Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The 2012 Scilly Season. Part 3, The Road to Mandellii?

A tough few day's birding then ensued.  On St. Marys for Sunday 14th October, a brief Serin on the Garrison didn't stick, and was subsequently seen on Gugh.  The following search of the Garrison did produce 2 Crossbills and a Great Spotted Woodpecker though, all flying over.

By the time of reaching Porth Minnick there was no sign of either the Little Bunting or Wryneck.  So a return to the Garrison at the end of the day did reveal a Ring Ouzel, showing really well.  But in reality, it was a bit of a salvage operation for the day.



Monday 15th October was a day of impending heavy rain forecast for the afternoon, and another day spend on St. Marys.  A morning walk through the Holy Vale, Borough Farm and Pelistry Bay didn't produce very much.  The main highlight of the day was the discovery of a Short-toed Lark, with Meadow Pipits in the horse paddocks of Carn Friars.

With the lark seen well, the rain did start to pour down heavily now.  Taking some shelter in the ISBG hide at Lower Moors for a while, a Jack Snipe showed really well, bobbing away as only a Jack Snipe does!


Over the course of the day, a Hume's Yellow-browed Warbler had been found in the Dump Clump.  The wet weather made looking in a rather dark Dump Clump impossible.  One for another day hopefully.  No boats went to St. Martins either today, and with no birders staying on the island, what's there to be found tomorrow, was the thought.

So Tuesday 16th October was to be a return to St. Martins, despite the Hume's Yellow-browed.  It sounded like there was a bit of contention surrounding this bird anyway, so that put my mind at rest for going off-island.  It so very nearly paid off too, as an Olive-backed Pipit was found around Little Arthur Farm.  The trouble was the boat I was on docked in at Lower Town, so had half an island to walk through to get there.

The OBP didn't settle at all, first flushed by a Merlin, then dog walkers.  On finally catching up with the group on the bird and setting the scope up, by the Higher Town cricket pitch, the bird took off west and over the hill by the Higher Town quay.  Aaargh, agonisingly close.  From the bird that I saw take off it could've been anything really, and Olive-backed Pipit is too good a bird to tick than with a view like that.

The rest of the time was spent scrutinising the fields along the coast path back to Lower Town, but no sign of the OBP and not much else either.  So the idea of heading to St. Martins was right, but execution wasn't quite there.  Back on St. Marys the sight of three Ring-necked Ducks taking off out of Porthloo cheered me up no end.

The Ring-necked Ducks must've been blown in ahead of a big depression out in the Atlantic, heading in for the evening and next day.  Indeed next morning, Wednesday 17th, the overnight rain had passed but it was very windy:


Thankfully the dump clump is quite sheltered, suppose I'd better head over to look for the Hume's Yellow-browed.  At the Scillonian club log the previous evening, people were happy with this bird being a Hume's rather than a bog-standard Yellow-browed, call is king.  It was also suggested that this could be a race of Hume's called Mandellii, which spend the winter in south-east Asia and do appear more boldly-marked than your normal Hume's.  All completely new to me, and absolutely fascinating.

Whilst watching birds hopping through the sallows, there was definitely one Yellow-browed type that was duller underneath, compared to another obvious Yellow-browed.  No point comparing the wing bars because they'll show up on this bird anyway.  I think that's safe enough to tick as Hume's.  Meanwhile, the Ring-necked Ducks had eventually settled at Porth Hellick pool, not surprisingly having a well-earned rest.


A slow walk through Holy Vale to Porthloo was next, via the Strudelhaus.  Upon reaching a nice comfy rock to sit on at Porthloo beach, most of the time was spent counting Oystercatchers, Curlews and Wheatears.  A few gulls passed overhead, and one of them was a second-winter Med Gull.  "Ooh, I could radio that out" I thought, especially as the bird was heading towards Hugh Town.  So the details were spouted out on Radio Filby.  "Channel 1, Channel 1.  A second-winter Med Gull flew south over Porthloo beach, heading towards Hugh Town. Over".  The details were then duly relayed. 

About 10 minutes later a rather panic-stricken looking birder approached me, demanding details of the Med Gull, in a manner reminiscent as if I was something scraped from the bottom of his shoe.  Shortly afterwards, this charmless chap then spoke on the radio "Apparently, the Med Gull flew over Porthloo towards Hugh Town".  Eh, what do you mean apparently?  I already said that, and saw it with my own eyes! 

Be careful what you say on the radios, because an argument could've easily started, had I wanted to.  But perhaps he didn't catch everything that I said.  About a minute later, the radio mentioned that the Med Gull was re-found on the other side of Hugh Town, at Porthcressa.  Ha, vindicated, that showed him.

The 17th ended off with a seawatch from Penninis Head, but only six distant auks flew past.

1 comment:

John said...

Looks like fun !