The strong NE wind was blowing outside the house and even though it was bright, I didn't want to really go out. That was until Joe called and told me he was going to Porth Hellick. Just before I arrived, Joe had already seen a Firecrest and with in a few minutes of me being there, we were watching 2 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS with 5 Chiffchaffs at the crossroads. It wasn't until we walked around the loop trail that another Firecrest showed briefly. On the return back towards the crossroads, we picked up 2 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS only to be followed by the first two birds we had earlier, one of them giving it Bullfinch 'type' call, making it a total of four different birds. A single Skylark also flew over, W and we saw 1 male and 2 fem Blackcaps. Of the latter species, there has been a slight increase. While watching the two crossroad Sibe Chiffs, Chas joined us. Joe left and as he drove off in his car, I heard a rattle nearby and shouted at Chas 'CETTI'S WARBLER'! It rattled, the bird not Chas, again followed by a few of it's liquid Song Thrush 'type' calls. In the space of a second, it flew low over the vegetation and down again and then called a few times, then we lost it. This female has been here since Jim trapped it in Oct and before this, I only heard it back on November 23rd, in the same area! Chas said, 'I'm going to look at the hides', I don't know why he's got to go and have a look at the hides. Perhaps he thinks someones taken them! They were still there twenty minutes ago. I'm sure they were. Anyway Chas, I thought you come to look at birds not hides!
1 fem CETTI'S WARBLER, 4 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS, 1 FIRECREST, 1 Skylark, 3 Blackcaps, 2 Coots, 2 Teal, 5 Snipe, 5 Lapwings, 6 Fieldfares, 12+Goldcrests and 15+Chiffchaffs.
SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS 1 AND 2 feeding together at the Porth Hellick crossroads
I only had less than an hour to look around Lower Moors. As Higgo and I were walking along the path, the only message that came through from the pager, in the few minutes that we were together was, 10 Waxwings at Belvide, Staffs! You should of seen Higgo's face cringe. That was his local patch, when he lived in Wolverhampton and he was telling me that he regrets not going to see a flock in the 80's at Belvide.
There was a hard frost this morning and both Shooters and Lower Moors Pool were frozen over. It was very bright and as result, 3 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS and 3 Firecrests with 10+Chiffchaffs took advantage of the sun and all showed very well, down to a few meters from where I was standing! One of the Siberian Chiffs was calling on and off.
A quick look at Little Porth found the male Black Redstart, 2 Chiffchaffs and a male Blackcap. Lots of thrushes feeding on the beach including, 25+Song Thrushes and 10+each of Redwings and Blackbirds.
And here's one that didn't
The male Black Redstart was still at Little Porth
An amazing sunset over Annet from the top of Juliet's Garden with the Garrison on the left
Busy this morning with taxis and it was not until mid-morning that I found time to myself. The WATER PIPIT was still below the quay wall on the beach and the female Red-breasted Merganser was at Porth Mellon.
My mission today was to try and establish how many Siberian Chiffchaffs are wintering on St Mary's? It was perfect conditions with bright sunshine and no wind. I started off at Rose Hill and the first bird I saw a Firecrest. Joe called me and a minute later we were both in Lower Moors. There were a few Chiffchaffs, but it was not until we got to the other end that I located 2 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS performing well together in the sun with 2 Chiffchaffs in the Sallows. After ten minutes we moved on and found the YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER in it's favored ivy-covered trees. Just before 12.00, Joe left me, as he had to go. I continued and flushed 2 Jack Snipe followed by the Buzzard low in the trees. Then I heard a SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF calling nearby and as usual, found it feeding with another SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF. One of the birds flew off, after being harassed by the YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER. The remaining bird carried on feeding and I became aware there were a lot of Chiffchaffs in the same Sallows. All together there were 4 Ciffchaffs and 3 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS, all showing well flycatching in the sun, as you can see in the video!! I had a run to do and moved on and found 2 Firecrests next to the taxi.
4 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS, 1 Buzzard, 2 firecrests, 2 Jack Snipe, fem Sparrowhawk, 4 Woodcocks, 10+Goldcrests, 20+Chiffchaffs and 35+Redwings.
The YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER responded well to Joe's recording
YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER at Lower Moors Joe Pender
3 of the 4 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS at Lower Moors
Cracking footage of 2 of the 3 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS at Lower Moors!!
