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My first Sand Martins of the year

21st March 2021

Mid-morning and I was scanning from Morning Point and picked up this brute of a Glaucous Gull, distantly off Gugh, only to observe it heading directly towards me and land on top of a rock only meters away from me!

As well as the Glaucous Gull at Morning Point, in ones and twos from in off the sea from the south, 10 Meadow Pipit, 8 Linnet and 4 Goldfinch, in the forty minutes that I was there. Before this I had a single Firecrest and 3 Chiffchaff at the campsite nearby. When I returned home, the odd Meadow Pipit could be heard over the garden now and then, heading north.

This Glaucous Gull arrived all the way from Gugh and pitched on the rocks at very close range allowing me to get some pics of him

as you can see, the Glaucous Gull was a beast and all the gulls made sure they didn’t get in his path and got out of the way

Yesterday it was predicted that it was goin to be a calm day but I had to wait until gone 14.00 for the NE to calm down. Walking the South Beach, I thought I heard a Snow Bunting flying nearby but took it for a distant Turnstone as I only just caught it because the sound of the waves against the shore. Some ten minutes later I turned the bend onto Pentle Bay and again, I could hear that twitter call. Only meters away from me was the Snow Bunting from yesterday on Samson! I didn’t have much time, so I took a few snaps and left it alone. The Iceland Gull and female Eider were both off Skirt Island. In the last few days, the first Sand Martins of the year have been seen on St Mary’s in ones and twos and yesterday a Swallow was on St Martins. As I approached Abbey Pool, I was thinking that’s it’s about time there was one on Tresco. Nothin!! Ten minutes of following the pool around and 17 sand Martin arrived in from the west, circled the pool, and continued east until I couldn’t see them no more. I did the circuit of the Great Pool next, anti-clockwise and the only species of note included a single Cattle Egret, the four geese, Russian White-front, Siberian Greylag goose and the Canada Geese, the Great Spotted Woodpecker, 12 Chiffchaff, 18 Linnet and a Woodcock. There was no change with the wildfowl from yesterday. An hour later, I returned to the Abbey Pool to find that there were now 28 Sand Martin hawking high above the water. Was this flock part of the 17 or were they all new birds just in? Who knows but it does make you think of how many Sand Martin have moved through today? Returning home and the 3 Cattle Egret that have been on St Mary’s, flew over me towards Tresco to join the other individual that I saw earlier, to roost. I’ve now had all three species of egret from the kayak.

well, I didn’t think that I was goin to bump into this Snow Bunting at Pentle Beach after finding it yesterday on Samson.

Only the 1 Cattle Egret on the Great Pool as the other three were on St Mary’s

Will these 2 Canada Geese stay and breed?

It was good to see the Russian White-fronted and Siberian Greylag Goose showing well instead of 100 mile away or flying off

There were up to 28 Sand Martin hawking high above the Abbey pool

Finally the sun came out when I was nearing the end. Altogether I counted 8 Great and 5 Blue Tit, on the island

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Snow Bunting on Samson

20th March 2021

First picked this Snow Bunting up on call as it flew north straight through while I was kayaking just off Samson. It pitched down on the north beach of the island and that’s where I took this image

Just after 09.00 this morning, I was carrying my kayak up to the top of South Beach, Tresco and a Wheatear flew ahead of me. At the same time, I could see another male above me on the bank. I was expecting more in migrants, after seeing these 2 Wheatear but walking around the two pools in the still but gloomy conditions and it was the same old stuff, although there were now from 2 to 3 male Shoveler on the Abbey Pool. Pool Road held only a single Firecrest, 8 Chiffchaff and the Great Spotted Woodpecker. There were 7 Great Northern Diver from Skirt Island to Carn Near where there was also the female Eider off the former sight. It wasn’t long before I was in the Tresco Channel and sitting on a rock off Samson was the first returning Sandwich Tern of the year.

