Saturday, October 20, 2012

Isles of Scilly

Off to Scilly again for a combined Birding / Catching the Bug book selling trip.

Booked the plane, which couldnt go due to a waterlogged runway so got transferred to the Helicopter. Glad in a way as this was one of the last flights it was going to do.


Porth Hellick Bay

Also managed to land a flat right on the beach, which was nice!

Mid afternoon walk around The Garrison was a little windy. This Garden Warbler created a bit of excitement initially, as it crept around the Pittosporum at the campsite, until finally giving itself up

Light levels now getting low but good enough to get record shots of the American Golden Plover at the airfield

Next morning boats to Bryher werent going till 12 due to tides so had a look around Penninis head.
Was hoping the Dotterel was still around having missed them in Scotland but there was no sign of it.

There was a Black Redstart however, which I refused to photograph. Its odd, everybody seems to go mad for Black Reds around here, there were people rushing about and cameras everywhere. Very baffling.

Some very confiding Wheatears were not getting any attention so photographed them instead.

Latest craze on Scilly is to pile up pebbles everywhere

Common Redstart on one of said piles

Later on Bryher...

This was the first time that it had showed well since its arrival with some people on their third try.

Shot showing tail pattern

We all had to remain at some distance however so highly cropped photos only. Apparently in the next few days photographers were getting rather more bolder!

Next up the Solitary Sand just a walk up the road from the Blackpoll. Just as we arrived it was flushed by a tractor. Got a tail shot out of it though.

Underwing pattern also different to Green Sand with broader white barring

Relocated on a puddle at the local rubbish dump

Later it got flushed by the same tractor and went back to its favourite place, the rotting dung heap.

Some views of Bryher

Met Gryllo, Roger and Richard on boat back

The boat slowed to allow people to look at a roosting Spoonbill, so took the opportunity to photograph this very interesting Shag, looking very desmarestii like with its very pale plumage. Also looks a bit smaller which is another feature. And check out the pale legs and feet!

Bill size and length is apparently a good feature with desmarestii's being thinner and longer than nominate. I must say looking at photos of birds from the Mediterranean they all do seem to have longer bills than this bird.

Bill looks a bit thinner here but probably due to dark upper edge blending in with background

Turnstones feeding right outside the window

Selling books at the log

Next day a Hume's Warbler was found at the Dump Clump but lots of people in a very small wood not my idea of birding so left after a few minutes. Stick insect near Incinerator

Gryllo getting a close up shot

Very showy Song Thrush

Red-breasted Flycatcher Old Town Churchyard. Pretty elusive and fidgity. Bird did a lap around the Churchyard then completely disappeared

Off to Carn Friars to look for the elusive Short-toed Lark where we bumped into this little chap. The person holding it, who shall remain nameless assured me he was qualified to pick it up!

The long and the short of it was the Short-toed Lark was nowhere to be seen

Photographic year ticks drying up a bit at this stage so was happy to get really crap photos of this Merlin which moved me on one species

On a roll now with another crap quality photographic yeartick, taking the years tally to 276

On a roll with shite photos also with this distant Great Northern Diver 

The only Dunlin seen on the trip was this one walking past the front room window

Lesser Redpoll showing well near Dump Clump

Back again for the Hume's Warbler which proved a very difficult bird to see, despite it seemingly sticking to a rather limited area. Occasionally it did bouts of calling when it could be tracked down. Eventually saw it and was rather surprised by the plumage. It has been well documented so wont go into it here, but in summary it looked very much like a Yellow-browed! I must say however that rather oddly, I never got onto the bird whilst it was calling. Probably something to do with the fact I was trying to photograph it rather than get views through bins. When it was calling it was really mobile and when it came into view (for me) it was silent. Anyway I was assured by a few others around me that I was looking at the bird responsible for the Humes's calls and there wasnt a silent Yellow-browed which hid when the Hume's was calling and appeared when it wasnt!

Despite having only a hand held recorder also managed to get some usable sound recordings. There seems to be no easy way to get a sound file on here and I havent got time at the moment to try and figure it all out (something to do with tricking blogger into thinking that it is a video), but here is a link to an article done for RBA with the sound recording on it and some sonograms done by Magnus including his thoughts about the calls.

Red-breasted Flycatcher also at Dump Clump, probably the Old Town churchyard bird from a couple of days ago

Spot Fly in same place, occasionally getting strung into the RBF

Woodcock at Maypole another species photographed.

Common Snipe were regularly seen flying around.  With all the recent rain many of their usual haunts were being flooded out

Pale-bellied Brent showing well Porthcressa 

Another confiding Wheatear

View over to Bants Carn from edge of Golf course

A few more views from Golf course

Jack Snipe hiding amongst the vegetation at Lower Moors

Three first year Ring-necked Ducks Porth Hellick Pool

Time to leave

On the way back were briefly joined by a couple of pods of Common Dolphin

Stayed overnight and popped down to Lands End in the morning. Was hoping for Wryneck and Serin both needed for the photographic year but neither were around

Wolf Rock

Merlin was the only notable bird