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Vagrant Emperor at Trenowth

29th September 2019

Record shot of this Vagrant Emperor that I found hawking next to the Scilly Wildlife Trust building at Trenowth this afternoon.

The ideal conditions across the Atlantic in the last 24 hours had to drop a yank or two and this morning I was out and about in the gale force WNW eager to find it. The only yank on Scilly to be seen all day was the Buff-breasted Sandpiper still at the airfield. However, I did come across the rarest find on the islands of the day, so I thought. I was wiped out by Chris Timmon’s who discovered a Nickar Nut washed up at Higher Town Bay, St Martins!

The sun came out just after 10.00 and Jo and I started off at Content Lane and got our first Yellow-browed Warbler calling in the large Elms. At Newford Duck Pond there were 2 Reed Warbler and a first for me at this site, female Teal. We then did the circuit from watermill to Trenowth and at Peace Haven there was a single Pied Flycatcher, Painted Lady and Migrant Hawker. At Trenowth, I found a Vagrant Emperor hawking next to the Scilly Wildlife Trust building. It put on a good show for a few minutes, only to disappear when I called Keith Pellow, who we had just been chatting to five minutes ago at Jac a Bar. Fortunately, Keith relocated it in the next field and here it performed for a good five minutes zipping up and down the field. I put the news out earlier, but again it just disappeared. We also had a fly by Clouded Yellow.

Pied Flycatcher at Peace Haven

Another record shot of the Vagrant Emperor at Trenowth. This individual was by far the most showy out of all four dragonflies I’ve observed on Scilly and the fifth species of dragonfly we’ve seen on the St Mary’s this year.


While watching the dragonfly at Trenowth, news came on the Scilly Bird News WhatsApp Group that the Lapland Bunting was still present at the airfield and a Dotterel had now turned up. Then I got a call from Julie and Trevor Davis to tell me they had just found a Snow Bunting also on the airfield. That was enough for us to stop searching for our own birds and ten minutes later, the Davis’s put us on the Snow Bunting that feeding on the edge of the west runway. Within ten minutes there was a small crowd of friends and we all followed the bunting slowly as moved further up the runway. Or should I say, everyone followed me as I took them for a tour around the airfield. As a result we relocated the Lapland Bunting and then the Dotterel near to the turning circle and not one of my followers payed for the successful tour that I gave. Jo and I left my followers to the plover, after seeing it, as I wanted to spend time with the Snow Bunting while the sun was still shinning bright. It was now feeding on the north runway and here we had it all to ourselves down to a few meters before the sun went behind the clouds. No yanks but a cracking day!

Also seen today:

St Mary’s: Short-toed Lark, 4 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Firecrest, 2 Turtle Dove, 2 Crossbill, Jack Snipe and Blue Rock Thrush.

Tresco: Hoopoe, Ortolan Bunting and Short-toed Lark.

St Martins: 2 Snow Bunting and Turtle Dove

St Agnes: Red Kite

Snow Bunting showing off!

Lapland Bunting

Dotterel was always distant


Sunset this evening


Prob Eastern Lesser Whitethroat

28th September 2019

‘Eastern’ Lesser Whitethroat, probably Blythi, in Rens Garden this morning at Sallyport

Just after 10.00 , I was looking over into Ren’s garden from the Garrison wall for his Lesser Whitethroat that’s been in his garden for the last two days. While talking to Ren on me mobile, the whitethroat popped up in front of me feeding in the Sycamores and I told him to get off the phone. Immediately I could see that it was an ‘Eastern’ Lesser Whitethroat and it showed well for a few minutes before flying off further down road where I lost it and then I had to get back to work. Later on, while doin a taxi at the airport, I had a scan from the hangers and relocated the Buff-breasted Sandpiper opposite the terminal building. In the evening, there were up to 10 Mediterranean Gull feeding on the high spring tides off Tregarthens car park.

