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Greenish Warbler at Longstones

23rd June 2020

Great find by Mick Scott who found the second spring Scilly record of Greenish Warbler in his garden at Longstones

This afternoon I was painting at work when I got a call from Mick Scott letting me know that he’s got a singing Greenish Warbler in his garden at Longstones. Nice one mate!! I couldn’t make it until gone 19.00 as I was playing football after work for the first time since November last year. I was itching to play and the warbler would have to wait. I arrived at Mick’s garden to find Higgo, Martin, and Mick and it was 30 minutes later that I saw the Greenish Warbler very briefly before it flew back into the pine belt at the back. An hour later it was just Higgo and I and we both decided to gave it another ten minutes. It payed off and in the evening light, the warbler performed really well out in the open for the two to three minutes that we observed it. It called once and then made it ways back towards the pine belt. Ideal! Later when we had left, Mick had it singing again. Great find mate and thanks for allowing us in your garden where we also got to see a Private HawkMoth that he had trapped overnight also in his garden.

This is only my sixth Greenish Warbler for Scilly including an individual that I found myself that spent three days at Higher Moors in September some ten year ago. It’s also only the second spring record after one singing in the Parsonage on St Agnes, 1st-3rd June 1998

On the 20th June at Porth Hellick I had some 40 Swallow, 12 Swift and it was the last time the Red-rumped Swallow was seen. Returned home that evening and 6 Swift were hanging around above the garden.

An adult Wren keeping a close eye on one of it’s youngsters in the garden

A typical day just meters away outside in front of the bedroom window


Red-Rumped Swallow returns to Porth Hellick

19th June 2020

The Red-rumped Swallow reappeared at Porth Hellick after last being seen on the 10th June. Where had it been in the the nine days that it had gone missing?

Paul Freestone found a Red-rumped Swallow at Porth Hellick, late this afternoon, and put a back of a camera shot of it on the Scilly Bird News whatsApp Group. Immediately on seeing the large nick in the left wing, I thought like others, that maybe this was the individual from the beginning of June. After dinner I made my ways to Porth Hellick and after scanning through over 40-50 Swallow, 10 House Martin and high above them, 13 Swift, there was no sign of it. I picked up some Swallows over Holy Vale and a scan from the road turned up the Red-rumped Swallow. It wasn’t long until it was over head at Porth Hellick hawking high up in the gloomy conditions. It was very much looking like the same individual from nine days ago when it was last seen. Higgo joined me and eventually the the RRS came down lower to feed where we both got better views. I returned home and it was confirmed that it was the same Red-rumped Swallow when I compared the photos taken from the first week of June. Before all this happened, the Hobby showed off above the garden.

The bottom pic was taken on the 10th June, when the Red-rumped Swallow was last seen at Porth Hellick and the top two were taken this evening. As you can clearly see from the photos, comparing all the nicks in the wings, that it is the same individual.

While cycling to Porth Hellick, I had a quick look at this worn, bleached out Herring Gull at the side of the road

Searching for the Red-rumped Swallow at Porth Hellick and there at the far side of the field was a Cormorant. Obviously I thought it wasn’t in good shape and decided to see if I could catch it. As I approached the bird, it started to move and it appeared like it was making it’s ways into cover. However, it turned and the next thing I know, after a bit of a struggle and a few attempts, it was flying and gone! Ideal!.

6 days ago, 14th June, I kayaked to Tresco and when i reached the South Beach, I lifted the kayak up and tipped out a lot of water. This wasn’t good and I had to get back to St Mary’s. I rowed non stop, returning to the latter island, in record time and as I came into Sharks Pit, the kayak was half full of water. As a result, I nearly capsized twice but some how I manged to keep afloat with a balance act. I made it safely to shore and discovered that there was a hole in the bottom of the kayak as I expected. So, I had to do somethin if I wanted to continue kayaking. That I did and got a bigger and better one, Dagger Stratos as you can see it high up on the South Beach.

As I was testing out my new kayak, I only spent two hours on the island and the only birds of note were 45 Turnstone, 4 Dunlin, 2 Curlew, 6 Grey Heron and unusual for this time of year, a single Bar-tailed Godwit all on South Beach.

