Thursday, 20 October 2011

Now that's Scilly

Dipping the Rufous-tailed Robin, Autumn was lacking in birds so Gary and I planned a trip out west to catch up with some good birds this Autumn. We decided on visiting the Scilly Isles but only for a few days not our normal week, this trip would be more of a twitch than a birding holiday. We booked it on Saturday and left at midnight on Monday.

Gary, Philip and myself drove down to Penzance overnight and caught a Helicopter to Tresco at 9.45 on Tuesday. The Least Sandpiper we hoped to see had left the Abbey Pool so we jump on the shuttle bus (Tractor & Trailer) and just managed to catch the boat to St Mary's, via Bryer and Sampson. From the boat we spotted a Spoonbill on Green Isle before booking into our B&B in Hugh Town.

The first of out target birds was the Wilson's Snipe on Lower Moors, after a short wait the bird showed very well with 2 of its common cousins. c10 Swallow lingered over the area before they finally fly south and a Chiffchaff was also in the area. With time on the island at a premium we headed off towards Maypole to look for the Upland Sandpiper. Cutting along the Sunnyside Farm Trail the small bulb fields were alive with birds including 2+ Blackcap, Brambling, Goldcrest, Siskin, and various other small birds. The Upland Sandpiper had not been recently seen, but news of 2 Olive-backed Pipit had us scurrying around the corner to Watermill Lane. The birds showed very well feeding between the furrows, but a heavy shower had me sheltering under a hedge. Back at Borough Farm the Upland Sandpiper was still elusive, but then it appeared c10feet from me, it was probably sheltering against the back in front of me before i disturbed it. It walked further down the field and showed for a while flitting between the rows of bulbs. It was time for lunch, but arriving at the Longstones cafe it was closed, but in the nearby Carreg Dha Gardens we watched Firecrest at close quarters. 10 minutes later we were rushing back to Longstones to view a Red-throated Pipit in the nearby cow field, with Meadow Pipit also present it took a while to be sure we had the right bird, but a 4th 'life tick' of the day. We walked back towards town at a slower pace, picking up Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Firecrest and Goldcrest near Lower Moors. After finding the 'dump clump' we waited for 2hours+, watching a small muddy pool, hoping for the Northern Waterthrush, present for a few weeks to appear. We got rather cold and only saw a Grey Wagtail, so headed to the Atlantic Inn for much deserved food.

We rose early on Wednesday and were at the 'dump clump' for first light after 45 minutes or so we started to think about heading back to the B&B for breakfast, but then the Waterthrush appeared. Initially the bird was near the back of the pool, but then came much closer, oblivious to the c20 people watching it, after about 10 minutes the bird disappeared and so did we. After breakfast we backed our bags and headed out towards the airport via the coastal footpath and Upper Moors. A Black Redstart was on Porth Mellon beach, and Philip fond a Yellow-browed Warbler by 'Nowhere'. Atleast one other Black Redstart was in Old Town Bay and 2 Wheatear were near the Windsock. A reported Wryneck could not be found near Giant's Castle, but we got good views of a 1st winter Bluethroat by Porth Hellick, my 1st 'red spot' individual. 7 Greenshank on Higher Moors was our last trip tick before catching the 12.45 plane back to Land's End Airport.

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