The Blue Rock Thrush was still proving hard to get among the boulder bays on the south-west side of the Garrison and on Tresco the Ortolan Bunting and short-toed Lark were still on the heliport.

. ‘Eastern’ Lesser Whitethroat, probably Blythi,

This Whinchat was at standing Stones Feild

Five of the 10 Mediterranean Gull feeding off Tregarthens car park this evening

Buff-breasted Sandpiper at the airfield

27th September 2019

This Buff-breasted Sandpiper was showing well at the south turning circle on the airfield this evening

Mark Addison found the only Garganey this year so far at Porth Hellick this morning and two hours later I was observing it feeding with 8 Teal. The duck performed briefly in the very dull light from the seaward hide before making the short flight towards the spit in front of the Sussex hide. At the same time the Cetti’s Warbler was heard.

This could prove to be the only Garganey on scilly this year

Mark then got a Lapland Bunting at the windsock at the airfield also this morning and later on in the early afternoon, while Neil Glenn was trying to relocate it, he went and found a Buff-breasted Sandpiper instead! It wasn’t until gone 18.00 that Jo and I twitched the sandpiper and had it all to ourselves at the turning circle. A Ring Ouzel flew east and there were 4 Yellow and over 70 White Wagtail all over the shop on the airfield Yesterday, Scott Reid turned up a Red-breasted Flycatcher at Lower Broom, Garrison but all I got when I arrived in the 20 minutes or so I we were there, was a brief glimpse perched out in the open before disappearing.

Also seen Today St Mary’s: There were 2 Wryneck and the Honey Buzzard made an appearance over the Garrison

St Martins: Rick Addison, who is staying on the island, had a good day with a single ‘Eastern’ Lesser Whitethroat 2 Yellow-browed Warbler, 5 Firecrest, 2 Snow and 1 Lapland Bunting, 1 Turtle Dove, 2 Pied Flycatcher and a single Red-breasted Mergenser.

Tresco: Ortolan Bunting and Short-toad Lark still at the heliport

Our first yank, this Buff-breasted Sandpiper, arrived today and hopefully they’re will a lot more to follow.

Over 70 White Wagtail were on the airfield, including these five sheltering from the wind

Only 10 Wheatear on the airfield


Ortolan Bunting and Short-toed Lark together on Tresco heliport. Photo by Chris and Juliet Moore

2nd BOXWORM and LATTICED MOTH for Scilly

25th September 2019

BOXWORM MOTH (top) trapped at Mick Scott’s garden at Longstones, 24th and up road the night before, Ralf Parks trapped a LATTICED MOTH at Pelistry Farm

The Hoopoe that was found yesterday at Four Lanes was still present this afternoon in the first field, 150 yards from Holy Vale. Jo and I arrived to find the bird at the far side of the field but always on show in the fifteen minutes we were there. Two minutes later we were at Cove Vean searching for yesterdays Turtle Dove and while talking to Higgo on me mobile, 2 Turtle Dove flew overhead towards Kittidown. A quick look at Porth Hellick and the only bird of note, was the vocal Cetti’s Warbler. Unfortunately the one bird I was hoping to see was a Honey Buzzard that Chris and Juliet Moore first observed over Porth Hellick and later seen elsewhere on St Mary’s by other birders. Also, Higgo finally connected with the BLUE ROCK THRUSH and although it was sen until the evening, it’s still proving hard to get ranging from Morning Point to Doctors Keys.

On St Martins, there were a single Wryneck and the first Yellow-browed Warbler of the year, The Lesser Yellowlegs was reported from Tresco Great Pool and another Wryneck was on St Agnes.

Didn’t see any of the Hoopoe from this spring so it was to catch up with this individual at Four Lanes

Cracking shot of this Honey Buzzard that Chris and Juliet Moore over Porth Hellick today

Yesterday mid-morning, I did the golf course and came across this Lapland Bunting in the NE corner where it showed throughout the day. At the same time, a Common Rosefinch was discovered on St Agnes.

