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Thursday, 18 November 2010


29th September

I flushed a Grasshopper Warbler in the iris field at Lower Moors.

28th September

 Higgo called me to say he, Richard and Tony had seen a hippolais warbler next to the tennis courts on the Garrison. When I arrived, there were a few birders looking and I decided to go and try the dead pine walk. I had seen 2 Garden Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, 4 Blackcaps, a Reed Warbler and nearing the end of the trail, I saw a hippolias warbler front on in a pine. It flew down into the bracken. Damn! What I saw looked like a Melodious Warbler, but with the very brief views I had, I could never be sure. I informed the others, but there was no sign. Talking to Higgo, he seemed to think it was a Melodious Warbler as well. He also told me that they had Hen Harrier and Wryneck up here.

27th September

 I thought I would go for a walk around the Garrison and hopefully see the YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER found yesterday.  Most of the birds were along the dead pine walk. Altogether I got, 1 Pied and 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Grey Wagtails, 10 Blackcaps, 8 Chiffchaffs, 1 Willow Warbler and 2 juvenile male Sparrowhawks. At Lower Broom, the YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER was very vocal but could I see it? After 30 minutes I gave up and settled for 2 goldcrests in the same trees.
 A single Chiffchaff, 2 Whitethroats and 2 Willow Warblers were in the veg field at Green Farm.

16th September

 It was too good to be true in what was going on in finding all these birds! So, I got up early and in the bright warm sunshine from home, I made my way to Bar Farm. Not much going on here, except for 6 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffs and singles of Goldcrest and Willow Warbler. It was also quiet at Rocky Hills. A single Swift, Spotted Flycatcher and Grey Wagtail and 22 Stock Doves was a very good count. However, things livened up when I visited Lower Moors. I walked into the wood and immediately, for a few seconds, I thought I could hear a Coal Tit singing deeper in the wood. I stood still and listened again. Even though it was distance, it was lound and it was not a Coal Tit. After a few more seconds, it dawned on me. IBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF!! I had never seen one before, but knew that if I heard one singing on the Scillies, in the spring, I would nail it. However, this was the autumn. With the warm sun, it felt like spring and all the other Chiffs in the wood were also singing. It continued to sing and I quickly made my way to where I could hear it. I stopped in my tracks and decided to record the singing on my camcorder, just incase it decided to stop before I got there. I pointed my camcorder in the direction to where I could hear it and pressed the record button. Just as I did, the f****** helicopter flew over low and made me f****** deaf!! I was so pissed off and when it had eventually gone, so had all the birds! I couldn't hear the Iberian or Chiffs singing. I was sure it was going to sing again and instead of waiting, I thought I'll get some reinforcements. Like when I found the Greenish Warbler, which was still present today, the reception was crap. So ten minutes later I got through to everyone and then made the short walk to Nigel's house to listen to recordings of Iberian Chiff. The recordings that I heard were spot on and we both returned to the site to find Tony, Chris and Robin all waiting. And we waited and waited and waited, but all we heard were bloody Chiffs singing! After an hour, everyone left except me! 2 hours later I was joined by Higgo, but there was no sign of it and as it was getting dark we decided to leave and try again tomorrow. I was thinking, if I got a recording of it singing, then at least that would be something. You can't mistake a singing IBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF!! However, even if I did get a recording and I didn't see it, it would still not be excepted, because you have also got to see the bird. I think that bloody helicopters should be banned from flying over Lower Moors!  