Also had this single Whimbrel

Dunlin, Turnstone and a single Ringed Plover at Skirt Island, South Beach

At the Woodpile, there was this very pale interesting juvenile Stonechat

Just by the Abbey Pool I had up to 3 Meadow Brown I saw my first one of the year two ago on the Garrison

So on the 14th June, after almost sinking, kayaking to Tresco from St Mary’s, I passed 3 Sandwich Tern and on the South Beach feeding with 5 Sanderling, 6 Dunlin and 38 Turnstone, was a single Grey Plover. Wasn’t expecting to see the plover at this time of year.

Passing close to Porthloo Beach in my fancy new kayak, I got very good views of the Yellow-legged Gull. Later, while eating with friends at Porthcressa Beach, I observed the gull drop in where I took the two top pics from in the evening light.

Marsh Warbler at Pendrathen

13th June 2020

At last I’ve found myself a Marsh Warbler! However, this is the best record shot, taken by Scott Reid, as it proved very, very elusive with only a few seconds view out in the open in the three hours trying to observe it. It was also very quiet for a Marsh Warbler and on one occasion, in an hour, it just gave the odd brief burst of sub-song.

News of a Bee-eater and singing Rustic Bunting in the SW valleys of Cornwall was not enough for me to get out in the field. I was having a lazy morning. However, when Nigel Wheatly told me that his 11 year old son, Tom, had found a new Rose-coloured Starling from their house in St Just, then I thought, there’s got to be another one over here somewhere and at 11.00, I was out in the field looking for Starling flocks. In four hours, I had seen the Hobby and good numbers of Starling.

The Hobby over Maypole

With the influx of Blyth’s Reed and Marsh Warbler into the UK at the moment and a number of Greenish Warbler on the east coast, I was listening carefully all over the shop. An hour later, I arrived at Pendrathen and it was while walking on the main track up from the beach, that I heard to my right, what I thought was a distant sylivia warbler singing from the ferns in the bulb dump area. I knew that it wasn’t a Whitethroat and when I got a little closer I realised that it was in fact an acro warbler. Immediately I ruled out Reed Warbler leaving me with either Marsh or Blyth’s Reed Warbler. No! This can’t be happening to me again after almost two weeks to the day when I had that Reed Warbler singing like a Marsh Warbler at Porth Hellick. I really didn’t think I was goin to see anythin today. It was half an hour later that it gave a few burst of sub-song and I thought that it might be the Marsh Warbler but couldn’t rule out Blyth’s Reed Warbler as I had only heard it very briefly. I called the others to let them know that I’ve got either of the species of the acros. An hour later, there were a few of us gathered around the ferns where the warbler was sub-singing from and it was now thought to be a Blyth’s Reed Warbler after sending the recordings to others who know the song better than any of us who were present. They were crap recordings mind you. The warbler proved very elusive, with brief flight views and the odd burst of sub-song but when Scott got some record shots, on the very rare occasion of it out in the open, he reckoned it was a Marsh Warbler and he was spot on. After this, it started to continue sub-singing for over two minutes long now and still not mimicking many different species. Nothin compared to the Porth Hellick Reed Warbler two weeks ago with 14 species coming out of it’s mouth. Then it shut up again, went to ground and for the next hour there was no sight or sound of it and everyone had given up. It was fun and games and acro warblers and me just don’t go together that well. I like to think that if I heard a Marsh or Blyth’s Reed Warbler, that I will know which species it is when I hear it. Now that I’m an expert. Returning home and the Yellow-legged Gull was still at Porthloo.

Like a few of the others who twitched it, Higgo didn’t hear the Marsh Warbler for the first hour and when he did, he didn’t see it until another twenty minutes and they were very brief flight views until eventually we all saw it out in the open.

These were the record shots that I could get but I don’t care as I had found a Marsh Warbler at last! I wanted to put some recordings on here but for some reason it’s not letting me. The only other singing Marsh Warbler that I’ve heard singing was an individual that showed superbly at very close range just below to where Nigel Wheatly used to live at the SW end of Tregs car park some twenty years ago. Yes, he lived in a car at the time.

And the Yellow-legged Gull was still relaxing at Porthloo before some joggers flushed it

For the last two days we’ve had heavy rain lasting for long hours and as you can see, Rosie got soaked to the bone! Yesterday, during the downfall, my second Black-headed Gull for the garden briefly dropped in.

Not as good as the Jack Snipe from June last year but it was still a surprise when I came across this Snipe at Lower Moors for this time of year four days ago, 9th June.

