Friday, 19 October 2018

Lark, Spotted Sand and Tern Tick

Still on a high from the Catbird I was back in Whitburn Obs on Tuesday morning. Pretty quiet for seabirds, but calling, flyover Short-toed Lark was a fine addition to the Obs list and an excellent id from Dave Foster.

From there it was over to Jarrow where the juvenile Spotted Sandpiper was happy to saunter past at close range as it fed along the banks of the River Don.

Spotted Sandpiper

With ragworm

Late on Wednesday a superb inland find from Ross Ahmed was a duo of Gull-billed Tern at a gravel pit to the north west of Hexham. Bizarrely it later emerged that someone else had found the birds some two weeks before, but supressed the news. Go figure..

Armed with information from Ross I was on site at dawn the next morning with just two others and was rewarded with both terns dropping in with gulls at 08.00. A bit distant and although good scope views, too far for photos.

Gull-billed Tern

A small flock Brambling on the way home were a welcome year tick.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

More Scilly and Catbird

No more posts while on Scilly due to infuriatingly slow WiFi.

The Barred Warbler mentioned in the last post continued to show.

Barred Warbler
The 8th was mostly taken up by tantalising views of a possible Aquatic Warbler that eventually showed itself to be a Sedge Warbler. A dash to St Agnes gave good views of the Greenish Warbler after it gave us a bit of a run-around. We were just too late for the Red-throated Pipit, but we took the opportunity to see the Red-backed Shrike at the Nag's Head.

Red-backed Shrike
Back to St Agnes for better views of the Greenish Warbler, the shrike and the elusive Wryneck.

Greenish Warbler

Birding hard, but with little reward and sore feet the 10th saw us regularly tripping over the flock of 4 Cattle Egret on St Mary's.

Cattle Egret
An early Richard's Pipit on Peninnis on the 11th gave us hope on favourable south easterlies, but we saw little else new until a Lapland Bunting with the relocated Richard's Pipit on the golf course in the evening.

Richard's Pipit
Barred Warbler
The 12th brought awaited storm with associated wetness and high winds. Seawatching from Peninnis gave little except Gannets, but a Leach's Petrel battling the gale was an excellent Scilly tick. Seawatching on the 13thwas much better with a Great, 5 Balearic and 10 Sooty Shearwater, plus another 2 Leach's Petrel and 15 Bonxie. There was an influx of Black Redstart and a Common Rosefinch, but no sign of the hoped for Yanks.

Black Redstart

Common Rosefinch

Back to lovely weather on the 14th and after a quiet morning on St Mary's we did a whistle stop tour of Tresco where we hit lucky when the Eastern Yellow Wagtail was relocated, the injured Red-breasted Flycatcher showed down to a few feet and the 5 Cattle Egret fed amongst cattle.

Eastern Yellow Wagtail
Red-breasted Flycatcher
Cattle Egret

The 15th was my final day of the trip, and gave time for a wander up to the riding stables for a look at potentially another Eastern Yellow Wagtail. Not as monochrome as the Tresco bird, but it sounded good and had long hind-claws.

Eastern Yellow Wagtail?

A smooth crossing with little to see until a Bonxie, Arctic Skua and a smart Sabine's Gull on the Penzance side. News of the Grey Catbird at Land's End broke as we crossed and a frantic drive by Cliff got us on site just too late.

Stopping in Penzance I was back on site by bus before first light. After a 2 hour wait and just 16 mins before my return bus the Catbird popped up. No longer the expected skulker, this thing was sitting out in the open, superb! Some snatched photos (with all the wrong settings) and I was running for the bus. An excellent end to the holiday.

Grey Catbird

Saturday, 6 October 2018


A tough start to the trip. Great and Sooty Shearwaters were the highlights of the Scillonian crossing, but the weather since has been far too pleasant to bring many birds. The star bird so far has been the Tawny Pipit that showed well on my first trip to Bryher, but superbly when I returned alone for photos.

Tawny Pipit

The Lapland Bunting that spent a few days on the golf course was almost tame and gave views down to a few feet.

Lapland Bunting

I hit lucky with the Buff-breasted Sandpiper at the golf course when I caught it flying in and landing briefly nearby.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

A snipe at Lower Moors looks good for Wilson's but it has so far failed to lift a wing or flash its tail for conclusive identification.

Possible Wilson's Snipe
A trip to Tresco produced a Red-breasted Flycatcher, Wood Sandpiper and 2 Pintail.

Red-breasted Flycatcher
A sneaky climb to the top of the hill on my second trip to Bryher got the 6 Cattle Egret on Tresco Great Pool.

Foul weather today meant challenging conditions, but there were far more birds around (including 7 Whinchat in the Standing Stones Field) and a late Barred Warbler when the conditions improved bodes well for tomorrow.

Bar-tailed Godwit