Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Big Trip to the Scillies. Part 6, the last few days.

Tuesday 19th October.

There's one island I still hadn't visited yet, and that's Tresco. Certainly compared with the other islands, Tresco had been rather quiet for bird news. But it had to be done, if only to count the wildfowl on the Great Pool!

Sure enough there was a selection of duck (including a drake Pintail), Coots, Mute Swans, Canada Geese, birds that you just don't see anywhere else on Scilly. It was also pleasing to find a Brambling in amongst a Chaffinch flock, feeding in a field of Quinoa. Tell you what, if you want to attract flocks of finches, plant some Quinoa. They were going mad over the seeds of this stuff.

But over the course of the day, it was apparent that I was on the wrong island, because it was all kicking off on St. Martins. A Red-flanked Bluetail was found in the late morning, and by the time I got back to Hugh Town news filtered through of a Grey-cheeked Thrush on the same island. Oh my goodness me, or words to that effect passed my mind! Well, tomorrow is my last full day on the Scillies, so it's got to be a day on St. Martins.

Wednesday 20th October.

Not surprisingly, another extra 9am boat to St. Martins had been arranged, and I was on it. Some other visitors around this morning, hello sailor!

The Red-flanked Bluetail was the first port of call, circuiting a belt of pine trees (the bird that is, not me). Straight away it showed brilliantly down to a few feet. It's at times like this where perhaps I should invest in a camera that doesn't have to be plonked on the end of a scope. But what I can manage with a little point and click camera when it's not on the scope is "the twitch shot":

Most of the rest of the time on St. Martins was spend scouring the general area where the Grey-cheeked Thrush was seen the previous evening, around the school and the small fields between there and the sand dunes. But alas, it was not to be. A Richard's Pipit along the dunes near the Higher Town quay was a welcome distraction though.

With an hour before the boats came to take everyone back to St. Marys, Dick Filby decided to take a wander through some areas of bracken, just in case it might help to encourage the thrush to appear. But it didn't work, although a Woodcock was flushed. Actually there's so much cover in that area, of bracken, brambles and dense Pittosporum hedges, the thrush could go missing for days!

Thursday 21st October.

There was a large part of the day to fit some birding in, before it was time to leave. Amazingly, one bird that I really struggled to catch up with on the whole trip was Black Redstart. They seemed to appear whereever I wasn't! The radio mentioned one around the Penninis lighthouse, so I made a bee-line for there. And sure enough, a fine male Black Redstart was still around catching insects. And a little punch of the air in triumph.

Time was then spent walking up towards Maypole Farm and Borough Farm, where there had been a Hawfinch yesterday. Well I say walking, after ten days of walking around everywhere, I could hardly move! But no sign of the Hawfinch this time, but there had been one seen in the Porth Hellick/Carn Friars area, so perhaps it was the same bird. One last pasty in the Longstones centre, then a slow walk back to Hugh Town via the very pretty Holy Vale was done. There was one last Yellow-browed Warbler through Holy Vale, and a Firecrest along Carn Friars Lane.

And that was about it, sadly it was time to leave the Scillies and back to Penzance for the evening. But not quite the end of birding before the long drive home, because the next morning I had a quick look at the Buff-breasted Sandpiper that was with the Golden Plover flock near Sennen.

You might've gathered by now that I thoroughly enjoyed my time on Scilly, and I now can't believe I've never been before. But there's a very good chance I'll be going again!

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