Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Last day on Scillys

Although our last pelagic was on Sunday the 21st, our last day on the island was Monday. Our boat was scheduled to leave at 16:30, which gave us a reasonable amount of time to explore the island for a last time. We began at the Garrison where we had good views of the Icterine Warbler before the sun came out.

I then spent a large portion of the day scouring the rest of the Garrison especially the Dead Pines, in hope of a scarce phylosc, but unfortunately nothing but Pied Flycatchers were to be seen. Late news of a Wryneck on the other side of the Island sent me to Pungies Lane for a quick dip before picking our luggage up from the B&B and heading homeward bound on the Scillonian. The Scillonian produced a total of 140 Manx Shearwater, 1 Balearic, 1 Cory's, 2 Sooty and 2 European Storm Petrels. In conclusion, a very enjoyable trip, which I'd highly recommend!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Isles of Scilly Pelagics (18-22/08/16)

On the 17th in the evening Paul and I headed west, to eventually go on 3 Pelagics on the 19th, 20th and 21st of August. It had been more than a year coming since we had booked the tickets, so the trip was much anticipated. We caught the Scillonian III over to St. Marys in the morning of the 18th, were we met up with Rob, who had taken Chris's place, since he was unable to come unfortunately. No time was wasted, and we spent the 3 hour crossing seawatching. The winds were favourable, and instantly after leaving Penzance we observed a constant flow of Manx Shearwaters. Within an hour we had enjoyed good views of Gannet and Fulmar, as well as European Storm Petrel, Common Dolphine and Ocean Sunfish. The highlight came shortly after the hour mark, when Rob picked up a Cory's Shearwater, as it flew east followed by a Herring Gull.

Distant Cory's Shearwater from the Scillonian III

Then as we approached St. Mary's, a large shearwater caught my attention, which I quickly IDed as a Great Shearwater! Other animals of note were European Storm Petrel, Common Dolphin and Ocean Sunfish.

Once we arrived on St. Mary's and had dropped our luggage off at the B&B, Rob and I set off for a short walk towards Higher Moors. At Porth Hellick pines we caught up with 5 Wheatear, our first passerine migrant of the trip and 2 Pied Flycatchers shortly thereafter.


The pines were ladened with phyloscs, but little of interest was to be found. Our next port of call was Porth Hellick pool, here we were lucky enough to get good views of most waders on the pool, which included: 2 Wood Sandpiper, 5 Green Sandpiper, 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Dunlin and 2 Snipe. Also of note where some common hirundians and acros.

Wood Sandpiper

The 19th began at 6am, a walk around the Garrison produced very little other then some more phyloscs and a Pied Flycatcher. With cloud cover being quite predominant, most birds were still hidden and only came out later in the day.

View from Church Point

Following the success of Porth Hellick pool the day before and the weather conditions, I hoped some more waders had been grounded. Unfortunately, the tally of waders, matched the day before bar a few Greenshanks which had presumably moved on. Walking back to the B&B a Pied Flycatcher and 5 Wheatear were the pick of the bunch. The afternoon came alive as the Icterine Warbler was reported again, and after a brisk walk to the Garrison, we were able to achieve brief views of the bird. That evening we set off on our first pelagic of the weekend, my hopes were high having looked at the weather forecast, gale force winds from the Atlantic had been predicted for both Friday and Saturday.

The Sapphire

We left and headed into the sheltered waters, so as to not feel the full force of the 50mph winds. The weather delivered and shortly after leaving the harbour in Hugh Town, St. Mary's we already had our first Cory's! The numbers built up throughout the trip, along with the wind. Although the swell was higher than the boats at times, we were too overlaidened with Cory's and Great Shearwater to really care. The official numbers showed we managed to get 42 Cory's Shearwater and 5 Great!

Cory's Shearwater

The 20th started very much like the day before, and only really got interesting once we stepped on Sapphire at 11am. The pelagics began much the same with reasonable numbers of Cory's and Great Shearwater. A few miles out, we threw the chum overboard. It wasn't long before we had Stormies surrounding the boat, and not long after the first call of "WILSON'S!" went out.

Cory's Shearwater

Storm Petrel

Repeated views followed, and a grand total of 4 were seen over the whole trip!

Wilson's Storm Petrel

We now come to the 21st. The pelagic began at 8am, and we were out at see and in position shortly after 9. Once again we chucked the chum out, and slowly but surely the Stormy numbers began to rise. Approximately 150 were seen on the trip.

Storm Petrel

We also managed to encounter 3 Sooty Shearwater a Long-tailed Skua another 3 Cory's and 1 Great. Numbers had definitely died down, but there was by no means a lack of entertainment.

 Sooty Shearwater

Great Shearwater

Yellow-legged Gull