Later in the day, Jo and I twitched both Mick’s BOXWORM MOTH and shortly afterwards, Ralf’s, LATTICED LACE MOTH (top). Both second records for Scilly.

Ralf also trapped this Scarce Borded Straw

Good numbers of White Wagtail around at the moment including 30-40 on the airfield yesterday

2nd BLUE ROCK THRUSH for scilly

22nd September 2019

Ren found this 7th BLUE ROCK THRUSH for Britain between Morning Point and The Steval, Garrison, where I took this record shot

With the over night SES winds and torrential heavy rain, this morning was a feeling that something good was goin to be found today. I didn’t get out until gone 09.00 and on the airfield there were a single whinchat, 30+ Wheatear and 60+Meadow Pipit. After I had done a taxi at work, I found myself at Trewince some two hours later. Already Mike Young Powell found a Short-toed Lark on St Agnes and in the twenty minutes that I had been at Trewince, I had already seen 4 Whinchat, 3 Wheatear, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 4 Blackcap and single Tree Pipit and then a call from an excited Ren, stopped me in my tracks! ‘Spider, I’m pretty sure I’ve just had a BLUE ROCK THRUSH!!’ My reply was simple ‘You have Ren!’ Of cause he had seen a Blue Rock Thrush and ten minutes later I joined him just below the Steval. He showed me the record shots and I gave him a big tight long cuddly hug to the point that he couldn’t breath! His face was smothered deep into my Parka fury hood from my coat. After Ren stopped spitting and coughing out the fur bits from my hood, I gave him a manly handshake instead. He told me he first had it very briefly near Morning Point, where he took the pic, before it flew around the corner, out of sight, in the direction towards The Steval. Ren then relocated the thrush in the next bay from the corner only to be flushed by walkers and Ren lost it but thought that it had probably continued towards The steval. I immediately put the record shot and details out on the Scilly Bird News WhatsApp Group and then we started searching for the bird along the coastal path from the latter site towards Morning Point. However, after we had reached Morning Point, there was not a sniff of the thrush and I decided to retrace my footsteps back towards The Steval. Nearing The Steval, I saw Richie Aston making his ways down the slope towards me. He had only been with me for less than a minute when from around the corner, over the rocks, in front of us was the Blue Rock Thrush flying towards us. It didn’t stop until it had flown below the cliff face we were standing on and then landed on a large boulder some 50-60 yards away. I could see Bobby ‘Dazzler’ Dawson and beckoned him over by pointing where the thrush was. Then it was off again towards Morning Point. In the next few hours, the bird proved very mobile, ranging from Morning Point to almost the pottery but everyone present manged to get brief views on the deck or in flight.

I had up to 30 Wheatear on the airfield but only 3 were at Trewince where I took this image of a very confiding individual.

One of the 4 Whinchat at Trewince

This is the first sighting that Richie Aston and I got when we relocated the BLUE ROCK THRUSH after Ren had last seen it, just below The Steval as it flew below us looking from the cliff top.

It paused very briefly before disappearing off towards Morning Point.

A small crowd assembled on the cliff top in between The Steval and the Pottery hoping to catch a glimpse of it.

And here’s Bobby ‘Dazzler’ Dawson doing, well I duno what he’s doing, but I think it’s somethin to do with him celebrating with the song ‘Agadoo’ after seeing the thrush. Like Ren, I saw the only other record for Scilly back in 1999 at Porthloo and like this one, it was male. A few days before the Porthloo individual turned up, Ren went and discovered that White’s Thrush on St Agnes where there was also a Siberian Thrush nextdoor on Gugh!!

The Blue Rock Thrush disappeared for over an hour after last being seen near Morning Point. Next to my home there were 2 Yellow, 10 White Wagtail and a single Whinchat. Ren let me know that the thrush had been seen again but there was no sign of it when Jo and I turned up. As the second record of American Wigeon for St Agnes had turned up on the Big Pool, we made our ways to Porth Hellick where we sheltered from the heavy downpours and all we got was the Jack Snipe and new in, 3 Teal. We also had a Spotted Flycatcher at Trenowth and at the Standing Stones field, 3 Whinchat and single Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat.

