Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Garden Centenary!

Just totted up my garden list and this mornings Short-eared Owl was my 100th species!!

Viz Miggin' - Tuesday 14th November 2011

This mornings efforts watching the visible migration over my house produced the following between 0900-1030hrs. Weather was fine with occasional cloud and a stiff E/SE wind with stronger gusts:

Chaffinch - Resident birds showed some dispersal but only c50 actually counted
Fieldfare - 41
Redwing - 124
Bullfinch - 1 male
'Alba' Wagtail - 4
Starling - 87
SHORT-EARED OWL - flew high west mobbed by Carrion Crow.
Skylark - 10
Meadow Pipit - 7
Woodpigeon - 44
Black-headed Gull - 1
Curlew - 1
Lapwing - 144 (flocks of 30,24 and 90)
Golden Plover - 1
Goldfinch - 10

Other species recorded but not counted were: Herring Gull, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Collared Dove, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Dunnock, Robin, Wren, Magpie.

1st winter male Desert Wheatear at Nanjizal

Finally got the opportunity on Tuesday to nip down and see the Desert Wheatear at Nanjizal. What a superb bird. The weather wasn't particularly pleasant but I spent about an hour with this bird completely on my own! It came extremely close at times and finally close enough for one or two reasonable photo opportunities. This is only the sixth record for Cornwall and the first since 1997!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Probable Eastern Asian Lesser Whitethroat, St Agnes, IoS 27th October 2011

A few photos of the presumed East Asian Lesser Whitethroat on St Agnes. I'm of the opinion that this is 'minula' rather than 'halimodendrii'? If my memory serves me correctly the halimodenrii at Lelant and Porthcurno a few years ago showed much more grey on the head than this bird. Photos of the Porthcurno bird on the right for comparison.

Photos above and below by Matt Sallis.

Scilly Week - Day Eight

I had purposely booked a late plane ticket to take full advantage of a whole day on our final day on Scilly. However, as per usual the bloody weather put pay to any great ideas and by 10am the fog rolled in and the wind picked up. I resigned myself to the fact that once again I would be going home on the Sicklonian III. So that was that, but no complaints. Another superb week on Scilly with three lifers (!), seven Scilly Ticks and 15 year ticks, aswell as great company with the lads and meeting up again with loads of birding friends and aquaintances. It'll take some beating!

Scilly Week - Days Six and Seven

Me, Adam, Nathan, Ash and Mark in The Turk's Head, St Agnes
Thursday and Friday were spent on St Agnes, although the best bird was back on St Mary's. The presumed central Asian Lesser Whitethroat was our first quarry on St Agnes and gave incredibly close views. There was no sign of the Bluethroat or Radde's Warbler from yesterday so we had to do with a Lapland Bunting skulking in a field and a flyover Richard's Pipit. Anyway, after a fairly uneventful day, we were just pulling into St Mary's harbour when a Red-eyed Vireo came up on the pager. Ideal. A run, jog, fast walk to Carn Friars lane soon saw us all watching a superb REV! Nice end to the day.

The following day Me and Mark went back to St Agnes. The weather was reminiscent of May rather than October! Very warm sun with hardly any wind and very few birders! Bliss! Unfortunately, there weren't many birds either, but a Pallas's warbler showed really well in The Parsonage and a Brambling was in weedy fields at the end of Barnaby Lane.

Scilly Week - Day Five

On Wednesday we were joined by Ash, so I spent the afternoon walking round with him, looking at the Upland Sandpiper again and picking up Pink-footed Goose (2), Peregrine and Wheatear and the first Fieldfares of the week. Earlier I had a bit of fun trying desperately to photograph the Dusky Warbler in Black and White Woods, Lower Moors. The image shown is the best of a bad bunch!! The best bird of the day however, we saved til last. Sitting quietly in Carreg Du gardens waiting for Firecrest and Yellow-browed Warblers, we were treated to superb views of a Treecreeper!! This was only the 12th record for Scilly making it rarer that the Upland Sandpiper in terms of records!!