Above the Snipe, the Red-rumped Swallow was hawking with a 4 Swallow

Thirty minutes later I was at Porth Hellick and here 3 Crossbill flew low north over the pool before I relocated them in the pines behind the Sussex hide. I thought I heard distant Crossbill earlier on at the Garrison while I was working.

And the Red-rumped Swallow returned to Porth Hellick and was now hawking with over 20 House Martin and 25+Swallow This was the last time the RRSwallow was seen.

I wasn’t expecting to see a stunning male Pied Wagtail up at the airfield later on

One of the 2 Wheatear that were also at the airfield

A pair of Collard Doves have started to bring their two youngest to the bird table in the last few days

Why wasn’t I and others taught who Churchill really was and the dark side of British history at school?

An interesting buzzard on Tresco

8th June 2020

I immediately changed from my bins to my camera when I saw the reddish tail and rufus underwing on this buzzard as it gained height, drifting west over Tresco Great Pool.

At 09.00 this morning I was at Porthloo having a good look at the Yellow-legged Gull feeding on the shore with 2 Black-headed Gull and a Swift flew east. I looked out across the calm water out to Samson and that made my mind up to kayak to Tresco. On the latter island, I was already counting the waders on the South Beach, after parking the kayak at Bathing House Porth. Some 33 Turnstone, 18 Sanderling, 13 Dunlin, 6 Whimbrel, 15 Curlew were feeding among the 80 Oystercatcher. There was also a male Greenland Wheatear and 5 Grey Heron flew out south. Just off shore, but too far out for the camera, was a stunning summer plumage Great Northern Diver.

The light was a lot better than yesterday evening when I first had this Yellow-legged Gull at Porthloo

On Tresco I counted 33 Turnstone on the South Beach which is a very high number for this time of year

As was a count of 18 Sanderling

7 of the 13 Dunlin feeding on South Beach

If only this summer plumage Great Northern Diver was a tad closer off South Beach

This male Greenland Wheatear was also on South Beach

It had gone 13.00, I had seen nothin of note except a vocal Siskin a number of times. I was walking Pool Road and approaching the entrance to the David Hunt Hide. From the east, I spotted a buzzard from over the trees and raised my bins. I thought that maybe it was the resident buzzard but I didn’t think that it had been seen this year. I casually lifted up my bins and just from the tail I quickly ruled out that this was the usual buzzard that’s been on Tresco for a number of years. Immediately I could see from below, that it appeared to have a reddish tail and rufus underwing coverts. The raptor was not hanging around as it continued towards the Great Pool. I snapped of as many shots as I could before it disappeared behind the trees. I ran towards the hide and relocated the buzzard gaining height above the pool always moving west. The light was so bad and as the bird climbed higher it drifted off west towards Samson/Bryher. I knew Will Wagstaff was on Samson, after putting news out of a Marsh Harrier that he saw on there earlier, but when I called him to let him know that an interesting buzzard was coming his ways, he told me that he was back at home. I put the news out as ‘Interesting buzzard showing features of Steppe?’ with pics on the Scilly Bird WhatsApp Group after sending the pics to other birders to see what they thought of it? Birders on St Mary’s were keen to see the buzzard and were hoping it would head their way but an hour later I picked it up again distantly over Middle Down.

In the field the tail appeared more reddish than in the above record shots. Although I’ve seen good numbers of Steppe Buzzard in Morocco, Palestine and more recently in march in Egypt. However, when do you stop to study them, no matter how well they show. If I saw the Tresco Buzzard in the above countries, I would just pass it off as a Steppe Buzzard but we all know that there are so many dodgy variations of Buzzards around. Some of them even looking like Steppe Buzzard.

This Blackbird was sunbathing on Abbey Drive.

On Castle Down, there were 9 swift, 10 House Martin and a single female Wheatear. It was now 18.15 and I was at the west fields looking over Tresco Channel when I noticed the buzzard sp low heading east after arriving from Bryher. I lost it behind the trees and although I stayed on the island for another hour, I never saw it again. Sadly it looks like the Pochard were not successful with their single duckling as I didn’t any on both bodies of water.

