Friday, 30 September 2016


Finally caught up with the Western Bonelli's Warbler at Helvear today. Just a few seconds of views as it zipped through the pines calling loudly, before disappearing on its feeding circuit. No chance of a real photograph, but you can almost make out what it is.

Western Bonelli's Warbler
Nothing really new in today, but a few birds hanging around. The Black-necked Grebe still Porthcressa with a Brent Goose, while the American Golden Plover and Buff-breasted Sandpiper were still at the airport.

The Melodious Warbler has been hit or miss, but showed very well in poor light this evening.

Melodious Warbler
But by far the best thing I saw today...

Death's-head Hawkmoth

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Yank waders

A trip to St Agnes was cut short with news of American Golden Plover and Buff-breasted Sandpiper at the airport back on St Mary's. Luckily they waited for me to get the boat back and were showing well, although a little distant, with 3 Golden Plover.

Golden Plover, Buff-breasted Sandpiper and American Golden Plover

This morning a Great Spotted Woodpecker (rare here!) was on the Garrison and the Melodious Warbler showed briefly on the way to the boat. Nothing new on St Agnes, with the Lesser Yellowlegs and Curlew Sandpiper showing well, but no show from the Vireos.

Lesser Yellowlegs
Three Yank waders in a day can't be bad!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016


A slow day on St Mary's, the mist and murk not clearing at all. Trudging all over the island with scant reward, the day was saved by news of a Dotterel with 2 Golden Plover on the airport.


Tuesday, 27 September 2016


The day started superbly with a showy Melodious Warbler on the Garrison. Found yesterday while I was at the other end of the island and not showing when I checked in the heavy rain. Pleased to have finally caught up with one. Photos would have been a bit better, but it was still quite dark in the last of the morning's drizzle.

Melodious Warbler.
While waiting for the boat I popped down for the Black-necked Grebe that is still patrolling the shallows of Porthcressa.

Black-necked Grebe

The weather improved rapidly and sunny by the time we docked at St Agnes. Straight over to the Garrison where I had brief views of both Vireo, but lacking patience to wait long for a photo I headed off around the island. I returned several times, but was always just missing one showing well.

The Lesser Yellowlegs, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint were still on the Big Pool.

Lesser Yellowlegs

At St Warna Cove a Red-backed Shrike was butchering a Wren. Excellent, but distant views and just phonescoped shots.

Red-backed Shrike
No sign of the Red-breasted Flycatcher in the garden it was in on Sunday, but a Redstart was in the next-door garden. A Pied Flycatcher was a regular around the school house.


Pied Flycatcher
Waiting for the last boat of the day meant that there were just a few of us left to witness the amazing sight of two Red-eyed Vireo chasing each other through the elms.

Red-eyed Vireo

That was a good day!

Monday, 26 September 2016

Spotted Crake

A wet and windy day was saved by a Spotted Crake at Lower Moors.

Spotted Crake

A long walk around the island yielded just a few common migrants, with Yellow-browed Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher and Whinchat. A half-hour seawatch from Peninnis gave a Balearic Shearwater.

Hopefully today's grotty weather will have downed some migrants.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

REVing up

An excellent day started before breakfast with superb, close views of the Black-necked Grebe at Porthcressa. Also here briefly was a Grey Plover, only the second I've had on Scilly. A Peregrine dropped in and lifted a House Sparrow from a garden wall.

Black-necked Grebe
Grey Plover
After breakfast a walk around the Garrison gave loads of Goldcrest, 2 Spotted and a Pied Flycatcher. Promising, but I'd arranged to meet Graham on St Agnes, so it was over the choppy sea I went.

The Big Pool was the first port of call where the Lesser Yellowlegs, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint showed well, if a little distantly. A quick cuppa then Browarth where Graham picked up a Grey Phalarope dropping onto the sea. Decent scope views, but too far for a photo. Not much further and we stumbled over a Wryneck.

