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Wednesday 31 October 2018

7th BLYTH'S PIPIT for Scilly

After finding a Olive-backed Pipit yesterday, I went and did one better by finding this BLYTH'S PIPIT in the next field from the OBP at Carn Friars! Unfortunately, no one else has seen this 7th for Scilly, if accepted, yet! 

  First thing this morning I had a quick look at the GREY-CHEEKED THRUSH at Porthloo and then continued onto Porth Hellick. Heard the Siberian Chiffchaff calling and on the pool there were only 1 Jack Snipe and 2 Snipe. Nothing really moving overhead and when I reached the ringing station Jim told me it was dead and it had already gone 09/00. I ventured into the Carn Friars fields and immediately found a 'Eastern' Lesser Whitethroat. Well that's new in and I watched it fly over towards the ringing station. A single Swallow and Brambling flew east but there was no sign of the Olive-backed Pipit, although other observers had already seen the dump allotment individual with 2 Yellow-browed Warbler in the area. I switched my attention to the whitethroat and found it at the ringing station. While trying to get photos of the sylvia, I heard distantly, what I thought was a Blyth's Pipit. Again it called, this time overhead. Bloody ell! It is a BLYTH'S PIPIT!! I scrambled out of the Sallows to try and see if I could see it but I was too late. It sounded as though it flew off west towards Porth Hellick. I put the news out that I just heard a Blyth's Pipit hoping that others would come up and help me search for it. I was just about to make a move when the Dusky Warbler started calling near to the orchard. Making my ways towards Porth Hellick, I flushed the pipit and watched it circle and disappear out of sight low over the Sallows to maybe Higher Moors/Porth Hellick direction. Through the ringing station and jumped over the electric fence and flushed the pipit again. It must of pitched down just over the Sallows and fortunately, instead of flying off, it dropped back down. I quickly took some photos and then retreated out of sight with the pipit still in the field. I had to walk a little before I got reception and then gave directions of which field the bird was in. However, those who turned up didn't see it as it had disappeared when returned to the field. For the next hour trying to relocate the pipit, we got the whitethroat and Dusky warbler but no sign of the Blyth's. Shite!!

Jack Snipe at Porth Hellick

'Eastern' Lesser Whitethroat at Carn Friars

I got this flight shot when I flushed it the first time just in case it was never seen again

This BLYTH'S PIPIT gave me the run around Carn Friars before settling in a cattle field on the east side of the Porth Hellick Pool. 

  Everyone left disappointed and went off kicking almost all the fields between Carn Friars and the airport and for my trouble I got a Lapwing and 15 Skylark flew NW. There were dark clouds coming in and I just made it to the airport when there was a heavy downpour. Had a late dinner and then returned to Porth Hellick and at the loop trail I heard a Yellow-browed Warbler and flushed 3 Woodcock. In the last hour of light I thought I would concentrate on the probable probable Siberian Lesser Whitethroat and found it in the same area. The Sallow it was feeding in were also shared by a vocal Dusky Warbler and a Siberian Chiffchaff  was chasing a Yellow-browed Warbler. Then I heard the BLYTH'S PIPIT in the top fields. Was I really in the UK? I left the warblers and went looking for and relocated it in a small paddock next to the main track with 6 Meadow Pipit. Another cracking day!!

I kicked out 3 woodcock on the Porth Hellick loop trail

Probable 'Siberian' Lesser Whitethroat, Blythi form. That's the recording it immediately responded to when I played it anyway but I could get a spread tail shot .

This Siberian Chiffchaff was chasing a Yellow-browed Warbler in the same Sallow as the Lesser Whitethroat

And the ringed Dusky Warbler put in appearance also in the same Sallow

BLYTH'S PIPIT at dusk at Carn Friars

Wood Pigeon

Tuesday 30 October 2018

Olive-backed Pipit at Carn Friars

I found this Olive-backed Pipit this morning at Carn Friars while at the same time, yesterdays bird was still present at the dump allotment first thing this morning

  This morning felt promising as Redwing, Chaffinch and Brambling were heard as I stepped out of my door on the Garrison. Breakfast was the order of the day and then a brief look at the GREY-CHEEKED THRUSH still showing well at Little Porth Beach. I arrived at Porth Hellick and on the Scilly Bird News WhatsApp, Jim had put out that he had trapped a Dusky Warbler and he's gona release it at 08.30! As I had only five minutes to get to the ringing station, I ran like the devil and made it in good time. I watched Jim let it go and then made my ways over to the Carn Friars fields and found an Olive-backed Pipit! I just caught a pipit in the corner of my eye disappear over the tall Elms and from there I had no idea where it went to. I walked around into the next field and there it was feeding in, what else, marigolds. Just like the individual at the Dump allotments was doing which had already been seen earlier. This OBP was pretty mobile and I left it alone on the main track between the farm house and orchard. In the next hour, I kicked Carn Friars and throughout, Chaffinch were moving east in small flocks. Also 18 Skylark flew high east while on the deck I got 2 Reed Bunting, 4 Brambling, 350+Chaffinch and 1 Woodcock. As I approached Porth Hellick ringing station I could hear the Dusky Warbler but never saw it. With so many birds in I thought Jim would be making the most of it and that he was including, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Reed Bunting and good numbers of Goldcrest.