Later, I had a closer but very brief encounter with the buzzard sp after arriving from Bryher Any comments most welcome on this buzzard

It looks like it’s been a good breeding season for Blackcap on Tresco. I must of seen well over 20 including two families

As I returned to the kayak, the Oystercatcher were roosting on the South Beach

Looking from Castle Down towards Round Island lighthouse

1st Scilly June record of Yellow-legged Gull

7th June 2020

Turned up at Porthloo this evening and picked out this 1st summer Yellow-legged Gull that proved to be the first June sighting for Scilly and fills in the gap of me personally observing YLG now in every month on the island

I went in search of the Rose-coloured Starling that turned up yesterday at Little Porth after being first seen at the Dump Clump a few days ago. In the 200 Starlings that I saw scattered in small flocks in various areas on St Mary’s, there was no sign of it. A quick look at Porth Hellick and both the Red-rumped Swallow and Swift were still present but the hirundine numbers from the day before, 40+, had dropped to just over 10. I arrived at Porthloo and found over 100 gulls feeding on the surf with a single Whimbrel. On my first scan I spotted a good candidate for a Yellow-legged Gull on the waters edge. It looked really promising and I put it out as a probable on the Scilly Bird News WhatsApp group. Both Mashuq Ahmad and Jamie Partridge immediately came back and said that it was one. This individual proved to be the first June record for Scilly and I was so pleased as now I’ve observed YLG in every month on the islands. I believe that I might be the only observer to also have the only May records. Two sightings, including the 1st summer I had less than a month ago on the Garrison and the other, two years ago, following a plough, on the 22nd at Telegraph.

1st summer yellow-legged Gull at Porthloo with a Herring Gull on the right.

Also had this Lesser black-backed Gull with an Irish ring on it at Porthloo.

And both the Red-rumped Swallow and Swift were still present at Porth Hellick

And ‘Rosie’ the juvenile pale Starling, her bill has gone from yellow to dark and she’s not so pale now. She still comes in doors and says hello now and then

A very Intelligent and articulate view on the moment of the last few days

Red-rumped Swallow at where else, Porth Hellick

3rd June 2020

I was testing out my bike, after it had been fixed, and as a result, found this Red-rumped Swallow at Porth Hellick Pool.

At 15.00, I got a call from the bike man, Chrisy Evans, to tell me that I could pick my bike up that he had repaired after I had salvaged it last year out of a ditch. I decided to try the bike out and cycled the coastal path. I arrived at Porth Hellick and here, a male Golden Oriole almost knocked me off my bike as it flew out of from the Sallows at head height only a meter in front of me. I followed it along the track at speed as it flew almost at ground level in front of me before rising and turning off over the reeds towards the loop trail! Is this bike goin to bring me some good luck? Imagine explaining that one. It was that damn male Golden Oriole that Joe Pender found two days ago that made me swerve out of the way and land in a bramble/nettle patch as it almost flew into me.

I continued along the track until I reached the coastal path over looking the pool. A quick scan through the 2 Swift, 5 House Martin and 50+Swallow, while still sitting on the bike in the drizzle, and I couldn’t believe it, Red-rumped Swallow!! Anythin I do, this bike is staying close to me. I made my ways to the pool, without the bike, and pointed out the swallow to Barry Payne who just happened to be on the boardwalk next to the pool. Scott was the only other birder who also connected with the bird as it was gone after 30 minutes leaving the other hirundines to continue hawking over the pool. I also left the area after searching for twenty minutes with Martin and cycled the rest of the coastal path and saw nothin of note. The bike did the job and because there was light rain during most of the day with a cold northerly wind, I would of stayed at home if Chris had not called me to say my bike was ready to go.

For the second morning, Martin had 2 Golden Oriole singing just outside from his house. The highlight for me in the last few days, was a stunning male Golden Oriole that I observed very briefly at the top of the pine belt out in the open in the garden! Unfortunately, while thumbling around to get my camera out of the bag, it flew off west towards Star Castle. If only it had stayed for a few more seconds then I would of got it.

I guess the dull wet conditions dropped this Red-rumped Swallow into Porth Hellick arriving with a large number of Swallows for this time of year The RRS is top right in the bottom photo This is the third Red-rumped Swallow I’ve been lucky to find this spring. Imagine if I had that bike throughout spring. I might of found ten by now

I also spotted this juvenile Swallow in with the flock that’s arrived from the south and is not British bred.

