Thursday, 31 October 2013


With news that the Glossy Ibis had reappeared 10 mins before I had left the site and with no other birders present, I was a bit sceptical, but headed back this morning.

Arrived at 08.10 to an empty field, I waited in the cold wind and 40 mins later picked up the bird flying in high from the northeast. The bird was dropping and I pulled out the camera expecting it to drop into the horse paddock. It didn't and was lost to view behind trees to the west. I hung around for 20 mins, but had to leave for work. Not the views I wanted, but another year tick.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A long day dipping.

Headed to Hartlepool the news yesterday that the Glossy Ibis and Dusky Warbler were showing well.
Decided to try and get a photo of the Dusky first. Idiot!! Spent an hour in the cold seeing nothing except Robins and hearing Chiffchaff and Goldcrest.

Arrived at the Glossy Ibis site (the posh end of Hartlepool) full of confidence only to be told that the bird had flown east 5 mins before.

Spent the next 6 hours between here, McDonald's, here, Greenabella, chip shop, Newburn Bridge and here. Can't believe I dipped this because I wanted to photo a bird I had seen last week. Hope it hangs around.

Highlights of the day were 1 Greenshank, 1 Little Egret and 5 Grey Plover at Greenabella and 3 Mediterranean Gull at Newburn Bridge.

Med Gull 1
Med Gull 2
Med Gull 3

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Back to Gateshead

A quick trip round Gateshead before work this morning.

Burdon Moor had 3 Red Kite, Buzzard, 2 Reed Bunting, 1 late Meadow Pipit and 1 Fieldfare.

Far Pasture had 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Tit, 2 Bullfinch and a few Goldcrest in a tit flock. Also a glimpse of a very pale Chiffchaff that called once, a possible sibe that disappeared into the hedge before I could nail it.

Shibdon held 1 Ruff, 1 Dunlin and a Grey Wagtail that dropped in front of the hide.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Scotland to the grave

Decided this morning to head up to St. Abbs to try for the Sardinian Warbler. Arrived at 08.30 to be shown cracking photos of the bird perched in the open from only 5 mins before I got there. Over the next hour and a half it called twice without showing. For the next hour or so I had 3 good, but brief views. A very skulky bird and was always partially obscured by foliage.

Sardinian Warbler
While waiting tit flocks flitted through with several Goldcrest and a couple of Chiffchaff called.
Got back home mid afternoon planning to call it a day, but news of crap weather for tomorrow had me heading to Hartlepool for the Dusky Warbler.
The scrub opposite the Jewish Cemetery was the location and 2 hours in fading light gave only very crap views as the bird tacked its way through thick vegetation. Also here were Blackcap and a late Swallow.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Not Sure

With a late start at work I got down to Marden Quarry this morning. First bird was The Siberian Chiffchaff which I picked up on call and had great close views of a very pale Chiffchaff. After viewing photos, are the cheeks too dark?

Siberian Chiffchaff?
The next bird was we at the time thought Pallas's Warbler. In the field the jizz was all wrong for Yellow-browed Warbler, looking bull headed and short tailed with very prominent black eye stripe and yellow supercilium and double wing bars. I left for work happy with the tick, but after uploading the photos has the look of a very strongly marked Yellow-browed Warbler. To confuse the issue the bird was calling like a Pallas's. Comments very welcome as yet I have the box unticked.


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Hoopoe in the rain

A lie in this morning meant battling through the rush hour traffic to get down to Bishop Auckland. After a plodge through some pretty grotty waste ground I joined a dozen birders watching the Hoopoe. Seemingly undeterred by the awful weather the bird was watched feeding in the open and in flight as it flitted over waste heaps. Weather no good for photos, but another tick in the bag.

It was then back up north to Prestwick Carr, but the Great Grey Shrike was again a no show. I did have 2 Willow Tit and a dozen Redwing.
Back to Gateshead and Burdon Moor giving a Red Kite and 13 Redwing. Watergate was equally uninspiring with 3 Little Grebe and 13 Tufted Duck.
Back to work tomorrow for a rest!

Monday, 21 October 2013

A Three Tick Day

With the news that the Pallid Swift had roosted on St. Hilda's church I arrived at Hartlepool Headland before first light. With no sign of the bird roosting by the clock, as expected, it was looking grim. Bang on 8 am the bird dropped from under an eave and shot over our heads. It turned and gave great views as it flew towards the Heugh Battery. Tick one.

It was then down to the Croft Gardens to search for the Western Bonelli's Warbler. Birds could be seen flitting about some bushes, but at first only Chiffchaff and Goldcrest could be picked out. A Redwing dropped in and then a Sparrowhawk shot through quieting everything. I picked up a pale warbler flitting right and out in the open was the Bonelli's. Brief, but cracking views before the bird disappeared again into the dense foliage. Tick two.

