Thursday 3 November 2022

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly - 20th - 29th October

Sarah, Tobias and I booked a return trip to the Isles of Scilly when we were there in August earlier this year. We decided to stop off at Exeter and Salcombe en-route to Trowan as we had not visited these locations previously. I didn't really do any birding on 20th and 21st but on 22nd a short stop at Copperhouse Creek, as a diversion to shopping, on the afternoon of 22nd produced a long staying Lesser Yellowlegs

On 23rd I was up at 06:30 and after tea and coffee I headed to Porthgwarra. Arriving more or less in the dark at 07:45 I started with a seawatch on the headland until around 09:15 and then worked the trees and scrub at the head of the valley. During the seawatch highlights included at least 80 Great Shearwater, Sooty ShearwaterPomarine Skua and Arctic Skua but birds were very distant. There was very little to be seen in the bushes. My eBird checklist can be viewed here. We then walked into St. Ives and had a relaxed afternoon where an Osprey in off the sea at lunchtime being a highlight. 

My thoughts over the last few days had turned to a Blackburnian Warbler found on Bryher on 13th October and it was with a great deal of relief that on the day before we flew to the islands the bird was still present, so on the 24th the main quest on the day of arrival was to head to Bryher as quickly as possible after we arrived. We were up at 06:30 and by 08:30 we were at St. Just airport for our 09:35 flight to St Mary's landing at 09:55 after a bumpy flight in the strong SW winds. We checked into the Star Castle hotel and wandered around the Garrison waiting for the 12:15 boat to Bryher, there was no news of the bird as the 12:15 was the first boat across so we were on tender hooks. We boarded the boat and were soon making our way across to the west side of Bryher and to Popplestone Fields to the north of Great Pool. After a short search we were soon enjoying great views of this stunning bird as it fed in the Pittisporum hedges. Happy with our views we had lunch in the Hell Bay Hotel before heading out onto Gweal Hill and then back east to Church Quay for the 17:15 boat back to St Mary's. My eBird checklist for Bryher can be seen here.

Blackburnian Warbler- Bryher, Isles of Scilly

On the 24th I was up before breakfast and birded the pines on the Garrison beside the football pitch, past the tennis course and through the campsite before doubling back, I saw little but for a Black Redstart, eBird checklist here. After breakfast a Red-rumped Swallow showed just below the Star Castle before we were dropped at Higher Moors and walked out to Porth Hellick stopping at the Sussex Hide for a long staying Wilson's Snipe. The heavy rain forecast for the afternoon began to set in at around midday and we made our way through Holy Vale, out to Watermill, past Newford Duck Pond and at Telegraph dropped down to the coast to the south of Bant's Carn. By now the wind was strong and the rain torrential and we walked as fast as we could back south to Juliet's Cafe for lunch at around 14:00. After lunch we did a short walk through Lower Moors to Old Town in heavy rain and strong winds before retreating to the Atlantic for the late part of the afternoon. My eBird checklist can be seen here.

Wilson's Snipe - Porth Hellick, St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly

On the 25th, after breakfast we took the 10:15 boat to Tresco where we walked from the southern quay along the west coast of the island diverting inland at the Great Pool for an Olive-backed Pipit. We then headed north along the west coast to Cromwells Castle before cutting back inland for lunch at the Ruin Beach in Old Grimsby. The birding was very slow and we saw little. We then headed back to New Grimsby for the 15:30 boat back to St. Mary's. The late afternoon and evening was spent relaxing. My eBird checklist can be seen here.

Olive-backed Pipit - Great Pool, Tresco, Isles of Scilly

On the 26th we hired golf buggies and spent time in the north of St Mary's in areas we do not explore often. After collecting our buggie at 10:30 we headed to the north-east and parked along the track to Deep Point. We walked a loop around Deep Point where a Yellow-browed Warbler was calling vigorously and showed briefly, then around Mount Todden and back along Pelistry Lane and Carn Vean looking for an American Buff-bellied Pipit but failed to see it. We then headed to Telegraph where we walked a short loop around Bants Carn but saw little. After lunch at Juliet's we headed to Trenoweth and walked a loop eastwards via Watermill and down Watermill Lane to Newford Pond and then back to Trenoweth again there was little to be seen. We drove around a little and then dropped the buggie off before heading to the Atlantic for a late afternoon bevvie. My ebird checklist can be seen here.

On 28th we were up at around 08:00, had breakfast and then packed our bags ready for the journey back to Cornwall. We wandered through Hugh Town and after a little shopping headed up towards the hospital, along Peninnis Lane and out onto the headland. We then wandered back north and into Old Town Bay where, after a little rockpooling we were collected and taken to the airport for our 13:50 flight back to St Just arriving at 14:10. We then headed back to the cottage at Trowan for a relaxed afternoon. On 29th we packed and headed back to Hampshire.