On Monday, I kayaked to Tresco in the calm hot conditions. Looking from Castle Down towards Tresco Channel and in the distance, the Garrison on St Mary’s

On the South Beach there were a high number for this time of year of 36 Sanderling

The Dunlin had gone down from 22 last week to only 7 It was while walking along the beach that a vocal Siskin flew in off from the south


On the Abbey Pool there was a single Little Egret with 3 Grey Heron

And like the egret, another unusual record for this time of year, a male Pintail

The other pair of Pochard that lost all 5 ducklings were on the Great Pool. Hopefully this little chap will survive if it keeps close to it’s parents on the Abbey Pool Also on the Great Pool were 2 Mediterranean Gull with 5 Black-headed Gull

Only a handful of Swallow breed on Tresco and there were also two pairs of House Martins building under the eves near the Flying Boat area

Looking from Middle Down towards the Great Pool with St Mary’s in the distance

On the east side of Tresco looking from the south end of Castle Down towards Round Island lighthouse

And the Marsh Warbler that I found on Sunday was re identified by two top notch birders, Adam Hutt and James Lidster, as a Reed Warbler. When I told Higgo, he just couldn’t believe that it was a Reed Warbler. He told me that he heard 14 species come out from the songster and while listening, he closed his eyes and thought of Worcester! Worcester? Now if I close my eyes and thought of a place that I’ve visited in the past it would be like, the Himalayas, Austrailia or even Wales, but Worcester? Well the Porth Hellick individual is a Reed Warbler mate. So all those Marsh Warblers you thought you were listening to in Worcestershire, a long time ago, must of been Reed Warblers. It’s so sad that the Marsh Warblers disappeared from that area and Graham Cundale told me yesterday that he used to ring the breeding Marsh Warblers in the county.

Marsh Warbler at Porth Hellick

31st May 2020

Two days ago I went looking for a Rose-coloured Starling and found one. Today I went in search of a Blyth’s Reed or Marsh Warbler and stumbled upon the latter species at Porth Hellick given it some wellie!

I had a lazy day at home and the Hobby casually flew over the garden a few times. With a few Blyth’s and Marsh Warbler turning up in the UK at the moment, I had a listen to the songs of the two species so if by chance I hear one while I’m in the field. Yeh right! As if that’s goin to happen. I didn’t get out until gone 15.00 and thirty minutes later, I was on the Porth Hellick loop trail and I thought I could hear snippets of a Marsh Warbler. It was so difficult to hear it, being distant, the very windy conditions and a Chiffchaff was so over powering just above me as it sang in the Sallows. I decided to record the acro but when I listened to the recording after, I couldn’t really hear anythin. I had to put the recording out on the Scilly Bird News WhatsApp with Marsh Warbler singing. However, I couldn’t get any Wifi and so I called Ren instead. I told him that I had a Marsh Warbler and can you put the news out. Hang on a minute, with the wind etc, I couldn’t hear it that well and it could easily be a Blyth’s Reed Warbler. I told Ren to leave it and I’ll try and get closer to the songster. It had moved a lot closer towards the loop trail and was now singing in an isolated Sallow. Just as I was goin to call Ren to tell him that it is a Marsh Warbler, it started singing only a meter from me at the top of a dead reed stem very briefly! I got an awesome view before it flew only a few meters away and aloud me to snap off a few shots with the camera. It returned to the isolated Sallow and continued to sing. Ren put the news out and I stood there in frustration as I still couldn’t get any Wifi to put the recording out for everyone to listen to. Scott arrived with in a flash but the warbler had shut up and later on, only Will and Robin heard it and Higgo was the only other birder to see it. Hopefully it will stick around for oters to catch up with it. I also had a Kestrel, Wheatear, Swift and the Hobby on the airfield shortly afterwards.

I first had the Hobby over the garden this morning then I saw all over the shop on the island

The only other singing Marsh Warbler I’ve ever heard was below Tregrathen’s Hotel over twenty years ago.

Here’s a sonogram of the Porth Hellick Marsh Warbler

Also on the loop trail it looks like Goldcrest are breeding in the area as this individual was alarming for most of the time while I was present

Later on I was unsuccessful in looking for Darren Masons Golden Oriole he had earlier singing at Watermill but there was this female Blackcap caring food

Good numbers of Goldfinch around including in the garden

Also had this juvenile Carrion Crow nearby

I was talking to Higgo on the mobile when a small finch distantly flew past that sounded like a Trumpter Finch. I cut Higgo off without saying anythin and moved pretty fast to where it had come down. It was this bloody Zebra Finch enjoying a taste in the wild!!

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