Sunday, 30 October 2016

Pied Wheatear

The autumn that keeps giving. I was mooching around the seafront at Redcar this morning when we got news that the Pied Wheatear had been re-found. A quick jog along the beach road and the bird was showing superbly on a balcony on the cinema. It spent the morning flycatching from it's favoured perch with the occasional jaunt along the beach.

Pied Wheatear

From here it was down to Skinningrove where the Eastern Black Redstart gave a great show, flitting around on rocks just north of the breakwater. What a stunning bird. A bit dull for photos unfortunately.

Eastern Black Redstart

News that the Siberian Accentor was showing at Newbiggin got me up to Northumberland. A bit more skulky than the Orkney bird, but superb to see closer to home. A bit distant, but you can see what it is!

Siberian Accentor
A rare day!

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Two shrike day

A pleasant late autumn seawatch from Whitburn this morning, with boat-loads of Pink-footed Geese heading south. Full results here.

From here to the Leas where the 'Daurian' Isabelline Shrike was performing well in much better light.

Isabelline Shrike

I headed up to Prestwick Carr for another crack at the Great Grey Shrike. In luck this time and the shrike was showing well, although distantly, to the east of the sentry box.

Great Grey Shrike

Called in at Shibdon on the way home where there was the first Green Sandpiper of the year and 7 Black-tailed Godwit.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Siberian Accentor

Too late to get to Holy Island on Tuesday for the Siberian Accentor before dark, I was there, stumbling around in the dunes well before dawn on Wednesday morning. With the area littered with birders who had been marooned on Scilly, the Azores or even further afield I was full of hope. Unfortunately despite extensive searching there was no sign and by mid afternoon when Rich asked if I wanted to go to Orkney I could only say yes.

Arriving on Orkney after no sleep it became clear that the postcode we had for the bird was wrong. After some frantic phone calls we got some proper directions and hurtled over to the correct side of the island. A couple of birders had the bird pinned down on our arrival and we were relieved to see it immediately, crawling around some bare earth. For the next hour we had the bird to ourselves and to eventually flew to land and feed just 15 feet away, giving stunning views. Thanks to Rich for driving and getting me to a bird that I couldn't miss.

Siberian Accentor

Back home I was absolutely knackered through lack of sleep, but late news of an Isabelline Shrike at the Leas, South Shields dragged me out. Through some nightmare traffic, the light was fading as I got there, but the shrike performed superbly.

Isabelline Shrike

Monday, 24 October 2016


Back home after yesterday's marathon train journey. Up to Newton this morning, where I eventually picked up the Baird's Sandpiper. Unfortunately it favoured the small pools at the far side of the scrape, so no photos. Also here were 60+ Dunlin, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Grey Plover. A good search of the scrub here and at the tin church failed to turn up anything other than a few migrant thrushes.

Down the coast at Druridge a Great White Egret was performing in front of the Budge Screen along with 2 Little Egret and a Greenshank.

An hour at Prestwick Carr on the way home failed to turn up the Great Grey Shrike.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Final day

Last day on Scilly, so headed up to Carreg Dhu in hope that the mystery warbler would show. No sign, but I did have 2 Firecrest and a Yellow-browed Warbler. Redwing, Fieldfare and Chaffinch were streaming over along with a single Brambling.

A hunt around the north of the island revealed little and I was almost back to Hugh Town for the boat when news of a Siberian Stonechat broke. Wearing several layers to fight the cold on the boat trip, it was a sweaty jog up to Maypole where the chat was showing well.

Siberian Stonechat

Back down to the boat where the final new bird of the trip, a Hen Harrier was seen distantly as it drifted over Holy Vale. A great end to a cracking month with 149 species and several other rare beasts.

Friday, 21 October 2016


With nothing happening this morning I shamelessly twitched a Mandarin on St Agnes. On view on arrival, it was looking good until it moved and flashed a plastic ring.

Mandarin-out on parole.
With little more than a Yellow-browed Warbler I was heading for the early boat when I bumped into a birder who'd just thought he'd had a Red-flanked Bluetail. A few minute wait and a bird popped up showing its orange flanks and as it flicked away a blue tail, bingo! Elusive for a while, it eventually gave itself up and showed well on a few occasions.

