Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Big Trip to the Scillies. Part 3, first bit of island hopping.

Wednesday 13th October.

Between Pied Wheatear and Subalpine Warbler, the Wheatear had to take priority. So the day began on St. Marys, with a Turtle Dove around Porthmellon to start with. At least it gave another chance to see the Common Rosefinch from the Tremelethen Trail, which I did manage to see this time. So then over to the golf course.

Unfortunately it appeared that the Pied Wheatear had gone, just a Northern Wheatear around. And during the morning the Subalpine Warbler was still around on Bryher, so I decided to cut my losses and take my first boat to an off-island.

Just before docking at Bryher a Peregrine flew around over the boat. You could tell this was the Tundra Peregrine, with a very distinctive head pattern. Very pale on top with a dark stripe through the eye and through the middle of the bird's head. Turns out that this race of Peregrine is a long distance migrant and should be spending the winter in South America. Interesting stuff.

The Subalpine Warbler had been favouring an area of gorse near to the Fraggle Rock cafe (I won't mention the obvious, because Fraggle Rock was rubbish, not a patch on The Muppet Show!). Walking towards the site I noticed a sylvia warbler drop into the gorse, so waited whilst everyone else continued walking. Can't believe no-one else saw that, and after about 10 minutes the warbler popped up which was indeed the Subalpine. Very satisfying to call it out to others.

Also around Bryher were a very showy Red-breasted Flycatcher and a tired looking Short-eared Owl.

There was also an Icterine Warbler and Lapland Bunting around, but didn't get time for those. An afternoon boat leaves you with about two hours on an island, besides I could return another day.

So to end a successful day, over to the Scillonian club for the bird log. One bit of the log did tickle me, when the chap with the microphone said Black-eared Wheatear slightly wrong, and came out as "Black Weird Eat-ear". I like a good Spoonerism, and that's one Ronnie Barker would be proud of!

Thursday 14th October.

What to do today? A Melodious Warbler had been on St. Martins, so lets give that a try for the day. Taking the morning boat suddenly looked like a very good decision, as the pager then mentioned a Tawny Pipit also on St. Martins, around Lower Town.

For most of the day however, pretty frustrating going. On arrival at the Lower Town dunes, I did manage to see a large Pipit with an odd-sounding call (well it was to me) fly out of the dunes and towards the next island west, Tean. Well, if that was the Tawny Pipit then I want a better view than that. As for the Melodious Warbler, that wasn't seen for most of the day either. Two Spoonbills flew in though.

But fortunes completely changed with about an hour or so before the 4:30 boat was due to leave. The Tawny Pipit was refound in the dunes and showed wonderfully well. A big relief, as the morning's flight view was completely unsatisfactory.

Shortly after that, the Melodious Warbler was refound next to the Seven Stones pub. Somehow I manage to beat most people to it, must've found a shortcut. So a few other birders and I had about a minute with the Warbler (my second lifer of the trip) before the "trudge trudge trudge" sound of boots got louder and louder!

Also offshore from St. Martins were a Slavonian Grebe and a summer-plumaged Great Northern Diver.


Paul Shenton said...

Stonking read Rich

Richard Powell said...

I'm only about half way through yet!

I'm very sorry if anyone is nodding off, it might be good bedtime reading if nothing else.