15th Semptember

 A walk through the Iris field, Lower Moors, drew a blank, but there were more birds in the same area. A single Whinchat was in the next field, while the wood that's borders the two field held, 1 Sedge Warbler, 2 Willow Warblers, 3 Reed Warblers, 4 Blackcaps and 15+Chiffs. On the airfield there was over 40 Wheatear, 10+Meadow Pipits, 1 Swift and a 1st winter LAPLAND BUNTING. There has been one of the largest invasion of Lapland Buntings ever recorded in Britain and the Scillies since late August and this is the first one that I've seen of the invasion.
 At Porth Hellick, the SPOTTED SANDPIPER was at the far side of the pool with a single Black-tailed Godwit and Snipe. I made my way to Salkee and as I approached the weedy field on the left of the track, a small group of Greenfinches flew up into the bushes nearby. I scanned the flock and immediately picked out, what I first thought, a first summer Common Rosefinch! That can't be right? I looked at it again and then realized that it was stained on the face with blackberries! It showed well and then returned to the weedy field.
 There were a lot of Chiffs, 2 Willow Warblers, 2 Blackcaps and 3 Reed Warblers at Higher Moors. Just before I entered Holy Vale, I spotted a phylloscopus warbler very briefly disappear deeper into the Sallows. Even though I didn't see the bars on the wings, I was sure that I had just found a GREENISH WARBLER!! I waited, but Chiffs just kept getting in the way. I had to have a better look at it and after 10 minutes, I decided to go in and find it. More or the same Chiffs is all I could see and then I put my bins up, white underparts, pale green upperparts, whitish supercillium extending behind the eye and the single very narrow wing bar. Before I could get any more features on it, it dissappeared. Again, it was very brief sighting, but it was enough. I need to get the news out, but the reception here is crap! Then I picked up a small bird with whitish underparts above me! Shit, it's a Firecrest! Any other time I would of been happy if that was the only bird I saw all day! It was not until 20 minutes later that I relocated it, by it's white underparts, above me high in the Sallows. Again it moved through quickly and was gone. I couldn't get any reception on the phone. So I ran to the hides and found Joe Pender. I told him want I had found, but he didn't have time to look. However, he let me use his phone. Returning to the Greenish site, I bumped into Paul Sampeair and he followed me. With in five minutes of being there, we both heard it call deep in the Sallows. Alan, Richard, Martin and Ren all arrived. Three of us went inside to search, while the other three stayed on the path. Eventually, it was picked up on the path. We were in the wrong place and couldn't come out or we would of disturbed it. It moved into Holy Vale, but it was too late, it had disappeared. I was just glad that other birders saw it, because, What on earth is going on at the moment? This can't continue, finding all these rare birds. My lucks got to run out sometime. This was only my third Greenish Warbler that I've ever seen.

As you can see, it only showed briefly and the branches kept getting in the bloody way!

Note the white underparts

Pale green upperparts and I think you can just make out the narrow wing bar. Again, note the white underparts

                                           SPOTTED SANDPIPER at Porth Hellick Martin Goodey

14th September

Twos days later than I planned, I quit my taxi business at last and I feel great! I've already been offered jobs. So I'm going to take a long break and do a bit of birding and what a start I had on my first day off!!
  I decided to have my first lye-in for a long, long time and got up at 08.00. I'm not one for staying in bed. I took my time and about mid-day, I found myself at Lower Moors. There were few migrants around including, 1 Reed Warbler, 3 Blackcaps and 4 each of Willow Warblers and Chiffs. I entered the Iris field and walked a short distance and flushed a CORNCRAKE! It showed well in flight and landed in the SW corner of the field. I flushed one here four years ago about 20 meters from this bird. I knew a few people needed this and in a short time, six of us had assembled, hoping to flush again. We walked in a line across the field, and as I expected, we had no joy.
 I was happy with the Corncrake and thought things can't get any better. How wrong I was! At 19.20 I was in the hide with Robin at Porth Hellick. It was getting dark and as I went to close the last shutter, I noticed a Common Sandpiper fly, in silhouette, a short distance towards the seaward hide. We made our way to the hide and as I opened the shutter, I saw a sandpiper in front of us. I put my bins up and shouted at Robin, 'SPOTTED SANDPIPER!' Robin understandable, questioned me if I was sure? I explained to him why it was one, as you will hear in the video footage of the bird. There was no rush in putting the news out as it would be dark in ten minutes.
 My first day off and a great one out and continues my lucky run I'm having in finding good birds. HOWEVER, I had no idea what lay ahead!! Later, Mick Turtten told me that he was in the hide only half an before! My guess is that the bird had just come in.

SPOTTED SANDPIPER was only my forth I've ever seen

As you can see, it was almost dark when we found the SPOTTED SANDPIPER

13th September

Rocky Hills
1 juv/fem Redstart, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Chiff and 20+White Wagtail. 