Red-flanked Bluetail
While the Bluetail was being found a warbler that had been found dead in the lighthouse garden was being identified- a Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf Warbler. Probably the rarest bird to be seen this autumn was now in Graham's fridge. How near...

Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf Warbler
Firecrest and Siberian Chiffchaff were seen on the walk back for the boat.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Still Scilly

Still quiet on Scilly. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent pottering around on St Agnes and Tresco with little to show for it. Today it was back to strolling around St Mary's where the Woodlark, finally pinned down, was showing well at Watermill. A bit far for a photo, but I managed some phone-scoped video.


A lift from Spider got us down to Porthellick in time to see a Barred Warbler that had been trapped and ringed, presumably the bird seen a few days ago.

Barred Warbler
A lot of walking followed with little reward. A couple of Jack Snipe and a Black Redstart probably the best of the bunch.

Monday, 17 October 2016


To take a break from pacing around St Mary's I too to the sea with Scilly Pelagic. A great day out with a Pomarine Skua the star bird and a fly-over Snow Bunting the weirdest. Superb close views of Bonxie, Sooty Shearwater, Razorbill and Puffin, but a single Balearic Shearwater just shot through. Out through the islands brought us Osprey, Grey Plover and Knot.

Please click on images for better views. Files too big for blog.

Pomarine Skua
Pomarine Skua
Pomarine Skua
Pomarine Skua
Pomarine Skua
Sooty Shearwater
Back on dry land there was time for a distant Barred Warbler at Porthellick after finding a Wryneck on the way.


Sunday, 16 October 2016


More tales of woe. Another Siberian Accentor, this one even closer to home. Unfortunately the biding on Scilly hasn't picked up yet to compensate. I did bag a fly-over Serin just before the second squall of the day, but other than that just the same old faces. Good close views of Red-breasted Flycatcher and Yellow-browed Warbler at Newford Duckpond, the Eastern Yellow Wagtail and the Short-toed Lark the best of the bunch. I did add Whimbrel and Garden Warbler to the trip list.

Grey Wagtail

Saturday, 15 October 2016

...the calm.

Some wild weather last night and this morning, but the new rarities failed to appear. Tough going with bird after bird turning up at home. The long term weather forecast looks like there is more to come for when I get back, so fingers crossed.

Bits and bobs seen today with Short-toed Lark, 3 Lapland Bunting, 9 Black Redstart, Raven and several fly-overs from a Hobby.

Lapland Bunting

Friday, 14 October 2016

The calm before...

A slow day on Scilly today. Following a clear night, it looks like most of the birds have headed off. A good slog around St Mary's produced little, with the highlight being a Woodlark that dropped in calling, stopping briefly, then off high to the east. The weather deteriorated and we spent a while watching the Jack Snipe at Lower Moor. Fingers crossed that tonight's rain drops some new birds.

Jack Snipe

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Eastern blast

Things starting to warm up on St Mary's again today. A quiet start on the Garrison to start, with just a Ring Ouzel to speak of and then down into town for the very showy Subalpine Warbler.

Subalpine Warbler
Subalpine Warbler
From here it was Lower Moors past a few Yellow-browed Warbler, where 3 Jack Snipe were out in the open, as usual.

Jack Snipe
No sign of the possible Eastern Yellow Wagtail that had just been flushed by 2 Kestrel from the Standing Stone Field. While we were up the hill out of Old Town searching, we got the news that it had dropped in front of the hide at Lower Moors. A dash back for some stunning close-up views. By now up-graded to probable, showing a very long hind claw and yellow based black bill. A very raspy call seemed to back up these features.

Eastern Yellow Wagtail?
Eastern Yellow Wagtail?
Eastern Yellow Wagtail?
From here it was up to the north of the island for some distant views of a Barred Warbler. News of a Pallas's Warbler at the Garrison had us heading back south. A quick stop at Carreg Dhu failed to turn up the reported Arctic Warbler, but there were good views of a Firecrest.

A long slog to the Garrison where the Pallas's Warbler showed very well, but proved a nightmare to photograph.

Pallas's Warbler
Pallas's Warbler
Hopefully more to come!