After doing the taxi, I made my way to Porth Hellick and again, the first bird I saw were 2 Firecrests! Ten minutes after being there, Martin joined me, hoping to get a photo of one of the Siberian Chiffchaffs. All we heard and could see, were Chiffchaffs. The Great Spotted Woodpecker was knocking in the trees right next to us, but could we see the bloody thing! The only time we saw it, is when it flew off calling. It was not until we got around the loop trail that we found 2 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFFS in a mixed flock of Goldcrests, Blue and Great Tits and Chiffchaffs. Both birds were feeding together and showing well on and off. We left them behind and when we entered the main path, I found another SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF with a single Chiffchaff. Two minutes later, I found two more feeding in the Sallows next to the crossroads, with one of them calling on and off! With the help of me pishing, both birds showed very well, but as the sunlight was disappearing fast, it was not good for photography. However, Martin did get some good images, despite the light. So, in ten minutes we had observed 5 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS and both agreed they were most definitely different birds! If you include the birds at Lower Moors, that a total of 9 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS on St Mary's and I only covered a fraction of the two sites!!
Also, Will visited Tresco today and managed to see 1 maybe 2 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS as well as 3 LONG-TAILED TITS, a very rare bird here, the drake GOLDENEYE and the fem Scaup were still present.
So altogether there could be up to, 10-11 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS wintering on Scilly at the moment and what aboyut the other islands!?
5 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS, 1 little grebe, 2 Firecrests, male Sparrowhawk, 2 coots, 3 Woodcocks, 3 Teal, 10+Goldcrests and 20+Chiffchaffs and Redwings.
There still lots of Golden Plovers and Lapwings around with 30+ of the latter species on Porthloo beach at high tide. Also, there was notable increase of Redwings
I wanted to try new areas of Lower Moors and Porth Hellick today to see if there were other Siberian Chiffchaffs feeding elsewhere, but as it was, I just didn't have time. If I'm not too busy, I'll try again tomorrow.
Two of the 5 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS showing well at Porth Hellick crossroads
While looking out of the window from the house this morning, 14 Snipe flew low over the garden! I had to pick up my daughter Tean and on the way there, I got the fem GOLDENEYE and the 3 Brent Geese at Porthloo. After this, the only time I had is when I dropped Tean off for pantomime practice in the mid-afternoon. As I was in town, I had a quick look at the quay wall, to find the WATER PIPIT was still there and then I moved to nearby Little Porth. 2 Common Gulls, 1 Pied Wagtail, 20+Sanderlings and new in was a male Black Redstart. Tony called and told me he had a Mistle Thrush on the airfield. That was my next destination anyway to check out the Golden Plover. As we walked around the airfield, I looked up and saw a plane heading straight towards us! BLOODY HELL!! it was approaching the very runway we were half way across!! The airport was shut, so we thought, but it got us turning around and running pretty fast to the where we had just come from! When it was safe to do so, we continued to walk and saw 2 Skylarks, 3 Fieldfares, 3 Snipe, 6 Dunlin, 10+Redwings, 19 Ringed Plovers, 30+Lapwings and only 160+Golden Plovers. The Mistle Thrush was feeding on the edge of the runway with the plovers and was my firth I've seen this year on Scilly, which is not bad.
Three photos taken all by Martin Goodey
An overcast day with a SSW wind making it feel a lot milder. On the way to doing my first taxi this morning, I quickly stopped off at Porthloo. Here there were 7 Dunlins, 4 adults and a 1st winter Common Gull and the 3 Brent Geese. Half an hour later I was in the Dump Clump and the only birds of note were a Woodcock and ringed on the right leg, a Firecrest. I heard a Grey Plover and Redpoll flyover. Speaking to Jim at the ringing station at Porth Hellick later, he told me that he had trapped a Firecrest yesterday. It was more than likely his bird that I saw. At the latter site, I met up with Tony and as we walked down from the crossroads, I heard a single call of a SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF. A few minutes later we were on it, only to see it feeding with an eastern 'type' Chiffchaff, that also looked good for Siberian. Around the loop and there was another SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF! The Little Grebe was still on the pool and new in were 33 Redwings at Carn Friars. Returning to the taxi, we found the SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF again at the crossroads.
