Saturday, 15 November 2014

Rough day

My god it's good to get out again, today was the first day in weeks I've been out birding. My choice was something quite local, the Rough-legged Buzzard at Braughing. My mum was happy enough to give me a lift to the bird and I arrived a little before 10:00. There I met some friends of mine who I hadn't seen in a while, who offered to give me a lift back home (once we had seen the bird that was), "relieving" my mum of her duties. We searched for the Buzzard for 4 hours, in the mist, to no prevail. However, shortly before we had to leave I had a glimpse of a Buzzard flying away from me, the only feature I could see was a light, or pale rump and a paler than usual tail and wings. Sounds perfect for a Rough-legged Buzzard but I couldn't be sure. Luckily as we were leaving we past a small crowd who when we asked said they had the bird! We quickly got on it and the wait paid off (especially once it flew).

Juv. Rough Legged Buzzard

Monday, 3 November 2014

Isles of Scilly 2014

Here we go, a summary of my trip to the Isles of Scilly.

If you are unfamiliar with the Isles of Scilly, click here for a map.

Despite troubles on the train line on Friday evening I arrived in good time in Penzance on Saturday morning. As per usual an over caring mum had overladen me with supplies for my perilous voyage to the Scilly Isles. This made running to the Scillonian quite difficult, but I made it all the same. Unfortunately, three hours on the boat produced very little, apart from Balearic Shearwaters, an Eider and an upset stomach. This left me with a 'flying start' as we arrived on St. Mary's. The Saturday was mostly dedicated to learning the Island, as it was my first visit, and birds were not my main focus.

However, Sunday (26/10/14) really did get off to a good start. Porth loo had a single female Black Redstart hopping among the sea weed, moving on we had a Yellow-browed Warbler at Newford Duckpond and then a Red-breasted Flycatcher at the entrance to Lower Moors.

Red-breasted Flycatcher

We then made a short stop at the ISBG hide were we heard another Yellow-browed Warbler calling, with its tit like call, tsew-wiitt. From here we pressed on to the airfield were we almost instantly connected with three rather dapper Short-toed Larks and a Snow Bunting. I was quite amused by the fact that there were as many Short-toed Larks on the airfield as Skylark. By now it was about midday and after a short pit stop at the house we headed out again this time to higher moors. We made our way through the moor without seeing anything of interest, but we were rewarded at the end with a Juv. Red-backed Shrike. From here we moved on, and a fly past Merlin made us head for the hills. At Porth Hellick point we lost the bird, but buckled down for a short sea watch, 3 Balearic Shearwaters, 3 Arctic Skuas, a Bonxie and a few Kittiwakes being the highlights. That evening we headed back to the ISBG hide were we had incredibly close views of 2 Jack Snipe.

Herring Gull with a crab, of some kind

Monday (27/10/14), our plan was to head off island to Tresco, with the boat only leaving at 10:15, we had a short snoop around St Mary's, especially at the the Old Town Churchyard. Here I found a Yellow-browed Warbler, and a group of 2+ Firecrest. On Tresco, we had a short watch over the channel between us and Samson, where 2 Black-neked Grebes were present. Further on at Great Pool, we easily connected with the two american ducks, Green-winged Teal and American Wigeon, of which there was both a female and drake about. Later on, on the walk back to the quay, we stopped again to scan the fields, which ended rather successfully, with the finds of 2 Black Redstart, and finding or relocating the Rose-coloured Starling (still unsure). An easy, but successful day.

Black Redstart

By Tuesday, I had got to grips with the Island. But we headed to the Garrison, to catch up with another Red-breasted Flycatcher, which threw me right back into the deep end. Luckily the bird showed well, at points, so I was able to get a hold of the area.

Red-breasted Flycatcher

Also at the garrison was a calling Firecrest and a large selection of Chiffchaffs. On the return home, I stopped to photograph a bunch of Turnstones which were showing to well to turn down.


That afternoon, we decided to explore a part of the island which is left, by most birders, the north side. Far from the town, it is quite secluded. Here we had a flock of Skylarks up to 29 strong and a Med Gull past the point. In this aspect it was evident to us, why it had been left. At Lower moors we connected once again with a Red-breasted Flycatcher and later, at the airfield we had a group of Golden Plover and a seawatch, in which we saw 5 Harbour Porpoises.

Herring Gull

By the 29th, Wednesday, a trip to St. Agnes to see the long staying Ortolan Bunting, was way over due. Shortly after arriving we saw the Ortolan Bunting. But what came next was the shock. As we watched the Ortolan Bunting, a man informed us of a Red-throated Pipit not far from where we were, at the campsite. We instantly headed down there to find a pipit flock, picking up my binoculars, I immediately saw the odd one out. I trained the scope on the bird, and to my surprise, it was a damn ADULT RED-THROATED PIPIT!!! I can say without a doubt that was the highlight of my trip.

Red-throated Pipit

It was my last full day on Scillies, and slowly drawing to a close. We wondered aimlessly around the islands, picking up on a few birds here and there. To begin with a set of 4 Yellow-browed Warbler: 1 heard at Lower Moors, 1 at the Churchyard, and 2 at Carn Gwaval, where we had also seen a Barred Warbler a few days before. Also on Lower Moors were a Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, 2 Snipe and 2 fly over Swallows. At the airfield, we saw one of the Short-toed Larks, which we had seen previously, and the Snow Bunting and Golden Plover were still present. A Merlin, over the airfield spiced up the day a little. Following that we had a short seawatch in which we saw 3 very late Manx Shearwater and 2 dark morph Arctic Skuas. The evening ended very well, when we saw a Spotted Crake on the Lower Moors.

Spotted Crake

I woke early on the 31st to see the Spotted Crake again, and it payed off. We had good views up until the sun rose and also heard a Yellow-browed Warbler call in the background. That Afternoon I headed back home, the Scillonian crossing was not very eventful, apart from a Balearic Shearwater. The rest of the journey was a bit of a blur, because of I was completely shattered.