Sunday, 9 October 2016

Isle's of Scilly - 22nd- 28th September

Okay, this is quite a late post and, looking back, I feel quite underwhelmed by the birds seen during my time on Scilly. This is especially so when one looks at what has been happening on the East Coast and Northern Islands of late with Siberian Accentor, Two-barred Greenish Warbler, Siberian Thrush, White's Thrush, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Red-flanked Bluetail's and Orphean Warbler to name but a few. But, my time on Scilly this September was as enjoyable as ever even though it did not deliver on the bird front. Sarah, Tobias and I spent a few days with my Dad and Step Mum and we had a great relaxing time. I squeezed in some birding and the weather was largely okay.

22nd September - St. Mary's
We stayed in our cottage at Trowan overnight and were up bright and early for a 09:30 flight to St. Mary's. All was on time and we were on the island by 09:50. After a little wait for Spider at the airport while watching a few Wheatear on the runway we were off to our usual haunt of the Star Castle. After a coffee we headed for a short walk around the Garrison and to Juliet's for a much needed lunch and then back through Lower Moor's, over Peninnis and back to the Star. We saw little, a fly-by Turtle Dove while at Juliet's - my first of the year,  Chiffchaff in small numbers, a Pied Flycatcher, Willow Warbler and a couple of Whinchat at Lower Moors and a Black-necked Grebe at Porthcressa, a Scilly tick, and that was about it.

Chiffchaff - Lower Moors

Song Thrush - Garrison

Whinchat - Lower Moors

23rd September - St. Agnes
I was up early this morning and birded the Garrison before breakfast but there was little to show for it in a strong south-west wind. A few Swallow and a Spotted Flycatcher near the tennis court was the sum of it. A breakfast of bacon, sausage, hash brown and eggs at the Star Castle was most welcome.

Gannet - Garrison

We opted to head for one of my favourite islands today and after a massive tantrum from Tobias I left the family playing on the beach at Periglis Cove. I spent a little while looking for a Red-breasted Flycatcher at the back of Porth Killer and it showed incredibly well in the shadows of a pine tree. Such fantastic little birds, rather drab, but with a very attractive, almost friendly appearance. I then wandered over to Big Pool where a Lesser Yellowlegs had been present for a few days and it was not to disappoint showing well around the edge of the pool. A wryneck had been present at Browarth Point for a week or so but despite a good bash around I failed to find it, highlight here were nothing more than a few Wheatear.

Red-breasted Flycatcher - Port Killier

Red-breasted Flycatcher - Port Killier

Red-breasted Flycatcher - Port Killier

Red-breasted Flycatcher - Port Killier

Lesser Yellowlegs - Big Pool

We walked back past the Community Hall, Parsonage and the Lighthouse seeing little in the very sunny conditions. So we planted at the Turk's Head and enjoyed the view and a couple of pints before wandering along Barnaby Lane and over Wingletang Down again with little of note seen.

The Scillonian against the Garrison, St. Mary's

Shag - St. Mary's Quay

24th September - St. Mary's
Today dawned with a howling gale and with rain forecast from around 13:00 we decided to stay on St. Mary's. I had a wander around the Garrison before breakfast but saw little but for a Blackcap and two Spotted Flycatcher. After breakfast I spent a little time hiring golf buggies, my Dad these days is not so good on his feet due to osteoarthritis and so we thought this would be a nice way to see the island with minimal effort and a bit of shelter from the rain. They were £50 for the day which was okay but there really is only about 1.5 hours charge in them. We started with a walk at Halangy Down and up past the mast. A Wryneck had been present for some time but we had no luck. Next we stopped at Newford Duck pond and Tobias was entertained by the ducks jumping on the golf buggies for bread - we saw a Pied Flycatcher here but nothing else. And then as the rain started we headed for Juliet's for lunch and a few beers. Drunk in charge of a golf buggy, we headed up around the top of the island and stopped at Porth Hellick as the rain began to fall. We wandered to the bird hides, a Yellow-browed Warbler called and on the pool were four Snipe, two Water Rail, a Dunlin and a Greenshank plus around 20 House Martin and 15 Swallow. Tobias was shattered and fell a sleep on the buggy so we headed back for a bit of relaxation via the Atlantic for a few beers - it was now hammering it down.

