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Black Redstarts

30th October 2019

Some 60 Black Redtart were observed on St Mary’s today including these 4 together at Pelistry stables with a stonking male to the left..

In almost twenty three years of living on Scilly, I have never seen so much rain fall in the last two weeks and still, there is more to come. As a result of ESE gale force winds in the last few days, there have been a notable arrival of Chaffinch, winter thrushes, including Continental Song Thrush, Meadow Pipit, Starling, Goldcrest and Black Restart. Of the latter species, today saw as many as 60+ on St Mary’s including one observer counting 30 between Newman Battery and Morning Point on the Garrison and only a very small percentage of the island was covered. The most I noted together were 8 at Porthloo with 6, Little Porth, 4 at Old Town, and 5 at the stables where there were also 2 White Wagtail, 200+Redwing, 80+Chaffinch and a single Mistle Thrush. Before all this happened, this morning I checked out the campsite area and got a single Firecrest and from yesterday, the Siberian Chiffchaff was still present but Goldcrest and Chiffchaff had dropped in numbers. A Merlin also put up 60 Redwing. At the Dump Clump there was a single Willow Warbler with over 70 Redwing feeding on the football field.

Out of the 28 Black Redstart that I observed today, I only saw two males including this cracker at the stables

Record shot of the Mistle Thrush at the stables

Meadow Pipit

Rock Pipit

There were over 200 Starling at Porthloo with 700+ at Pelistry and 350+ at Salkee.

House Sparrow


Yesterday in the rain, Goldcrest, 30+ and Chiffchaff 25, had increased in numbers at Lower Moors. Feeding with them were 4+Siberian Chiffchaff, 4 Yellow-browed Warbler, 3 Brambling and I also flushed 2 Woodcock. At Shooter Pool there was a Wigeon and at Porth Hellick/Higher Moors area, I managed to see 3 Yellow-browed Warbler, 15+Chiffchaff, 20+Goldcrest, 2 Brambling and a single Siberian Chiffchaff. I also had 25+Stock Dove NE over the stables. Later, an hour before dark on the Garrison campsite 15+Goldcrest and 10+Chiffchaff were feeding on the deck with a single Siberian Chiffchaff nearby.

I observed 4 Siberian Chiffchaff at Lower Moors with singles also at Porth Hellick and the Campsite Garden, Garrison.

I had up to 4 Yellow-browed Warbler at Lower Moors with singles at Content, Higher Moors and Newford with another 2 at Porth Hellick

3 Brambling were at Lower Moors with another also at Higher moors

This Wigeon was on the tiny Shooters Pool

I noted at least 45 Chiffchaff

And over 75 Goldcrest including this individual in the garden.

Including these three, on the 27th there were up to 9 Golden Plover on the airfield

These 2 Whooper Swan turned up at Porth Hellick for the day, 27th

I only noticed the Bewick’s Swan with the 2 Whooper Swan when I went through the photos later that night!!

The 27th was also the last day the possible Green-winged Teal was last seen at Newford Duckpond

The Whooper Swan that arrived on St Mary’s last Thursday was last seen at Lower Moors, 26th.

Grey Heron at Porth Hellick

For it’s firth week, the BLUE ROCK THRUSH was still proving mobile on the Garrison on the 27th and on Tresco, Marcus Nash found a Rustic Bunting at the heliport, 27-28th and the ISABELINE WHEATEAR was last seen on the 29th.

Graham Gordon had a purple patch in the last few days. After finding a Pallas’s Warbler in the Parsonage on the 26th, the following day he had just literally put the phone down after talking to me while walking on the cricket pitch and found a Short-toed Lark! So were call that one a co-find between both of us! The next morning he had a flyover Little Bunting that he relocated later at Periglis Beach and over an hour later he stumbled over a Richard’s Pipit on the cricket pitch. Today, the Common Rosefinch was still in private fields on the island.




24th October 2019

This is my forth Scilly ISABELINE WHEATEAR and third in the four years. My first individual was on Bryher on 29th Oct ’98 after observing Rose-breasted Grosebeak and Pied-Billed Grebe a few minutes before with Ren. The day before we both saw a American Robin on St Agnes!

