Sunday 28th October 2012

   A trip down to Sand Bay near Weston-super-Mare today. There has been a Hoopoe about for a couple of days. The light was not as good as yesterday, but it was still as cold and windy, there was even some rain in the air. Unusual for this year, NOT!!!!!!

   More birders around than i expected, but the bird showed well, if flighty. There are lots of walkers and dog walkers in the area where the Hoopoe is favouring, which doesnt really allow it to settle for too long. People and dog walkers, are not really to blame for flushing the bird, as most do not know they are doing it, but some of the so called birders there are a pain! Oh well i should be used to that after 2 weeks on the Scillies, but it is still frustrating, when you spend a fair amount of time, trying to get close enough for photos, and then someone rushs up straight towards the bird, and off it goes!!!!! Now dont get me wrong, we have all flushed birds accidentally, trying to get too close or other reasons. But, most of us have learned from these mistakes, but NOT some. Right enough whinging and back to the photos. Sorry about that rant. Did manage some photos after the worst offender had left!


   A quick visit to Chew before the rain really came down, saw at least 7 Pintail at Herriotts pool, and 2 late Swallows there too.

Saturday 27th October 2012

    Portland was the destination today, lots of really good migrants there yesterday, just hoping some will stay. Sadly the night sky was very clear overnight. Oh well still worth a try. Driving down the pager messages read 'NO SIGN', of the Daurian Shrike or the Siberian Stonechat. The one bonus was the Shrike had not been reported before 11am for the last 3 days! So was it still there? Nice sunny day, but cold and windy. Lots of people and lots of cars all around the Obs, when we got there, so hard to park, but plenty of eyes to find things. In the Obs car park, i asked a couple of friends if they had seen anything? 'NO' came the answers. Another pager message, NO SIGN of the Subalpine Warbler. Is this gonna be one of those days i thought. We went to look see what else we could see, when there was a small rush of people coming out of the Obs. There had been a garbled message on someones phone, something had been seen at Culverwell. Turned out to be the Shrike, well at least we got the best one of the birds from yesterday. It took a little while to get decent views, but always too distant for good photos.
    We went down into Weymouth for something to eat. The drake Hooded Merganser was still around the visitor centre at Radipole. When we returned to Portland, we went down to the Bill, to look for a Red-throated Diver, which had been around for a few days. Luck continued 'NO SIGN'. There had also been a male Black Redstart reported around the coastguards cottages, so we had a look. I found 2 female/1st winter male types, in the coves along the coast, before we got to the cottages. When we got to the cottages we found there were at least 4 birds there, including 2 were stunning males as well.

Black Redstart (1st Winter Male/Female)
Black Redstart (Male)

Black Redstart (Male)
    Luck changing maybe????? Try again for the Shrike again. This time not so many people around, but the light was not so good. Luckily we soon found the bird and eventually it showed really well. Really nice looking bird.

Daurian 'Isabelline' Shrike

Sunday 21st October 2012

   Day in Cornwall today, there should be a few bits about. First stop after breakfast was the Cot Valley, to look for Chough and anything else i can find. As i drove down the valley, i heard a call from the trees, it sounded like a Yellow-browed Warbler, but sadly i didnt hear it again. So i drove down to the bottom car park, there were quite a few Gannets going past over the sea, but not much else. Then a Chough called and flew over the valley. I followed it up the hill, and found it and another. But, they flew further around the coast before i could get any photos. A message on the pager said there was a Long-eared Owl & a Dartford Warbler at Lands End. I arrived there and asked a birder about the Owl. He said he had seen it fly into the scrub, but it was too dense and too wet under foot, to go in. We then had a very late Swift fly over, sadly neither of us could make it anything but a Common Swift. It is probably a Juvenile, see what you think...? Would be interested to find out.

Common Swift
Common Swift
   While watching the Swift, a female Merlin flew through. Which was nice.
   After watching the Swift i noticed that 2 Choughs were fairly close, so wandered down to photograph them. Sadly, again, there were lots of walkers & dog walkers around and they kept flushing the Choughs. They didnt fly far, but always away from the camera. I did eventually get some decent shots though.


   After a couple of very enjoyable, if windy, hours at Lands End, i decided it was time to move on. I drove around to Kenidjack Valley, where there had been a 1st winter Red-breasted Flycatcher. There were about 4 people there already. The bird showed briefly, but after while it began to show at regular periods, showing well at times, and in nice light for a change. Then the drive home, but all in all a good day, and a decent 2 weeks.

