Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Scilly Season Day 1 – Yellow-billed Cuckoo MEGA

On board & ready to go
Red-throated Diver
Summer plumage Red-throated Diver 
Mega twitch to St.Agnes
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Little Bunting
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Afternoon twitchers
Black Redstart

The lure of six small islands off the south west of Cornwall was too much to resist this Autumn following an offer from Paul Freestone to join him & three friends for a weeks birding. 

An alarm call at 1.00am was the signal for start of my first ever trip to the Isles of Scilly. I traveled South with the Squire before teaming up with our organiser in Hayle.  Our trip would start a day earlier than originally planned due to Storm Brian hitting Britain & the islands on Saturday and no ferries would be running.

Thankfully I got a couple of hours sleep in the car & a tea stop at Exeter broke the journey up. A McDonalds breakfast lined the stomach before it was boarding time on the Scillionian from Penzance. A pair of Red-throated Divers including one in summer plumage was a stunning sight & not one I’d seen before, it was a sign of a few good days ahead.

A Sooty Shearwater (a lifer for the Squire) flew past in Cornish waters, also passing were a steady flow of Gannets & a few Guillemots.

Then there was a crescendo of pagers & phone alarms going off an hour into the crossing, YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO – St Agnes. Wow, but could we get there. The early indication was that there would be no afternoon boats due to storm Brian. Within an hour (I was still gripping the seat, counting the minutes to get off) news was confirmed we could dump the bags & jump on a crossing to St Agnes.

Whilst the weather was deteriorating the crossing wasn’t that bad and the walk to the Cuckoo was only five minutes. When arriving there no birders, no bird !  Thankfully the exhausted bird had moved closer to the iris’s to take a bit of cover. The poor bird looked to be struggling & whilst it would have been great to see the bird feeding & flying this was never going to happen. Everyone was attentive to the fact it was in a islanders garden and duly took turns to see the bird on arrival (bar one knober).

After a pleasing view we carried on our walk to get to the reported Little Bunting. As per the reports the bunting was feeding very well out in the open. A much improved view from my previous views earlier in the year at Great Barford. A real little cracker.

Along the coastal path we bagged a Wheatear, 3 Black Redstarts, Common Redstart, 5 Rock Pipits & a fall of Song Thrushes.

Quite a first day………….

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