First thing this morning, on my ways to the airport, I had a look at the Whooper Swan that had been on St Agnes that roosted at Porthloo Beach last night. After working non stop at work, I got on the 10.15 boat to Tresco with handful of birders that had not seen the ISABELINE WHEATEAR yet that was discovered two days ago. First stop, was to go and see the Waxwing that proved at first to be mobile before settling down in the apple trees behind the New Inn where it has been for the last few days. Here it gave crippling views as it got stuck into an apple. There was also a single Wheatear on the beach nearby.

The Whooper Swan was in the south end of Porthloo Bay and later on it moved to Lower Moors

The Waxwing was a little Flighty at first perched on wires with Starlings.

However, it soon settled down and didn’t waste anytime getting stuck into the apples

Very happy with the Waxwing, Paul Gale and I made our ways up to Castle Down and joined the small crowd who put us on the Isabeline Wheatear. It spent most of it’s time in the sun sheltering behind a rock from the wind. After a good 30 minutes it flew off towards the Cromwells Castle where I managed to get closer views but it proved to be very flighty. I left the wheatear and at Gibble Porth there were 2 Brambling with some 70 Chaffinch. Around the corner at the school on the fence line bordering the football pitch, were up to 10+Black Redstart and over 500 Starling.

The small crowed scoping the ISABELINE WHEATEAR at Castle Down

The wheatear itself spent most of it’s time in the sun sheltering from the wind

While observing the Isabeline earlier on, Marcus Nash, who found the wheatear, turned up a Ring-necked Duck at the Abbey Pool. When I arrived at the latter site, it was in the north corner at close range with a Tufted Duck but both ducks were in the sun making it hard for photography. At the same time I could hear a Yellow-browed Warbler at Abbey Crossroads with two other vocal birds by the Rosefields Crossroads. It was now 15.30 and I only had an hour to catch the return boat back to St Mary’s. I started to pish 20 meters before the David Hunt Hide and put my bins up to the first bird that I attracted. I could only see the head of the phyllosic showing off a yellow super. Pallas’s Warbler! But I needed to see it again and more on it but in the next ten minutes of pishing out came 6+Chiffchaff, 10+Goldcrest, 2 Yellow-browed Warbler and a all to brief probable Eastern Lesser Whitethroat but no sign of the Pallas’s. I had to get a move on and near to New Grimbsy I caught up with Mick Turton. Adam Hutt also joined us, who I had spent the first three hours with and on his bike, Louis Cross who is staying on Tresco. I let Louis know about the Pallas’s Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat and to make the others aware of both birds who are also staying on the island.

No sign of the Citrine Wagtail at Salkee but the Blyth’s Reed Warbler was still at Rose Hill. On St Agnes, Graham Gordon had a very brief Palla’s Warbler early this morning in the Parsonage and it was never seen again until later in the afternoon down Barnby Lane only to return to the Parsonage again.

As you can see, photographing the Ring-necked Duck on the abbey Pool proved difficult not helped by the sun.

This is all I could get on the probable Eastern Lesser Whitethroat as it moved straight through on Pool road

Spotted Sandpiper at Watermill

23rd October 2019

This Spotted Sandpiper at Watermill is believed to be the same individual that was last seen on St Agnes two days ago

Good ole birds keep on turning up every day and yesterday, the 5th RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL found by Alan Heyden on St Agnes and on Tresco, Marcus Nash turned up the 8th ISABELINE WHEATEAR for Scilly on Castle Down. However, the star bird was a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE with Grey Phalarope and 3 Sabine’s Gull, on a pelagic out to the Western Rocks. Today, the wheatear was still present with the Waxwing nearby but no sign of the bluetail and a boat load of birders dipped out on the phalarope. As work gets in the way, there was no chance of me twitching any of the above birds and instead Jo and I had to make do in the early afternoon with goin to see a Spotted Sandpiper that was co-found by Phil Wallace and David Campbell. The sandpiper showed well briefly in the hot sun but proved mobile. As a result we went in search of the wader following the coastline towards Innisidgen and came across the Great Northern Diver very close inshore that’s been present for the last few days.

Before we went to see the Spotted Sandpiper, we were observing 4 Black Redstart, including this individual, at the airport after dropping some guest off

Not often you see a Great Norther Diver a close range on Scilly like this stunner off Innisidgen

Wood Pigeon

At 16.00, Jo and I were in two to go and see the Citrine Wagtail at Salkee or the Spotted Sandpiper at Watermill. We thought we would like to see the sandpiper a little better and twenty minutes later, while we watching the it, news broke that Adam Hutt had found a Blyth’s Reed Warbler at Rose Hill. The warbler proved difficult to see as it fed in the canopy and after catching glimpses, Jo and I gave up and decided to go see the ducks at Porthloo where there was a single Wheatear. Just before dark, we had 2 Wheatear, 1 Skkylark and flushed by a dog walker, a Lapland Bunting flew of west.