At the Heugh Battery the Pallid Swift was performing. Swooping low, it was just a shame the light was so poor for photos.

Pallid Swift
After a quick, but unsuccessful hunt for the Dusky Warbler I headed north before the weather closed in.
I arrived at Longhoughton and after a short walk the Siberian Stonechat was seen immediately and gave great views showing down to 20 feet. Tick three.
Siberian Stonechat
Showing the rump
A call in at Prestwick Carr gave no sign of the Great Grey Shrike, but I did see 2 Buzzard, 2 Willow Tit and a couple of Chiffchaff were calling.
Not a bad day.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Home Time

Yesterday was my last day on Scilly for the year. The previous day's storms hadn't dropped any new birds, so had to make do with better views of yesterday's male Black Redstart.

Black Redstart
The only new migrants were butterflies with at least 6 Painted Ladies powering around the Garrison.
Painted Lady
The boat back to Penzance was a bit bumpy and gave 2 Bonxie and 2 Sooty Shearwater.
Today was a 9 hour train journey with Fallow Deer and Little Egret seen on the way.
Back home now and will hopefully mop up some of the rares that are still hanging around.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Black Red

Wild weather today, with high winds and frequent heavy showers the waterproofs came out. Sadly, the birds didn't. A cracking male Black Redstart from Morning Point was a great start, but a look over the heaving sea yielded nothing more than a passing Porpoise.

Black Redstart
A soggy stroll to Old Town café gave Firecrest, Yellow-browed Warbler and a couple of Water Rail at Lower Moors.
Another walk around the Garrison gave little more than a Common Gull.
We need another rare to show before the boat home tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday, 17 October 2013



Missed breakfast and got the 8 am boat to St. Agnes, trotted over the sandbar (now 10 feet above sea level) to Gugh and again saw no Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler.

Under a brilliant blue sky I plodded around St.Agnes. The Short-toed Lark again showed well with a couple of Skylark. 7 Clouded Yellow fluttered around in the sun as I circumnavigated the island. With a lack of birds I managed a bit of rockpooling, finding a shoal of small Grey Mullet cut off by the tide.

Clouded Yellow
Short-toed Lark
Grey Mullet
After a spot of pub lunch at the Turk's Head I basked in the sun waiting for the boat back to St. Mary's.
Old Town bay held a superb close range Whimbrel and a Peregrine powered overhead.
After coffee at the café there was time to twitch a Common Gull (Scilly scarcity) at Porth Thomas.



Wednesday, 16 October 2013

PG Tipless

As we sat down for a well earned cuppa the pager beeped with news of a Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler on Gugh. Running like headless chickens, we lucked in as we dived into a mini-bus half full of birders. The generous local dropped us at the quay and tumbled onto the boat, which swiftly left port for St. Agnes. On a rising tide the news from Gugh was not the best. The connecting sandbar was covered and the water deepening. At St. Agnes we leapt ashore and hurtled over the hill. We plunged into water like demented wildebeest, undeterred by waves rolling in from both sides the end was in sight.

Sadly the happy tale ends here and 3 hours later we retreated battered, bruised and shredded by brambles with only Whinchat and Reed Warbler to show for it. Still the fun is in the chase and you've got to be in it to win it. Next time!!!

Before the adrenaline rush the morning was spent on the Garrison under clear blue sky. Starting with Black Redstart, a Yellow-browed Warbler quickly followed.

Yellow-browed Warbler

 Around the shelter of the tennis court a host of warblers were feeding in the sun. Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat and the first Lesser Whitethroat of the trip. A Hummingbird Hawkmoth also zipped through.

The next new bird was a Brambling drinking from a small puddle on the path.

It was now to Lower Moors where we quickly got the Little Grebe (rare on Scilly) and also had Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail and Water Rail. A Clouded Yellow fluttered over a nearby field.
Grey Wagtail
It was then off to Old Town Café where the adventure began.

Sunset From the boat on the way home

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Pottering About

With no new birds arriving, today was just a general potter around St. Mary's.

The Rose-coloured Starling from St. Agnes visited, giving good, but distant views as it joined the local Starlings. A Merlin had several passes through the day around the Porthcressa area.

Very distant Merlin
Up on Peninnis the Snow Bunting was running around our feet and 3 Common Dolphin passed offshore.
Snow Bunting
Black Redstart on Town Beach was new for the trip and a Firecrest on the Garrison was fresh in.
A quiet day on Scilly, but I would be happy with a day like this at home. Hopefully new rares tomorrow.


