Friday, 2 November 2012

Big Scilly Adventure Part 2

Saturday 13th October 

The Blackpoll Warbler was refound on Bryher early morning, with the next available boat at 11.00. Thus the remainder of the day was spent scanning the area of scrub and pittosporum at Veronica Farm, where the Blackpoll was seen earlier by a fortunate few.

Birders gradually dispersed and some seemed more interested in Coal Tits. There was a sighting of LGRE and the Solitary Sandpiper was still present on the dung heap. I diced with whether to return to Mary's early afternoon, but resolved to stick it out till the last return boat at 4:30pm. I don't know what hurts more really, dipping the bird in itself, or wasting a whole day of your holiday on it.

The only notable birds of the day were a small flock of 8 Pink-footed Geese seen twice over Bryher and 4 Coal Tits at Veronica Farm.

It was getting late by the time I got back to Marys and I unsuccessfully tried to cheer myself up by not seeing a Wryneck at Port Minck. 

Sunday 14th October 

After yesterday's dip and spending the best part of the last two days on Bryher, I was desperate to do some actual birding and exploring again on St Marys.

The B&B, although otherwise excellent, was not geared up for early morning birder activities (8.30am breakfast) so I got in the habit of pre-brekkie walks around the Old Town Church Yard and/or Penninis Farm Trail. Although this didn't produce anything exciting, it was nice to be out in the field. One thing notable about Scilly is that Song Thrushes are very common, you are guaranteed to see them every time you go out and they are also much more confiding than on the mainland.

In this area I noted 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk and a Kingfisher was in the bay.

Then some explorations at the dump clump (or the clump dump) and Lower Moors. A Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Chiffchaff were around the dump clump and at Lower Moors 2 Grey Wagtail, 3 Goldcrest and 7 Snipe from the ISBG Hide. Both Water Rail and Greenshank were heard.

Next the Holy Vale trail, where a star bird was getting some airtime on the radio - a female Great Spotted Woodpecker. Like Coal Tit, another Scillies rarity. And no, I didn't twitch it, I just happened to be walking by. Also in this area a female Blackcap and 2 Chiffchaff were noted.

Continuing further north around the Pelistry Lane/Mount Todden area. Here there was a male Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Grey Wag and 1 Kestrel. I also had a brush with an electric fence.

The American Golden Plover was still in Porth Hellick Bay.

American Golden Plover at Porth Hellick - Image courtesy Mark Rayment

On the walk back round via Porth Minck the Wryneck was showing well, in fact foraging on the path and this had attracted a huge crowd! Now a Wryneck is always a very nice bird to see, but 200 odd birders? Either there was not much else to see, or nobody was really looking.

The Wryneck was soon flushed by an pompous chap who not only walked through the path to the objection of all the birders but actually made a point of shooing the bird away and said he could walk wherever he bloody liked. Well of course you can m'lud, but no reason to be an absolute arse about it.

Ended the day at Penninis Head spending some quality time with a Black Redstart at the lighthouse.

Black Redstart at Penninis Head

 Monday 15th October

A similar start to the day, taking in Old Town Church Yard before Lower Moor. It was fairly quiet and the best I could do was 2 Grey Wags, 2 Chiffchaff and 6 Goldcrest.

I then walked north through Porthmellon and on to Porthloo Bay, which was a good spot for scanning. 2 Stonechat, 5 Wheatears, 3 Pied Wagtails and Rock Pipit were about it though. It was officially a bit slow.

I stopped at Juliet's for some lunch with a plan to then head further north. That was scuppered however by breaking news on the radio - Hume's Leaf Warbler at the dump clump!

Arrival at the dump clump and birders lined the wooded trail. It was however quite a dull and windy afternoon, not the best for looking for leaf warblers. The enthusiasm of the crowd soon waned and I was just as fickle - a Short-toed Lark was found at Porth Hellick - that sounded like a better bet.

After a swift 20 minute walk, the Short-toed Lark was on the deck in the horse paddock. It soon moved off though, loosely associated with a flock of Meadow Pipits. Just in time!

I bumped into Richard there and we headed back to the dump clump, however there was a heavy shower so we took refuge in the ISBG Hide where we did get very good views of a bobbing Jack Snipe. Also 5 Common Snipe present.

Jack Snipe at Lower Moors - image courtesy of Richard Powell

The Hume's was only seen again briefly that day and a final wet and windy visit to the dump clump had us throw in the towel and resolve to return again at first light....

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