I couldn’t even get a record shot of the Blyth’s Reed Warbler. So I’ll have to do with a record shot of the birders instead.

Yesterday, we had 2 Yellow-browed Warbler, 2 Firecrest and a possible Siberian Chiffchaff at Newford Duckpond

There were also 5 Chiffchaff in the area and 2 Siskin flew overhead

Three nights ago, Jo and I went mothing and had this late Cabbage Moth..

A new one for us was this Brick Moth. We also had 6 Whitespeck and 4 Rusty Dot Pearl.

Yellowhammer at Porthloo

21st October 2019

Including this individual, this is only my forth Yellowhammer that I’ve observed on Scilly

It was back to work today and as it was pretty busy, it wasn’t until gone 13.00 that Jo and I could go and get the four ducks at Porthloo Duckpond and take them to the beach around the corner. Shortly after arriving, I heard a Siskin overhead and was in the process of picking up Pablo Jr when I shouted ‘Yellowhammer‘ I dropped Pablo and looked up and saw the bird heading towards Porthloo Beach. I said to Jo to forget the ducks and a few minutes later we were searching through the Greenfinch flock feeding in the dunes. It didn’t take long to relocate the bunting as it hopped around on the sand out in the open before it briefly perched in some vegetation and then flew low east over the bank. The last Yellowhammer I saw on Scilly was a spring male at the Garrison campsite 100 year ago!

In the few minutes we had the Yellowhammer, I managed to get some distant record shots

An hour before we went to get our ducks, Ben Lewis found a Citrine Wagtail at Salkee. Just before we made our ways to the latter site, we took some guest up to the airport where we saw our first Black Redstart of the autumn. So it wasn’t until 16.00 that we arrived at the cattle field that the Citrine Wagtail was feeding in. It was nearly fifteen minutes later until we heard and then saw the wagtail briefly in the far corner only for it fly off over the hedge into the next field. With that, we left the small crowd and made our ways into the Salkee fields to where it had gone to. It took a while to find the 70+Meadow pipit flock it was hanging out with, but when we did, the Citrine was always on view but still distant. A Merlin put the every up and small Fieldfare flocks moved through. Back at work, just before dark, some 200+Fieldfare tried to land in the Star Castle garden.

St Agnes was the place to be today for a change with the Spotted Sandpiper, Red-backed Shrike, Common Rosefinch and the Lapland and Snow Bunting still present. A Waxwing at The Hump was probably yesterdays bird from St Mary’s.

Black Redstart have been very thin on the ground this autumn and this individual at the airport was my first

After three birds last year, I really thought that Scilly was goin to miss out on a visit from Citrine Wagtail this year but it wasn’t to be and hopefully this individual will stick around for a few days at Salkee.

There were a lot more Fieldfare in today than Redwing.


20th October 2019

100s maybe 1000s of Redwing arrived on Scilly today

The wind had changed to NNE over night and as a result, first thing this morning, there was an obvious large arrival of winter thrushes as I observed some 60 Redwing and 25 Fieldfare, west over Porth Hellick. An hour later I was on the airfield and 100s of Redwing were still moving through mostly going SSE out to sea. There were also 3 Skylark, 2 Wheatear and a single Golden Plover in the area. At 08.55, Tony Gilbert called me from the other side of the runway asking if I had seen anythin? We were talking for a short while about Liverpool losing against Man United this afternoon and what I had for breakfast, poached eggs, four as usual, beans, tomatoes, loads of mushrooms and then, a bowl of muesli with yogurt, melon, pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, banana, apple, peaches, plums, oh yes, it was a gooden! Tony had cornflakes! Anyways, it was then when I heard what I first thought was an alba wagtail but that immediately changed and I couldn’t put a name to it. I wasn’t being rude to Tony, but I told him shut up as I wanted to hear it again. That I did and it was a disyllabic call and I had no idea what it was as I searched the skies above me but could I bloody see it?? It made one last call and it seemed to be going ENE towards Porth Hellick. ‘Did you hear that Tone?’ That he didn’t and I was left puzzled to what it was and thought that it’s one that has got away. Suddenly the pager went off on Mega alert ‘Scilly CHESTNUT-EARED BUNTING!!’ on west side in 3rd field from south end at 08.55 then flew towards Peninnis Farm! Was it that that I heard just now? Timing was spot on if it left Peninnis when they last saw it flying towards the farm. I soon found out that Tim Vaughan and Dick Filby were the birders who observed the bunting at Peninnis and I immediately called Tim to find out what the crack was? He told me to have a listen on xceno-canto at CE Bunting and see if it fits. Tony played the first few flight calls from the website and I said no to all of them and started to think that maybe I had heard something else. We continued onto the calls and bingo! It was spot on what I could hear. I contacted Tim to let him know and as my mobile data is not working at the moment he put the news out for me.

