Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Cornish Recluse....

Wednesday 30th October
Twenty years ago, I saw my first British Hermit Thrush on Tresco, Isles of Scilly. Initially, I had set off with some mates from Plymouth to twitch a Black-throated Thrush on St Martins, but arriving on the island and after some careful searching, it soon became apparent that the bird had departed and the painful reality of "dipping" began to take hold! Slumped by a tree, reflecting on our dip, as so often happens in the world of twitching, the low suddenly flipped to a high, as news came through that a Hermit Thrush was on Tresco! The bird had actually been reported on Tresco a few days previously but not seen again and was presumed gone, so a second chance seemed too good to be true!
Another inter-island boat trip and an impressive beach landing later, and we were soon joining the already burgeoning crowd of other birders. A couple of hours passed with no further sign and the last boats were departing for St Mary's and we had nowehere to stay, so decided it would have to be a night in the bird hide at the Great Pool! The last sad faced birders left the island and the crowd now consisted of just a dozen as the light began to fade, when all of a sudden the "rufous-tailed beauty" decided to come out in full view and start feeding on the open grass rides! We simply lapped up the scope views and thoughts of roughing it in the hide after a few celebratory beers seemed irrelevant, after such great views! However, the Tresco Estate Warden had clearly got wind of our rough sleeping intentions and he was soon on the phone to the boatmen on St Mary's and we were escorted to the quay and returned to St Mary's in darkness! - the only time I have ever travelled between the islands at night.
It was all dealt with in a very friendly fashion, but ultimately we clearly looked a bit shifty and were not going to be allowed to lower the tone of the Tresco Estate! We thanked the boatmen very much and  headed to the Porthcressa. We kept a low profile that night, but our small elite group had plenty of smiles all round as we celebrated "the rufous-tailed one"..........

Fast forward to today and a trip to Porthgwarra with Russ was a most enjoyable affair and a trip down memory lane, as Britain's first mainland Hermit Thrush showed very well indeed.

There are far better photos
of this bird out there, but to be honest I cannot complain and would never even of dreamt of having such photos of a mega when I first clapped eyes on this species way back in 1993 - Scary how time flies.
Hope you enjoy..........

1st winter Hermit Thrush


  1. Hi Chris - happy days remember the bird coming out once the crowds had left and someone pointing out the last boat as it went through the Roads! Also remember the boat back well, but I'm sure 50 or more people have since claimed to have been on it!
    Cheers Kev

    20 years though - ouch

  2. Hi Kev,

    Little did I know that you were on that boat too! Small world........
    Hope to see you in the field soon - at that last autumn rare!

  3. Nice report Chris - ahhh - memories.

  4. Cheers Steve - Absolutely love your photo of the bird!