Thursday 26 October 2023

St Martin's, Isles of Scilly 2023

I have just returned from my usual stay on St Martin's Isles of Scilly. 
This time it was from 30 September - 23rd October and another very enjoyable stay on this beautiful island with the usual mix of weather, amazing scenery, great people and over 200 miles of walking!

The clear bird highlight for me was finding a beautiful juvenile female Pallid Harrier early on the morning of Friday 13th October! It was hunting on the heathland at the back of Middle Town Pines. Within 30 minutes of me putting out the news on the local WhatsApp group, the bird had already travelled across to St Mary's and was being seen by many other visiting birders and it also visited the island of Tresco later the same day. The following day it was seen flying south out to sea in good calm conditions. Other personal finds were far commoner and more expected with Wryneck, Common Rosefinch and Yellow-browed Warbler.

Exciting and very welcome rarities found by other visiting birders included an Arctic Warbler and Rustic Bunting and both appeared on the 11th October.

Photo highlights can be seen below. and E-Bird Trip Report:

Arctic Warbler behind Pool Green, 11th October.
Amazingly just 50M from where I found a bird in 2003!

Arctic Warbler behind Pool Green, 11th October

Arctic Warbler behind Pool Green,  11th October

Pied Flycatcher - Just one bird seen

Spotted Flycatcher - a number of individuals seen

Rustic Bunting at Perpitch, 12th October

Rustic Bunting at Perpitch, 12th October

St Lawrance's Beach looking towards Middle Town Beach

Birding with the Mrs

An unusually tame Heron at Little Arthur Farm

Common Snipe - Flocks of up to 50 birds seen

My good friend Viv Jackson

A drink in the Seven Stones Pub

Higher Town looking to Par Beach

Common Rosefinch at Perpitch, 14th and 15th October

Convulvulous Hawk Moth, Higher Town

Juvenile Pallid Harrier at Middle Town, 13th October

Juvenile female (dark iris) Pallid Harrier, 13th October

Juvenile Pallid Harrier, 13th October

Juvenile Pallid Harrier, 13th October - My first view!

Richard's Pipit at Higher Town cattle fields, 11th October

Richard's Pipit at Higher Town cattle fields, 11th October

Higher Town looking South West

Looking towards Round Island, St Helen's and Dean from Top Rock

Ruddy Turnstones - small groups on the beaches

Whimbrel - odd birds seen

Siskin - small flocks seen

Looking to the Bishop Rock and the SW Approaches from Higher Town

The Mrs in the Seven Stones Pub

The Mrs at Scilly Organic Veg Stall

The obligatory St Martin's Selfie

Looking towards White Island

Ring Ouzel - 1 of 2 birds seen

Ring Ouzel - 1 of 2 birds seen

Common Whitethroat at the Cricket Pitch

Sunset from the Karma Hotel Garden

Juvenile Pallid Harrier

Juvenile Pallid Harrier

Juvenile Pallid Harrier

Sunset looking across to Tean and Tresco

Thursday 14 September 2023


 Great to see this adult Osprey fishing in the newly created LORP habitat yesterday evening!

Friday 8 September 2023

Ortolan Bunting!

On Wednesday 6th September, I felt like I needed a break from my daily checks of LORP, as despite it looking great for waders it still seemed to be attracting very little in the way of passage waders. Therefore I decided to head up to the West Cliffs and Budleigh Golf Course.

Wryneck was very much on my radar, as there had been a large influx into the SW recent days and the hedgerows in this area of the Golf Course look so good. However, literally the first bird I saw in the hedge was a male Cirl Bunting, a species I have never recorded up here, so a great sign birds are spreading! It then became apparent as I walked along the nearby hedge that there were at least 10+ birds in the vicinity including many juveniles. Then in with the flock I was suddenly stopped in my tracks by a bunting with a striking eye ring, pink bill and clear creamy sub-moustachial stripe - Ortolan Bunting! 

This was a bird that I had always hoped to find on the patch, but I had always imagined it in the stubble fields to the east of Otter Head. It just shows how important it is to mix up your birding sometimes and try something different to your usual routine. I was certainly glad for the change of scene and what a great morning!

Cirl Bunting and Ortolan Bunting together on the patch!

Friday 18 August 2023

Red-footed Booby

These days, I am motivated by putting my effort into finding my own scarce and rare birds rather than twitching. However, every now and again certain birds in certain locations do still tempt me. Since my first visit in October 1989, I have always had a very strong affinity to the Isles of Scilly and it is a place I really love to visit, so with the recent news of Britain's 2nd record of a Red-footed Booby (a pantropical species) along with huge numbers of Cory's Shearwaters and other seabirds present in the South West approaches, it just seemed too good an opportunity to miss!

Therefore I took a day trip on the Scillonian and had a thoroughly enjoyable day. To be honest, one of the best highlights for me was seeing so many Shearwaters at close range from a very calm Scillonian crossing! A good couple of hundred Cory's Shearwaters, 6 Sooty Shearwaters and thousands of Manx Shearwaters. Plus great views of numerous Common Dolphin, Harbour Porpoise and Risso's Dolphin.

A great day and fabulous seabird spectacle with a bonus rarity, albeit a reminder of the worrying trend of seabirds heading out of their normal range as sea temperatures rise....

Cory's Shearwater

Cory's Shearwater
Manx and Cory's Shearwaters

Sooty Shearwater

Common Tern

Common Tern

Bishop Rock Lighthouse

First views of Red-footed Booby on top of Bishop Rock Lighthouse

Light morph Red-footed Booby

Light morph Red-footed Booby

Light morph Red-footed Booby

Bishop Rock Lighthouse

St Agnes