Sunday, 27 October 2013

Scilly...and general reflections

Well, that's it. Very enjoyable as always. Not a classic year but still some great birds seen and more wonderful memories. Plenty of time to reflect now during these dark nights.

What are your priorities? Anyone reading my blog is obviously interested in birds, but which ones? I like ALL aspects of Birding from garden to twitching MEGAS. I'm greedy!

Can't be too greedy though. I've just had a wonderful week on Scilly with Louise, who fortunately also loves the islands. I was fully appreciated. That gave me 7 days in a prime location for a MEGA. I did see one in the form of a SORA... wasn't a tick however, as I saw the St Mary's bird in 1991 (my first visit) which was initially thought to be a Spotted Crake. Another came in the form of the VERY elusive WHITE'S THRUSH. The bird  was found (in my opinion re-found) on St Agnes in the parsonage. A quiet year? Add to this a FEA'S PETREL seen from the Scillonian on Wednesday by the fortunate and hardy few and maybe things weren't so bad after all.

This example sums up perfectly the vagaries of birding. This bird was only the 12th record for Britain in (modern times) and  6 have been on Scilly! There have been a few long-stayers on the mainland but it is still a quality MEGA.

Many birders I feel expect too much from the islands. I can understand this entirely with it's track record and expectations are understandably very high...I include myself here! If your holiday revolves solely around LIFERS and you don't get one depression will soon set in.

To find one you also have to obviously be out in the field...looking! I tried hard, very hard. Mobility was limited, but a combination of heel lift, pain killers and taxis enabled decent coverage. What a brave soldier. Unsurprisingly, I couldn't find one!!

Then, on the predicted "MAGIC 23rd" a MEGA...


Unfortunately it was found at the furthest possible point from Scilly, on Unst, the northern most point of the Shetland Isles. To give you an idea of it's position it's at the same latitude as Anchorage, Alaska! It does question the limits of "tickability" but it IS still Britain. Just a hint of envy showing through there! Seriously though, fair play to all who make the effort and can afford the TIME and/or MONEY to make the journey to see the first (twitchable) bird of this species. Many congratulations...I mean it.

Some not so personal thoughts...

Would I have liked to see it? Oh YES.

Would I sacrifice my Scilly holiday for one LIFER? Oh NO.

Ah, but it's still there!

Charter flight...£600/£700!!! Maybe not. That's more than our flights and flat for the week! I could possibly get 2 flights to the States for not much more?

OK. Drive to Aberdeen and ferry?

Second bus tomorrow at 5.45!


It's all about priorities. Nobody is keener on getting a British tick than I am. Sometimes however,  it's just not feasible...

There, I feel better now.

During the week I'll post some highlights from the trip. Another great bird seen well was this Subalpine Warbler on St Mary's...

It's not ALL about MEGA'S...far from it...they are great though!

STOP PRESS:  RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET in Ireland. A first! No worries on that one as I've never been to Ireland (even when the list was Britain and Ireland) and have no intention of doing so in the future...that should save a few quid!

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