Monday, 14 October 2013

Not Pretty or Pink

Started the day at a deserted Shooters Pool. The Spotted Crake showed briefly while there were also 2 Jack Snipe, Grey Wagtail, Water Rail and Reed Warbler.

With the thrush safely in the bag yesterday, I was determined to get across to St. Agnes and jumped on the boat. A swift stroll from the quay and the Short-toed Lark was quickly bagged as it fed with Meadow Pipits.
Short-toed Lark
The next target was the Rose-coloured Starling. A frustrating couple of hours checking every Starling on the island was brightened by cracking views of a Pied Flycatcher and a distant Ring Ouzel.
Pied Flycatcher
Our lack of success was explained when the Starling was found feeding on its own on rocks below the cliffs. Great views out in the open. 4  Blackcap were also feeding in a sheltered bush here.
Rose-coloured Starling
A wander further along the coast gave distant views of 3-4 Common Dolphin and 2 super close Snow Bunting.
A last look at the Lark and a sit in the sun to wait for the boat as 3 Raven idled over Gugh,


Sunday, 13 October 2013

Seven Hours Six Minutes

I arrived at Old Town church at 07.10 to try for the Grey-cheeked Thrush. At 14.16 I got it. Seven hours and six minutes leaning against a gate with a couple of unsuccessful, lung bursting sprints to break the monotony. A final sprint led to great views of the bird perched low in the shrubbery, but a last scramble gave crippling views as the bird hopped around the short cut grass of the graveyard. Over the moon is an understatement!

Grey-cheeked Thrush
First view
From our vigil at the gate we also had a Scilly Shrew, Wood Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap.
Cheers to the lads for talking me out of getting the boat to St. Agnes.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Hitting the Wall

The day started well with 3 Jack Snipe bouncing around like Zebedees on Shooters Pool and another couple flushed from the track to the Project Pool. Redwing zipped overhead while Goldcrest called in numbers. It was feeling good.

It all went down hill. The Garrison produced a single Blackcap and a Wall butterfly, but we then spent 5 hours seeing nothing.
After cake a trip to Porthellick gave another Jack Snipe. Further up the track we had Yellow-browed Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff.
The news of a Grey-cheeked Thrush sent us marching over to Old Town church to spend a fruitless hour.
It will be better tomorrow,

Friday, 11 October 2013

Jack All

Out at dawn into a howling north-easterly. At the ISBG hide at Lower Moors a Kingfisher dropped in while the Purple Heron showed well in flight. Redwing zipped overhead, hopefully the vanguard of some easterly rares.

Kingfisher in poor early light
No sign of the Bluethroat at the Project Pool, but there was a cracking Jack Snipe out in the open. A Water Rail showed well as it ran across the pool.
Jack Snipe
Water Rail
After the full English I met the lads at the Garrison where we briefly had a Yellow-browed Warbler and a few Goldcrest. Redwing continued to stream over with 8 Fieldfare and 20+ Skylark. A Merlin shot past, chasing migrants along the shore.
A casualty of the winds was a migrant first winter Water Rail that we picked up from the path. I hope that it recovered.
Water Rail (hand model available for hire)
Back to Lower Moors gave 2 Jack Snipe plus Clouded Yellow and Small Tortoiseshell.
At Old Town churchyard the Red-breasted Flycatcher showed briefly and a huge Prickly Stick Insect was in the graveyard. Large White was new for the trip list.

Red-breasted Flycatcher
Prickly Stick Insect
A wander up to Carreg Dhu gardens gave us a Firecrest with a few Goldcrest while House Martin hawked insects overhead.
We need some new birds


Thursday, 10 October 2013

Mop Up

Spent the day on St. Mary's trying to mop up stuff on the island. The pre-breakfast jaunt was, at last, a success. The Bluethroat was superb, showing down to less than 10 feet and the Purple Heron put in an appearance, flying over Lower Moors.

The Garrison was quiet with a pair of Blackcap and a few Goldcrest.
A distant Wryneck was at Juliet's Garden and a Whimbrel was at Porthloo.
Peninnis held cracking Snow and Lapland Bunting, both feeding on the path. The Snow Bunting feeding by our feet. A Clouded Yellow butterfly was a life tick as it fluttered by in the strong northerly.
Lapland Bunting
Snow Bunting
At Telegraph the Richard's Pipit showed pretty well, but it was hard to get a decent photo through the watching scrum.
Richard's Pipit
Despite the cold weather there were plenty of butterfly with Clouded Yellow, Small Copper, Red Admiral, Comma and Speckled Wood. A detour to the dairy to twitch the Scarce Black Neck Moth (in a jar) was a success!
Red Admiral