Red-breasted Flycatcher
Red-breasted Flycatcher

Saturday 20th October 2012

   Last day of my 2 weeks on Scilly then, that went rather quick, especially after things have dried out a bit. Taking the tent down, and then getting all my gear over to the pick-up area, is the first item today. Nice sunny warm day too. All done, and a quick, short walk around the Garrison, brought me nothing really. So, to the Scillonian club, no beer for me though, yet! Chelsea on the TV early today, so as there are a few people there, i dropped off the rest of my gear, and went off to Porth Hellick.

Ring-necked Ducks
   Got to Porth Hellick, nothing from the Stephen Sussex hide. Walked down to the Seaward hide, and there were my quarry for the day, 3 Ring-necked Ducks!
Ring-necked Duck (1st Winter Drake)
Ring-necked Duck (1st Winter Duck)
   A Pomarine Skua and an Arctic Skua, were best of the few birds that were seen from the ferry, on the return journey.

Friday 19th October 2012


  Third trip to Bryher, this time i was up for the Blackpoll Warbler, Coal Tits still to back it up though. Quite a few birders searched, but didnt find the Blackpoll all day! Luckily the back-up, the Coal Tits, fell into place this time. A friend told me that he had seen them in the pines, further along the track from where i was. I took a walk along, and they showed really well, with any even showier Goldcrest. The Coal Tits are of the Irish form hibernicus, which shows more yellow in the cheeks, and slightly diferent colouration elsewhere too.

Coal Tit
Coal Tit
Coal Tit

Thursday 18th October 2012

Red-breasted Flycatcher
   After seeing the Solitary Sandpiper, in the middle of the field at Old Town, the rest of the day was spent around the Dump Clump, sounds awful i know! But the weather was much better today. Too many birders in the Clump, so i went to photograph the Red-breasted Flycatcher that was very nearby.
   Took it in turns to try and photograph the Flycatcher and the Warbler and finally managed to get both.
Red-breasted Flycatcher
Humes Yellow-browed Warbler

Tuesday 16th - Wednesday 17th October 2012

   Spent most of these 2 days looking for the Humes Yellow-browed Warbler, which had been found yesterday in the Dump Clump. Although the main reason to be there was the rain again! Saw the bird, but not really well enough, but it definitely didnt call like a Yellow-browed! The Solitary Sandpiper was refound on St Marys, near the Gallery in Old Town.

Monday 15th October 2012

  A morning searching the Garrison, hoping the Ring Ouzel would still be around, no sign......

  Myself and a friend, Mark, decided to go up to Porth Hellick for the American Golden Plover again. hoping to improve on the shots we both already had. When we arrived we had a quick look for the Rose-coloured Starling, no sign..... Oh dear, here we go again! When we got to the beach the tide was out, so the Plover was out too. There were 2 photographers walking about on the low tide mud, so we decided to take a look around Carn Friars, where there had been a Richards Pipit the day before, and wait for the tide to come in. We both started looking into the horse fields, and we both noticed an odd bird walking around with the Meadow Pipits, but it kept disappearing in the longer tufts of grass. Maybe a Linnet, then i noticed it had quite a well defined supercilium (sort of eyebrow stripe to those who dont know). We both said at the same time "Short-toed Lark!" We walked up to the gateway to make sure, and get some photos. We got to the gate, we were right, and the bird walked away from us. I put the news out on the radios. As i did this the horses decided we looked friendly, and decided to come over and join us. With them in the way neither of us could see the bird, and the birders were already arriving. Some of them were getting frustrated as they couldnt see the bird, and we couldnt refind it! All the Pipits flew out of the field and landed nearby on the edge of Porth Hellick down. No-one looked for them, except me. I refound it! But, as i said "its here", they all flew again and this time they landed in the next field up from the horse field. I again refound it and everybody there was happy, begining to think no-one believed us for a while!!!!! Below is the proof anyway.
Short-toed Lark
  Went back to the beach, the tide was almost in, so sat down and waited again. The Plover was getting closer by the minute. Then, again, the heavens opened!!!!!!!! Got some shots, but as you can imagine the light was not good. As the rain slowed, and we thought we could get some decent shots, 2 local dog walkers walked along the beach and flushed the bird, which returned to the airfield. Sadly, they knew exactly what they were doing, but didnt really care. Sad, but true.......some locals just dont really like the birder invasion in October!

