Sunday 31 October 2010

Scilly Season Part 1 .... The Journey and first 3 Days !!!!

Great Grey Shrike.

Having not been to the Scilly since 2000 i was very much looking forward to this trip , i left home on Friday the 22nd to stay over night in Okehampton then continue my journey to Penzance on Saturday 23rd and eventually fly to St Mary's in the afternoon . Well i had time to do some birding on the Friday and my target was a Great Grey Shrike that had taken up residence at rspb reserve Aylesbeare in Devon , i arrived on site and bumped into 2 other birders who had been looking for the Shrike but had no luck , we walked around the site together adding Grey wagtail, Stonechat and 2 Dartford Warblers which were a year tick , then news came on the pager that there was a showy Great Grey Shrike at nearby Woodbury Common so we shot over there and within a couple of minutes we were enjoying distant but good views of the Shrike which was a welcome 2nd year tick of the day.

From here i headed to wards Berry head where i had been tipped of that it is quite a good site for Cirl Bunting which proved to be far more difficult than i thought , i did hear one bird but never saw any , maybe i had gone to the wrong area ( not for the first time ) i could have gone to more traditional sites but i like to go to new areas but i guess that's the chance you take !!

On the Saturday i tried for the Green Heron in Cornwall but would you believe that was the day it was not seen , more to come on that one later !!!

Whooper Swan.

I arrived on the Isles of Scilly at approx 3 pm and once i dropped my gear off at the B+B i headed off towards Lower Moors where there earlier reports on the pager said there were Whooper Swan , Yellow Browed Warbler and Siberian Chiffchaff , on my through the gate i heard Water Rail and when i entered the Hilda quick hide i was soon looking at a lonely looking Whooper swan juv.  

On the way back i heard over the cb radio that there was a Cattle Egret flying over Holy vale towards Telegraph which from where i was standing i wouldn't see it, so i made my way towards the road and higher ground , and eventually the Cattle Egret flew over the road over Lower moors giving brief but good views.

 The 24th was a goodish day i had an excellent view of a Serin  through a telescope but could not manage a photo like some , it was feeding in a weed covered field in the company of Chaffinch and House Sparrows and every now and again they would all fly up onto the hedge row which was the only time you could see it , as i was about to leave a Sparrowhawk swooped down and scattered all the small birds in all directions which was quite dramatic to see .

  I heard a Yellow-Browed Warbler in Holy Vale which was my 2nd year tick of the day , i ended up at Porth Hellick looking out of the seaward hide and saw 4 Greenshank and a superb Jack Snipe bobbing up and down , love these birds , short bill yellow braces on the mantle really great to see and my 3rd year tick of the day !!!

Top Male Siskin . Bottom Female / juv Siskin

Scilly as good as it is can be very hard work when its quite , lots of walking and constant scanning and checking out areas that others have checked several times before you and no doubt after you , Sunday 25th proved one of those days , my routine was to walk through an area called the dump clump then onto the Old town church cemetery then onto where any other birds may have been reported  , i did this most days , and although birding was quite i saw Lesser Whitethroat and 4 Blackcaps at the Dump clump , and year ticked a very smart Firecrest in the cemetery.

 I heard my 2nd Yellow-Browed warbler of the trip in Holy vale also i saw 2 Ravens over head there , there was also another Lesser whitethroat and a Reed Warbler at the entrance to Holy vale which is a wooded trail leading up to the north of the island , i was hoping to see a Lapland Bunting at the riding stables but it had gone by the time  i got there.

 I was compensated by 15 bright coloured Siskins feeding in the nearby pine trees, from here i headed and ended up at Mount Todden farm in the hope of seeing the invisible Subalpine warbler which remained invisible for most of the week apart from the lucky few who had 5 second glimpses , however i did see and hear a fly over Lapland Bunting , i also year ticked Merlin from this site .

Well that's it for the first part of my holiday , stay tuned for the second part which includes my best days birding on Scilly of the holiday and some red hot photos to match .

Monday 18 October 2010

The Return of the Wilsons ........ Pallas's again

Starling roost.

I only had a couple of hours to spare so i headed to Reculver to try and see the Pallas's Leaf Warbler that had been located there earlier in the day , i was on site at about 3.45pm and was straight away looking through loads of Goldcrests , it was hard to put a total number on these as they seemed to be everywhere but there were no less than 50 in the area i was looking for the Pallas's , well after about 30 minutes i managed to get onto the Pallas's Warbler high up in the canopy , it was constantly moving but simply stunning to see , they have to rate as my favourite warbler .

With time against me i headed of to Grove Ferry to try and see the Great Grey Shrike but had no luck with this , however i did manage to see the Wilsons Phalarope which was at the back of the pool with Lapwings viewed from the ramp , 5 Common Snipe and 15 Pied Wagtails overhead , plus a remarkable display of Starlings gathering before going to roost , there were at least 2000 birds flying in unison , twisting and turning as one , a really great sight and they flew over head at one point and the noise of there wings flying as one was remarkable.

Starling roost.

200 up .............

Rose-Coloured Starling.

A successful trip to Newhaven to see the adult Rose-Coloured Starling which was year tick number 199 , i saw lots of Meadow Pipits near the base of the cliff also there was a showy Rock pipit nearby , i walked / climbed up the cliff to view the hollow and within minutes i was enjoying really good views of this stunning bird , it was constantly eating the berries and then disappearing into the bushes out of sight then re appearing for another feed.