Now, it was a case of kicking every field in the Salkee, Porth Hellick, Carn Friars area but after two hours with Richie Aston all we had seen were 2 Yellow-browed Warbler and 500+Redwing and 200+Fieldfare. Elsewhere at the same time, new in were 1+Waxwing at Old Town Church and Salkee, Water Pipit at Little Porth, a Yellowhammer and Hen Harrier at Peninnis where there was a Little Bunting with another at Lower Moors and in their usual field were the 2 Pink-footed Geese at Sakee. The BLUE ROCK THRUSH, now been here for a month, was still mobile off Peninnis Head but there was no sign of yesterdays Red-eyed Vireo that Bobby ‘Dazzler’ Dawson found opposite Porthloo Duckpond. While on St Agnes there were Red-backed Shrike, 2 Lapland Bunting and the Spotted Sandpiper and Subalpine Warbler that were found two days ago.

Redwing piling into St Mary’s this morning

With less numbers of Fieldfare

Yellow-browed Warbler at the Porth Hellick Loop Trail

There were 6 Pied Wagtail and 2 White Wagtail at the airfield


I had my dinner then Jo joined me as we got out in the field in search of that bunting. At Green Farm area, winter thrushes were all over the shop with over 500 Redwing, including 200+in one field and 200+Fieldfare. A single Swallow moved through, a Brambling flew east overhead with Chaffinch and there were 2 Jackdaw over Mount Todden with 30+Carrion Crow. A Richard’s Pipit was seen by others at Maypole and the Hawfinch that we both saw yesterday was just around the corner opposite the stables but we went the other way towards Normandy. In a weedy field with some 40 chaffinch was a single Brambling but when we left four of the latter species turned up. A quick walk around Trenowth produced another 200+Redwing but that was it. Unfortunately, all the new arrivals, buntings, thrushes, pipits etc, were very flighty and quickly moved on. Hopefully tomorrow it will be a different matter where birds have settled and they can be observed by everyone.

Some 500 Redwing were at Green Farm area with another 200 at Trenowth

But only 100+Fieldfare in the same area

2 Jackdaw were hanging out with the Carrion Crows at Mount Todden

I duno what it is, but I have a knack in finding Northern ‘type’ Willow Warbler and yesterday I had this individual at Lower Moors although Ren did have a grey ‘type’ at The pottery today.

This Northern ‘type’ Willow Warbler was still at Content two days ago but there was no sign of the second bird it was feeding withthe day before

Where there was also this Firecrest


Graham Gordon saying one last goodbye to Jo two days ago at Porthloo Beach as it was time for them to meet their parents since the first day they were born at Porthcressa Beach.

However, it didn’t go to plan. They reunited for a few seconds but they turned around and came back to shore and waddled up to us.

So plan two and we let the ducks go at Porthloo Duckpond where they teamed up with the other ducks on the pond.

Do you really think that we would just leave them there. Yesterday we picked them all up and went to their and our favorite beach where we all relaxed in the warm sun before returning them back to the pond. This is what we will be doin most days with them. Maybe we might take them somewhere else.

Mandarin at Porth Hellick!!

16th October 2019

Can you believe that this Mandain created a stir at Porth Hellick!? I need to find out if John Nicholas still keeps his plastic ducks up road.

This morning just after 08.00, I got a text from Gerald Breton about a female Mandarin at Porth Hellick. Soon as I could I made ways down there just in case it was slightly obscured and it just might be a female Wood Duck. Unfortunly, it wasn’t the latter species. So I left the sleeping Mandarin with the 14 Greenshank and 15 Snipe and didn’t think anythin of it. Except that it’s probably jumped the fence from John Nichols garden about a mile away. As I returned back to the wagon I heard the Cetti’s Warbler and 2 Yellow-browed Warbler and got the Whinchat on the wires. Over an hour later everyone started getting excited, not because the ROSE-BREASTED GROSEBEAK was still on St Martins or the YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO was Lower Moors and the BLUE ROCK THRUSH was at Morning Point or what about the Red-eyed Vireo at Old town Church? No, it was the Mandarin!!