American Golden Plover

Sunday 14th October 2012

   Bryher again today. Solitary Sandpiper, Coal Tits, Blackpoll Warbler and a possible Blyths Reed Warbler were the draws this time. As the possible Blyths was near to where the Sandpiper was, i decided to head for there first. Also i knew everyone else would be heading for the Blackpoll Warbler. Even so, there were still 50 or so people there when i arrived. I waited until the crowd thinned out. Within no time, there was just me and 2 others there. So, i asked if they would mind me getting closer to the bird. They agreed and i got some good shots. While there the Hooded Crow flew over us, showing well.

Solitary Sandpiper
Hooded Crow


   As more birders started to arrive, i decided it was time to back off, so i didnt get the blame if the bird flushed! Glad i did, as no sooner had i got behind the shed, a tractor went up the track and bird Sandpiper flew off. We saw that it had landed near the dump, so walked around to see it walking around a little puddle. Even though it was in the dump, it made for a much more pleasing photo, im sure (hope) you will agree.... The tractor driver then decided to drive into the dump, and the Sandpiper flew and returned to its original spot.

Solitary Sandpiper
Solitary Sandpiper

   Sadly, there was no sign of the Coal Tits near the Church today, while i was there anyway!!!!!

   Got the boat back, and walked straight up to the campsite, as there had been a Ring Ouzel there this afternoon. There were a few birders there, and the bird was found across a field in some trees. When most of the birders had gone, it flew a bit closer, but not really close enough. managed some photos though.
Ring Ouzel

Saturday 13th October 2012

American Golden Plover
   Bit better weather today, but still not the best. A trip to the Porth Hellick area for me today. The American Golden Plover had taken up residence on the beach, and was being pushed up the beach by the rising tide. So i sat and waited. It came fairly close, but then ran along the beach and onto the concrete breakwater. It then began to preen and stretch, and i managed to get a couple of shots, before it was flushed and flew up towards the airfield again. There were a little group of Greenfinches feeding on blackberries near the beach, so i photographed them for a while.


Rose-coloured Starling
   I then walked through Porth Hellick, to an area where a juvenile Rose-coloured Starling had been seen feeding, also on blackberries, for quite a while. It took a while to see it and then it was very mobile and elusive. But eventually it showed really well. Another good day, after a couple of dodgy ones.

Rose-coloured Starling

Friday 12th October 2012

Solitary Sandpiper
   Bryher today. Solitary Sandpiper the main aim, but some Irish Coal Tits and a Blackpoll Warbler where there for back-up to. Saw the Coal Tits on the way to the Sandpiper, will get them on the way back, or so i thought. The Solitary Sandpiper was showing well on a heap of grass cuttings, in fairly decent light too. The weather forecast had said heavy rain coming in early afternoon, and sadly for once the forecast was right. We had the heaviest rain, including thunder, lightning and hale, i have seen in the 12 years i have been going to Scilly. Even some of the guys, who have been going longer then me, said they had not seen hale on Scilly before.
   Everybody got wet, i didnt get the Coal Tits, but we all saw the Spoonbill close up on Green Island, on the boat on the way back.

Wednesday 10th - Thursday 11th October 2012

   Rain and wind and crap weather, which slowed the birding down for these days. Not much seen. This Wren was about the only thing i photographed worth showing anyone!!!

  Although i did manage to see a Jack Snipe and 4 Common Snipe at Lower Moors, and even got a quick look at the Coal Tit along the track. Only my second sighting of Coal Tit on Scilly.

Tuesday 9th October 2012

   I decided to try to photograph the American Golden Plover & Buff-bellied Pipit, on the Airfield this morning. The Plover was showing well, but too distant for decent photos, from the windsock. It was then flushed by a Helicopter landing, it flew down towards Porth Hellick. People were calling the Pipit, but nobody could actually nail it down, the one confusing factor was a very grey looking Meadow Pipit. After a good, but fruitless look for the Pipit, i was about to leave, when a juvenile Curlew sandpiper flew in calling. It flew around the airfield a couple of times, and then landed near to the turning circle. When it landed we all realised that the Plover was there too, it had returned unseen. A walk down towards the turning circle, and i managed a few better shots of both these birds.

