Sunday, October 22, 2017

Pwll-du, Gwent - Common Rock Thrush

Made it in the end.  It was cold and windy so I can't imagine how those hardy birders braved it yesterday during Storm Brian.  A lovely bird in such a beautiful part of the UK.

The Common Rock Thrush also had a juvenile Northern Wheatear for company.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Scillies - Day Seven

With a heavy heart we left the islands - but not without a final walk around Penninis Head.

Another phenomenon and brought in by the strong currents were decent numbers of Portuguese Man o'War strewn across the beach at Porthcressa.  Bizarre looking creatures but also extremely eye-catching in more ways than one.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Scillies - Day Six

This was supposed to be our scheduled departure from the Isles but ex-Hurricane Ophelia had other ideas, leaving us stranded - which was hardly disappointing.

I did venture out and my word it was blowy particularly around the un-sheltered bays.

A lot of birders were gathered around a sheltered area near the Mermaid pub where the highlight of the trip was witnessed.  The waves crashing against the sea wall was great to watch.  A Great Skua battled past fighting it's way over the swell that gave hope for something more.

Two Leach's Petrel were seen distantly riding the waves, but then one closer in was great to see, obdurately repelling the harsh winds that are so characteristic of these birds.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Scillies - Day Five

Back to St. Agnes because you just can't get enough of this island, and it also has a knack of drawing in rare American vagrants.  But not today.

A juvenile Northern Wheatear was present on the south of the island.

There were small groups of Siskin on the island.

There was at least one Little Bunting - this one was near the Cricket pitch and allowed close views.

This juvenile Black Redstart was typically active on rocks at Periglis Beach.

A Yellow-browed Warbler was seen outside of the old bird observatory.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Scillies - Day Four

We went to Bryher and what a stunning island.  The wind was up and the waves crashing against the rocky coastline made for a spectacular sight.

The boat then took us over to Tresco where we spent a couple of hours walking round the Great Pool.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Scillies - Day Three

More walking and a spontaneous trip to St Agnes for the Western Orphean Warbler that eventually showed itself after a half hour wait, appearing from a hedge close to Troy Town, and flying round and right over my head before disappearing into cover again.  I later had a brief view when it flew into trees and that was the last I saw of it.  Unfortunately, there was no opportunity to photograph the sighting.

Back at base camp, a Yellow-browed Warbler was present along the boardwalk at Lower Moors.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Scillies - Day Two

We headed over to St. Agnes today.  It was beautiful, with clear skies and warm sun.  This is my favourite island and the location of the excitement of the 'yank' fall.  Sadly I missed it all.  Timing is everything, but walking round the island is such a joy.

There was some interest at least with a nice tidy Yellow-browed Warbler that perched up on a tree briefly in front of the post-office before dashing off again on its' circuit.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Scillies - Day One

I do like flying and especially when it's real flying such as Skybus' twin props.  It was a windy morning at St Just and the flight to the Isles was touch and go but we got out on schedule.

And it started well on Scillies too with this ridiculously confiding Spotted Crake that scampered towards the boardwalk on Lower Moors before disappearing back into undergrowth.

It was dull and overcast, the excitement of the previous couple of weeks had passed, so it was a case of sweeping up the long stayers on the island that included this American Golden Plover on the beach at Porth Hellick.

I spent some time in the Stephen Sussex hide watching the feeding probable Wilson's Snipe and trying to compare it to the groups of Common Snipe on the pools at Porth Hellick.  It did feel like a different bird, very contrasty, barred flanks and much paler upper and underparts.  Something else I noticed just how well-marked the head was, resembling Jack Snipe.  Photos have shown obvious barred auxillaries and dark bars on the outer tail feathers, but I guess the overlaps between the two species are being examined and time will tell whether the bird is ultimately proven to be our American counterpart.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to get any photographs but pics of Common Snipe below.

Another highlight was my first ever Prickly Stick-Insect at the Old Town Churchyard.  I had no idea they were present on the island.  I also found a vocal Firecrest there.  A Laboratory Stick-Insect was brought into the log at the Scillonian in the evening.

It brightened up at the end of the day and this juvenile Common Redstart was present on rocks at Porthcressa.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Day One of what will now be an annual trip to the Scillies.  The anticipation comfortably weighted within me as we headed down to Cornwall for a night on the mainland before an early flight across to the Isles.

Porthgwarra looked naturally picturesque in the calm conditions but bird interest was pretty sparse here with a few seabirds that included a small flock of five Sooty Shearwater past heading west with small groups of Manx Shearwater en route to wintering out in the expanse of the oceans.  Incredible creatures.

Goldcrest were conspicious by there continuous 'seeping' by nothing of real note could be uncovered apart from a single Willow Warbler.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Lytchett Fields RSPB - Stilt Sandpiper

A dull day brightened up by the continuing but mobile Stilt Sandpiper.  Commuting between Middlebere Farm and the Lytchett Fields reserve, the bird was present at the latter, first seen on the far shoreline hopping around on one leg before it flew a little closer in.

It was very flighty.  It then flew onto the neighbouring flooded field before taking off high to the north-west.  It was later reported back at Middlebere Farm.

The rest of the day was spent walking the red-route at the wonderful Arne RSPB reserve, the highlight there being a Dartford Warbler that paused briefly on top of the gorse.  A large group of Spoonbill were present on the marsh and three Sandwich Tern were hanging on along the channel.

Monday, October 2, 2017


A much better day today but it was blowing a gale despite the bright conditions.  First stop was for the juvenile Rosy Starling that finally showed itself in a hedge by the cottages on Hull Road.

The Red-breasted Flycatcher in the Crown and Anchor car park was typically elusive but two clear views of the bird was really satisfying with the Pied Flycatcher still present there.

There was interest at Kilnsea Wetlands with the two continuing Little Stint there along with two transitional plumaged Knot, five Ruff, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, and a first and second winter Mediterranean Gull.

Birds were moving through and a distant Short-eared Owl in-off the sea was a welcome sight.  The walk back to the car park produced a first year male Common Redstart that showed nicely in the solitary bush there.

Sea-watching from the hide too delivered interest particularly in the form of a ring-tailed Hen Harrier that battled the breeze in the company of  a Marsh Harrier.  Another compelling sight seeing these two raptors fighting the elements destined for dry land.

A couple of Red-throated Diver flew past as did a small flock of Common Eider.

The day was complete watching the first-year Red-backed Shrike at Easington that finally gave itself up along the hedge before the cemetery as it sallied for insects in the bright afternoon light.

A total of 97 species was a satisfying return considering the lack of real autumn action.  Thankfully the final day saved the trip.