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Nightingale at the Dump

27th September 2020

This Nightingale, that was found by Neil McMahon at the dump, was by far the showiest individual that I’ve observed out all five, including this one, on Scilly

This morning I went to have a look at the 4 Pink-footed Geese at Porth Hellick that arrived two days ago and joined up with the 2 Greylag Geese that turned up a few days before. No sign of the latter species but while the 4 Pink-footed Geese were lazily swimming around on the water, I could hear 2 Cetti’s Warbler nearby. At the airfield I met up with Andrew Gardener and the only birds of note were 2 Yellow Wagtail, 30 Meadow Pipit, first Skylark of the year and the week long staying Golden Plover but no sign of Richard’s Astons Ortolan Bunting that I managed to see yesterday evening.

The 4 Pink-footed Geese at Porth Hellick that arrived two days ago

Just before 10.00, I set off to Samson in my kayak and just off Green Island were 10 pale-bellied Brent Geese and the Spoonbill. I covered a lot of ground on Samson itself and for my effort, the Dunlin were down to only 10 but there were over 150 Ringed Plover and a single Grey Plover. A Kestrel and large female Sparrowhawk, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Wheatear, 1 Snipe and an adult Common Gull were only other birds of note. With 4 Yellow-browed Warbler on St Mary’s this morning, a quick call to Higgo, who was on Bryher, to find out if it’s worth coming over. ‘Dead!’ That made my decision to kayak to St Agnes. As I was approaching the north end of the latter island, the wind and the tide coming in, made it pretty rough goin out there. A Nightingale that was found earlier on St Mary’s, 12.45, was still showing on and off at the dump and it was now 15.20. Nightingale on Scilly are normally skulkers and with no news coming out of St Agnes, I turned east in the direction of St Mary’s. 30 minutes later I was watching the Claucous Gull, that was seen off Samson earlier on in the afternoon, distantly over the harbour before flying towards Porthloo where I lost it.

2 Goldcrest were in the sparse Mallows

The Spoonbill had no problem with me in my kayak

Grey Plover

There was only a single Wheatear

Just managed to get a few record shots, from my kayak, of this Claucous Gull disappearing behind Newford Island at Porthloo The first time that I’ve ever seen a white-winged gull in September

Back on dry land, I raced to the dump, passing the Bay View fields on me bike, where I managed to glimpse the Turtle Dove feeding near to the open gate way. At the dump, Hugh Pulsford told me that the Nightingale was showing a minute before I turned up. Typical! However, it wasn’t long until someone pointed it out and there it was perched out in the open at the top of the bank that borders the dump. It flew closer and showed well on an Echim plant before diving into cover. It was some twenty minutes later that it popped up again in the same plant and performed superbly for nearly a minute. After that it briefly showed before I made my ways home as I was getting pretty hungry after kayaking for half the day.

This was the first sighting of the Nightingale

While it was perched up on the bank, it was giving this grunt ‘type’ call a few times

Before it came a little closer

And closer and when hidden in cover you could still hear a soft ‘tac’ It also proved to be the best Nightingale I’ve ever observed

This Whinchat was also in the same area

Yesterday evening, Scott Reid heard a Citrine/Easten Yellow Wagtail over Peninnis heading towards Lower Moors. Myself and Jack Wilson went searching in the latter area and thought we had found Scott’s wagtail and it was shaping up to be an Eastern on first appearance. However, it circled a few times, calling the typical Yellow Wagtail and obviously not the same bird that Scott heard which had a harsh call. Just a grey and white Yellow Wagtail that we get on occasions on Scilly in the autumn

In the last hour of light, after seeing the grey and white Yellow Wagtail, On the airfield, we got 5 Yellow Wagtail and near to the orange and white checkered hut, was the Ortolan Bunting that was found by Richard Aston a few days ago

On the 23rd I had this ‘acro’ warbler on the Dead Pine Walk, Garrison that I thought was a Blyth’s Reed Warbler at the time. This was the best record shot I could get as it was always hidden behind needles or too low down out of sight feeding in the pine trees. It never skulked as such and was always in a banana posture but I didn’t really get enough on it and was rather too hasty in putting the news out as a BRW. Unfortunately, the bird went to ground when the start of the storm came in and the first birders arrived.