I did a few more taxis and then visited Lower Moors. Straight away I could hear a SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF and found it feeding in the Sallows. I moved on and heard a very vocal YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER moving around with 2 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS, one of them was calling! I returned to where I had the other Sibe Chiff and located it by call. While watching it at close range, I could see movement above me in the Sallows and put my bins on it. Not one, but 2 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS came and fed with the one I was already watching, calling to each other. Must be the two I saw five minutes ago, I thought. I thought it might be a good idea to go and check. Two minutes later, I was observing 2 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS in the same place where I saw them last, with the YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER chasing one of them. I quickly ran to where the other 3 Sibe Chiffs were and found them all feeding together with 2 Chiffchaffs in the top of the Sallows. That was a total of an impressive 5 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS!! If you add the 2 possibly 3 at Porth Hellick, that would make it 7 or 8 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS!! I don't think there has ever been this many together recorded in Britain! There was also 8 Chiffchaffs feeding in a single Sallow nearby.
While watching the WATER PIPIT just below the quay wall, a call came through from Tony to tell me that he had over 150 Golden Plovers on the airfield. Now, maybe on the mainland this means nothing, but here, this could prove to be the most ever seen on Scilly. With in fifteen minutes I was watching over 300 Golden Plovers with 50+Lapwings, 5 Dunlins, 5 Snipe, 3 Turnstones, 20+Ringed Plovers, 2 Fieldfares and a single Linnet, all on the airfield! If the freezing weather continues throughout the rest of Britain, then I would expect this number to continue to increase. It's more than likely that there's more birds scatted around the island and the rest of Scilly.
2 maybe 3 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS, 1 Little Grebe, 1 Buzzard, fem Sparrowhawk, 2 Mute Swans, 3 Coots, 1 Woodcock, 8 Goldcrests, 10+Chffchaffs and 40+Redwings
5 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS, 1 YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER, 2 Woodcock, 10+Goldcrests and 15+Chiffchaffs
All 5 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS at Lower Moors, showed well, however, the light was to dark to film when the birds were up in the Sallows, which was most of the time. If it wasn't the light, it was to many twigs and branches getting in the bloody way!
Even though the light is bad, you can still see this SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF looks cold, with white underparts and grayish upperparts.
YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER at Lower Moors
Cloudy, still and warm start to the day. Left the St Mary's quay at 8.00 a.m on The Lighting rib and ten minutes later, I was looking back at St Mary from Carn Near, Tresco. From here I scanned the calm waters and straight away I picked up a fem Common Scoter and 2 Slavonian Grebes in the same scope of view. This was followed by 5 more fem Common Scoters and 7 Great Northern Divers. Abbey Pool was next and as I approached the pool I could hear a Reed Bunting calling. There was only Teal, Mallard and 3 Shovelers on the pool. The Great Spotted Woodpecker was very vocal in Abbey Wood where there was also, 2 Siskins and a single Brambling. I could not hear an engine of a car or a boat and thought how peaceful it was. Just before I got to the east end of the Great Pool, I flushed 6 Snipe and a Jack Snipe. Then just as the Jack Snipe came back down in front of me, the peace was shattered by the sounds of gun fire!! Everything was up and flying over head. Ducks were everywhere and I counted 5 Shoveler, 14 Wigeon, 12 Gadwall, 40+Mallard, 70+Teal, 4 resident Canada Geese and 14 Mute Swans. Three large ducks circling above me turned out to be 2 drake and a fem Scaup! They disappeared towards St Martins and when I looked at the pool in front of me, there were 6 Tufted Ducks and another fem Scaup! The shooting had stopped and I thought I would return to the Abbey Pool, to see what's trying to escape from it all. Immediately I could see a fem GOOSANDER and behind this was a stunning drake GOLDENEYE!! It felt like I was looking at the Ellesmere, back in Shropshire. The Goosander went behind the island and I never saw it again, while the Goldeneye stayed put. The hard weather on the mainland was certainly playing it's part.
