Sunday, 31 October 2021


HAD to be done...

The best pumpkin I've ever seen!

Friday, 29 October 2021

Scilly 2021 - Day 15

For completeness I'm popping a few thoughts down from the phone whilst the good lady starts our journey North from Lands End.

Not too much marching this morning...or so I thought. We had a leisurely stroll up to 4 lane ends. Louise read while I had a look for RB Fly and Woodlark. I saw neither but no matter. There were also OBP, Rose-coloured Starling, YBW and Water Pipit all within a mile! Where else would that happen? Nowhere!

I also said my goodbyes to a few regulars, which was nice.

We decided to have a last Longstones and a Cream Tea...

Had to be done.

It was time to think about returning to the digs to wait for the taxi to the Airport. Of course...a late breaker.

A Sub-Alp sp had been seen at Telegraph. I mulled it over briefly before deciding to have a go. I had an hour. After some initial confusion on location I found the admiring group and fortunately after a short while I had the bird...

A nice bonus at the death. I wonder if they can turn it into that "funny one"? I made it back with 10 minutes to spare.

Trip Total   102 species

Distance covered.  110 miles

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Scilly 2021 - Day 14

Late start today due to poor weather and late night! We also packed our bags in preparation for tomorrow's flight.

After an early lunch we headed down Peninnis as the rain had stopped. There had been a report of 4 Snow Buntings by the Lighthouse.

As we reached the final section a Peregrine appeared and soared for quite some time in the updraft giving spectacular views...

A sinister silhouette

No sign of the Snow Buntings in an hour search around the Lighthouse. Louise then returned to the digs while I recovered on a bench. Adam Hutt appeared with his partner Heather. We had a good chat then they continued East and I returned North down Peninnis. News that the Olive-backed Pipit had been seen again near Old Town tempted me down the Hill. A small group had assembled and after some 30 minutes the bird popped out and I had great views through long time Scilly stalwart Andy's 'scope. Thanks pal!

The rain closed in again by 4,30 so I called it a day. Last chance for something special in the morning. Still time...

Trip Total   101 species

Distance covered   104.7 miles

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Scilly 2021 - Day 13

My report was curtailed tonight when the Bombshell news of a VARIED THRUSH on Papa Westray broke!!!!!! A truly mind-blowing bird.

It brought back great memories of my previous visits for the STELLER'S EIDER.

I WON'T be leaving Scilly...

Report of Day 13 to follow...

Where was I? Ah yes...Day 13. I decided to pop over to Tresco to try for the LESSER SCAUP. On arrival at the Quay I noticed David and Jim were heading the same way as they boarded theBoat. I joined them. Once landed we headed for the South side of the Great Pool as the sun would be behind us. Good tactics but no joy with "the Duck" or the Spotted Red' we decided to walk round to the Hide. As we settled in the Spotted Redshank flew into view...

...with a backdrop of Greenshank and Redshank

Nice Pose!

No sign of the LS however ther was plenty to entertain including 6 magnificent Whooper Swans...

Always special

Distant Pink-footed Geese...

We were then joined in the hide by Cornish legend Viv Stratton...a really nice guy. After a further 20 minutes we managed to find the LESSER SCAUP which was feeding actively...

As you can see the light wasn't favourable but at least we'd found it!

I had a walk over to Pentle Bay to look for a RB Merganser but I couldn't find it. Nice view though...

We returned at 3.30 in lively sea conditions but no hint of sickness...thankfully. Always OK on the inter-island boats...the Scillonian is a completely different proposition!

I walked back to the digs for a brew with Louise. Further news of a Richard's Pipit up by Telegraph came through!? Ever had one of those moments when you ask yourself can I be bothered? It would be my 100th species for the off I went up the hill...again. Fortunately the bird had remained faithful to its chosen field...

The bird unfortutely remained in the long grass at the rear of the field, so I was pleased to grab this image at 5.06. I'd achieved my species target of 100...and it co-incided with my 100 miles!

Trip Total   100 species

Distance covered   100.5 miles

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Scilly 2021 - Day 12

No MEGA sulk here, just another day to enjoy on the Fortunate Isles...a privilege indeed! The weather reality was better than the surprise there. We made our way NE following the coastal path past Porthmellon and Porthloo where a lone Curlew was amongst the Oystercatchers probing the sand...

Not its best side

We continued North after the obligatory coffee at Juliet's Garden. The view is very special...

A decent vantage point I think you would agree. We also saw the 10.15 inter-island boats leave...

