Friday, 31 October 2014


I was halfway back from a mis-guided attempt (very poor weather) to get further views (greedy?) of the RLB at Grindale when the MEGA alert sounded...


Now I like to think my local geography is pretty good but I admit to not knowing if this location was north or south of the Tees. VERY important to Yorkshire listers as south of the Tees is historical countable!

It was!!!

Oh dear...I thought to myself. No chance today (yesterday) as I started work at 3. More good luck, as if it had broke earlier I was north of Bridlington and would have had a chance.

With the help of my good lady who drove, I was in position at dawn (well just after) and after an initial rare bird chase...or hobble in my case...I connected with this little gem.

Maybe a nice finish to the season?

Just received this pic from Richard Willison

Cheers pal

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Rough-legged Buzzard redemption

After a somewhat sticky spell rarity wise...I decided I needed to SEE something today. I'm afraid I weakened and deserted the Patch for a trip to Bridlington to try for the juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard that had been in residence at Grindale for a few days.

First person I saw on arrival was my pal Tony Dixon! He was fairly gentle with me regarding "the Cuckoo". We soon had a sighting of the bird over the roosting wood...

I spent a very enjoyable afternoon following this bird around the area as it hunted...kestrel like. It was frustratingly hard to get close to however as it ranged over a wide area.

Way up with the crows
It did hover on occasions but only briefly, before moving on.


It would also sit in the hedge for periods but again only distantly...

Tony left around 2.30 but I decided to hang around. The bird of course decided to perch in a distant tree! I decided to try the adjacent country road but still no joy. Then I picked it up hovering, again distantly.

The next half hour was simply exhilarating as the bird performed brilliantly. Perching in the hedge, flying low along the road in front of the car, even pouncing Kestrel like into the grass verge. BRILLIANT!!!

No apologies for a couple more shots...

Might go back tomorrow...

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Scilly summary...but no laughing matter!

People of various persuasions read this blog. Friends, family, casual birders and hard core twitchers...amongst others. I am grateful to all for deeming it worthy of a read.

I didn't see "the Cuckoo". Disappointed? You bet. This was my number one "most wanted" bird to add to my British list. Scilly had to give me the best chance to see this usually short staying/lived species.


That's 3 dips at Lands End in 4 years...cue violins! My strategy was luck was BAD!

Around 150 dedicated souls assembled on the moorland above Porthgwarra car park. By 9.30 hope was By 11 I was back at the B&B in Pendeen picking up Louise. We hung around the peninsular till 3, visiting Mousehole and the Minack Theatre (the least I could do) then we headed home.

Scilly?   Already booked for next year.

The right strategy?   I obviously think so!

Am I right?   Who knows? Not this year as I was stranded only 20+ miles from the bird but no boat or plane on flights on Friday!

I know   I'll stay at home by the pager and not have my week on the islands. No chance!!

Granted, it's been another quiet year and each year less birders are making the pilgrimage. Shetland is (understandably) in vogue and it got me the RUBYTHROAT and CAPE MAY.

Two of my strongest personality traits...stubbornness and loyalty mean I am compelled to return...besides, we love the islands!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Old school twitching!

Well, what a state of affairs!

2011 I was at Land's End when a SCARLET TANAGER was on Scilly. Now I'm on Scilly with a YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO at Land's End!!

Tough to take. I always reckoned Scilly was my best chance to see (probably) my Number 1 target in Britain.

No flights at present again due to fog and a very slim hope of getting 2 seats today. So, after all my jibes about the boat, we're taking it at 3!

I'm just hoping the CUCKOO lasts till tomorrow morning!!

Wish me luck and Bon Voyage!?

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The 23rd!

Being a modest kinda fellow I hate to say I told you so...but I told you so! I never dreamt it would be a day that brought both American Cuckoos to our shores plus a Grey-cheeked Thrush!!!

...and here's me stuck on Scilly!

I've got to come clean and admit I tried to get a flight off tomorrow. As we were uming and ahing in the booking office the one seat on the 12.30 disappeared (Louise was prepared to come across on the 3.30) we're staying put. I would have tried for the YELLOW-BILLED and probably the HERMIT THRUSH on North Uist...but not now.

Trying to get a positive out of this scenario isn't easy BUT it's nice to know Cuckoos are still making it and that's the second HERMIT in two years.

Beware the 23rd!


At least today I saw a "good bird". We returned to St Agnes and soon connected with the ORTOLAN BUNTING. A Scilly tick to boot! The bird was associating with House Sparrows in a cow field at Troy Town...

distant at first
then closer...

then closer still...


