Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Scillies - Day 3 - Island crusing & a Citrine Wagtail

Spoonbills in flight
Flock of Spoonbills
Great sailing
Lunchtime snack St Marys style
Basking Shark
Basking Shark
Basking Shark
Citrine Wagtail
Citrine Wagtail
Citrine showing inbetween cows legs

With my dodgy sea legs getting a new level of confidence I decided to jump on Joe Penders trip around the western islands for the morning. £20 for three hours sailing seemed pretty good value.

Our first stop was Green Island where there was a record count of 7 Spoonbills that posed nicely before doing a circuit of the boat.  It is now difficult to remember how hard it was to see this species.

On the beaches of Tresco there were a large group of Ringed Plover and further along there were Great Black-backed Gulls & my first Shelduck of the trip. A Peregrine sat high on the edge of St Martins and we passed a group of Curlew on the waters edge.

It was very choppy around the Western Isles where there were 2 Purple Sandpipers & 4 Turnstone. As we returned to the cover of the islands we passed a Common Scoter (camera on wrong setting) & a Great Northern Diver.

As we edged back to St Marys, Adam picked up a basking shark from the rocks that he whatsapped to the group. As soon as news reached the boat we headed towards his sighting. After a little patience right in front of us was the Basking Shark. It came right beside the boat giving us amazing views. 

Our final sighting was unbelivable, the Blue Rock Thrush from the boat !! To be honest I got better views from the boat that I did walking around the headland the whole week.

After returning to dry land and having a very tasty pasty from the deli I headed to the north of St Marys. I was enjoying watching a Firecrest & Blackcaps at close quarters when news broke of a Citrine Wagtail just five minutes from where I was. It was a case of standing on my tiptoes to see the bird through the ferns as this little beauty flew around with the Meadow Pipits in a sheep field.

Scillies - Day 2 - Early hope & plenty of miles on St Marys

Hen Harrier
Rock Pipit
Ringed Plover
Pink-footed Geese

I'd just reached the front door of our Scillies house when Paul shouted me back. A possible Chesnut-eared Buting had been seen up on the fields towards Peninis Head. We all quickly marched up in hope but the bird was seen in flight and on top of the bushes before flying off towards the airport. (Also heard at this location). Large numbers of birders then appear to search through all the local weedy fields before the search widened. Sadly there was no further sign. Apparently the finder will not be submitting the bird as we weren't happy he saw it well enough.

Oh was time to put in some miles around St Marys which I always enjoyed. Whilst on the head land a rin-tail Hen Harrier through flew heading towards Bryher. I teamed up with Jake and we completed a long circuit. Throughout the walk there was a steady flow of Redwings & Fieldfares again.

At Higher Moors & Porth Hellick we recorded 4 Ringed Plover, 3 Greenshank, 24 Snipe and a Jack Snipe. I picked up a Red-breasted Flycatcher in the distant willows that was showing better from the other hide but by the time we got there the bird was not seen again. 

Two Pink-footed Geese were our last good birds of the day near the sewage works. There was a Firecrest calling from the pines but we just couldn't see it. A day of near misses.

Scillies - Day 1 - Blue Rock Thrush kicks the week off

Blue Rock Thrush (Paul Freestone)
Red-throated Diver
Spotted Crake
Amazing views
Showing well
Great to be back

We arrived on St Marys via the Scillion taken from Penzance. A Red-throated Diver fed just off the boat, en route we recorded a Sooty Shearwater, 2 Arctic Skua and a number of Kittiwakes. There were a couple of Dolphins that displayed briefly but I was very focussed on the horizon given a number of people were sadly ill.

My bag was typically last off the boat enabling Jake & Brad to reclaim the ground floor room sending myself and Mick upstairs. Mick is a Spurn birder who has visited forty eight times previously. Mick was a great room mate and it was interesting to pick his brain on a number of birding subjects. The rest of the house was as per previous years, Paul Freestone, Adam Hutt, Brad & Jake from Cornwall.

Our first target was the Blue Rock Thrush who had edged further east than it had previously. As I arrived on the far side of Old Town a few birders looked to have located the bird on the other side of the way. Cliff Smith had the Thrush in his scope so kindly let me take a look as the bird perched very high on the rocks. To see this bird so quickly was quite a shock as many island birders have to put days into seeing the bird. 