I was told, by a local worker, that I can not walk along Pool Road? I never thought I would be told where I can and cannot go on Tresco on a public path! The guy who told me, works at the New Inn and was doing his job. He said sorry and hoped it didn't upset my day. It was, but there was no way I was blaming him for that. It was the rich folk shooting and those breeding Pheasants for what I would call, fun and making money! I was having such a good morning that I let it go. Instead, I walked along Abbey Road and looked at Simpson's Field. The 4 Pink-footed Geese from October were still here, but that was it. The shooting started again and I decided to walk the coastal path from Carn Near to the Block House. The wind was starting to pick up from the SSW. A single Knot was feeding with 14 Dunlin and the adult pale-bellied Brent Goose, that I found 6 days ago at Porth Mellon, was just off shore with 6 adult and 2 1st winter Common Gulls. At the woodpile, I could see the beaters in the distance, walking through the dunes trying to scare everything in sight. I watched a Woodcock get shot and tumble to the ground, while another one escaped from the barbaric act! This was making me very upset and angry and I wanted to leave before I got into a fight! As I passed the woodpile, a Short-eared Owl flew out and landed in the dunes. It was obvious that the beaters had flushed the bird and thoughts were going through my head that I better flush it again, so it didn't get shot by mistake. The beaters were still in the distance and I started to walk through the dunes to where I thought it had landed. To my shock, I flushed 3 birds, only to be followed by two more!! A total of 5 Short-eared Owls!! How many were in these dunes? I watched them continue towards Carn Near, where they would be safe, I think. I quickly moved out before I got shot or told to get off the island. A Firecrest was along Pool Road and just before I caught the boat, a 1st winter male Black Redstart showed down to a few meters.
1 GOLDENEYE, 1 GOOSANDER, 1 Reed Buntings, 4 Scaup, 4 Pink-footed Geese, 5 Short-eared Owls, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Brent Goose, 1 Firecrest, 1 Black Redstart, 1 Knot, 1 Jack Snipe, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Brambling, 1 Golden Plover, 2 Slavonian Grebes, 2 Woodcocks, 2 Siskins, 3 Greenshanks, 4 Canada Geese, 5 Shovelers, 6 Snipe, 6 Common Scoters, 6 Tufted Ducks, 8 Common Gulls, 11 Lapwings, 12 Great Northern Divers, 12 Gadwall, 14 Dulin, 14 Wigeon, 14 Mute Swans, 30+Mallards, 50+Sanderlings, 50+Wood Pigeons, 53 Coots and 70+Teal
Viv Jackson found a WAXWING on St Martin's today by Bakery. Lets hope more come over in the coming in weeks.
The stunning drake GOLDENEYE on Abbey Pool, Tresco
female GOOSANDER may have been one of yesterdays birds that Paul St Peirre saw on St Agnes!
Back on St Mary's, the WATER PIPIT was walking on the floating seaweed and I got the fem GOLDENEYE off Porthloo. While I was on Tresco, I thought all the Lapwings and Golden Plovers had moved out. How wrong I was. Just before dark, I did a taxi from the airport and counted 40+Golden Plovers and 12 Lapwings.
Despite the shooting, I had a great day with many rare Scilly birds. What you might think is common species on the mainland, like Goosander, can be mega birds here. Goosander was only my third Scilly record and were all drakes before this one.
WATER PIPIT walking on water below the quay wall
Female GOLDENEYE just off Porthloo
drake GOLDENEYE on the Abbey Pool, Tresco. I wonder if these two will find each other?
Overnight, about 2cm of snow fell in the garden
The freezing weather continues on the mainland and has pushed very large numbers of both Lapwings and Golden Plovers further south. The birds could be found in almost every field. The smallest patch of grass would hold one or two birds or you would find small numbers on the beaches. Every time I drove the taxi, I saw singles or small flocks flying over all the time and with them were Snipe on many occasions. It's difficult to work out how many birds are here, as there flying all over the shop, but the main areas where they favored were Pelistry and Carn Friars. At a guess, there may of been, 200+Lapwings and 120+Golden Plovers on the island. A lot of places weren't checked and how many were on the other islands, is anyones guess?
I was very busy with the taxi and when I got some time, I went to check out Porthloo. Will was already there and we both had the fem GOLDENEYE, 3 Brent Geese and a good record of a pair of Shoveler. A male Merlin went through and there were 11 Dunlin nearby. While waiting for someone in town, a Chiffchaff was on the path in front of the Town Hall and flew into the park! I had a quick look at Porthcressa and found a single Whimbrel, Great Northern Diver and 10 Teal. Ren called me to say he had found, 3 LAPLAND BUNTINGS at Giants Castle and at Carn Friars he had, 85+ Golden Plovers and 45+ Lapwings and 44 Teal on Porth Hellick Pool! Higgo also had a drake Mandarin fly over Porth Mellon! Mandarins are no longer kept over here. So, the bird has not come from the far east, but has come from the mainland to escape the bad weather and could prove to be the first one to do so.