There were also 2 Spotted Flycatcher and this Pied Flycatcher in the same pines

This early male Black Redstart was at Porthloo last week

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Higgo needs Help!!!

20th September 2020

In the last few days there have been up to 12 Wryneck on Scilly and today I had three birds including this individual that I stumbled upon while on St Agnes

This morning, it was like a mill pond out there and I set off towards St Agnes in my kayak, passing 30 Sandwich Tern in the harbour, and thirty minutes later I was pulling into near the Turks Head. I started off by walking clockwise around the island and immediately I could see that there was an obvious arrival of new birds in as in ten minutes I had seen single Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat and Merlin. It wasn’t until I got to Wingletang that I picked up a Short-eared Owl arriving from the NW in off the sea and over my head at close range before disappearing further inland. My plan was to spend all day on St Agnes finishing off on Gugh. However, it was cut short when Ren called. ‘Higgo needs help! Really? You don’t say? ‘ And I thought that I was the only one that thought he needed help. well, I’m pleased that you said that. Do you think anyone else has noticed that he might need help Ren? I mean, the other day I saw him looking down with his hands in his ‘No no Spider, he needs help in booting the GREAT SNIPE on Bryher that he flushed off Shipmans Head Down and your the only one that can get there in your kayak as the tide is too low for any boats to pass through the Tresco Channel. But yes your right, he does need help’ What! ‘Are you kidding me Ren? You want me to kayak from St Agnes to Bryher? Have you got any idea how far that is from St Agnes?’ Even though this was a mega bird for Scilly with the last record 1000 years ago and it would be a new species for me, I really didn’t want to go. I wasn’t all that bothered and it felt good birding on the island that I was hoping to stay on for a lot longer than a few hours. After finding a Wryneck on the campsite beach and seen up to 5 Whitethroat, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Siskin, 2 Grey Wagtail, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Whinchat, 6 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff and 4 Blackcap, I found myself heading north across the sea towards Bryher to see if, Higgo needs help.

This Short-eared Owl I observed coming in off the sea as it continued to go further inland where I lost it

So pleased when this Wryneck popped up on the boulders on the beach below the campsite. I’ve got a feeling that I might have found another one or two if I had stuck on St Agnes instead of the crazy decision to kayak to Bryher.

There were also 2 Spotted Flycatcher

5 Whitethroat

6 willow Warbler

And 4 Chiffchaff on St Agnes

While Kayaking towards Bryher, I was thinking that there is no chance of Higgo and I relocating his Great Snipe and what am I missing on the island I just left? On St Mary’s, I know I was missing out on a Honey Buzzard and Marsh Harrier over my garden from all the calls that I was getting!! 30 minutes after leaving St Agnes, I hit Samson and Ren called me ‘Higgo has had a Red-backed Shrike ‘type’ at the pony paddock’ If this turns out to be an Issy Shrike then it be well worth kayaking the four miles. To cut it short, as expected, nothing on the snipe and the shrike turned out to be a Red-backed Shrike that I saw for a few seconds before disappearing never to be seen again. Before I arrived to meet Higgo, he had already had 2 Wryneck and it was while we were walking in the Popplestone area that I kicked a Wryneck in the fields to the west of Popplestone Beach. At the same time, Higgo shouted to say that he had one on the beach itself just below to where we were standing! Higgo had to catch the boat back to St Mary’s while I continued birding until about 19.00 when I made the short hop to Samson. Off Green Island, there were the 2 Spoonbill and up to 25 Mediterranean Gull were feeding with some 70 Black-headed Gull off Samson arriving back at St Mary’s just before dark.

This was all I could get of the Red-backed Shrike as it simply vanished after I had taken this distant record shot

These 2 Wrynecks we observed in the space of a few seconds of each other as they were both in the Popplestones area. This is the third time that I’ve seen 3 Wrynecks on Scilly in a day and Higgo had seen 4 today on Bryher. How many Wrynecks might I’d found if I had stayed on St Agnes?

There were at least 100 Swallow with 10 House and 2 Sand Martin on the island

I also had on Bryher, 15 Wheatear

6 Spotted Flycatcher

1 Pied Flycatcher

6 Reed Warbler

And this Kestrel in the evening light More totals included 12 Whinchat, 2 Redstart, 6 Whitethroat, 10 Chiffchaff and 8 Willow Warbler

One of the 2 Spoonbill roosting on Green Island as I pissed nearby in my kayak

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Bee-eater over the garden!

