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2 Scaup on Tresco

30th April 2022

Well worth kayak twitching this Dotterel at Shipman’s Head Down, Bryher this evening.

A very successful kayak twitch in the sunny calm conditions late this afternoon. Arriving on Tresco and immediately I got the pair of Scaup on the Abbey Pool that were discovered a few days ago. First observed past Innisidgen by Steve Brayshaw before settling on Tresco. After only getting record shots of the Scaup, I thought I would give it an hour of birding in the area and was rewarded with a stunning male Garganey at the south end of the Great Pool. It was hanging out with a male Teal and Shoveler. The only other birds of note were 26 Whimbrel, 3 Great Northern Diver, 2 Mediterranean Gull and the Eider at Pentle Beach. However, as I passed the west side of Tresco in the kayak, I got pretty close to 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, including some cracking summer plumage individuals and a single Whimbrel. Also there were up to 10 Wheatear scattered along the shore.

Out of all the species I’ve observed in the last week on Scilly, this pair of Scaup at the Abbey Pool, Tresco, were the rarest and an excellent spring record found by Steve Brayshaw. It’s a pity that they were always distant.

Left the Scaup and a few minutes later I discovered this male Garganey at the south end of the Great Pool

There were 26 whimbrel at Pentle Beach.

And on the west side of Tresco, there were up to 6 Bar-tailed Godwit. Size comparison with an Oystercatcher

I continued rowing across the channel to Bryher and made my way up to Shipman’s Head Down. Here I connected with the Dotterel that turned up yesterday. I spent a good twenty minutes with the plover and as usual for this species, it showed off superbly at very close range. I only left St Mary’s over two hours ago and I had time to return to Tresco to check out the Great Pool at the west end. Sand Martins were all over the shop on the pool with some 120. Mixed in with them were 40 House Martin and 60 Swallow but no sign of any of the Red-rumped Swallow from yesterday. There were also 3 Common Sandpiper at Simpsons Field and returning back home in the kayak, I kicked out two more of the latter species from the shore before I got home at 20.30.

The Dotterel showing off on the south side of Shipmanhead Down, Bryher. You can just make out Round Island in the distance above the bird in the above image

Yesterday, I was dropping off cases at Spanish Ledge, Porthcressa and all the gulls cleared off the roof tops, alarming. ‘Osprey!’ I ran out to see an Osprey circling above Porthcressa Bay.

Two days ago, 28th, I had a pretty good day starting off with this Serin at Peninnis

This was followed by twitching this male Pied Flycatcher that turned up at Carrag Dhu Gardens where it performed very well in the centre large Sycamore for the twenty minutes that I observed it.

Before seeing the flycatcher, on the golf course there were over 30 Wheatear, male Ring Ouzel, Hobby and this Tree Pipit. I also had a Jackdaw SE over the garden.

The 27th saw this Great White Egret, first on Tresco then being relocated in the Porth Hellick area, St Mary’s, before it settled down in a dead pine at Kittidown where I connected with it.

Also had a Whinchat, Whitethroat and this Golden Plover at the airfield on the same day as the egret

And the Woodchat Shrike was still present at the golf course on the 25th

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Purple Heron at Porth Hellick

22nd April 2022

Standing looking south at Porth Hellick, I observed this Purple Heron fly in off the sea and pitch down at the east end of the pool.

Overcast and with north easterlies can produce the goods and early this morning down at Porth Hellick, I observed a Purple Heron that appeared to arrive from the SE in off the sea at Porth Hellick. It circled the pool before settling down by the ringing station. There were also 2 Reed Warbler and a single Sedge Warbler in full song and good numbers of hirundines were also moving straight through.

Fortunately, the Purple Heron stuck around and almost everyone caught up with it throughout the day as commuted with Porth Hellick and Lower Moors.

Shortly after leaving Porth Hellick, I did a few taxis and then tried out the golf course where there was an obvious fall of Wheatear with a total of over 150. Also present were a single Golden Plover and 2 male Ring Ouzel. It wasn’t until 19.00 that I got back out in field again, when I finished work, and on the airfield there were up to 60 WheatearMerlin and a stunning male Black Redstart near the terminal building. At the stables there were 4 Fieldfare and more Wheatear before I returned home.

My first Ring Ouzel of the year were 2 males on the golf course

On the airfield there were another 60 Wheatear and this cracking male Black Redstart

And a few days ago, as I was just around the corner, I twitched this Rook in Chas and Katherine’s garden at Higher Lanes

Woodchat Shrike at Golf Course

24th April 2022

I thought I turned up this Woodchat Shrike on the golf course but discovered shortly afterwards that Antony Kinread had it some twenty minutes before me!