The sleeping Mandarin at Porth Hellick

It had been calm and sunny all day but I couldn’t get out until late afternoon. At Content, the 2 Northern ‘type’ Willow Warbler were still feeding together but there were only 2 Yellow-browed Warbler. Nearby, the Short-toed Lark was still in the field off Pungies Lane with the 2 Whinchat and my first 5 Redwing of the autumn flew over.. I also had a single Whinchat at the airport with 3 Skylark overhead while waiting for a plane to come in.

The 2 Northern ‘type’ Willow Warbler were still at Content. Note that the top individual is healthy while the bottom two images show the warblers right eye is not in good shape

I only had 2 of the Yellow-browed Warbler at Content with the northerns.

Just around the corner from the warblers was the Short-toed Lark off Pungies Lane


Meadow Pipit

The light was still good after 17.00 and Jo and I ventured down to Porth Hellick. In the Sussex hide, birders were getting stuck into the Mandarin and earlier Jim Almond called to ask if I was goin to Porth hellick so he could have a Scilly tick! I did get the opportunity to photo both the Mandarin and the BLUE-WINGED TEAL together and then Ren called also looking for a Scilly tick….

The Mandarin hanging out with the BLUE-WINGED TEAL at Porth Hellick.

And the BLUE-WINGED TEAL showing superbly in front of the Sussex hide.

The White-rumped Sandpiper was still performing well at Tolls Porth and both Sam Jones, top two images, and Mark Rayment got some cracking shots!

When we go mothing at night, we also find a lot of moth caterpillars. In one night we had five species including this Bright-line Brown Eye


Early Thorn


and Small Magpie

Walnut Orb Spider at Star Castle

Banded Snail

I can’t work out whose more pleased to see each other. Is it Graham Gordon or Graham Gordon?? Also, if you didn’t know, Graham Gordon has had a transgender as you can see from the implants and he’s, now a she! I mean the duck, just in case you were confused.

Also, if your wondering why Graham Gordon is called Graham Gordon it is because, when Graham was a small kid, he went off for a stroll along Porthlow Beach. I went after him, as any of the gulls above him, I mean her, could take it away at anytime, and he would never be seen again. Graham was waddling towards a rock and top of that rock was a gull. I raised my bins and I could see that it was a possible juvenile Yellow-legged Gull. I could also see, as Graham kept getting closer to that rock, the gull was paying more intention to her, and not me walking close behind Graham. I took advantage of this and got very close to the gull until the YLG flew off. If it wasn’t for Graham, well then I would never have seen that YLG. Graham Gordon, that’s the one who lives on St Agnes, does not like YLG one bit and as Graham Gordon the duck had found one herself, then she was renamed from Grey to Graham Gordon. i hope that clears everything.

Graham Gordon at two days old

And here’s Graham Gordon at two days old. You can really see the likeness in this 1920’s image to what he looks like today

Hanging out with her three brothers

And this is today! Now look at her, she still a beauty!!

And Graham Gordon is off leaving Coal, Feather and Pablo Jr behind

Today Graham Gordon flew for the second time and we believed she was leaving us as she flew off over Porthlow Bay only to observe her returning back to the beach and landing near to Jo. I guess Graham Gordon has been raised in the same way as that other duck at Porth Hellick.

The Yanks are flooding into scilly !!

13th October 2019

The first image of the ROSE-BREASTED GROSEBEAK that Jaffa (Chris Townend) discovered on St Martins today

This morning I managed to get the Short-toed Lark with 2 Whinchat at Pungies Lane and a look at Content found 2 Northern ‘type’ Willow Willow Warbler feeding together. It was at 11.00 that I picked up two Belgium birders who were visiting Scilly on a line cruiser that was travelling around the British Isles. We dipped on the Spotted Crake at Lower Moors and we dipped on the White-rumped Sandpiper at Tolls Porth after being told that it had just flown off as we arrived. As we made our ways to Old Town Church for the Red-eyed-Vireo, which we also, you guessed it, dipped on, we stopped for the crake again and got cracking views this time round. On the airfield there were single Whinchat, Yellow, 11 Pied and 6 White Wagtail, 70+Meadow Pipit and 14 Wheatear. When we left the airfied 2 Lapland Bunting and a Richard’s Pipit turned up. We finished day off at Carreg Dhu Gardens where 2 Firecrest put on a very good show. Jo and I had a great time showing our two Belgium friends around but if only the birds showed up, it could of been slightly better.