I then walked through Lower Moors with Adam and after a short wait the stunning Spotted Crake showed amazingly well and even swam under me as I stood on the bridge. I'd only seen one previously which was fairly distant, so this was a real pleasure. Two Water Rails were also called from the same location.

There were Stonechats everywhere of which you could have photographed all day. We headed out for a couple of pints at the evening count before looking forward to the next day.

Eden Project & Hayle birding

Eden Project
Meditarran Zone
Quite a structure
Warm conditions inside the pods
When the rain stopped
Eden Project
 Grey Plover & Wigeon
Grey Plover
Bar-tailed Godwit
Med Gull
Grey Plovers

My annual pilgrimage started with a days birding in Cornwall. As I reached Devon the rain got very heavy and with no sign of it stopping for a few hours I took a detour to the Eden Project. It's a destination I've wanted to visit for a long time and it did not disappoint. 

  Then I headed to Hayle where my first bird was an Osprey that appeared above me and circled before disappearing into the sun. Down on the estuary there was a wide selection of birds including Bar-tailed Godwits, Grey Plover, Med Gulls, Redshank, Wigeon, Teal, Lapwing & Curlew.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Poor run continues at pits

Another pretty dismal week. Good number of Skylark and Meadow Pipits contine to come through but wildfowl numbers are low and wader movement is non existent.

Sunday count counted by Jon first thing and myself last morning resulted in the following:- 39 Little Grebe, 29 Cormorant, 3 Grey Heron, 26 Mute Swan, 250 Greylag, 8 Canada Geese, 2 Wigeon, 5 Gadwall, 21 Teal, 180 Mallard, 5 Shoveler, 24 Tufted Duck, 125 Coot, 3 Golden Plover through, 70 Lapwing, 200 Skylark, 350 Meadow Pipits,  2 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 1 Rock Pipt circled main pit before heading to central lagoon, 4 Grey Wagtail, 10 alba Wagtails south, 1 Wheatear, 1 Redwing, 2 Blackcap, 8 Chiffchaff, 10 Raven & 70 Linnet. 

Dennis & Marion added 4 Buzzard, 3 Jays & a flock of Meadow Pipits along the Railway lines. 

The first Redwings ( around 20) were noted over Bordon Hill by Ann & Noel on Friday whilst on Wednesday Chris Lane recorded a Kingfisher, 1 Wigeon, 9 Shoveler, 5 Gadwall, 200 Meadow Pipit, 3 Blackcap, a House Martin & a Swallow.

Autumn arrivals at Spurn

Spurn Lighthouse
Bearded Tit
 Song Thrush
 Greater Spotted Woodpecker

 Redwing landing off the sea
Siberian Lesser Whitethroat
 Redwing in the hand

With some easterly winds finally in the forecast I headed up to Spurn on Saturday with Mrs D. The 5.30am alarm call wasn't great but as soon as we past the Kilsea Wetlands you knew you in a great spot for some Autumn magic.  I headed to Numpties to do some sea watching whilst Mrs D headed off to walk to the point and back. 

I thought there may be more movement but I still recorded the following during the session :- 60+ Common Scoter, 6 Red-throated Diver, 2 Arctic Skua, 1 Pommarine Skua, 1 Great Skua, 30 Wigeon, large number of Little Gull 20 Tern sp, 2 Great Crested Grebes and a Scaup on the Humber.

Watching from where I did enabled me to also watch the ringing in action. The Redwing, fresh in off the sea, was simply stunning whilst most interest involved a Siberean Lesser Whitethroat. 

After an enjoyable lunch in the visitor centre (took this option as food in pub was VERY average on last visit) overlooking the humber we then did some birding around the traingle. Our first finds were six Bearded Tits in the canal reed bed, a first me at Spurn, patience was required as they were up and down very quickly. Out on the Humber large number of Dunlin, Golden Plover & Knot were feeding. Up above us I picked up a Short-eared Owl that looked at one stage like it was heading towards us before heading towards Beacon Lane.

Ten minutes in the observatory garden produced two Yellow-browed Warblers a real Autum favourite.  There were Song Thrushes coming in all the time whilst a couple of female Redstarts were having their last feed before heading south. Our final find of a very enjoyable day were 3 Brambling feeding up on Beacon Lane. 

On the way home we stopped in at Loughbrough to see Gussy at his University. We picked a chinese up as we were truly shattered. Already looking forward to our next visit to Spurn.