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2nd BROWN SHRIKE for Scilly

7th November 2019

The image above was the first Brown Shrike for Scilly and England was on Bryher, Sept, 2001 and was Originally identified as a Red-backed Shrike. Photo by Tony Blunden

Yesterday morning, Graham Gordon and I had a brief look at Porth Hellick and all we saw of note was a vocal Cetti’s Warbler, single Swallow, Firecrest and the Tufted Duck. At Higher Moors, we heard a possible Water Pipit fly south with Meadow Pipits. In the garden, which is now a field with 4 pigs in it and a sea view looking over towards Peninnis Head, as we have now moved into a new home, there were 2 Swallow hawking and on the garden list already, there were Pied and Grey Wagtail and flocks of Redwing feeding only a few meters from the window.

Later in the day at 17.10, when it was almost dark and too late for anyone to see it, news came out of a BROWN SHRIKE at Salkee. It was seen at 15.30 on wards but the observer forgot their mobile. How convenient!! Like most of us, I know what I would of done if I forgot my mobile and found a mega Scilly rarity. Even if I thought it was a possible Brown Shrike. Hey, but were all different, aren’t we?

The day before, 5th, there were 2 Shoveler at Porth Hellick..

And the following day, they were replaced by this Tufted Duck

So first thing this morning on the 7th, Higgo and Chesney connected with the Brown Shrike. When Graham and I arrived, we were told that it had flown off towards Porth Hellick Beach and was last seen heading for the ringing station. A Hen Harrier was distantly being mobbed by crows over the reeds but our mission was to relocate this shrike that was last seen nearly an hour ago. Everyone moved on and went searching in the area of Carn Friars. I made my ways to the original fields where it was first found and seen nearly an hour ago. No sign, so I kicked the Salkee fields for a good 30 minutes and flushed some 20 Snipe and then returned to the Brown Shrike fields and still no sign. I tried the NW fields and surrounding area of Salkee Farm and shortly afterwards I found myself scanning the shrike fields again. There was another squally shower coming through and I sheltered myself under a pittosporum on the muddy path overlooking the field. At the same time, the sun was still shinning on the willows at the far end of the field from where I was standing. With my naked eye, I noticed a bird pop out, a meter from the ground in the willows. As the sun was shinning on it, it looked pale and I thought it was goin to be a female Chaffinch. When I put my bins up, I immediately realised that it was a ROSE-BREASTED GROSEBEAK!! I couldn’t take it in and couldn’t believe that I discovered a mega yank while looking for a Brown Shrike! In the time that I was processing it all in my brain, if I really was looking at a grosebeak, it flew down towards the ground, showing off a red underwing, and disappeared behind some scrub just as the downpour began. I knew that Graham was not far away and I told him to get his ass over, on my mobile. I don’t mean, him to send me a picture of his butt on his mobile to my mobile. How stupid that would be. He’s still got a stone age phone that only does calls and texts. forty seconds had gone and I called him again then I contacted Higgo, who was fifteen minutes away. Graham and I had been in the field for ten minutes and still no sign of the Grosebeak. Another ten minutes went passed and there, perched out in the open front on, was the grosebeak! Where did he come from and how long had he been there?? It was only when it moved slightly did I realise that the bloody thing was only 10 meters or so directly in front of me. I shouted Graham quietly, if you can shout quietly, and just as I reached for my camera, the grosebeak flew off low strongly towards Salkee Farm where I lost it before I could even lift the camera to look through the viewfinder. I turned around to find that I had also lost Graham. He was on the path talking to Ren! I was so damn pleased with my find but how much I wanted someone else to see it as well. We all spent a good 30 minutes in the same fields that I had been kicking before in the last hour but nothing. Understandably, everyone’s mind was on the shrike, as it was a Scilly tick for us all and the Grosebeak is a mega but this was my firth bird that I’ve seen on Scilly. To cut a long story short, a handful of us did the Carn Friars area and further afield for the next four hours and not a sniff of a shrike or the grosebeak. No one payed any attention to the latter species and wasn’t even searching for it.

The next day, 8th, Graham and I were picking grapes all day and were busy extracting Blackcaps, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds out of the nets that are there to protect and stop them from eating the grapes. At Trenowth, we found some 15 Goldcrest, 6 Blackcap and 2 Chiffchaff inside under the nets. Don’t worry, we opened up each end of the rows and all the birds escaped to freedom. All we were hopping for was a Black and White Warbler just like the individual that got trapped in the same type of nets on St Martins winery last month!.

Up to 6 Siskin were seen at Deep Point but we only had this male in the same area

My first Rose-breasted Grosebeak was this cracker on Tresco, Oct ’93 and now I’ve seen five on Scilly. In Oct ’93 Other megas that Oct included Hermit Thrush on the same island and on St Mary’s, Upland Sandpiper and an Eyed-browed Thrush feeding on Blackberries only a few meters away off Porthloo Lane! Photo by Ren Hathway

And here is a photo of my first Rose-breasted Grosebeak that I ever saw on Tresco in Oct ’93 I also got the Hermit Thrush on the same island and on St Mary’s, an Eyed-browed Thrush feeding on Blackberries only a few meters away off Porthloo Lane!

Seaview with the pigs from the house looking SSE

And looking ENE

I took these House Sparrow through the window from the new house. There are small numbers of Green, Gold and Chaffinch and over 60 House Sparrow feeding in the field just meters from the same window which needs a clean.

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Author: Kris Webb 10

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, Gambia, Costa Rica, 3x Australia, and refugee camps in Palestine The profile image is one I took while in Palestine of a brave Israeli holding high the Palestinian flag in front of the Israeli Offensive Forces during protests in Belin

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