Record shot of the Short-toed Lark at Pungies Lane.

2 different Northern ‘type’ Willow Warbler feeding together at Content. This is the third time in the past that I’ve come across two feeding together.

There were up to 14 Wheatear on the airfield

And 11 Pied Wagtail and including this one, 6 White Wagtail

Later in the evening, we went mothing for half an hour and all we got of note were 11 Whitespeck and above, a Private Hawkmoth caterpillar in the garden

On the 9th, Nick Godden found a BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT on St Martins.Later in the day, Ian Grant stumbled upon another BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT on St Mary’s at Borough Farm before flying towards Newford. The following day, out of the blue, Graham Gordon turned up an Arctic Warbler on St Agnes then an hour later Will Scott continued the yank theme with a brief SWAINSON’S THRUSH at Carreg Dhu Gardens. On the 11th, Will Wagstaff made a visit to Tresco and in order he found a female BLUE-WINGED TEAL, followed by a Red-eyed Vireo and if that wasn’t enough, a Rustic Bunting!! Back on St Mary’s, a possible BLACKPOLL WARBLER was at Holy Vale. It was the next morning that Nick Godden confirmed it as such and later in the afternoon, Will Scott, for all his hard work, got everyone a White-rumped Sandpiper feeding at Tolls Porth. Today, I got a call from Jaffa, (Chris Townsend) who is staying on St Martins, with a mega find, ROSE-BREASTED GROSEBEAK!! Those twitching it also got a Little Bunting and a fly over American Golden Plover and this evening a Subalpine Warbler was on St Agnes. So what is it goin to be tomorrow???

Ian Grant and Rob Stonehouse co-found this BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT at Borough Farm Rob took the record shot before it flew off towards Newford, 9th.

After playing hard to get, the YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, that was first seen at Lower Moors a week ago, finally gave itself up next door in Doily Woods where Chris Lewis took this image yesterday.

While this was all goin on, you could also see the male BLUE-WINGED and possible Green-winged Teal, Red-eyed Vireo and for it’s third week, BLUE ROCK THRUSH with other goodies like Red-breasted Flycatcher, Little Bunting, Yellow-browed Warbler and Richard’s Pipit thrown in.

On the 11th, I heard a American Golden Plover over the airfield just as it was almost dark and yesterday, the twenty minutes that I had off from work payed off with finding a Red-throated Pipit at the Standing Stones Field.

Record shot of the Red-throated Pipit that I found at the Standing Stones Field yesterday.

This is the best that I good do of the White-rumped Sandpiper at Tolls Porth in the poor light yesterday.

Jo and I did some more Ivy bashing around the garden area on the Garrison in the drizzle and was rewarded with this Pale Pinion..

1 Black Rustic

1 Dark Swordgrass

And 28 Whitespeck. We also got 5 Angleshade, 9 Rusty-dot Pearl, 4 Lunar Underwing and Turnip Moth and a single Squar-spot Rustic.

8th BLUE-WINGED TEAL for scilly

8th October 2019

I know that Blue-winged Teal is a lot more rarer than Red-eyed Vireo but the latter species is a much better looker for a headline image

Yesterday afternoon, a BLUE-WINGED TEAL turned up on the Big Pool, St Agnes and this morning an early boat was organised from St Mary’s to go and see the duck. However, before the boat left for St Agnes, news came out that there was no sign of the teal. So at the first opportunity I had from work, I made my ways down to Porth Hellick and wasn’t surprised to see the BWT feeding with the 16 Teal. It was still present when the first few birders arrived moving from one hide to the other. At the same time I heard 2 Yellow-browed and the Cetti’s Warbler nearby and then I had to return to work. Now, those that were on the early boat to St Agnes were now trying to get back to St Mary’s to see the BWT. Before all this happened, the BLUE ROCK THRUSH was below the Peninnis lighthouse.

Well at least this yank teal at Porth Hellick is a lot easier to identify than the other yank teal on Newford Duckpond, possible juvenile Green-winged Teal, which is still present today.