CHIMNEY SWIFT...Western Isles! The 23rd!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

St Agnes

A fast disappearing Whimbrel started the day off at Porthcressa...

Today we visited St Agnes...

view north from Gugh bar
I've always liked coming here but today it wasn't at it's best birdwise...and that's an understatement! I like to think I tried hard but apart from a handful of Chiffchaffs I drew a blank. 3 YB Warblers were reported. One was in here...

...the site of many a rare bird.

More sites/sights than birds to report I'm afraid. Tomorrow will be the day?

The 23rd always lands a BIG one...

Hopefully here!

Trip total...61

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Mood swings

Starting to get downhearted? Not a bit of it. I'm here, in the game and still 4 more days to go!

Things started well today when I returned to Carn Gwarval first thing to try and get a peep at the Barred Warbler. It was windy, very windy but the area concerned was reasonably sheltered. I had the site to myself but after 30 minutes I hadn't seen it. A mature lady birder turned up and she commented on the strength of the wind and the limited chances of seeing it. She started to wander off down the lane when she shouted "here it is!" She was right...

A fine, uplifting sight. Chuffed to get an image of a very elusive and fast moving bird. After returning to the flat to pick up the now fully titivated partner we walked down to Old Town bay. I stopped off at the dump clump were I bumped into Viv Stratton, a veteran of Scilly and west country birding. We had a chat over the Scilly/Shetland debate. Interesting stuff but with no real conclusion! Great to see him...nice bloke.

When we reached Old Town I checked out the Churchyard while Louise read on a bench with a friend for company. Scilly Song Thrushes have to be the tamest...

Great birds
Nice Little Egret in the bay...

and a dapper Heron...

As we moved on towards the airport we noticed Old Town cafe was open. This is the first year since we got together it has been open during our visit. A nice surprise indeed!

After lunch I spent some time in Lower Moors looking for the Jack Snipe. I couldn't find it but there were a couple of Common...

A fine Greenshank was showing well...

Despite giving it a good hour all I could muster was 3 Chiffchaffs! You could say things were...quiet. The wind was still strong so I suggested to the boss that she might want a little shopping fix. She unsurprisingly agreed and I headed off for...

This famed site has produced some great birds over the years...I've never seen anything was no different as I couldn't locate the R.B.Fly seen over previous days. As I was searching Alan Hannington wandered past and told me a Great Northern Diver was showing off Morning Point. I arrived to find a handful of hopefuls looking out to sea. The sea was obviously rough which made viewing difficult. One chap gave me a clue which direction to look and after a short time I connected...

summer plumage
Again, the camera did well. This bird was a good 800yds out. A handy tool for record shots. Other interest was provided by another Med' Gull...

A final bonus came in the form of a Kittiwake which I managed to pick out amongst the Black-headeds

Couldn't resist another panorama from the Garrison over Hugh Town and beyond...

Trip total...59

St Agnes tomorrow. Hope they've got some pasties at the Turks Head!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Calm before the Storm

Pre-breakfast walk produced a Med' Gull on Porthcressa...

We decided to have a trip to Tresco...

View across to Bryer
Slow again I'm afraid. I'd love to be waxing lyrical about all the great birds I've seen...alas not today. Highlight was a Kingfisher on the off island rocks! A couple of Kittiwakes on the return journey were notable.

As we approached St Mary's a familiar sight came into view...

my favourite aspect, as it disappears!
Finished off trying for the Barred Warbler in the quarry at Carn Gwarval, a site incidentally I'd never visited before. It wasn't to be. A report of a Short-eared Owl on the airport pricked my ears up as this would have been a Scilly tick, but I couldn't get "on it".

Trip total...51

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Chilled..for now

Day started rather belatedly at Porthcressa...a combination of sleep catch up and MOTD! A Black Redstart had been reported and it was just round the corner...the beach that is!. It was a beautiful day, clear, crisp sunshine with a moderate southwesterly. There's always something on this beach and today was no exception. The Black Red' didn't reveal itself despite a good hours vigil but I managed 3 Wheatears...

2 Stonechats and a Grey Wagtail...

There were also plenty of Rock Pipits...

I'll cut this one short. It was a quiet day, a couple of late House Martins were notable.

We ended up at Porth Hellick enjoying these Greenshanks...

There are a reasonable number of birders present on the islands and the forecast looks favourable. Maybe tomorrow?

The Shetland/Scilly debate rolls endlessly on. My opinion for what it's worth. Holiday on Scilly, twitch Shetland! Simple.

For the record I've seen 39 species so far