Curlew Sandpiper

American Golden Plover

American Golden Plover

    I then decided to try and walk up to Penninis head to see if i could photograph the juvenile Dotterel, which was still there. When i got to the area it preferred, there were birders and bird photographers there already. I sat down with them and started photographing the bird. I stayed for about an hour and the bird came really close at times, as my photos prove.


   Then walking back down King Edwards Road, i had the Richards Pipit fly over and land out of view in a field near the head. It was seen briefly again, a couple of times. Good day!

Monday 8th October 2012

Reed Warbler

   A fairly nice, sunny start to today. A wander around the outskirts of the campsite, saw a decent selection of birds. A Reed Warbler was near the bins, and along the track, through the middle of the campsite there were, 6+ Goldcrests, 2 Firecrests and a Yellow-browed Warbler. Sadly, i only heard the last one, and it had disappeared before i could manage to se or photograph it! Around the 'dead pine walk', the back of the pine belt around the campsite, i had a female Redstart and at least 3 Pied Flycatchers. There were still Swallows around, with them there were also a few House Martins and a Sand Martin. A friend, Paul, and I also had a small hirundine, which glided rather then flapped, and then when it flapped it was almost bat-like, before disappearing behind the trees and into the quickly thickening fog! Will remain unidentified im afraid. Returning to the campsite, the fog was still getting worse. I bumped into Spider, a local, Scilly, birder. As we were chatting a sharp call came from the fog, it was a Plover of some sort, we thought American Golden Plover, mainly because there was one already on the islands. The bird was also then heard and seen to land on Penninis head, but it was a Dotterel. Ah well, fairly easy mistake to make, especially in the fog, and as i haven't heard either call too often. Good bird though anyway.


Sunday 7th October 2012

    Tresco today for the Sykes Warbler, but we should have gone yesterday. The weather had changed again, wet and windy. The wind was blowing straight into the area where the bird had been showing yesterday. Really close pair of Pheasants and 5 Sandwich Terns, on the way over, were the best birds of the day.

      Got really wet later!!!!

Saturday 6th October 2012

   New day, new weather. Really sunny and a s light breeze, and DRY, bit different to yesterday.

   Scillonian ferry crossing, didnt really produce too much.
Manx Shearwater (2)
Balearic Shearwater
Gannet, Razorbill and Guillemot (Lots of..)

   Put our tents up, on a really wet campsite, all the time wondering whether we should have waited to do this, and gone to Tresco, to see the Sykes Warbler. We didnt, but we did manage a nice Lapland Bunting near the campsite, at Woolpack Battery accomodation block as compensation.

Lapland Bunting

Friday 5th October 2012

    Work, pick up a friend from the train station, then travel down to Cornwall, as going to Scilly tomorrow!

    Stopped off at Davidstow airfield, where there had been a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, and a Curlew Sandpiper showing well for at least a week. We eventaully found the Buff-breasted Sandpiper in terrible rainy conditions. Also there were 5+ Dunlin and 8+ Ringed Plovers, but no sign of the Curlew Sandpiper. While there, there were pager reports of 1, then 2, then 3 and eventually 7 Red-rumped Swallows at Marazion, wow!

Sunday 30th September 2012

   Breakfast in Scarborough then the long journey to Holy Island, much longer than i thought too!!! We had to rush, as the causeway to Holy Island is only open while the tide is low enough to cross. We got there and had about an hour, maybe a bit less. There had been no news on the Arctic Warbler all morning. Which is about right for my 'bogey' bird. No sign while i was there, and i was told there had been no sign since yesterday evening!!! My heart quickened once, when i found a Warbler at th tops of the trees, but it was a late Willow Warbler! That makes 6 or 7 attempts to see these little buggers now, but this was the 'longest' dip by far. I have missed 3 on Scilly, 2 or 3 in Cornwall, and one i couldnt get to on Portland! Oh well, one day, i hope. We drove disappointedly back across the causeway, but did have a few birds to try and cheer us up. There were big flocks of Barnacle Geese and also Pale-bellied Brent Geese, flying from the mud into crop fields as the tide came in. Also feeding on the mud were a few species of waders. Bar-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Redshanks, Knot, Dunlin, Turnstones, Sanderling, Curlew, Lapwing, Golden Plover & Grey Plover (including one in full summer plumage, sadly didnt come close enough for photos). As the tide covered the main part of the causeway a few Eider arrived. Raptors were covered quite well too. Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and a Merlin were seen.

Barnacle Geese

Pale-bellied Brent Geese

Bar-tailed Godwit