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Radde’s Warbler at Porth Hellick

13th Novermber 2021

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After goin missing for nearly two weeks, Robin relocated this Spotted Sandpiper on the very same rocks to where it was first discovered by Matthew Naylor a month to this day, 14th Oct, at Porthloo Beach

Five days ago, I was nearing the end of the north side of the boardwalk on the Porth Hellick loop trail and I just caught a single note from what I thought might be a Wren behind me. But it didn’t sound right and it was enough to stop me in my tracks and listen. It called once more and I rushed over to the west end where the call was coming from as I thought it sounded more like a possible Radde’s Warbler. For the next few minutes, I was running around in all directions inside the wood as it proved to be very mobile, always low out of sight. It only gave itself away to where it was when it called. it was still vocal after a few minutes but I had to leave to get back to work. I managed to get some recordings on my mobile and sent it to James Lidster asking if this is a Radde’s? I also put the recording on the Whatsapp group with ‘What do others think of this call?’ Then the local birders can make their own minds up if they find the recording interesting enough to go and search for it themselves if they also thought that maybe it was Radde’s. Jim came back shortly after and told me that I might be right, that it is a Radde’s Warbler but also warned me that some Robin recordings, are inseparable from Radde’s. Even the sonograms prove mega tough between the two species. After being told this, I was thinking that maybe it’s a Robin after all. We needed to see the bloody thing. Later that day, I was helping Bobby ‘Dazzler’ Dawson out and after he heard the recording, he asked me if I had thought about Hooded Warbler? I wouldn’t have a clue what one sounded like. That night others suggested that it might be a Hooded Warbler as well. We needed to pin this bloody thing down! I immediately let others know that night.

Here is the call of the squeaky toy at Porth Hellick loop trail You may need earphones If all accepted, I’ve now discovered Marsh, Greenish, Western Bonelli’s, Arctic and now Radde’s Warbler in the space of less than four months on Scilly!

Late that evening, I drove down Church Road and caught an owl in the street lights just above but in front of me. It flew low down below the street lights in the center of the road, where I could see that it was a Long-eared Owl. It turned off at the junction to the Stone Shop and flew NW over the park. I continued on home and as I approached the Police Station, it reappeared from nowhere, very low over the road only meters in front of me and flew off into the dark south towards Sallyport.

First thing the next morning, there was only Scott and myself hoping to catch a glimpse of the third Hooded Warbler for Britain! Just before we had to both return to work, I could hear it faintly calling in the reeds nearby. As it was in the reeds, that kinda ruled out Robin but now pointed more towards the reed loving Hooded Warbler. We let others know that whatever it is, it’s still here calling. Shortly afterwards, I returned with Steve Holloway, who moved over to live on Scilly a few months ago, and we heard the Hooded, Radde’s Warbler/Robin, Chicken, Hedgehog, squeaky toy, whatever it is, give away a single note only a few meters in front of us. Steve said ‘that’s it!’ He was spot on. It was it. Whatever that is? We didn’t hear a peep after nearly an hour and I left Steve still on the loop trail. It wasn’t long before he called me to say that it’s been very vocal, deep in cover out of sight, low down in a Sallow, a step away from the north side of the boardwalk. He had made his mind up to what he thought it was and when he observed it fly out, he was 100% that it was a Radde’s Warbler. Shite!! Like everyone else, I so wanted it to be a Hooded Warbler. Oh well, like the Arctic Warbler that I found a few days ago, it’s a species that I’ve been hoping to discover on Scilly for some time now. However, now we know what species it is, I would like to see it. I returned early afternoon to find a small gathering of local birders in the area, who had heard it nearby. It was not until I returned later on, when everyone had moved off, that I observed the Radde’s Warbler very briefly, mid-way up the same Sallow that Steve had it earlier. As it made it’s way down, I tried desperately to focus on it with the camera but it was no good as it was always half-hidden behind too many tiny branches and before I knew it, it was on the deck where all I could see was movement from the undergrowth it was deep within. Just then Scott came around the corner and I quickly told him what I had just observed. I thought I had nearly an hour to hang out in the area but I had to move on as I could hear my helicopter coming in half an hour earlier.

The following day I spent whatever time I could off work in the Porth Hellick loop trail area. For my effort I did see a single Yellow-browed Warbler, 6 Siberian Chiffchaff, 20 Chiffchaff and near to the pumping station, the Eastern ‘Type’Lesser Whitethroat but no sign of the Radde’s Warbler. But Robin jammed in on it later in the afternoon on the deck calling almost under the boardwalk. And two days ago, it was only heard by others in the same area in the reeds north of the boardwalk. If accepted it will be the latest Scilly record

Yesterday, I had an hour off work and got a pleasant surprise when I walked into the north entrance of Lower Moors. A very vocal Yellow-browed Warbler!! Probably only my third this autumn! While it was still calling, I could hear another one towards the Shooters Pool. 2 Yellow-browed Warbler new in!! In the area, there were also 6 Siberian Chiffchaff, a single Willow Warbler and Lesser Redpoll, 4 Woodcock and 6 Swallow.

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Both Yellow-browed Warbler at Lower Moors were very vocal but both birds proved very elusive

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This Lesser Redpoll paused briefly before moving on

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At least 6 Siberian Chiffchaff also in the area

This morning, was very gloomy with light drizzler. although there was no sign of the Radde’s warbler yesterday, I covered Porth Hellick loop trail and of note were only 2 Siberian Chiffchaff, 2 Swallow and 4 Woodcock. Overhead, winter thrushes were overhead and by 11.00, some 600 Redwing and 50 Fieldfare had moved through with the odd Brambling and handful of Siskin. Also, 22 Snipe flew north and 24 Stock Dove NW.

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No sign of the Radde’s Warbler at Porth Hellick but still good numbers of Siberian Chiffchaff on St Mary’s including this vocal individual at Porth Hellick

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Very small numbers of Brambling knocking around including this individual on the beach

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I had 6 Swallow yesterday but there were I only saw two this morning

Later in the afternoon, the weather had improved a little and Robin relocated the Spotted Sandpiper at Porthloo Beach since it was last seen nearly two weeks ago at Watermill. As usual, it showed off under the cliffs at high tide at the north end of the beach. There were also 2 Black Redstart and later on, just before dark, I had a single at Little Porth and the airport where there were 5 Skylark at the latter site.

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This Spotted Sandpiper has been hanging out on St Mary’s for a month now and has returned to Porthloo Beach where it was first discovered after spending most of it’s time on the east side of the island at Watermill. Note a few spots coming through behind it’s legs.

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There has been up to 9 Mediterranean Gull at Porthloo in the last week but there was only this cracking adult present while observing the Spotted Sandpiper

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I had up to 4 Black Redstart today

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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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