Brimstone Moth Caterpillar

Also seen today were the Lesser Yellowlegs and yesterdays Bluethroat both viewed from the Swaroviski Hide, Tresco Great Pool but no sign of yesterdays Dotterel on Bryher.

Yesterday, I had a brief look through the Dead Pine Walk before work and got a single Crossbill, Garden Warbler, 2 Spot Flycatcher, 2 Yellow and 12 White Wagtail and 15+Blackcap but dipped out on the Wryneck later in the afternoon at Buzza Quarry.

Spotted Flycatcher

There were up to 20 Turnstone at Porth Mellon

Two days ago there was this Pied Flycatcher opposite Bishop View

And at the Dead Pine Walk, Garrison, up to 6 Spotted Flycatcher where I also had single Crossbill, Garden Wabler, 2 Yellow and 12 White Wagtail and 15+Blackcap.

On the 19th while feeding the ducklings from the french windows first thing in the morning, I heard a single Crossbill flew over NE followed by a Grey Wagtail The Crossbill returned again and landed in the garden where I took the above record shot. It flew of towards the Daed Pine Walk where I also had 2 Spotted Flycatcher and a single Grasshopper Warbler.

17th September 2019

Wryneck at Carn Friars

This Wryneck showed well at Carn Friars

The Red-backed Shrike was still being elusive at Carn Friars and Jack Levene who was trying to relocate the shrike mid afternoon, stumbled upon a Wryneck in the top horse paddock. It was gone 16.00 when I could twitch the bird and on arrival, immediately located it feeding about fifteen meters away under the fence line of the paddock. Ten minutes later and it was now at close range as I kept low and just slightly peered over the wall so not to disturb it. There was another Wryneck also at Rocky Hills today and the Dotterel was still on Bryher with the Lesser Yellowlegs on Tresco. Unfortunately the Tawny Owl that was taken into care yesterday passed away this lunch time.

I spent a good twenty minutes with this cracking Wryneck before I had to return to work

This White Wagtail was in the same paddock

As were 3 Meadow Pipit

On the paddocks wires were also 3 Stonechat

16th September 2019


As I missed out blogging the whole month of August, I’ve decided to post the highlights from that month starting off with a Mega find by Viv Stratton with this female FOUR-SPOTTED CHASER at Porth Hellick, 2nd! The dragonfly showed well in front of the seaward hide during it’s three day stay. But I’ll start with the goins on in the last few days. Highlight being a Lesser Yellowlegs at Tresco Great Pool (10-15th) and today, last weeks TAWNY OWL at carn Friars was found in bad shape at the Porth Hellick Down pines nearby. It was taken into care where hopefully it will recover. Also today, there were Nightingale and Wryneck at Peninnis, the Red-backed Shrike was still at Carn Friars and on Bryher there was a Dotterel.

Nearly two months ago I found 2 Silver Y Moth caterpillar (top) feeding on one of my indoor plants in the bathroom. I left them both there and today on the curtain in the living room was one of the moths!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_9917.jpg

Yesterday 3 White and 7 Yellow Wagtail were at Porth Hellick. At the same time, a Cetti’s Warbler, that Ritchie Aston found in the morning. was singing on and off by the ringing station.

Yesterday I had a Pied Flycatcher in the garden with two more birds nearby on the Dead Pine Walk where this individual was taken. I also had a single Redstart and Whinchat at the Standing Stones Field

Two days ago I had 3 Spotted Flycatcher at Higher moors

These Willow Warbler were also at Higher Moors

Reed Warbler


There have been up to 11 Greenshank at Porth Hellick

This Painted Lady caterpillar was crossing the path at Porth Hellick and could prove to be the first confirmed breeding record of the species on St Mary’s, 14th

I’ve up to 10 Painted Lady in the garden

And also in the garden, very large numbers of Ivy Bee

This Probable female Phalangium opilic Harvestmen was in the garden also

So besides this chaser what else was observed during august

Ren found a Denticulate Leatherbug and with less than ten records for Scilly, a few of us were keen to see it.