17th September 2020

This Bee-eater was hawking over the garden early this afternoon. However, I was with a very small crowd observing it from the nearby football pitch.

All-day yesterday, there was thick fog and this morning I woke to grey skies with strong easterlies. Ideal I thought but I had to go to work and with no planes flying yesterday, because of the foggy conditions, I was meeting more guests off the planes that didn’t arrive yesterday. Mid-morning and a Wood Warbler turned up at the tennis courts. Only a few seconds from home and when I had time, I went in search of it. All I found was Trevor and Julia Davis also searching for the warbler. It was only when I returned back to work that they called me to say that they had seen it. Shortly afterwards, this was followed by ‘We got a Bee-eater flying low over our heads at the Dead Pine Walk! By the time I had got there, it had moved on. Some 30 minutes later, I returned to find other birders already present and I told them that I can hear it but not sure where it was coming from. With that, Juliet Moore put on the WhatsApp Group that it was over the football pitch. We all made the short run around and there it was hawking over my bloody garden with Swallows!! What do I do? Dash home to get a garden tick or wait and hope it comes closer? My mind was made up as it was now overhead climbing higher before flying towards the campsite. It was still hanging around when I left to go back to work and I missed out again on a garden tick after three Bee-eaters were an ear-shot from the garden this spring.

I only managed to get a few record shots of the Bee-eater from the football pitch before it flew off towards the campsite

So being flat out at work I finished late and as two nights ago, I spent the last hour or so mostly in the Dead Pine Walk area. This time I did finally connect with the Wood Warbler behind the cadet hut where it had been seen for most of the afternoon. There were also 3 Spotted and a single Pied Flycatcher and Reed Warbler in the area. Overhead there were 100+Swallow, 10 House and single Sand Martin. A Yellow Wagtail and Siskin flew NE and Merlin moved straight through.

The Wood Warbler showed very well in the disappearing light

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The Spotted Sandpiper is still at Porth Hellick. The lack of the white bar on the primaries is pretty obvious even in this record shot

Two evenings ago, I finished work late and took advantage of the last hour of the sun on the pines at the Dead Pine Walk, Garrison. I managed to see all the birds that were noted earlier by other observers including asingle Garden Warbler, Redstart, Reed and 2 Willow Warbler, 5 Spotted and 2 Pied Flycatcher and 50+Swallow.

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This Green Sandpiper was at Lower Moors earlier on the day

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There were up to 5 Spotted Flycatcher taking on the flying insects

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And 2 Pied Flycatcher with Samson in the distance

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There were 2 willow Warbler in the pines including this individual that showed superbly at very close range

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The Dotterel that Tony Gilbert found on the 11th, was last seen on the morning of the 14th at the airfield where I took these images as the sun was rising There were 3 Dotterel found today at Castle Down, Tresco while on Bryher the 3 Buff-breasted Sandpiper were still up on Shipman’s Down. It would be great if they all teamed up together as they can all see each other from each island

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3 Buff-breasted Sandpiper on Bryher

13th September 2020

I successfully kayaked twitched 3 Buff-breasted Sandpiper on Bryher this afternoon.

An early morning wolk around the Garrison started off with a single Grey Wagtail NE over the garden. Otherwise the only birds of note were 3 Spotted Flycatcher and 6 Siskin. Shortly afterwards, I had a quick look at Porth Hellick and heard the Cetti’s Warbler, 3 Water Rail and watched the Spotted Sandpiper being flushed across Porth Hellick Bay by dog walkers. A stroll up to the airfield and I relocated the Dotterel that was last seen flying off west yesterday morning found by Tony Gilbert two evening ago. Lower Moors was dead with a single Water Rail and Snipe

Up to 6 Siskin showed off near to the Dead Pine Walk, Garrison A few days ago, I had one east over the garden.

Tony Gilbert was chuffed when he came across this Dotterel two evenings ago at the airfield After dipping on the plover, I finally got it this morning.