Those looking for the Blue Rock Thrush on Peninnis, relocated both the Wryneck and south of Old Town Church, the Red-backed Shrike and at 11.00, Johnathan Nasir came across a Red-eyed Vireo, with a photo on the Scilly Bird New WhatsApp Group shortly afterwards, on the lower coastal path towards the east of Peninnis just after Carn Leh. I dropped my breakfast of local poached eggs, mushrooms, beans, COOP of cause, and got in me wagon picking other birders en route. I ran like the devil, had a breather to have a look at the shrike, and then continued to find that there were already some 30-40 birders already there. The vireo was showing at very close range and it seems like it had just arrived in off feeding actively. It moved on out of sight and also did the same. At Rose Hill, I had the Pied Flycatcher from yesterday and at Carreg Dhu Gardens, 2 Firecrest.

I did see the Red-backed Shrike in full view but this is best I could do with a record shot at Old Town Church while running for the Red-eyed Vireo.

Although we get Red-eyed Vireo almost every year on Scilly, there still a beauty of a cracker to see!

The Dotterel, presumably the same individual from St Martins, turned up on the airfield later in the afternoon. Jo and I made our ways up to the latter site when the airport was closed and got a single Whinchat and Skylark, 9 Wheatear, 1 Yellow and 15+White Wagtail and crippling views of the Dotterel.

When we arrived on the airfield this evening, the Dotterel was tucked away in the grass from the strong winds and the sun was out. Shortly afterwards, the sun had almost disappeared and the plover was now walking towards us!


6th October 2019

Not many, if anyone, got a pic of the YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO at Rose Hill end of Lower Moors like Scott Reid did This was my third for Scilly after seeing my first in ’95 a few fields away from this individual

Shortly after 07.00, news came on that the Nightjar that was seen at dusk last night over the campsite, Garrison, was again briefly over the latter site. By the time I got out, the sun was almost up and there was no further sign of the bird. After an hour of birding the east side of the Garrison and made my ways to the airfield where I saw of note, 5 Golden Plover, 16 White and 3 Pied Wagtail, 15 Wheatear and a single Whinchat. I also had a single Whinchat and heard 2 Yellow-browed Warbler at the airport/Old Town junction SE end of Lower Moors.

Sunrise from the Garrison

Up to 3 Pied wagtail were on the airfield

And there were also 15 Wheatear

But nothing hanging out with the 5 Golden Plover

I had 2 Whinchat including this individual at Lower Moors

By now it was 10.30 and at the Shooters Pool, Lower Moors, I found a Northern ‘type’ Willow Warbler with 2 Reed Warbler and then had a quick look at the Spotted Crake at Rose Hill end of Lower Moors. Like yesterday evening when it was first found, it was showing down to a meter as it fed in a flooding area almost on the path! However, half an hour later, it was when things really kicked off. Jake Event observed a YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO at Shooters Pool! Like others I rushed to the site but it had disappeared into a tall Sallow out of sight nearby. I made my ways into the Black and White Wood and Will Scott had the same idea. Over 30 minutes later, Will had crippling views deep in the wood very briefly before flying off and lost again. Bobby ‘Dazzler’ Dawson, Richie Aston and myself joined Will in the area where he last saw it. To cut a long story short, I flushed the cuckoo out of the wood that was immediately observed flying back towards shooters Pool by the crowd of birders on the Lower Moors trail. Throughout the rest of the day, the yank was seen on and off in the Rose Hill wood of Lower Moors but each time briefly. It was 17.30 and I had spent almost all my time in the Rose Hill end of Lower Moors and for my effort all I got was a single Pied Flycatcher. While on the Telegraph Road, trying to get a glimpse of the cuckoo that had been seen not long ago, everyone started running down road. Thinking they had the cuckoo, I was moving like a train only to find out that it was a Honey Buzzard drifting north distantly over Parting Carn. It had been first seen over St Agnes and for the next hour it toured St Mary’s and we connected with it again being mobbed by Carrion Crows over Trenoweth. While we were away the cuckoo was seen again but we decided to leave it and try for the Nightjar on the Garrison. No sign of the latter species but there was a vocal Yellow-browed Warbler in the campsite garden.

This Northern ‘type’ Willow Warbler moved slower than a hippolais warbler and as usual, very confiding.

This Spotted Crake was showing superbly at Lower Moors. The two top images were taken last night when it was first found and it walked under the bridge that we werre all standing on!