The forth Dusky Warbler of the year was trapped and ringed at Porth Hellick and was my second one to see in the hand.

This Olive-backed Pipit stuck around Carn Friars all day

A rather cold looking Chiffchaff

Reed Bunting

Lesser Redpoll By the end of the morning Jim's totals of note included 16 Goldcrest, 14 Chiffchaff, 2 Reed Bunting, 2 Blackcap, 5 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Yellow-browed and 1 Dusky Warbler. He also retrapped a Firecrest.

All together I had up to 4 Brambling at Porth Hellick/Carn Friars including this female

Male Great Tit


  At Porth Hellick Pool there were 2 Jack snipe, 10 Teal and while listening to male Siberian Chiffchaff singing, I got a call from Tony and Ritchie telling me that they had a Long-tailed Duck at the end of the slipway at Porthloo. I found the duck snoozing on a rock and when Tony and Ritchie returned, we observed the Great White Egret making a low pass heading towards town. Joe Pender put out on the WhatsApp group that he had a male Hen Harrier high over The Roads. This was quickly followed by Rob Lambert having a ring-tailed Hen Harrier over Samson Hill, Bryher. We scanned for both harrier with no success. Are attention was turned to the duck because it had woken up and immediately we could see it was struggling when on the sand trying to make to the water. I picked it up and it appeared to have a dodgy leg. Ritchie told me that he saw it swimming and diving before it went for a rest on the rock. It was decided to release it in the water and eventually it made it's ways to the Atlantic Inn where it had a cold beer on the terrace!

There were 2 Jack Snipe at Porth Hellick hanging out with 9 Snipe

This Male Siberian Chiffchaff was singing out in the sun

This female Long-tailed Duck didn't look like it was in good shape but a quick check over, after I caught it, and we put it on the water. Later it was seen on Tresco Abbey Pool.

The Great White Egret over Porthloo with my work in the distance, Star Castle

 I made my ways to Borough Farm and walking through a long grass field I disturbed a Vagrant Hawker that was probably enjoying the warm sun. It started hawking and then I lost it!! Shite! I kicked the field all over the shop and all I got was a Brambling overhead. I returned to Porth Hellick and in the loop trail area there were 1 Lapwing2 Swallow4 Yellow-browed Warbler, and I heard the male Cetti's Warbler. 
  I ended the day at Lower Moors where I got another Jack Snipe on the scrape. Nearby there were 2 Yellow-browed Warbler, 1 Siberian Chiffchaff, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Reed Bunting but there was no sign of the Dusky warbler all day. Throughout the day, Chaffinch, Redwing and Fieldfare were moving through overhead.

This Vagrant Emperor that I kicked up at Borough Farm was only my second Scilly sighting after one I found at Holy Vale five years ago when it was mega rare. This autumn has proved to be a very good year, not just on Scilly but also the mainland. 

This cow used all it's skills to get to where the grass was greener without being zapped by the electric fence!

The name ‘GhostlyKisses’ was inspired from reading William Faulkner’s poem ‘Une ballade des dames perdues’ and seemed like the perfect reflection of her ethereal voice.

Monday 29 October 2018


Andy Holden and I found this GREY-CHEEKED THRUSH at Little Porth. However, scrutinising the photos later on of the St Agnes individual from last week compared to this bird has proved it to be one and the same!   

  A day off from work and the wind had died off, got me up early to go shopping! I needed to pump my tyres up on me bike but had to wait for another twenty minutes for the garage to open. To kill time, I scanned the gulls at Little Porth and then made my ways up the path to the west end of the beach. Here I met Graham Cunsdale who was letting me know what he had seen already this morning. With my naked eye, I could see on the seaweed below me, a bird that appeared a fraction bigger than a Robin. It was motioness, front on and I had an idea that it might be a catharsis thrush. As the white on the belly was so bright from the light, Veery was goin through my mind! It ain't goin to be and it's just a Water Pipit. The bird was still in the same position when I lifted my bins 'GREY-CHEEKED THRUSH!!' I shouted. Graham asked casually where it was? 'It's there! Can't you see it? on the seaweed just there' There was miles of seaweed and lots of other small birds feeding in the seaweed but I was kinda of helping by pointing at where it was when saying 'It's there!' Of course he did get onto it, I took some photos, just incase it disappeared never to be seen again, and then I put the news out on Scilly Bird News WhatsApp. I took some more pics and then looked to my left to see Andy Holden. I beckoned him over with my legs. Andy told me that he picked up the thrush in his scope on the west side and we discovered that we must of both locked eyes onto the thrush at the same time. If you look at the WhatsApp group, you will see that the time we both sent out the news of the thrust was spot on 08.22!! Ideal!! More birders arrived and for the next hour the thrush showed off at very close range on the seaweed making the occasional visit to a nearby garden.