Snipe in the late morning sun

The calm conditions with the burning sun got me in my kayak. First stop was Samson, followed by Bryher, to twitch the 2 Buff-breasted Sandpiper that Patrick Lanaway found yesterday as well as a juvenile Rose-coloured Starling and then Tresco before returning back to St Mary’s. It was on Samson, while getting awesome views of 100 Sanderling, 40 Dunlin and a single Curlew Sandpiper from the kayak on the east shore, that Chris Mills put the news out on the WhatsApp group that there were now 3 Buff-breasted Sandpiper!! That was enough for me to start power rowing towards Bryher.

The Curlew Sandpiper was still present on Samson with up to 40 Dunlin

The Sanderling were feeding meters away from the kayak

There were also some 20 White Wagtail on the west shore

I had a brief look around Samson and all I saw were flocks of Linnet and a single Wheatear

It wasn’t long before I was on the west side of Shipman’s Down with two other birders and as usual for this yanky wader, the 3 Buff-breasted Sandpiper showed superbly at very close range. We observed them for a good twenty minutes as they actively fed in the heather and when they made a short flight to another area of the down, we left them alone. And I left Bryher, after seeing 2 Pied Flycatcher at Church Quay and made the short crossing to Tresco.

After dipping out on the Western Bonelli’s Warbler three days ago in my kayak at Church Quay, Bryher, I So pleased that I connected with these 3 Buff-breasted Sandpiper

There were 2 Pied Flycatcher at Church Quay

On Tresco, all I saw of note on the Great Pool were the Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Shoveler, 6 Wigeon and Little Egret and a single Grey Wagtail. Walking the South Beach there were no waders but 4 pale-bellied Brent Geese flew west only to return shortly afterwards and park just west of Skirt Island close inshore. The return home in the evening sun allowed me to get close to Mediterranean Gull on rocks off Samson to end another stunning day kayaking.

A distant record shot of 2 Shoveler and 5 Wigeon with a single Mallard

These 4 pale-bellied Brent Geese flew west only to return shortly afterwards

There were up to 10 Mediterranean Gull off Samson

Three days ago, I dipped out on the Western Bonelli’s Warbler found by Leighton Newmanm. However, as I made my ways back to my kayak, I counted a personal Scilly record of 23 pale-bellied Brent Geese flying north up the Tresco Channel. They swung around and headed out south and appeared to disappear. I hopped into my kayak and went looking for them. As a result, I found a single bird that showed well before flying and coming back down nearby. My next aim was to see if I could spot the Spoonbill that was seen earlier in the day on Green Island. I did get it but on the east beach of Samson with 3 Little Egret. It was While on Samson very briefly,I saw two dots high up in the blue sky, east in off the sea and I identified them as 2 Kestrel and watched them continue goin in the same direction.

A Scilly personal record of 23 pale-bellied Brent Geese didn’t hang around in the Tresco Channel

This Spoonbill showed well as I sat in my kayak off Samson before flying off towards nearby Green Island

Two dot in off the sea turned out to be these 2 Kestrel goin straight east

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4 Curlew Sandpiper on Samson

8th September 2020

This evening, I kayaked over to Samson and feeding with a single Knot and Black-tailed and 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 64 Dunlin, were a Scilly personal record of 4 Curlew Sandpiper.

I set off to Tresco in my kayak and a quick dash around the Great Pool produced of note, single Grey wagtail, Kingfisher, the female Shoveler, 2 Wigeon and now 2 Pochard. As I pushed off towards Samson, I scanned the 53 Sandwich Tern roosting off Skirt Island and spotted my only Common Tern this year so far. Also good numbers of Mediterranean Gull showing off superbly as they flew at arm’s length away from me.

I didn’t see one single Common Tern last year and this individual could be the only one I see this year. I believe that the reason they left Samson is because there is too much disturbance from folk visiting the tiny island and walking all over it.

I love Mediterranean Gulls and there were up to 5 1st winter and a single adult hanging out off Skirt Island

Like two days ago when I kayaked to Samson at high tide, where there were large numbers of Dunlin, Sanderling and Turnstone on the east beach. Like last time, I drifted just offshore as the very noisy waders fed only meters away from me, sometimes just a meter! I scanned and immediately picked up 3 Bar-tailed and a single black-tailed Godwit, followed by a single Knot, 2 Redshank and a group of 4 Curlew Sandpiper. Goin carefully through the Dunlin, I counted 64. An increase of six birds from two days ago. It was getting darker and I quickly nipped out of the kayak and ran to the West beach to find more Sanderling and a different juvenile Yellow-legged Gull from the juvenile I had here two days ago. I passed Green Island hoping to see if the Spoonbill, that Joe Pender had earlier over St Martins towards Tresco, was possibly roosting on the rocks but only Mediterreanan Gulls. As I was approaching St Mary’s, a flock of 7 Mediterranean Gull fly past at close range.