A few more fields then a coffee at the café. We'd just supped up when news came through of a Red-eyed Vireo at the Parsonage. Some great pishing from Graham summoned up the bird and we managed brief views in the elm-tops. Also here was a Pied Flycatcher.

A Red-eyed Vireo's arse
On from here to find a Red-breasted Flycatcher, which we did eventually, but probably not the one we had been looking for.

Red-breasted Flycatcher
Another brief view of the Vireo then back down to the Big Pool for some stunning close views of the waders.

Curlew Sandpiper
Little Stint
Lesser Yellowlegs

A male Peregrine then shot over, luckily avoiding any of the waders.

An excellent day!

Saturday, 24 September 2016


The crossing to Scilly was less wobbly than expected, despite the 30+ knot wind. There were however plenty of green-faces and sick bags seemed to be popular. Unfortunately the hordes of birds that I was expecting didn't materialise, Bonxie and Storm Petrel were the only notable birds.

He didn't move for the entire crossing.
Arrival on St Mary's coincided with the rain, so a run round the island wasn't that productive, as 2 Whinchat and a few Wheatear were the only migrants. A Black-necked Grebe at Porthcressa was a Scilly tick and 2 Mediterranean Gull were on the beach.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Steady away

Seawatching from Whitburn has been steady away over the last two days. Pretty benign conditions have meant that there has been no big movements, but ducks continue to arrive. An adult Long-tailed Skua yesterday and a juvenile Pomarine Skua today have been the star birds.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016


Seawatching has slowed over the last couple of days, with little to report.

A Yellow-browed Warbler eventually showed well at Trow Quarry this morning.

Yellow-browed Warbler

A Green Sandpiper has been at Lamesley for a couple of days. 2 Black-tailed Godwit and 10 Shoveler at Shibdon.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

More Frank

A flat calm off Whitburn this morning and the big shearwater passage was over, but we did manage a shed-load of ducks and 2 Balearic Shearwater. Full results here.

Dawn at Whitburn

Another trip up to Whittle Dene this afternoon failed to turn up the Franklin's Gull amongst the huge Common Gull flocks. There were 2 Pintail on the main reservoir and a fly-over Yellow Wagtail.

I returned this evening expecting to see loads of birders waiting for the gull to come to the fields before roost, as it had the last two nights. Instead there was just Stew and Tom with the bird already in the scope as it fed in  the field just south of the most southerly reservoir. Just like on Friday the flock lifted and flew high to the east at 18.51. A bit distant for the camera, but I managed a couple of phonescoped efforts.

Franklin's Gull

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Great Northern

The prayed for northerly arrived and gave a monster day's seawatching. The earlier part of the watch was mostly notable for the huge number of ducks, including a new record day count for Pintail. News from Yorkshire was of huge numbers of shearwater, including 2 Great. These arrived late afternoon with loads of Manx and Sooty, plus the 2 hoped for Great. Full results here.

Friday, 16 September 2016


A brilliant seawatch from Whitburn this morning. Nothing rare, but five hours of non-stop action with birds going in all directions. Full results here.

A call from George at Shibdon with a mystery raptor got me out of shopping, but the bird had unfortunately gone. The flushed birds were just returning to the pond and 7 Black-tailed Godwit dropped in.

Answers on a postcard
Having packed up for the day I was dragged out again by news of a Franklin's Gull at Whittle Dene. I managed to pick my way through the traffic, but arrived to news that the bird had flown. 90 mins of scanning gulls from the hide drew a blank, so we eventually followed a flock to a field by the most southerly reservoir. After a few minutes scanning Stew picked out a droopy black bill and partial black head, but a Common Gull stepped forward and for the next 5 mins all we could see was the bill.
Eventually the gull moved and for a few second we had clear views of the Franklin's. I did manage a couple of awful phonescoped record shots. A superb find by Steve Rippon.

Franklin's Gull (I did say record shot!)