We then walked the Northern Coastal Path past Innisidgen towards Watermill Cove. The target was Great Northern Diver. I eventually found 3 but they were way out towards St Martin's. Still, a Trip Tick (96).

We rested again at Watermill enjoying the weather and the view...

With 3 plus miles under our belt we headed for lunch at Longstones. This Cafe is strategically ideal as it's in the centre of St Mary' also has great food! While having lunch on the porchI had the occasional scan (as you do). I noticed an obvious Wagtail on an adjacent farm building. I was surprised to find that it was a Grey...then another! The birds were incredibly active and mobile, flying away high only to immediatly return on several occasions. It was great entertainment, even Louise enjoyed it. I love seeing species out of context...

Not great pics but they somehow reflect the occasion. They were then joined briefly by a Black Redstart! There's always something to see on Scilly.

It was now 2pm and Louise headed for Hugh Town while I walked North to Telegraph to see if I could get another view of the Hawfinch near Content Farm...and anything else for that matter. It was quite busy (for Scilly) up there. The BT boys were working on the transmitter and there were a lot of parked vehicles. Also there were a few Birders down the lane. I decided to check the Golf Course out hoping it would be quieter on my return. No Buff-breasted Sandpipers on the GC so I returned to Content Lane, which was now thankfully quiet. As I walked down the lane I lifted my bins to view the was there!

I moved slowly forward before taking a few images. It was feeding deep in the Hawthorn...

Fortunately the bird eventually made its way up near the top of the bush...

Always a good day with a Hawfinch in it.

I then returned South towards Rocky Hills toying with the idea of getting a stiff neck looking for the ghostly RBF by Rosemary Cottage. Fortunately I bumped into my old mate Martin (we go back many years regarding Scilly wanderings). He informed me a Ring Ouzel had been showing on the Sunnyside Farm trail. I chose the latter.

The scene as I arrived...

The bird had shown in both these fields...before I arrived of course. I waited. After around 20 minutes it appeared down the bottom end...

Trip species 97

It seemed reasonably settled (for a RO) making its way slowly across the field feeding...

It then disappeared for a good hour, Birders came and went but I waited. As I returned to my original spot I noticed a movement on the path...

There it was, some 10 yards away...

This is without doubt the closest I've ever been to this species in 35 years!!! The Magic of Scilly.

Trip Total   97 species

Distance covered   90.9 miles

Monday, 25 October 2021

Scilly 2021 - Day 11

This morning found us heading out to Peninnis Head on yet another glorious, fresh, sunny morning. Maybe a Ring Ouzel or merely a Skylark for the Trip wasn't to be. This Wren gave itself away eventually...

...while we enjoyed the view over to St Agnes...

We walked round the Headland and into Old Town Bay but not before enjoying Puplit Rock...

...and the approach of the Scillonian...FROM LAND...

This little chap appeared out of the grass whilst we were watching...


Another form of transport was also present...

We had 30 minutes on a bench in the Churchyard where I was entertained by a few Phylosscs. Nothing unusual, unfortunately.

After lunch Louise decided to take it easy while I headed for the I wasn't going home! On arrival the hoped for Whinchats were showing well...

...and gone!

On leaving, I passed Parting Carn and yet again enjoyed views of a Water Pipit...

News of a Hawfinch near Content Farm tempted me to make another yomp North to Telegraph. I was passing the site of the RB Fly but I didn't deviate from my original quest. As I was walking up the road I bumped into Mark Halliday and his Wife. It was great to renew aquaintances after 12 months. On arrival at the site Scott Reid was present, again it was good to see him again. He said the bird hadn't been seen for a while and he had to leave. A few Birders came and went before Paul Freestone appeared. I was bumping into eveyone today! He stayed a short while before moving on and there was still no sign of the bird in the small hawthorn...

As you can see, there was hope as all the leaves had gone but there were plenty of berries. Hawfinches tend to be loyal to food sources, so I was still fairly confident it would return. It took an hour...

It was always obscured at the back of the was there...


I did try for the RB Fly on my way back but the cloud had increased making the light poor. I had a couple of typical unsatisfactory glimpses before I left for Hugh Town

Trip Total   95 species

Distance covered   82.6 miles 

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Scilly 2021 - Day 10

Up before dawn and down to Parting Carn, which is undoubtedly the "birdiest" field on St Mary's. I spent a very pleasant 90 minutes on a quiet Sunday morning scoping the birds in the plough. Plenty of Chaffinches and Meadow Pipits to sift through. I eventually picked out my first Brambling of the trip. I counted 18 Redwings among the resident Song Thrushes plus a couple of Black Redstarts. A sprinkling of Siskins (c30) were also present. An excellent session indeed!