Up to 2 Wheatear were at the South Beach

The first returning Sandwich Tern of the year was off Samson. However, a quick two hours around Tresco, five days ago, produced a very early Common Tern that flew from the west to south straight through, close inshore, as I was just about to get in my kayak on the South Beach to return home. Not surprisingly, it was the first of the year for the UK. Some twenty years ago, my earliest record of Common Tern was an individual perched on Tregs wall, 25th March. In Salop, I had a single on the 27th March at Crosemere with 2 summer plumage Black-necked Grebe.

I had only been on Bryher for a few minutes and doing the circuit around Turfy Hill, I kicked a Short-eared Owl from roosting in the braken only to see it disappear behind the small hump. After this it proved hard work and nearly three hours later of walking the island, of note were 8 Chiffchaff, 6 Goldcrest, 2 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 22 Linnet and at the Big pool, a single Wheatear. The male Pintail in Hell Bay, paid a visit from Tresco I guess. After spending an hour on Samson and only seeing 2 Skylark, I returned to me kayak to return home. I had only been rowing for a minute when I heard, what I thought was a distant Snow Bunting coming from the south. I quickly got the mobile out on time to record it as it flew north straight through directly over me. I swapped my mobile for my bins and just caught it as it pitched down at the far north end of Samson. Five minutes later I was back on Samson but could I find the bloody thing. I had almost given up in searching for the bunting, when I heard it twitting and there it was, only meters away feeding at the top of the beach. For the next ten minutes I lay down with it and as always with these smart-looking buntings, it walked up to me making life a lot easier in getting pics in the fading light. It was now 18.15, I had to get back and just after 19.00, I was cycling home after putting the kayak away at Sharks Pit, St Mary’s.

This Pintail in Hell Bay, I guess is the male from Tresco.

This is only my third spring Snow Bunting after the individual last year in Hugh Town that turned up just a few days later in March last year. Before this, a cracking male in May on Castle Down, Tresco, some 16 years ago.

My kayak just above Samson Flats where the Snow Bunting was hanging out

Before I left home this morning, I fed the birds in the garden and I’ve now got from two last week to 7 Chaffinch visiting with over 50 House sparrow.

Just 2 Great Tit

And now it appears there are just 2 Robin

And a pair of Collard Dove

I made a brief visit to Tresco five days ago and still present on the Great Pool were the Russian White-fronted and Siberian Greylag Goose. Underneath them as they flew off, were the 2 Canada Geese.

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Hoopoe at Cove Vean

7th March 2021

Hoopoes are a delight to see aboard but there even better when they turn up on Scilly and show off like this individual did at the top of Cove Vean Beach, St Agnes today.

A few days ago I was working out if to go and kayak to St Agnes today or tomorrow as both days were ideal weather conditions for getting on the water. As a Hoopoe was discovered yesterday on the island, my mind was easily made up and just after 09.00 this morning, I found myself carrying my kayak across Gugh Bar where I had landed. Ten minutes later, I flushed the Hoopoe next to the boatshed at Cove Vean with no idea that it was there. And for the next hour of searching all over the shop in the nearby area, I couldn’t relocate it anywhere. As Hoopoe have a knack of returning to the same spot, I had a plan and decided that I would walk St Agnes and return later in the afternoon. It was a cracking day but the sharp NE made it bitter cold on the face. It was a slow process of gettin around as everyone I bumped into wanted to have a chat. Richard told me that I was probably the first visitor this year to St Agnes, take away builders and other workers. By the time I made it around the island, of note, I had seen a single Mistle Thrush behind the Turks Head, 2 Black Redstart, single Blackcap and White Wagtail and 20 Chiffchaff. Mid-afternoon and I flushed the Hoopoe again immediately on my right as I entered the beach from the Wingletang coastal path. Fortunately this time, it only made a short flight and came back down on the beach. I scrambled behind a rock and for the next hour it actively fed showing very well but it was always in the shadows of the all Pittosporum bushes overlooking the beach. After my fill, I sneaked off and left it in peace before climbing into my kayak and returning back home to St Mary’s. Before I set off to St Agnes, the Black Redstart was still at Little Porth and the 2 Iceland Gull were still at Porthloo.