This striking Nephritoma flavipalpis Cranefly that I found at Trenoweth on the 11th was only the third Scilly record. The same afternoon, we took the ducklings for a walk around Trenoweth and searched for insects in a hedgerow and were rewarded with a few new species. I also started looking at flies more carefully and got what I believe is a scarce species, Phaonia errans House Fly

This Crab Spider was taking on more than it could chew with this Phaonia errans House Fly

Sarcophaga sp Flesh Fly

Finale instar of the Hairy Sheildbug

Myathropa florea Hoverfly

Metellina sp Possibly segmentata 

Jo and I spent less than hour one night just outside my home near to the Dead Pine walk, Garrison.king for bugs meters from the digs area on the Garrison. As we’ve only been searching for bugs at night since June, most critters we find are new species to us and this included three species of Harvestmen, three species of caterpillar, although I’ve seen the moths we came across as they’re pretty common on Scilly.

This Female Dicranopalpus sp Harvestmen could prove to be a first for scily!

While this Male Leiobunum blackwalli Harvestmen are very common

As is this Paroiligolophus agrestis Harvestmen

Phytocoris varipes Capsid Bug

Gracillaria syringella Moth

Willow Beauty Moth


Go to to look at past posts from 2010-19

8th September 2019

6th TAWNY OWL for Scilly

Mega find by Ritchie Aston in finding this TAWNY OWL at Carn Friars and I just happened to be standing next to him when he first laid eyes on it!!!

The plan this morning was to have a rare lye in as I had a late night. However, that all changed when work called me just before 08.00 to do a taxi. As a result, I found myself on the airport shortly afterwards and heard a Lapland Bunting south over the airfield. I thought it was probably the individual from peninnis that’s been around for nearly week and was seen earlier on this morning but as singles were at Lower Moors and St Agnes later in the day, I guess this was also a new bird. Ritchie Aston called me to say he’s had very brief view of a shrike at Carn Friars and strongly suspected it was a Red-backed. For the next hour all we had were 2 Whinchat and Spotted Flycatcher and 7 Blackcap.  Scanning the middle fields, Ritchie said ‘I’ve got an owl!’ I looked to where he was pointing ‘TAWNY OWL!!!! Shite!!’ But as soon as I said what it was, I calmed down as I thought that it’s probably escaped from Griffs farm just up road where he keeps owls. The bird was at close range out in the open, perched on top of a post in the middle of the field and wasn’t concerned about us chanting while leaning on a gate. Surely it had to be an escapee just like Griffs Barn Owl we all twitched a few year back at Innisidgen. I was eager to find this shrike and as I walked away from the owl, Ritchie observed the owl fly off north and then put the news out of both the shrike and owl. A few minutes later while in the bottom fields, we could hear the Blackbirds goin crazy and worked out that the owl was in the large Elms nearby.

While searching for the shrike, I called Griff and he told me that he had 4 Tawny Owl but only saw two when he fed them this morning but they can easily hind away in the pen. He was sure that there was no way that they could escape but he would check tomorrow. Even so, I really believed that this owl was one of Griffs. Shortly after 16.00, Griff contacted me ‘I’ve still got four Tawny Owl!!!’ I was totally shocked and quickly informed Ritchie to tell him that he had found the 6th Tawny Owl for scilly!!

I really never thought I was goin to see a Tawny Owl on Scilly. Not like this individual out in the open. Maybe it had just arrived and was exhausted and also appears to be that of the grey form. 

  Back at home, there was a Pied Flychatcher in the garden and a single Migrant Hawker and 5 Painted Lady. Later on in the afternoon, news came out that the shrike was still at Carn Friars. With Ren, we saw the shrike but we were always both on the wrong side of the sun. Also in the area we had, Tree Pipit, Whitethroat, 3 Whinchat, 8 Sand Martin, 2 Swift and heard a Green Sandpiper at Porth Hellick. Later on,  Jo and I were at the airfield just before dark and observed 23 White Wagtail and 15 Meadow Pipit fly off north.