A day off and I gave it a good bashing around part of St Mary’s. I started off at Porth Hellick, arriving there before 08.00 and immediately as I got out of the wagon, I could hear a distant Grasshopper Warbler reeling at Higher Moors. On the otherside of the road a single Lesser Redpoll flew east and opposite the hides, there was my first Cuckoo of the year. On the pool were 2 Snipe, 2 Teal and in off the sea from the south, 3 Mute Swan circled the pool and flew out SW. On the beach there were a male Black Redstart and some 40 House and 25 Sand Martin 30 Swallow. Over an hour later of covering the area, totals of common migrants new in included, 9 Sedge, 8 Reed, 7 Willow Warbler and 6 Blackcap and 10 Chiffchaff. At the stables there was only a single Fieldfare.

This male Black Redstart was enjoying the morning sun on the beach

From 2 yesterday to 8 singing male Reed Warbler this morning at Porth Hellick

And from a single yesterday to 9 singing male Sedge Warbler

These 3 Mute Swan, in off the sea, were new in or probably from Tresco

Only a single Fieldfare remained at the stables out of the 4 birds yesterday

After getting somethin down my neck, I was out again and strolled around the NE of the island with nothin of note except for more common migrants dotted around and a single Whimbrel and Great Northern Diver. It was not until a few hours later that I decided to try out the golf course. I could immediately see that there were still large numbers of Wheatear and the Golden Plover but only a single male Ring Ouzel, still present. However, it was not until I reached the center wall where I thought I found a Woodchat Shrike. I first called the owner of the golf club to sort out permission for others to see the shrike and then put the news out. A few birders soon arrived but the woodchat had gone missing after being pushed on by a male Stonechat. A few of us, including the finder, Antony Kinread who first had it before I set eyes on it, went in search of it and as a result turned up 2 Yellow Wagtail and 2 female Ring Ouzel in the east fields from the club house and altogether, there were a total of 150 Wheatear. I continued into the fields and flushed the shrike out, with no idea it was there, back to the centre wall on the course. Those viewing from the club house immediately picked it up. Later on I had another reeling Grasshopper Warbler at the junction of Telegraph/Porthloo Lane then after yesterday, another great day, I made my way home as I was starting to feel peckish.

The Woodchat Shrike only showed well very briefly, when it hit the deck on it’s prey before flying some way down the wall

The Golden Plover was still present from yesterday

Altogether today, I had a total of 220 Wheatear and 3 Ring Ouzel including in this image, the male of the latter species and up to 16 of the former species.

Also 25 Chiffchaff and Blackcap and including this individual, 20 Willow Warbler

2 Grasshopper, 8 Reed and including this individual, 18 Sedge Warbler

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1st CRAG MARTIN for Scilly!

17th March 2022

The CRAG MARTIN was relocated by Higgo hawking over Fraggle Rock area, Bryher after it was first seen on Tresco by a visiting birder three days ago!

The thick fog was still lingering on from yesterday this morning and I didn’t get out until gone 08.30. The Reed Warbler was still singing in the same patch of reeds as yesterday at Porth Hellick but that was it! It was an hour later that I returned to the latter site, the fog had cleared and from the hide I could now hear 2 Reed and 3 Sedge Warbler and there were 5 swallow over the pool. It was then that news broke on the WhatsApp group that Higgo had relocated the CRAG MARTIN at Fraggle Rock Cafe area, that was first seen on Tresco three days ago, 14th, by a visiting birder. Dead on 10.00 O’clock, I left Little Porth in the kayak and was on dry land at Church Quay, Bryher, less than an hour later. I would of been a lot faster if it wasn’t for everyone calling me while I was power rowing across. Higgo was scanning from Watch Hill with no sign of it for the last thirty minutes. I had hope that it would show up again and shortly after, Higgo called to let me know that it was back at Fraggle Cafe. From the campsite, to my relief, I picked it up and then ran like the devil to get closer. Higgo called again ‘I’ve got pics mate’ I can’t repeat on here what he replied ‘Thank **** for that!!!’ A few minutes later, he was cuddling me so tight that it felt like my ribs were breaking. ‘Lifer boy!’ The chunky, bulky, monster hirundine performed very well low down above our heads in the overcast skies hawking between the Old post office and Watch Hill showing off the distinctive features. It’s pale windows when tail is spread and the dark armpits but the light was crap! Just after mid-day, Bobby ‘Dazzler’ Dawson and Will Wagstaffe were also enjoying close up views of the martin from the path we were all standing on while Andy Holden was observing with his scope from Tresco. They had just made it time for the 10.15 boat to Tresco where they had to wait for low tide to walk across the channel to Bryher. The other birders on St Mary’s have now got to wait until the 14.00 boat across direct to Bryher.

The milky overcast skies didn’t help with the photography on the CRAG MARTIN but although I’ve seen many abroad, by far the Bryher individual put a smile on my face as this was a species I was so hoping to see on Scilly.