 Rose coloured Starling.

 I decided to head off to Beachy Head after about an hour here , on the way back down the cliff i heard then saw a Wheatear which was quickly followed by another , i also saw a Redwing at this site . I arrived at Beachy head and the news was positive that the Pallas's warbler had been seen but was very elusive only showing every 1or 2 hours , I was with the gathered birders at the bottom of the wood which was very windy and although i could hear crests i was looking high up into the canopy , i decided to try my luck at the top of the wood looking down at the canopy , this proved to be a wise move as it was far less windy and abit warmer and within a couple of minutes i saw several Chiffchaff , then someone picked out the Pallas's Warbler which i quickly got onto and brought my year list to 200.

 I only saw the Pallas's for a couple of seconds and the most outstanding feature was it glorious wing bars , quite simply stunning  , i would have liked a longer view and i did see it again very briefly ,  whilst i was there i had approx: 15 Brambling overhead which was year tick 201 , a very close view of a Sparrowhawk and approx 8 Fieldfares overhead were the first of the autumn for me , there were good numbers of House Martins overhead most of the time i was there with a few Swallows mixed in. 

Rose Coloured Starling.

Sunday 10 October 2010


Just a short post about my trip to Reculver this afternoon . I started of with a close in Guillemot and an equally close in flock of 20 Mallards ,  abit further round past cold harbour i picked up a  Short-Eared Owl flying in off the sea at about 3.15 pm , it  flew inland and then dipped down below a bank out of sight , this was a very welcome year tick and very pleasing to see , i carried on my walk back along the green bank towards the oyster beds just adding several Meadow Pipits and Linnets on my way , then i was greeted to a fantastic view of a Ringtail Hen Harrier really spectacular bird flushing approx 30 Redshanks and 15 Little Egrets were also  spooked from there roosting spot . Here are a few totals of what i saw this afternoon :

Short-eared owl     1
Hen Harrier           1 Ringtail
Guillemot               1 west
Brent Goose           8 west
Mallard                  20 west
Little Egret            15
Chiffchaff              2
Goldcrest               1

Saturday 2 October 2010

Scotney and Dunge

Black Redstart 

I decided i would venture down to Scotney today and try and catch up with the 2 Buff-Breasted Sandpipers that had been residing there the last few days , i arrived on site and had the task of scanning through approx 500 Golden plovers and several Ruff and Lapwing.

 I was soon joined by another birder and we scanned the flock together then the other birder thought he had got one of the Sandpipers but all he could see was its head at first he quickly put me on to the bird and within a minute or two the Buff - Breasted Sandpiper walked out into the open , what a superb waders this is , very dainty in appearance , a clearly marked crown , buff face, chin and underparts not quite extending fully under the belly , yellow legs , well defined coverts and thin straight all dark bill , its approx same size as a Dunlin which was also seen as a good size comparison, a Little Stint was also seen here and a partial albino Lapwing was present ,  the second Buff Breasted Sandpiper was not located but was reported later on in the day.

From here i ventured down to the sea and missed a Long tailed Skua that had been lingering earlier in the morning , damn that would have been a Kent tick !! the sea was fairly quite , i added Guillemot to my year list and there were plenty of Gannets and the odd Red Throated Diver moving through but that was about it until another birder picked up a Shearwater flying west , we all got on it , quite long winged buoyant flight , dark belly , slightly paler under wings all pointed to it being a Sooty Shearwater and was gratefully added to my year list . i also saw male and female Black Redstart by the power station and Wheatear by the road .

 Black Redstart.

From here i then went to Dungeness rspb reserve , i headed off towards Denge marsh and on the way around at the back of Christmas dell hide there were quite a few small birds moving through the bushes , i saw 2 Chiffchaff ,  1 male Blackcap plus a couple each of Great and Blue Tit plus Dunnock and Robin all in one small Hawthorn bush . 

I called into the Denge marsh hide and there wasn't much to be seen from here except a fly by Little Egret and Marsh Harrier , i was hoping to connect with the earlier reported Ring Ouzel which was seen in this area but had no luck with that.

I then left the hide and started on the back trail just past the hide and before the next pool of water when i saw approx 10 to 15 phyllosc's moving through the nearby bushes, i and another birder and his partner checked through these then they moved on and i continued checking through on my own.

 I moved abit further around the track to the next bend and there was more activity plenty of chiff/willows then a female Blackcap put in an appearance , i was watching a Chiff which was out in the open atop a bare bush behind a slightly lower down gorse bush when all of a sudden this huge bulky warbler appeared on the left of the bare bush pale grayish upper parts , long grey tail with slight white edging , grey lower back and mantle , well marked fringes on the wing coverts , pale underparts , bulky bill large headed , pale grayish legs , it also cocked its tail at one point as it was feeding on some berry's . so i am very happy to say i had found a very bulky 1st winter Barred Warbler , which is a site tick and my second Barred this autumn and also i am informed is only the 3rd ever record of Barred warbler for the RSPB reserve !! 

I quickly got four more birders onto it and put the news out on the pager just as quickly , we watched it on and off  from 12.45am until 1pm then it dropped out of sight , the main small movement of phyllosc 's had stopped and it most probably moved on with them.  Just wished i had not left my camera in the car !!!!

I also added a rather smart male Stonechat to my days list on the way back to the reserve car park .

Edit : The Barred Warbler was seen again later in the day and proceeded to be seen for the next few days , apparently it's only the 3rd record for the Rspb reserve !!!