I did the taxi and drove to Pelistry. Here in the fields were, 85+Lapwings, 40+Golden Plovers and over 250 Starlings. On the beach, there were 2 1st winter Common Gulls. Throughout the day there were snow/sleet showers, but by mid afternoon the snow had almost all gone. This is when I got a call from Joe to tell me that Paul St Pierre, from Cornwall, saw a pair of GOOSEANDERS fly past St Agnes, this morning! A very rare bird here and I thought they might be at Porth Hellick. First I stopped off at Porthloo again and got 4 Grey Plovers and on the road there was a Golden Plover. It walked a meter past me, as though I was not there! (See the plover on the video). Paul Steven's was also at Porthloo and after I did a taxi, we both went to Porth Hellick. No Goosanders, however, the pair of Shoveler were with 19 Teal and just before dark, a fem Wigeon dropped in. Earlier in the day, Paul flushed 12 Woodcocks at his work, Trenowth and Ren had 5 at Porth Hellick.
All these birds have escaped from the hard weather hitting the mainland at the moment. The next few days could prove to be very interesting and I'm going to try and visit Tresco tomorrow.
Darts tonight. It was Spurs v Wolves or Higgo v Spider or, as Higgo kept on telling me, Staffs v Shropshire! I'm finding this very hard to take. I'm afraid I let down, Spurs, Shropshire and my team. Higgo beat me 2-0. However, our team, 'The Hobbits' won 7-2 altogether and there was very good grub in between.
Higgo also told me, the drake Mandarin he had over his head this morning, he's ticking. 'It's on my list boy' he said,' I've got a strong cast to support my case, Pallas's Warbler!' He went on 'In fact, the duck was following a very small bird!' Mmm, I would say that duck was probably a Curlew!
I could of counted every feather on this Golden Plover as it past me less than a meter away!
The lone Hawthorn that was favored by a Lesser Grey Shrike in September.
Song Thrush at Porthloo
A typical scene in most of the fields at Pelistry. In this field there were Golden Plovers, Lapwings, Black-headed Gulls, Snipe, Starlings and Fieldfares.
Drake Shoveler and fem Wigeon with Mallards at Porth Hellick
MINKE WHALE, ISLSE OF SCILLY, OCT '09
I thought I would share some video footage from the last few years.
I'll start with this MINKE WHALE that showed at very close range off the rocks, Deep Point, during Oct 2009. Will Scott is giving us great detail of this whale and other whales. While Jen, who lives under the rock she is sitting on, is also observing it with over 40 birders! This is something that we will probably never see again so close! Just round the corner, there was also a Basking Shark showing just off the rocks between Old Town Bay and Porth Minnick at the same time!
Same weather as yesterday with the bitter cold NEE wind and sunny spells. I did a taxi to town this morning and when I dropped them off at the Coop, I thought I would go and have a look at the WATER PIPIT again. It was showing a lot better than two days ago, just over the car park wall on the quay. The 1st winter Black Redstart was also present.
The beauty of taxing on the island, is when you drop someone off and you've got time, you can go and have a look in the area where you dropped them off. In this case it was Old Town. I had half an hour and parked the taxi up and made the short walk to Lower Moors. It seemed pretty dead, but a few Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs came through and then I heard one of the SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS calling nearby and found both birds showing very well feeding together and as a result, I got the best footage so far of these two birds.
It was getting late and I decided to give a quick look for the Pallas's. I found the SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF at the crossroads, there were now 17 Teal on the pool and at the ringing station, I flushed 2 Jack Snipe. A 1st winter Spoonbill in the bay was a different bird to the one in Old Town Bay last week, because it had a set of rings on both legs! When I returned to the taxi, I could hear a Firecrest. I located it and found there were two birds, while at the same time, the SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF was calling. In the end I didn't have time to look for the Pallas's.
Througout the day while I was driving around I saw Golden Plovers and Lapwings flying around.
2 SIBERIAN CHIFFHAFFS, 1 Teal, 2 Woodcocks, 4 Goldcrests and 10+Chiffchaffs
1 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF, 1 Spoonbill, 2 Firecrests, 2 Jack Snipe, 2 Greenshanks, 3 Coots, 6 Goldcrests, 10+Chiffchaffs, 15 Lapwings, 17 Teal and 18 Black-headed Gulls
The WATER PIPIT showing just over the quay wall feeding in the seaweed
Here's a much better shot of it taken yesterday Joe Pender
One of the 2 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS at Lower Moors
The rings on this Spoonbill, proved it to be a different bird from last weeks Old Town bird
Can any help identify the rings on this bird?