Distant Honey Buzzard flying north over Parting Carn

While chasing the Honey Buzzard, we got the possible female Green-winged Teal at Newford Duckpond

Another image by Scott of the cuckoo

Cuckoo crowd on Telegraph Road at Rose Hill

Female Green-winged Teal at Newford Duckpond??

4th October 2019

Found this female teal five days ago at Newford Duckpond and thought it was a good candidate for a probable Green-winged Teal.

However, this all changed when I contacted James Lidster and received info through WhatsApp on identifying female GWT from Teal. The duck showed a large amount of cinnamon for a Teal when it’s wings were half open. Mark Addison arrived after me contacting him and he also agreed, when it’s wing bar was in view, that it was unusually a lot of cinnamon for a Teal. I also let Martin Goodey know as he lived just around the corner but he couldn’t make it. Looking at what Lidster had sent me, the cinnamon on the wing bar fitted both GWT and Teal as there is a overlap between the two. After a long wait, the duck started to preen in bad light in shade of the trees and Mark and I waited hoping it would stretch it’s wings. That it did and it didn’t look so good now with the cinnamon appearing to not even reach half way across the greater covert bar. With no obvious loral spot, I thought it’s a very confiding Teal and left it at that.

Today, James contacted me ‘Why isn’t this a GWT??’ My reply was ‘I didn’t know we had trains on Scilly?’ It was still present on the duckpond. We talked about it on the mobile, not about Great Western Trains, and James made others aware on the Scilly WhatsApp Group in saying ‘It resembles female GWT with a fair amount of cinnamon on the greater coverts (but maybe it’s well within variation of Teal’ Adam Hutt replied with an article on the group about identifying the two species where it showed the tertial pattern was different between the two species and the Newford individual pointed towards a female Green-winged Teal! Also, James told me that he’s observed females of the latter species in the states showing no loral spot and they can vary a lot. With all this new info coming to light, now things started changing the view on the duck and it was indeed looking more than likely that this was a female Green-winged Teal! If accepted, it would be a first for England!!

When I first saw this teal five days ago, it was this amount of cinnamon that it was showing when the wing was only half open that got me goin. However, when it stretched it wings, the cinnamon appeared to fade from less than half way across the greater covert bar but that was the dark light from it being in the shade.

what a difference it makes when in better light. I kidnapped the main man, Keith Vincombe from Old Town and we both went to see the bird this afternoon and after feeding under the over hanging branches it came out into the light and started to preen where I took these images. Here you can clearly see the cinnamon fades but still reaches all away across the greater covert bar. A feature that you cannot see on the main top image I took five days ago in the shade on sunday. Keith and I also heard the Yellow-browed Warbler

However, it’s this tertial pattern that might be the clincher for positive identification for a female Green-winged Teal.

Before Keith and I looked at the GWT, at 13.00 I had to pick some guest up from the stables. Before I got to the stables, I stopped off at Normandy to kick some fields when I heard what I thought was the Pink-footed Goose that Mark Anderson had early this morning at Porth Hellick. But I could clearly hear 2 Pink-footed Geese and from Kittidown they flew NE low towards Pelistry. Shortly after they were relocated in fields at the latter site and at the same time, the individual from Porth Hellick was now on Tresco Abbey Pool. At the stables itself there were single Yellow and Pied Wagtail.

2 Pink-footed Geese low over Normandy

Jo and I went to the airfield this evening hoping to see the probable smiths from last night that I had. No sign but a quick look at the golf course as it was almost dark and there it was before flying off towards Tresco to roost. It later came out that it was seen on the roof at Porth Mellon Dump at 10.00 this morning!!


A great shot of a Pied Flycatcher at Old Town by Chris and Juliet Moore


But what about this image also taken by Chris and Juliet! What a cracker!! Firecrest at Holy Vale.

As soon as Jo and I arrived back home from seeing the gull, we did an ivy bash for 30 minutes but it was quiet in the strong NWW winds with 3 Rusty Dot Pearl

1 Rush Veneer

And 2 forms of Diamond Back Moth including the typical form top and a first for me from Europe, dark form. We also had 4 Lunar Underwing and 1 Turnip Moth

And this beautiful C Spider feeding on a caspid bug

However, the highlight for Jo and I was seeing Graham Gordon (top) and Coal fly for the first time across Porthloo Beach!! Magic stuff!!

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