11th September

 I paused in the taxi and scanning down the slope, I had a good look at the LESSER GREY SHRIKE that was very close next to the road in that Hawthorn Bush of his. Not much birding in the next few days, as the girlfriend arrives on the boat. The boat was on time and we went home. It was a warm pleasant day and decided to go for a walk. We were going past Porth Hellick, so we had to have a look in the hide and found the PECTORAL SANDPIPER, that was found late this morning, was showing well in front of us with 3 Dunlin.

10th September

 I thought I better going and see the WILSON'S PHALARPE on Tresco. I did a few taxis to the airport and like yesterday, found the LESSER GREY SHRIKE in the Hawthorn. A great bird to start the morning! Just after 09.00 I was on the Lynesse going to first, St Agnes and then Tresco. Here, I found the 1st winter phalarope picking off the surface of the water, off Simpson's Field, Great Pool. Like the shrike, this was a new bird for me and well over due for Scilly. The last one was 29 years ago in Sep, 81 and was the 5th record for Scilly. This bird showed well in the hour that I saw it. The only other birds of note were, a single Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Green Sandpipers. I didn't have much time, because I had to catch the post boat back for my next taxi!.

9th September

 As I was driving from the airport, first thing this morning, I located the LESSER GREY SHRIKE in it's favoured Hawthorn bush next to Airport Lane.

 Higgo called to tell me that he had found a ICTERINE WARBLER on the dead pine walk, Garrison. I thought I would later and started to do my patch instead. In one of the weedy fields, a bird flying low towards me turned out to be a WRYNECK! It showed at close range before flying deep into a bush bordering the field. It then into some large Oaks where I lost it. As I slowly came round a bend, on the dead pine walk, A large warbler flicked up from the bracken and into the pines. It was the ICKY and it showed pretty well for a few minutes. After me calling them, Richard and Tony came along and told me that this is where Higgo found it. With Robin, I returned to the WRYNECK but there was no sign of it. Instead we had a Firecrest calling from behind us.

                   LESSER GRAY SHRIKE showing very well in fields next to the airport lane Paul Stevens

The shrike filmed from my taxi, first thing this morning

8th September

 I had just dropped some people off at the airport and I had gone three quarters down airport lane, when I put the brakes on suddenly! I had just gone past, what looked like a small grey ball, in the lower branches of a Hawthorn next to the lane. It had to be a shrike! Quickly I put the gears into I reverse. I couldn't find the bloody Hawthorn, never mind the bird! I had to reverse all the way back and look above over the bank where the Hawthorn was. Then I spotted the bush and could only see the top half of the bird. I raised myself up, until my head was touching the roof of the taxi and with my bins, Twisting my neck around in the process, I looked into the grainy thin strip that's right at the top of the windscreen and sure enough, it was a grey shrike! Even though the bird was back on and I could only see the top half of the it, I knew it was a LESSER GREY SHRIKE!!!! It turned it's head and showed me it's black mask. I could not believe my luck. An adult male LESSER GREY SHRIKE!!!! and I still hadn't seen it's lower half of it's body. I quickly drove down a little and got out and looked up the slope to the Hawthorn. This time I saw the whole bird, however, it was silhouetted. I rang everyone and then put the news out on Birdnet. This was a new bird for me and with my camcorder I videoed it, just in case it disappeared, even though it was silhouetted. I was late for my next taxi and hoped that the other birders would locate i when they arrive at the site. Robin picked up Bryan, Ren and Nigel. Ren spotted it as soon as he got out of the car. It had moved further into the field and they were watching it from the top of the path leading to Ennor Close. I returned an hour later and to find it performing very well as it fed on Dung Beetles. It was 34 years ago, May 1976, when the last one was recorded and was only the 6th to visit the islands.

Dutchy Fields
1 Reed Warbler, 1 Pied and Spotted Flycatcher

 Later in the evening, as I drove past the large field next to The Moos at Normandy, I decided to stop and have a look. With my naked eye I could see a pale wader in the top right corner of the field and thought it was one of the BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS from the airfield. I was right and I called everybody. Joe Pender was just around the corner, so he was the first to arrive. Alan also came along and told me that my three birds were still at the airport. As the airport was closed, I headed straight up there, but couldn't find one. I was standing in the center of the runway and as I turned around, 4 BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS flew in and landed just in front of me on the runway! They quickly moved onto the grass and started to feed. I got ahead of them and lay down with my camcorder until they were almost on top of me. While I lay there, I heard a Green Sandpiper and a Yellow Wagtail fly over. When the sandpipers had passed, I raced back to the field at The Moos, just in case it was not one of the 4 on the airfield. It was still there! It was still distance but in total there were 5 birds and I had found 4 of them. Before this I had never found a single one.