This 1st winter Red-backed Shrike at Carn Friars was my third this year after finding singles at Pelistry in the spring….

and only last week, this juvenile at Trewince which stuck around for five days.

There were up to 3 Whinchat at Carn Friars

Today, three Lapland Bunting arrived on Scilly with a single on St Agnes and two birds on St Mary’s including my individual south over the airfield.

Last week I found a tiny pupa of a ladybird at the Dead Pine Walk, Garrison and took it home knowing it was goin to be a rare species. A few days later it hatched and turned out to be the third and first breeding record of HEATHER LADYBIRD for scilly after Jo finding the second for Scilly in June this year also on the Dead Pine Walk.

Also found this Privat Hawkmoth caterpillar feeding on Privet in my garden So far this autumn, up to 6 Deaths-head Hawkmoth caterpillar have been discovered on St Mary’s with four in the town/Lower Garrison area and a two at Old Town

On the 29th August, Mick Scott trapped some mega moths, including a second for Britain, at his Longstone garden and a few of us gathered to see them, where else but outside the Porthcressa toilets.

This tiny DIALECTICA SCALARIELLA was the second British record!

And this Ethmia bipunctella was only the firth Scilly record!

While this GREAT DART was the second Scilly record and 46 British record!

Also had this Great Green Bush Cricket at the airport

The third week of August there was a small influx of Pied and Spotted Flycatcher on the islands. I manged to see 4 Pied Flycatcher, including this individual, at the Dead Pine Walk, Garrison

..and this Spotted Flycatcher spent three day in the garden

Mid August and 2 Ruff (top two) and this Black-tailed Godwit were at Porth Hellick

9th August 2019

Yellow-legged Gull at Porthloo

Took the ducklings for their daily visit to Porthloo and they ended up sharing the beach with this juvenile Yellow-legged Gull

This morning there were up to 7 male Grass Eggers goin crazy searching for the elusive female hidden in the ivy. In the afternoon we took the Ducklings for a walk at Porthloo Beach. A scan before they were released onto beach saw 3 Mediterranean and in the far corner, what looked good for a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull which was just about to be flushed by some folks. I rushed down and when it took off towards Tresco, it showed off the tail pattern of a YLG.

3 of the 7 male Grass Eggers smelling out the female in the garden

The juvenile Yellow-legged Gull allowed me to approach it ahead of the walkers before being flushed out towards Tresco

There were up to 3 juvenile Mediterranean Gull feeding in the surf

And over 60 Black-headed Gull

Later at Lower Moors we had up to 4 Green (top) and a single Common Sandpiper

While watching 5 Mediterranean Gull at Morning Point, this Fulmar flew close inshore

Everyday, we try and take the ducklings to Porthloo Beach because they love to get stuck into the rock pools and dig out the sand hoppers. We also take them for walks to Trenoweth, Rose Hill and the airfield, when it’s closed of course.

To the beach!!

Coal on the left with Graham who we named after Graham Gordon because he spotted the Yellow-legged Gull before me!


Feather was named by some children

And the runt of the four but the very cheeky one and everyone’s favorite, Pablo Jr. He’s named after his father who is as white as snow.

Here they are on an outing on the airfield where Graham Gordon searching for that Buff-breasted Sandpiper.

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I love to throw sticks at trees! I also can’t get enough of music! I also blog about my observations on Scilly and wherever I go around the world and what’s sometimes on my mind. I’ve visited over 30 countries and some more times than once. I’ve worked and volunteered in Nepal, USA, Peru, Austrailia, Costa Rica and in refugee camps in Palestine

This is me being followed by our four ducklings, Coal, Feather, Pablo Jr and Graham Gordon at Porthloo Beach

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