There were 3 Bar-tailed Godwit including this individual battling in the fresh breeze to stand up straight. while I was trying to stay steady in the kayak to get a shot of the godwit that was only two meters away from me!

This Black-tailed Godwit was directly behind the Bar-tailed Godwit and was also trying to steady itself in the wind

Only a single Knot present

4 Curlew Sandpiper was a Personal Scilly record but this individual was the only one that was at very close range spending time close to the shore while the others were in the hide tide seaweed. Also by now, the light was fast disappearing.

The waders were buzzing and in with the very noisy vocal 64 Dunlin you heard the constant single note of the Knot and trills coming from the Curlew Sandpiper

There were also up to 80+Turnstone, 100+Ringed Plover and 60+Sanderling feeding with the Dunlin

My second juvenile Yellow-legged Gull off Samson in two days

Before I set off in the kayak, I had 3 Pied Flycatcher, including this individual on the Garrison

At the airport, single Whinchat and in the garden, this Spotted Flycatcher

Two days ago on Sunday, I successfully twitched this Wryneck in my kayak on Bryher. Viv Stratton and I spent a good half an hour with it as it favored a horse paddock west of the campsite.

There were also a single Sparrowhawk, Spotted Flycatcher and in the churchyard, 2 Pied Flycatcher including this individual.

2 Clouded Yellow in the same paddock as the Wryneck, was the first I’ve seen this year

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Barred Warbler on the Garrison

2nd September 2020

A 30 minute time off from work, payed off in me finding this cracking Barred Warbler only a two minute walk from home in the campsite garden, Garrison

After doin a few taxi’s, I had 30 minutes to kill which gave me time to check out the Dead Pine Walk area. While walking towards the north entrance of the campsite, very briefly I got onto a Barred Warbler, obscured by branches, before dropping down deeper into cover and of sight. I put the news out immediately and some five minutes later, it popped up again and gave me time to get a few record shots before repeating itself by doin the disappearing act. Shortly afterwards, I possibly, just caught the warbler fly out across the path and towards the Sporting hut nearby just as the first birder arrived. Also in the area were 4 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Blackcap and a single Willow Warbler. At the airport there were 2 Yellow Wagtail and at two other sites, I had four more Pied Flycatcher. In the evening at Porthloo, there were 3 Mediterranean Gull with over 70 Black-headed Gull and the Curlew Sandpiper was still hanging out with the Dunlin.

The Barred Warbler was only on view for 20 seconds and despite others searching,unfortunly it was never seen again throughout the rest of the day

There were up to 4 Pied Flycatcher in the area including this individual that showed off in the sun in the big Sycamore next to the Campsite garden

I had 4 more Pied Flycatcher elsewhere includfing 3 at Newford and this individual at Lower Moors

And I finished the day off again with another wader and this time the Curlew Sandpiper at Porthloo

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Spotted Sandpiper at Porth Hellick

1st September 2020

After Robin sending a pic last night of what he thought was the possibly Spotted Sandpiper at Porth Hellick and me confirming it that it was one, I had to go and see it for myself today and did it show well

Shortly after 08.00, I had only been on the path to Porth Hellick Pool for less than a minute when I met Scott Reid returning from the pool and he told that there was no sign of the Spotted Sandpiper. We both made our ways back to the road and as I was just about to get into my wagon, I heard a Spotted Redshank overhead. I looked up but couldn’t see it but when it called again, I picked it up fairly high heading south. I tried to call Scott, only to see him pulling out of the water plant where he works, driving towards me and he didn’t hear anythin. Early afternoon and I had a quick look at the Dead Pine Walk where I got 3 Pied Flycatcher, 5 Blackcap, 1 Willow Warbler and a Greenshank arrived in off the sea from the SW. Later I had a Yellow Wagtail north over the airfield and a male Merlin at Newford Duckpond while searching for the Black Kite that Mick Scott had over his house at Longstones.

