be found in Britain.
Animals and Seabirds
The wildlife is one of the main attractions of the Isles of Scilly, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. The remote location means there are no snakes and few mammal species, but the huge populations and diversity of avian species, along with a host of unique marine and terrestrial wildlife, certainly make up for it. In autumn the bird population swells, with myriad migrant species joining the resident ones. Among the many species that can be seen are the gorgeous puffins, the Manx Shearwaters and the charming Scilly Shrew – which you’ll no doubt hear before you see! The grey seals are a firm favourite with visitors, and they can be seen swimming or basking in the sun on the eastern islands of the archipelago.
Join Us in the Scilly Isles
We’re incredibly proud to offer our tour, Autumn Flora and Fauna in the Scillies 2018, accompanied by leading ornithologist and naturalist, Will Wagstaff. Will is a leading authority on birds, butterflies and flowers and, with many years leading tours, possesses an impressive wealth of historical and archaeological knowledge of the archipelago. He’s also a really nice guy and great company!
The six-day, five-night itinerary has been designed to showcase the very best of the region when it’s at its most vibrant, colourful and lively.
You’ll visit the magnificent Abbey Gardens in Tresco, to explore the ruined Benedictine Abbey and nineteenth-century garden that has been described as “Kew without the glass”. In autumn particularly the exotic plants flourish in their sheltered sub-tropical environment, with hundreds of floral blooms lining the paths and terraces. To describe this paradise of scent and colour as enchanting is an understatement.
The itinerary also includes a boat trip to the uninhabited Eastern Isles to encounter the breeding colonies of Atlantic grey seals. In the early autumn the fluffy new seal pups can be seen with their parents on the outer rocks of the islands, before they’re old enough to head out into the open water.
The Sea Bird Special Boat Excursion will take you out around the archipelago to see a range of sea and shore birds, including colonies of the instantly recognisable puffin. More than 400 avian species have been recorded here and autumn is by far the busiest time.
Accommodation for the tour is at the excellent St Marys Hall, selected from our portfolio on the island of St Marys, at Hugh Town. St Marys Hall is a contemporary hotel set within gorgeous Mediterranean style gardens. It has its own brasserie restaurant and bar, but it’s also just a short stroll from the beach and town. The accommodation is in elegant ensuite rooms and you’ll really feel the signature Scilly warmth and hospitality in this lovely hotel.