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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.

Israeli forces trap Muslim worshippers in prayer halls

Where is the BBC or mainstream media when Palestinian human rights are being violated by Israeli forces as they besieged the al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday. Palestinian worshippers screaming to be released inside the southern Qibli prayer hall and the central Dome of the Rock where they were locked in by Israeli police who tried to empty the mosque’s courtyards.

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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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