This was when I first saw the thrush, front on and with my naked eye, the belly and throat appeared bright white and I thought I got myself a Veery!! I couldn't see the spots at the time.

When the thrush was feeding on the seaweed you were always looking directly into the low sun making it awkward for viewing. 

So when it hoped into the nearby garden I was there with in seconds where the light was a little better

A small crowd assembled to see the thrush

  By far the best view that I got was when it flew off towards Parsons Field. Everyone stayed put, but I went searching and relocated it in the first garden I looked at deep under a large bush. A few seconds later it was out in the open showing a few meters aways to the delight of myself and Bobby 'Dazzler' Dawson, who had just arrived. However, it soon returned to the beach and throughout the day it continued to show well for the 30 or so birders who twitched it. What a start to the day!

After goin missing, I relocated the GREY-CHEEKED THRUSH in a nearby Parsons Field garden where it showed superbly at very close range and was my fourth for Scilly!!

While at Little Porth, Skylark, thrushes and Chaffinch were coming in off the sea in very small numbers and included these 5 Stock Dove.

  At 10.00, Higgo, Dave Willis and I were off to see if the other yank, Surf Scoter, was still present off the east end of Tresco on Joe Penders new toy, as Higgo calls it. We were there with in minutes and found the scoter between Tresco and St Helens before it flew off towards St Martins straight into the reflection of the sun on the sea where we lost it. Returning to St Mary's, we missed out on a female Long-tailed Duck that Rob Lambert alerted us to as he observed it fly past the Seahorse on his ways to St Martins.

Surf Scoter flying off towards St Martins after we had seen on the water between Tresco and St Helens.
  Viv Stratton let me know that the Hawfinch was still in Tony Gilbert's garden and the Common Rosefinch was still at Porth Mellon. The finch showed off yesterday so I chose for the latter species and it showed very well feeding with House Sparrow in the roadside weedy field. I moved on around the corner at Rose Hill and on the WhatsApp group, Kevin and Debbie heard a Tree/Olive-backed Pipit while under trees over the latter site possibly flying towards Porthloo. I kicked every field between Rose Hill and Porthloo and heard a Serin fly in and land in a weedy field with a flock of 150+Chaffinch and at least 8 Brambling. I also saw 2 Lapwing flying south, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Swallow and flushed 2 Woodcock. 

This Common Rosefinch gave some cracking views in the roadside Porth Mellon fields

Meadow Pipit having a good ole scratch!

Compassion with a male, smaller of the two and a female Sparrowhawk over Porthloo. 

  While on Porthloo Beach, John Headon put on the WhatsApp group that he had found a Olive-backed Pipit at the dump allotments. Nice one and after a short wait, it came out from the overgrown marigolds and perched in a Ash Tree very briefly before returning to the cover of the Marigolds. I went to the back of the allotments and there was the Common Rosefinch! Earlier it showed very well but this time it was almost at my feet out in the open on the bare soil. And after nearly an hour of waiting the pipit came out to play and also showed superbly at very close range for a good ten minutes. I left the pipit turned the corner by the Dump Clump and heard my first Yellow-browed Warbler of the day.
  At Lower Moors, I saw my first Yellow-browed Warbler of the day and near dark I got the Dusky Warbler in it's usual spot by the sluice. Walking through the Standing Stones field on my ways home I got 3 Reed Bunting to finish off a cracking day from start to finish!!

John Headon found this very confiding Olive-backed Pipit at the Dump allotments but earlier during the day, Kevin and Debbie heard it or another but couldn't rule out Tree Pipit over Rose Hill.

The sun had gone in but this Common Rosefinch was dancing around my feet and when I returned to the OBP, you could still hear the rosefinch in the next field.!

Just got the Dusky Warbler at Lower Moors before dark

  Yesterday it proved hard work in the blustery conditions and a late start on the airfield found 1 Black Redstart, 5 Skylark and the Golden Plover. At the Dump Clump there was a Lesser Redpoll, on Peninnis, a single Brambling and 3 Skylark with 70+Chaffinch, the 2 Yellow-browed Warbler were still at Newford Duckpond and at Porthloo there were a single Black Redstart and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit. The last half of the day was spent at Lower Moors where I got 4 Yellow-browed and 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Brambling, 1 Woodcock and the Dusky Warbler.

Golden Plover at the airfield

Lesser Redpoll at the Dump allotments 

There was another small wave of Redwing in


Female Brambling at Lower Moors

Where I also had this cold looking Chiffchaff

I first picked up this partly albino Redwing in flight and thought 'What the hell was that!?' 

She Keeps Bees is a rock and roll band from Brooklyn, New York, formed in 2006 and consisting of Jessica Larrabee on vocals and guitar and Andy LaPlant on drums. They have been compared to Patti Smith, the White StripesThe KillsPJ Harvey, and Cat Power.