 I've seen all these birds, while at the same time, I'm working! This is all going change, because in three days, my girlfriend arrives for a few days and I'm going to stop doing the taxis completely. After over three years of driving 1000's and 1000's of times around the island, I've decided to quit and have some time off.

 Also today, a 1st winter WILSON'S PHALAROPE  turned up on the Great Pool, Tresco!!

What a beauty! Adult summer male LESSER GREY SHRIKE in the fields just off airport lane. Martin Goodey

The shrike favored this small Hawthorn throughout the day Two top photos Joe Pender

The first time I saw the whole of the shrike!!

                             Higgo looking at the shrike with Old Town in the background

Four BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER coming into land on runway!!

Four BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS on the airfield  
              One of the 4 BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS on the airfield. Martin Goodey      

7th September

 First thing this morning I checked The Moos field and the BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER was still there. In fact it stayed all day.I walked my patch and flushed the WRYNECK off an ant mound. There were still lots of migrants around including 1 Tree Pipit, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Whinchats, 2 Pied Flycatchers, 5 Spotted Flycatchers and a female Sparrowhawk. As the ICTERINE WARBLER was still present on the Garrison, I tried my luck. I found Richard and Tony on it already and they put me on it. It showed very well in the low branches of a pine next to the changing rooms.

            The BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER in the field next to The Moos. Martin Goodey


              ICTERINE WARBLER showing well in the pines next to the changing rooms, Garrison

6th September

 There was still 2 Sedge Warblers in the field above Holy Vale/Maypole, but everything else had moved on except for 2 Spotted Flycatchers. Another of the latter was at nearby Maypole Farm and I found another WRYNECK. The bird was right next to me in a tree but I didn't know anything about until it flew out and landed in another tree infront of me and then into a field. I didn't go looking for it because I knew that Robin would want to see it. We couldn't relocate it.

5th September

 I went to have a look at the 2 Curlew Sandpipers at Porth Hellick, but could only find one. A cracking juvenile in front of the hide with 6 Dunlins. There was also 6 Sedge Warblers in front hide.
 Both Lower Moors and the Garrison were alive with migrants. The former site held 2 Whinchats, Tree Pipits, Sedge Warblers, 5 Spotted Flycatchers and 10+Reed and Willow Warblers. At the Garrison there was 1 Garden Warbler, Whitethroat, Whinchat, 2 Pied and 3 Spotted Flycatchers and a male Blackcap. 

4th September

 Driving up the airport lane, I could see 3 waders circling very high above the control tower. I jumped out and just caught the back end of 3 BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS flying W towards Peninnis. One of these birds must be from one found yesterday on the airfield, I thought. However, I was told later that it was still present when I had these three. Today also saw good numbers of migrants, particularly Tree Pipits.
 In a single field on my patch there were 7 Tree Pipits and 1 Whitethroat. In another field above Holy Vale/ Maypole, there were 1 male and juv/fem Redstarts, 2 Sedge Warblers, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 1 Yellow Wagtail and 1 Tree Pipit. A Swift was at Green Farm.

3rd September

 I thought I would like better views of the ICKY and made my way up to the dead pine walk. Didn't see it, but there was an increase in migrants. 7 Spotted Flycatchers, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Garden Warblers. 1 Whitethroat, fem Blackcap and 2 flyover Tree Pipits.

2nd September

 Higgo called to tell me that he had found a ICTERINE WARBLER on the dead pine walk, Garrison. I thought I would later and started to do my patch instead. In one of the weedy fields, a bird flying low towards me turned out to be a WRYNECK! It showed at close range before flying deep into a bush bordering the field. It then into some large Oaks where I lost it. As I slowly came round a bend, on the dead pine walk, A large warbler flicked up from the bracken and into the pines. It was the ICKY and it showed pretty well for a few minutes. After me calling them, Richard and Tony came along and told me that this is where Higgo found it. With Robin, I returned to the WRYNECK but there was no sign of it. Instead we had a Firecrest calling from behind us.

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