The hirundine had gone missing for a good thirty minutes and we all split up in search of it. I made my ways towards Hillside and there I refound the Hoopoe from a few days ago in the horse paddocks. It showed very well and a flava wagtail with a raspy call flew south. Now I was trying to relocate the wagtail instead of the Crag Martin but all I could manage were 2 Skylark, including a freaky leucosticte individual at Rushy Bay, after a good hour. Just after 15.00, the main crowd from St Mary’s had the Crag Martin from the boat in the channel near to the old post office. fifteen minutes later I had it over the pool with 5 Swallow and they all flew out south. However, the Crag Martin returned and it was while it was over Hillside Farm, Timmy’s Hill, that everyone caught up with it in the now blue skies. Others were observing it from Watch Hill. It showed off superbly and at times, giving us point blank range views as it continued to hawk but spent most of it’s time out of sight. The guys only had a short time to tick off this first for Scilly as they had to return on the 16.30 boat back to St Mary’s. Me, I left the Crag Martin and continued in search of the flava wagtail and by 17.40, I had seen a single Tree Pipit, 2 Yellow Wagtail and on the east side of Gweal Hill, I kicked a Short-eared Owl. I returned to the Old post office to find the Crag Martin was there and scanning from watch Hill, east towards Tresco Simpson’s Field, I could make out a single Cattle Egret, the Glossy Ibis and the plastic Barnacle Goose. Some ten minutes later, I was observing all three species from the Abbey Drive, Tresco. There were also a male Tufted Duck, the male Pintail and hawking over the water, up to 20 hirundines. However, it was a scan over the sallows to the south of the Great Pool that I picked up more hirundines and with them was a Red-rumped Swallow! as quick as appeared it disappeared only to flick up again from behind the sallows very briefly. After this in ten minutes, I managed to get on to it a few more times as it continued to appear from behind the sallows and disappear again. Altogether I had a total of 15 House and 5 Sand Martin and over 40 Swallow but that was just a minimum as it was so difficult to estimate on a number as they spent most of their time out of sight. I had to get goin and while kayaking back to St Mary’s there were 7 Curlew and 9 Whimbrel at Appletree Bay and my first Common Sandpiper of the year at Porthloo. I finally got home just before dark and it felt like I had been to the Mediterranean and back. Hoopoe, Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, Red-rumped Swallow and Crag Martin!

The Hoopoe showed well in the horse paddocks at Hillside Farm

Unfortunately, although the CRAG MARTIN showed superbly in the blue skies over Timmy’s Hill, I forgot to change the settings from when it was hawking over at the Fraggle Rock area.

There were 2 Yellow Wagtail near to Church Quay

And this was the only Wheatear that I came across all day

At Rushy Bay fields there were 2 Skylark including this freaky leucosticte individual.

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2nd SPANISH WAGTAIL for Scilly

15th April 2022

Bobby ‘Dazzler’ Dawson turned up this SPANISH WAGTAIL (iberiae) at Little Porth two days ago where it showed off superbly and it’s still showing off today on the beach.

Two days ago, I had my first Tree Pipit NE over the garden and Bobby ‘Dazzler’ Dawson discovered a male flava wagtail showing features of a Spanish Wagtail on the beach at Little Porth. It was not until over an hour later that I made it down there to find a small crowd observing the wagtail from the path looking down onto the beach. I joined them and in the twenty minutes that I was there, it showed very well and on one occasion, very briefly perched on the bars at close range bordering the path that we were all on. Scott Reid did a great job in putting in the time and effort to confirm that it was, as we all thought it was going be, a SPANISH WAGTAIL, by getting a recording of it calling. And today it was still present on the beach to the relief of a few birders arriving for a week or so of birding on Scilly.

If accepted this will be the third SPANISH WAGTAIL for Britian. The first British record of this race (iberiae) was found by Graham Gordon on St Agnes in April, 2018 and it proved very flighty at The Maze area. Here is a link to a few record shots that I got of the St Agnes individual

Yesterday I just got onto this Marsh Harrier from the window as it flew straight through east over the garden

Also got a flight record shot of this Jack Snipe at Lower Moors a few days ago

This morning, I had a brief look around the campsite area where there were a single Brambling and reeling in the moat behind Woolpack Battery was my first Grasshopper Warbler of the year. This was followed later on in the evening by my first Reed Warbler of the year at Porth Hellick where there were also up to 6 Teal and the male Tufted Duck from yesterday when I also had earlier that day, the Marsh Harrier high east over the garden.

The Tufted Duck at Porth Hellick performed well in front of the Seaward Hide

last week there were up to 2 Siberian Chiffchaff at Little Porth including this vocal showy individual

What a cracker!!! The Hawfinch continued to visit the garden well into April and many locals and visitors connected with it from the bathroom window where they got awesome views!

This Blackcap spent a week in the garden and took on anythin that came in it’s path as you can see.

Even thin air!!


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