Snipe - Porth Hellick Pool

Snipe - Porth Hellick Pool

Snipe - Porth Hellick Pool

Greenshank - Porth Hellick Pool

Greenshank - Porth Hellick Pool

Greenshank - Porth Hellick Pool

Greenshank - Porth Hellick Pool

Greenshank - Porth Hellick Pool

Greenshank - Porth Hellick Pool

Water Rail - Porth Hellick Pool

Water Rail - Porth Hellick Pool


25th September - Tresco
It was my Birthday, 45 this year, and so I wanted to find a rare, I don't want much just something to get the adrenalin going, a Red-flanked Bluetail would do, any sort of BB rare would be fine so my birding intensity was up a notch. I was up and birding the Garrison pre-breakfast in bright, sunny and still conditions. Two Spotted Flycatcher, Black-necked Grebe, Pied Flycatcher and a self found Yellow-browed Warbler was a fair start. After breakfast we headed to Tresco and walked from New Grimsby quay south to Abbey Drive and cut inland. At the start of the Elms at the west end of the Abbey Drive a flick of white and there in front of me was a Red-breasted Flycatcher, too quick for the camera it dived into cover and after a short wait I strolled on. It was slow going, a Blackcap at the east end of Abbey Drive and a group of 40 Greenshank on the pool plus around 60 Swallow and 40 House Martin. We wandered up Borough Road and I dropped back a bit to bird, at Borough Farm I caught up with Dad and heard a familiar 'swee-wee', Yellow-browed Warbler. I stayed back and tried to see it but no luck. Wandering on, a short way past the farm a pale blob on the edge of a field that I initially thought was going to be a Song Thrush turned out to be a nice Wryneck, another self-found. A little further along the same a hedgerow was a Redstart. Wandering on the family were keen to head for lunch while I just wanted to bird so I said to them to wander on and I would catch up. I stopped at Green Porth where I was convinced that a flock of around 125 Linnet would contain something good, maybe a Little Bunting but I scanned and scanned but there was nothing. Time to head for lunch, we had a fantastic seafood platter followed by Hake and a few beers and then a little birthday cake, all very nice. I was itching to go birding so headed south back along Borough Road and along the north side of Great Pool. I had okay views of the Yellow-browed Warbler at Borough Farm that I had heard calling earlier, two Sparrowhawk, a Buzzard and that was about it.

Back on St. Mary's I had a short wander onto the Garrison but saw nothing and then ordered a bottle of Champagne that Sarah and I enjoyed on the veranda celebrating my 45th birthday and our 6th wedding anniversary while Tobias played with his cars. Maybe next year I will find a rare but maybe after at least six years on Scilly at this time of year with no major find this is not the place.

Small Copper - Abbey Pool, Tresco

Wryneck - Borough Farm, Tresco

A yacht against St. Martin's

Stonechat - Tresco

Cromwell's Castle, Tresco - I proposed to Sarah at the top right of the castle on this day in 2010 and hence the draw of Scilly at this time

26th September - St. Mary's
I awoke early today as Tobias has taken to sleeping in our bed this holiday which is fine as long as it doesn't continue when we get home. So, in a strong wind and semi-dark I headed out over the Garrison, it was not only windy but there was a thick fog and drizzle. I loitered around in the dark realising that I had got up far to early, as the sun began to rise I recognised the shapes of Dunnock, Blackbird and Song Thrush but it was almost an hour before I could make out the first noteworthy bird, the now familiar Spotted Flycatcher at the tennis courts. I wandered on and saw another Spotted Flycatcher near the football club house. There was a certain rare feel about the weather conditions but other than a Pied Flycatcher and a Yellow-browed Warbler on Lower Broome Platform I saw little so I headed for breakfast. The plan for the day was to head to St. Martin's but due to the poor weather we stayed on St. Mary's. Sarah and I wandered over Peninnis Head, through Old Town Church Yard and through Lower Moors to Juliet's for lunch. It was slow going, a Redstart on Peninnis  two Chiffchaff in Old Town Church Yard, a Snipe, Greenshank, Kingfisher and a couple of Chiffchaff at Lower Moors and that was about it. The rains started to hammer down so after lunch we made a dash to the Atlantic to meet my Dad and Step Mum and that was about it for the day.

Herring Gull - Juvenile Porthcressa

Black-necked Grebe - Porthcressa, a Scilly tick for me

27th September - St. Mary's and Flight 
Again I was up early wandering the Garrison in thick fog seeing very little but for the usual two Spotted Flycatcher and little else but for a Pied Flycatcher on Lower Broome Platform. We were due to fly at 13:10 today and so after breakfast I checked on the flights at the hotel, all flights cancelled due to the fog. So, we met with my Dad and had a stroll around Hugh Town and out to Porthcressa where I had my now daily sighting of the Black-necked Grebe in the bay. Before long we had a call for the airport and after a bit of waiting around we were off at around 14:30 in now bright and sunny conditions. After a bit of food shopping we headed to Perranuthnoe where Sarah had a bite to eat in the car and I went to Boat Cove look for the Hudsonian Whimbrel for the fourth time after a single distant view on 5th March 2016. But the tide was very high and the beaches largely covered and other than three Bar-tailed Godwit, eight Ringed Plover, four Dunlin, six Turnstone and a Little Egret I saw nothing. It was time to head for the comfort of the cottage at Trowan.

Bar-tailed Godwit (juvenile) - Boat Cove, Perranuthnoe

Bar-tailed Godwit (juveniles) - Boat Cove, Perranuthnoe

Bar-tailed Godwit (juvenile) - Boat Cove, Perranuthnoe

Little Egret (1st winter) - Boat Cove, Perranuthnoe

28th September
We got up late and had a leisurely breakfast before loading the car and heading back to Hampshire.