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 ...lol ) 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 !!!
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 .