After returning for the bacon sarnies we headed for Porth Mellion Beach were a Snow Bunting had been reported. I'd had a quick glance on my way back for breakfast and saw a group down the far end. There was no-one present now, so we slowly strolled the length of the beach on another glorious Sunday...

We couldn't find the little gem but as we started to climb back onto the road we both looked up to see the bird flying East towards the Golf Course, calling. Lucky and different to see the bird in flight on the Islands.

After finally making it to the area were an Olive-backed Pipit had been reported near Old Town, I searched a solo search for a while but unsurprisingly couldn't locate the bird.

We returned via Parting Carn and I managed decent views of a Water Pipit. News of a Red-breasted Flycatcher at Rocky Hills tempted me to detour on our way back...for the match! I got the usual brief, flashing view of the bird in a less than conducive atmosphere, if you get my drift.

I write this as Liverpool lead 5-0 at Old Trafford!!! We're off to the Atlantic tonight so I'll add a few more pics tomorrow...maybe of a MEGA lol! Hope springs eternal...

Trip Total  92 species

Distance covered   75 miles

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Scilly 2021 - Day 9

Steadier day today...I'm 65 next month!

I made my way up to the Star Castle after breakfast to scan Samson for a while. Shelduck and Spoonbill had been reported which would be Trip Ticks. The distance is around 1.5 miles...

...but the trusty APO 62 had no problem picking out 10 Shelducks around the beach area. Now for the Spoonbills. 30 minutes of scanning Samson, Green Island and evrywhere else failed to produce a sighting. Spoonbills like to take it steady in my experience!

Around 11 a white silhouette appeared from behind Green Island and landed near the Shelducks on Samson. I had my trip tick. Some 10 minutes later a second bird joined it.

After lunch I tried the Dump Clump for YBW.

This is a dense area of cover near the School where this species turns up every Autumn. It requires patience on most occasions to get a glimpse of this smart sprite. When we arrived there was no-one present. Louise settled down to read and I waited...and waited...and waited. An hour had passed and a couple of Birders came and went. As itapproached 3 I decided to take the path into the area to see if I could get lucky. I'd only been in there a few minutes when I got lucky, especially a sit wasn't calling. The light was poor and the area dense so I was pleased to get a record shot to mark the occasion...

Again a very satisfying day re-locating some target species.

It's coming......................................................................

24th October


25th October


26th October

Aquatic Warbler

27th October


28th October


29th October

Snowy Owl

Above are Birds I've personally seen on these dates (I'm certain there are others) hope and puts an edge on the remaining days. It ain't over yet!

Trip Total   87 species

Distance covered   67.7 miles

Friday, 22 October 2021

Scilly 2021- Day 8

Today ended up being a truly great day...and I mean that most sincerely folks!

I was up at 7 and heading for the Golf Course. A long shot I know but there was a samll chance the Hoopoe would return before the Golfers emerged. I made my way around the Coastal path thinking I may be able to see some of the course on my way. I couldn't. It also took longer than anticipated which gave me a 30 minute window for the bird to appear. The appearance of the groundsman with the mower more or less finished my chances! I returned to our flat for 9.30 to help sort our stuff out before we moved on to our second accomodation just down the road. As we left our luggage in the hallway a message at 10.03...

Hoopoe St Agnes

There was no chance of me making the 10.15 boat under the circumstances.

Time for a rest now after the 4 mile plus early hills. We sat in Porthcressa Bay for a while before having some Lunch in Town. The Hoopoe was now personal. Ther was a boat at 2pm returning at 4.30. The Boss was happy to stay on Mary's and sort the new flat out so I made my way to the Quay. The booth was closed so I asked a chap leaning on the rails which boat was for St Agnes. He turned out to be a Birder (surprise, surprise) and he had the same plan as I did. It would be a Lifer for him. We hit it off and enjoyed a good conversation on the way across. There were only 10 people on the boat.

His name was David and he was from Northamptonshire. He was an ex-language teacher like my good lady. We shared a very brief conversation regarding the National Curriculum. Once landed we headed for the area the bird was last reported, the Pereglis seemed like a good idea! 

Of course, on arrival there was no sign of it. We spotted a couple of Birders, one of which told us the bird had been seen on Wingletown Down...which was on the other side of the Island. Another yomp ensued and on arrival...yep...the bird had just flown off...again!! I said...Oh Dear!