Just before I headed out to St agnes in the kayak, as usual the 2 Iceland Gull were hanging out at Porthloo

Looking from Cove Vean towards Tresco in the distance with my kayak just below the yellow sign on the left of the picture.

Oystercatchers, 21 Curlew and this Redshank, were the only wadrers I came across

In less than a week, I’ve managed to see 3 male Black Redstart including this individual just below the Nags Head.

There were at least four pairs of Stonechat along the coastal path

And up to 8 Great Tit scattered around the island

St Agnes lighthouse from Horse Point

This Hoopoe performed very well actively feeding in the sand but it spent it’s time in the shadows of the Pittosporums overhanging Cove Vean beach

From Cove Vean looking towards Gugh

Two days ago, there were up to 17 White and 28 Pied Wagtail commuting with the garden and the horse paddocks on the east side of the Garrison. At 09.27, before I took this record shot of the wagtails, while feeding the pigs, above me the gulls were going crazy and above them my earliest ever record of an Osprey flew straight through east.

In the garden, I have up to 4 Robin visiting the bird table

Also got up to 4 Song Thrush battling it out over the apples

And guess what? 4 Blackbird including a female with a white tail Also some 50 House Sparrow but only a handful of Chaffinch and so far a single Greenfinch.

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COMMON SEAL on Scilly!

3rd March 2021

Nearly two weeks ago, Graham Cunsdale came across this COMMON SEAL in the bay at Porth Hellick. A mega find by Graham with only a handful of records on Scilly. So I felt very lucky to be the only other observer to also see it, when I stumbled upon the mamalal in the same bay four days ago, 28th February.

This morning, I was approaching Carn Near, Tresco in the kayak, and changed my mind and thought that Bryher might be the island to visit today. But not before I took some record shots of the returning Iceland Gull that was at Porthloo last week., off Sea Carn. Before I set off from St Mary’s, I had the 2 long staying Iceland Gull at Porthloo. Arriving at the south end of Bryher, Rushy Bay, in the warm sun, just after mid-day, I immediately came across 6 Chiffchaff moving through together followed by 8 White and 3 Pied Wagtail feeding in the cattle field and a Sparrowhawk flew through. All new birds in but it kinda went cold after that until I reached Popplestone Bay, nearly two hours later. Here there were another 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Linnet, 18 Redwing and a single Skylark with over 100 Meadow Pipit. As I stated climbing Shipman’s Down along the coastal path, I got my earliest ever record of Wheatear! So good to see and it showed pretty well. However, the 2 Black Redstart sharing the same rocks as the Wheatear, including a stunning male, kept their distance. A Grey Wagtail was also present and seemed out of place in the heather but it soon moved off south and on top of the down were 2 Golden Plover. After that, it proved hard work and returning back to St Mar’s, I stopped off at Samson where I got a single Skylark, 2 White Wagtail, 2 Meadow Pipit, 2 Snipe, 26 Curlew and 6 Common Gull. The Lesser Black-backed Gulls had arrived to breed with well over 100 scattered around the island.

There were up to 8 White and 3 Pied Wagtail in the Rushy Bay fields

Always feels good to see the first Wheatear of the year and this male proved to be my earliest ever after a single on the 7th March at Baggy Moor back home in Salop.

There was an arrival of over 100 Meadow Pipit

From Hell Bay to Popplestone, I had up to 3 pairs of Stonechat

The Great Tit on Bryher were very vocal

I only came across 2 Chaffinch

Leaving Bryher towards Samson in the gloomy conditions, I passed 5 Great Northern Diver including this cross billed individual

These 2 White Wagtail were on Samson

And more White Wagtail with four birds briefly in front of my window where I took this record shot two days ago. Later on at the stables I had another 5 each of White and Pied Wagtail, 8 Redwing and a single Linnet

The COMMON SEAL at Porth Hellick four days ago showed well on a rock in the bay basking in the evening sun but was moved off by the rising tide. This seal has swam a long ways with colonies in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Teesmouth and eastern England.

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