Monday, 31 October 2011

SCARLET TANAGER: Scilly Highlights Day 5...

The final day of our Scillies Birding Trip saw us having a leisurely breakfast chatting to some fellow birders. The main topic was hoping the Scarlet Tanager would be sorted in Cornwall and how much time we'd have to connect with it before heading north. We also talked about the fact that a decent bird always seems to turn up on the last day of a trip, we hoped that a) one would actually turn up, and b) that if one did turn up it would be before we had to get on the plane!

The bird log the previous night didn't provide any new information so we decided to head off and check out Carreg Dhu gardens. It was really windy making it difficult to even stand up in some places! We found a couple of Black Redstart in Old Town Bay along the beach. We headed into the gardens where it was much more sheltered - and bearable.

Walking through the gardens we made for the large Sycamore tree where we'd scored with some decent birds earlier in the week. In no time at all we were enjoying great views of a showy Firecrest but then the highlight dropped in, Treecreeper. Yes you read that right. Treecreeper. This is a MEGA on the Scillies, astonishingly this was only the 12th record of the species on the islands! Half the number of Blackpoll Warbler records which really puts it into perspective. We checked to make sure it wasn't Short-toed Treecreeper and both wished it was a Blackpoll Warbler!!

We got news that the Melodious Warbler was showing again so we decided to go and take a look (not really expecting it to still be on show) and bang on cue, it wasn't! We decided we'd go and have look around the bushes for it, however our plans changed very suddenly when the radio crackled into life "Scarlet Tanager Holy Vale".

The next scene was people all running off wherever they had been all heading towards Holy Vale. We quickly made our way up to Sandy Lane where we joined a large crowd of people watching a bit of hedge. After a short wait someone at a gateway about 30 yards back signalled they'd got it, a quick sprint and suddenly from being at the back of the queue Dave and I were right at the front of it! All we had to do now was see the bird!

After a very frustrating and nervous 10 minutes, that felt like an hour, and the highlight of someone claiming 'it' - when in fact they'd just seen a Dunnock, 'it' did actually come into view. My first sighting was a flight view as it flew out, and then back into a stand of Pines. It gave the impression of a strange golden oriole like bird in flight. Was that going to be all I'd be getting? I hoped not. People started to move around to try and get a better angle, climbing into the hedge to get their scopes through the thick hedge.

After a further 20 minutes or so I had ended up a fair way from Dave, and then it appeared BANG right in the centre of the scope as it sat in a Pittosporum hedge. Amazing bird and good scope views too. After it moved off I headed back towards where I lost Dave, hoping that he'd got it too. I was greeted by Dave with a huge grin, it was clear he'd had it, and had really good looks at it by the sound of it too.

We hung around for a while longer but there was no further sign of it. It was getting busier all the time as people were flying onto the island and as the Scillonian arrived in harbour.

What an amazing bird, and what an amazing end to the trip. We were on a MEGA high...

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