It was now around 3.30. We decided to follow the Coastal path in the direction the bird flew...seemed like a good plan. After walking a decent distance I received another message informing me the bird was now back where we had just walked from. You're probably getting the picture by legs were.

Walking the coastal paths can be quite deceiving...I'm gaining plenty of experience on this trip. As we retraced our steps checking all the short grass areas we were hoping to see either the bird or some focussed Birders. We could see neither? It was now approaching 4.

Then...we saw a couple of chaps looking out to sea...or so we thought. They were a good 100yds away. Then David shouted...there it is!!! After a few seconds of anguish, I was long my Scilly Hoopoe...

Scilly 231

The bird was on the deck for another minute or so before yet again flying off some considerable distance. I congratulated David on his Lifer and we headed for the Quay. We arrived at 4.15 and he dived in the Turks Head and emerged with 2 halves of Tribute to celebrate our success. Nice touch.

We headed back to St Mary's glowing in our success. 

I can honestly say that today was as satisfying as any Twitch for a Rarity. To finally connect with this elusive bird on my favourite lslands after a significant effort (19 miles in the last 2 days) was just...perfect.

Trip Total  84 species

Distance travelled  65.2 miles

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Scilly 2021 - Day 7

My main target today was the elusive Woodlark. I couldn't see it leaving last night in the storm! On the way we passed Parting Carn where a Water Pipit had been seen. On arrival the ploughed field was very "Birdy" with lots of Pipits present. There were also Siskins and Redwings. The birds were thankfully easy to see. After a short search I found one (3 were later reported) and we moved on via Longstones cafe for a search along Pungies Lane. Louise found a bench in the sun and I searched the Pond area and the lane. I wasn't 100% sure I was in the correct spot but the bird had been seen on a wire and there was only one crossing the lane. After a while a couple of other Birders arrived and I asked them if they had seen it previously. They told me they had and that I was indeed in the right place.

One of the chaps had his scope and after around 15 minutes he picked it out distantly in the short vegetation...much to my relief. I managed to get a brief but conclusive view for my Scilly tick (230). I thanked him sincerely.

As I returned to join Louise news came through that a Hoopoe had been seen near Giants Castle on the South of the Island. It had then flown towards Old off we went. No further news on our arrival but I wanted to hang around in case it showed up, so Louise headed back to the flat and I searched some likely spots.

News then came through it had been seen further North! It seemed to be having a tour of the Island. When I reached Longstones another update said it was now on the Golf Course!! I yomped up there to miss it by a few minutes...knackered and not happy. Time for a rest now. It WAS reported from various sites throughout the afternoon but was never in one spot for long.

I ended up back at the Golf Course hoping that it might return once the Golfers had gone. It didn't. Have to go now as we're off to the Pub. Hopefully the Hoopoe will give me another bite tomorrow?

Trip Total 82

Distance covered 55.9 miles

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Scilly 2021 - Day 6

Still steady away here, no matter, more exercise and coverage of the wonderful Isles of Scilly. This morning we headed for the Garrison which is one of my favourite areas. I camped here in 1991 on my first visit. A BIG mistake, combined with a horrendous Scillonian crossing in a Force 9. You don't forget things like that. The plus side was that it was the year of the first SORA. I guess I fell in love with the Islands from the off and have always returned with enthusiasm when circumstances have permitted.

We climbed up to the Star Castle Hotel which commands a magnificent view over the whole archipeligo...

L to R...Samson, Bryher, Tresco and St Martin's

We walked down the North side and through the Campsite to avoid the strong NW wind. There are some decent pockets of vegetation to check that have produced some great birds over the years...not this morning. We ended up at our favourite spot, Morning Point, which has a great view across to St Agnes...

We then returned via Lower Broome Platform, another legendary Birding spot...

I gave it an hour but nothing popped out. We enjoyed great views over Porthcressa Bay as we walked back...

We just made it to the Cafe before the heavens opened. After lunch Louise went shopping and I headed out to Newford Duck Pond... try for a mobile Woodlark...that had been seen over here and along Pungies Lane...a long shot if ever there was one! I was aware the forecast wasn't great, to put it mildly but I was hoping it may hold off till dusk. It didn't! As I reached the site the torrential rain started and continud for the next couple of hours. Needless to say the Woodlark wasn't seen but the resident ducks had a good decrescendo laugh at me.  I did manage a Willow Warbler and 8 Siskins at the Pond.

I walked back in driving rain (and shorts) and somehow quite enjoyed it? This was an early finish and a hot bath was required. Hopefully less views and more BIRDS tomorrow...

If this was a Rarity!

Trip List 80 species

Distance covered 45.2 miles