I finished work late and while I was walking on the airfield, Bobby ‘Dazzler’ Dawson had relocated the Spotted Sandpiper in Porth Hellick Bay that was seen earlier in the day. On the airfield there were 40 Wheatear and 20 Meadow Pipit before I observed the Black Kite coming from out of the Salkee pines. It was a long ways off but I ran like the devil towards the raptor as it started circling gaining height all the time. I got some record shots before it flew off north towards Kittidown.

This Black Kite was first seen this morning on Tresco and is presumably one of the two individuals from yesterday that roamed St Mary’s

There were up to 40 Wheatear on the airfield

When I put the news out of the kite, that’s when Bobby ‘Dazzler’ realised that I was nearby to where he was watching the sandpiper. He contacted me to let me know that it was showing at close range. Within minutes, I joined Bob who left me alone with the wader. For the next 30 minutes, the Spotted Sandpiper performed superbly as it continued to feed, at times, only a meter away. Unfortunately, the sun had disappeared behind the hill behind me and therefore the conditions were not ideal for photography. At the same time, the Black Kite flew east over the pool and returning through the fields of Salkee, I had a single Whinchat and Spotted Flycatcher. I joined other folks to watch the awesome sunset at Porthloo and there below me was the Curlew Sandpiper feeding with Dunlin.

Yesterday evening I was alone with a rare wader, Temmink’s Stint on Tresco and today I finished the evening with another rare wader in the same style with this Spotted Sandpiper that showed off superbly as it fed in among the boulders only meters away from me.

This Whinchat was at Salkee

Stunning sunset over Samson from Porthloo this evening

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13th TEMMINK’S STINT for Scilly

31st August 2020

This TEMMINK’S STINT was found by Brendan Doe on Tresco Great Pool from the Swarovski Hide this morning and shortly afterwards he had a Lapland Bunting over the heliport

A sniff of SE does the trick and as a result a Temmink’s Stint, 2 Curlew Sandpiper and a single Lapland Bunting were all seen on Tresco by mid-day. however, Tresco didn’t have all the fun. I finished work an hour early and made a quick decision to twitch the Temmink’s Stint in my kayak. I was just off Carn Gwarvel in The Roads, when news came out on the Scilly Bird News WhatsApp Group that Mick Scott had found yet another Black Kite over Longstones. It wasn’t long until folks realised that there were 2 Black Kite roaming St Mary’s. When Ren put out that they were over the golf course, I swung my kayak round to face the golf course, and picked them both up briefly before disappearing over the ridge. I was close to Tresco when a personal record of 11 Black-tailed Godwit flew east overhead. Maybe I was better off just hanging out in the middle of The Roads?

Once on Tresco, I made my ways towards the Swarovski Hide but not before I saw the female Shoveler feeding with now 22 Teal at the east end of the pool and I also got the first Kestrel of the autumn. From the hide I found the Temmink’s Stint asleep. A few minutes later it was off and flew high west leaving me with the 2 Curlew Sandpiper. Great stuff!! While scanning some fifteen ,minutes later from the hide, I heard a stint come in and sure enough it was the Temmink’s Stint and it dropped in front of the hide and starting feeding Ideal! I spent some time with it and then returned to my kayak.

This is only my sixth Scilly Temmink’s Stint and the first record was also on Great Pool when there were two birds together some 15 years ago

These 2 Curlew Sandpiper didn’t show so well as the stint and were always looking into the light

The first Kestrel of the autunm was hoving over fields north of Pool Road

I started paddling close to shore and got some awesome views of a Knot. Passing Porthloo in my kayak, back on St Mary’s, I scanned the shore I picked up the Curlew Sandpiper, that had not been seen all day, feeding with 14 Dunlin.

As usual, I got personal and close up to the waders while in my kayak including this awesome Knot

Later on when I returned home, Robin sent me some pics of a sandpiper that he took in the afternoon at Porth Hellick, which I identified as a Spotted Sandpiper. This confirmed yesterdays A Pauline’s sighting of a possible Spotted Sandpiper at Porth Hellick. Hopefully it will still be around tomorrow along with the 2 Black Kite.

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