Thursday, 27 October 2011

Scillies Highlights Day 2, 3 & 4

As crazy as it may sound the last 3 posts all relate to Day 1, Dave and my first day on our second trip to the Scillies this autumn.

On day two there were several further highlights. After connecting with all the big stuff yesterday we decided to take a walkabout to see what we could find en route to a couple of birds we hadn't already caught up with. We set out along the coastal route and found a couple of Yellow-browed Warblers (one at Old Town Church and one at 'Nowhere'), the latter with a Firecrest, then as we continued on to Porth Hellick Pool we discovered a very smart Wryneck on the rocks. After enjoying the Wryneck for a while we continued down to the pool where we enjoyed great views of the long-staying 1st winter male 'white-spotted' Bluethroat. It was actively feeding right out in the open for a while but then it sat down in the vegetation and looked rather sickly before been flushed by some rather clueless twitchers. Redwings and Fieldfare had arrived weeks ago in Yorkshire but today they hit the Scillies in low numbers with 1 and 3 respectively.

Wryneck - Phonescoped

Wryneck - Phonescoped

'White-spotted' Bluethroat feeding happily - Phonescoped

not looking so great - Phonescoped

On day three we spent the day doing circuits of Peninnis Head trying to connect with the rather elusive Melodious Warbler. There were more highlights in the form of 5 Yellow-browed Warbler where we found 3 at 'Nowhere' (but no sign of the Firecrest) and saw another 2 at Carreg Dhu Gardens showing well in a Sycamore. While bashing the head we noticed several Chaffinch (and 1 Brambling) flying through, along with several Meadow Pipit, however the clear highlights were a Richard's Pipit that flew low overhead calling, heading straight towards Cornwall, a Siberian Chiffchaff that worked its way along a hedge, a Short-eared Owl. Eventually, when the sun came out in the afternoon we even managed to connect up with the Melodious Warbler. We even had a couple of Mistle Thrush, a scarce bird on the Scillies apparently.

Short-eared Owl - Phonescoped

Mistle Thrush - Phonescoped at a bit of distance

On the fourth day we didn't fare too well, we spent all day around the Peninnis area again but didn't get much reward. We had a Great Northern Diver and 2 Pink-footed Geese fly low overhead. The Pink-footed Goose was only the 75th record of this species on the islands which was rather surprising! We also had a first-winter Black Redstart on Porthcressa Beach feeding amongst a few White Wagtails. For most of the day our mind was preoccupied with trying to make arrangements to get off the islands and over to Cornwall to try and connect with the UK mainlands first Scarlet Tanager, unfortunately we didn't manage it.

In order to not totally draw a blank for the day we took a quick wander through Lower Moors where we had a Yellow-browed Warbler near Shooters Pool and further views of Wilson's Snipe, this time it was with 2 nominate and one presumed faroeensis bird again all were showing well. We also decided to try for the Waterthrush. We'd both had breathtaking views of the bird a couple of weeks back but since then it had become a little bit more variable in its preferences, presumably as its favourite foraging places around the reserve have dried out. We had been hearing stories of people spending days and even weeks in some cases trying to catch up with it (which we both though was a little strange!) and when we walked up to Shooters Pool it took us a grand total of less than 5 minutes to locate and see the bird! Again, like our last visit the bird was very vocal. A remarkable bird that has been present for at least 42 days to date! I can't resist another of Andy Vinsons photographs of this bird. The end of the day had certainly improved the daily score however we were both worried that the trip was petering out and had peeked on our first day.

Northern Waterthrush (Copyright Andy Vinson 2011) (taken during last visit)

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