Thursday, 29 October 2015

Back down to earth

I normally return from Scilly to a host of rare birds (Western Bonelli's Warbler, Pallid Swift, Olive-backed Pipit etc.). This year nowt.

After a cold start Monday got out nice, which gave a chance for a look around Gateshead. A male Peregrine caused havoc at Burdon Moor, scattering Lapwing, Golden Plover and winter thrushes from the fields. At Far Pasture there was a complete lack of Yellow-browed Warbler (will keep trying), but there was a Chiffchaff to keep the interest going. Both sites also held late Common Darter.
Common Darter at Far Pasture
With south easterlies and murkiness on Tuesday and Wednesday, the coast was the logical choice. A good thrash around Whitburn and Marsden unfortunately revealed little more than winter thrushes, Brambling and Goldcrest. Mark N saved the day on Wednesday with a call to say he had a Firecrest at the Lime Kilns. It took a while to show, but eventually popped up on a wire fence, giving great views. Sadly the light/fog was so bad I didn't bother getting the camera out.

Kestrel at Marsden
Today, the morning was a washout, but this afternoon had me up to Burdon Moor. I picked up a Short-eared Owl almost immediately, but unfortunately so did the local Carrion Crows, who spent the next fifteen minutes chasing it around the moor.

Short-eared Owl

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Scilly's over

The final morning on Scilly was spent wandering around St Mary's. On the Garrison were 3+ Yellow-browed Warbler, Firecrest and 2 fly-over Crossbill. Two Mediterranean Gull were on Porthcressa Beach. Two Reed Bunting were at Lower Moors and the Blyth's Pipit was still on Peninnis.

The Scillonian III crossing was relatively bird free with an Arctic Skua, 3 Kittiwake and a handful of auks. Two Harbour Porpoise were seen just off Scilly and loads of Common Dolphin were buzzing the boat halfway home.

Common Dolphin
Arctic Skua
All done till next year.

Friday, 23 October 2015


Our last full day on Scilly and the sun has deserted us. Grey, chilly and windy, it was a little bumpy on the crossing to St Martin's. A short stake-out at some fields by Middle Town gave initially fleeting views of my bogey bird, Ortolan Bunting. After a few minutes it returned to show superbly down to 30 feet in short grass.

Ortolan Bunting

Very little else was seen on the island, but an Osprey drifted over twice and Peregrines made frequent passes.


Thursday, 22 October 2015


A quiet trip across to Tresco today, with no sign of the Spotted Sandpiper. All the birds seen previously on the Great Pool were still there and the highlights were Osprey, Yellow Wagtail, Yellow-browed Warbler and 100+ Sanderling.

Back on St Mary's news of Minke Whales got us up to Deep Point. Distant views were had of 1-2 Minke and a couple of Porpoise, but a walk across Porth Hellick Down gave much closer views of a Minke as it turned back north.

Minke Whale

At Porth Hellick there was no sign of the Yellow-legged Gull, but a Merlin dropped in to roost and a Kingfisher was zipping around.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Pipit problems

A quiet day yesterday with plenty of walking, but nothing new to show for it.

Today started well with the male Black Redstart showing well on Porthcressa Beach. On to the Garrison where the Lower Broom was alive with birds. A large Goldcrest flock contained a Firecrest and 2 Yellow-browed Warbler. Over to Peninnis where a Quail was flushed from the bracken.

On the air field we quickly got close views of the Short-toed Lark. Watching this we picked up a medium sized pipit that looked structurally the same as the Blyth's on Peninnis. Other only obvious difference was a stronger submoustachial stripe. Unlike the Peninnis bird this one called every time it flew. With my cloth ears I heard a soft "trurp trurp,,,pchoo", completely different to the harsh "shreep" of a Richard's. It was seen and heard by 20+ birders who all agreed with Blyth's, but put out by RBA as a Richard's.

The Short-toed Lark was more straight forward. We also had 2 Short-eared Owl and 22 Skylark from here.

Short-toed Lark
Another look over to Peninnis where the Blyth's Pipit was showing in its usual fields.
A stroll through Lower Moors gave a Jack Snipe on Shooter's Pool.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Olive-backed Pipit

A couple of Black Redstart at Porth Loo then on through the golf course this morning. We were just dipping a Lapwing at Pungies Lane when news came through of an Olive-backed Pipit on St Martin's. A speedy march got us to the quay with seconds to spare and a short walk on the other side got us to Little Arthur Farm where the pipit was showing well in a bulb field. A corking bird, even brighter than the Sunderland bird last October. Hanging on until most of the crowd had gone paid off, as the bird flew closer for photos. Ticks are visible on either side of the head.

Olive-backed Pipit

While watching the pipit loads of thrushes were streaming over with a few Skylark. Not much else was seen on the island other than a Silver Y Moth and very showy Yellow-browed Warbler. A distant Grey Plover was a Scilly tick for me.

Silver Y
Yellow-browed Warbler

From the boat back to St Mary's the Osprey was seen over Tresco. On St Mary's a walk up to the air field gave a couple of Clouded Yellow and the Short-toed Lark was viewed from the wind-sock feeding with 2 Skylark.

Clouded Yellow
Almost back to the digs and a Humming-bird Hawkmoth was flying down the street.

Humming-bird Hawkmoth

Sunday, 18 October 2015

More Whimbrel

After 2 Black Redstart on Porthcressa and a stroll around the Garrison it was onto the boat for Tresco from where we had a Spoonbill.


 First stop on Tresco was the Hudsonian Whimbrel, which was showing well on arrival, but after a short flight, showed superbly.

Hudsonian Whimbrel

The field just behind Gimble Porth held 2 Lapland Bunting and 4 Skylark.
Lapland Bunting
The rest of the day was spent on Tresco seeing pretty much the same as the other day, with the addition of 2 Sanderling, a Whinchat and 2 Yellow-browed Warbler. At least one Red Squirrel was seen near the Abbey Gardens.
Yellow-browed Warbler
Red Squirrel
Back on St Mary's we headed up Peninnis, passing the Blyth's Pipit to the fields at the end where 2-3 Ring Ouzel were showing.
Ring Ouzel

Saturday, 17 October 2015

More Blyth's

Started the day on the Garrison with loads of incoming thrushes and a bit of a fall of Blackcap. After that it all went a bit flat, so I took the opportunity to take some more shots of the Blyth's Pipit before it got too sunny. Most of the afternoon was spent basking in the sun.

Blyth's Pipit


Jack Snipe

Friday, 16 October 2015

Hudsonian Whimbrel

News of the Hudsonian Whimbrel on Tresco broke too late to get a boat last night, so I skipped the full English and was on the quay just after 8 this morning. Once on Tresco it was a swift march to Gimble Porth where the bird was staked out for us. Happily feeding at the top of the beach, it took over an hour of willing from the crowd for it to take flight and show the rump and under-wing. Cracking bird.

Hudsonian Whimbrel

A Buzzard over the fields behind was a Scilly tick and the it was down to the Great Pool to mop up for the trip list. As well as Coot and Mute Swan the stars here were Pintail, Garganey, Reed Bunting, 2 Little Grebe and 2 Pink-footed Geese. The walk back to the quay gave a Firecrest amongst a load of Goldcrest.

Back on St Mary's it was up to Peninnis where the Blyth's Pipit was giving a great show in the sun.

Blyth's Pipit

Just time for a bask in the sun. A cracking day.