Scilly Week - Day Four

Day four dawned bright and early with beautiful sunshine! The view from our digs is superb, looking across The Roads to Tresco, Bryher and Samson. Tresco was the destination for today but with the boat not leaving til 1015hrs, I went for a walk to Porthcressa beach with Mark. Merlin, Water Pipit and Common Sandpiper gave good views on the beach and the Lower Broom on the Garrison looked sheltered and full of birds so I decided to look there. Stupidly I took the route along the rocks on the beach and by the time I'd got to the southern end of Lower Broome I was dripping with sweat and exhausted!! Luckily I bumped into Nathan who kindly agreed to take my fleece back to the digs! I'd cooled down considerably by the time I boarded the boat to Tresco. The first boat was full so  I caught up with Mark ten minutes later photographing the two Snow Buntings at the south end of Tresco. A short walk to the Great Pool and we were soon watching Spotted Crake and Lesser Yellowlegs on the exposed mud. The latter being a Scilly tick for us both! The heavens opened shortly after but we still managed to see Tree Pipit, Mistle thrush, Pectoral Sandpiper and Med Gull before catchimg the boat to Bryher. This was a wasted trip as the Pallas's warbler seen a few days previously was not seen again!

Scilly Week - Day Three.

My third day was again spent on St Mary's where I concentrated on the Porth Hellick/ Lower Moors area for most of the day. A first winter Med Gull was with ten Little Egrets in Old Town Bay. A female Merlin zipped through and a Kingfisher was also present. I finally caught up with the flighty White-rumped Sandpiper on Porth Hellick beach after running backwards and forwards between there and the airfield! A Pallas's Warbler showed very briefly at Lower Moors so I went to the ISBG hide for better views of the Wilson's Snipe. A stroke of luck as I was watching it as the Northern Waterthrush hopped out right at the side of it!! Highlight of the day, with nothing much else seen after that.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Scilly Week - Day Two

After yesterdays binge on megas' our second day was bound to be a slight anticlimax, but that doesn't matter on Scilly and gave us time to spend a bit more of a relaxing day enjoying the scenery and finding our own stuff. The weather wasn't too bad, occasional sun, occasional rain but a very strong SE wind made birding hard work. I decided to find some sheltered areas and headed for Carreg Du gardens, taking in a Whinchat on Porthmellon Beach en-route. The gardens were indeed quiet and sheltered and afforded me good views of at least three Firecrests and a Yellow-browed warbler whilst picking through the Chiffchaffs for a trisitis type.
I left the gardens and headed for Salakee farm, taking a detour along the Tremelethan Trail. Two Pink-footed Geese flew in from the north and alighted on Porth Hellick pool, so i headed back to get a better look. Quite a scarce bird on Scilly and only my 5th and 6th after the four on Tresco at the beginning of the year. I decided on a seawatch from nearby Giant's Castle and hunkered behind a rock I recoreded, 11 Bonxies, 2 Arctic Skuas, a Pomarine Skua (juv), which was a Scilly tick, a juv Med Gull, 9 Kittiwakes and over 150 Gannets in an hour. By now the rain had set in and I decided to head back to Hugh Town for a cuppa. Ten Ringed Plover (no Semi-palmated after scrutinsing the juvs!), a Golden Plover, a Dunlin and four Turnstone were on the airfield and 17 further Turnstone and 120 House Sparrows (!) were counted in Old Town.
After a cuppa back at the ranch I ventured up to Peninnis Head with 20-30 others where a 'possible' Nighthawk (or kestrel!) had been reported the previous evening. No sign of it after waiting til dark but a Woodcock flew over the house in Hugh Town as I arrived home. Tired and ready for a pint!

Epic Week on Scilly - Day One

After a few leaner years and a year off (for me!) the 'Team' ventured across to Scilly again from Oct 22nd - 29th 2011. Myself and Mark (Halliday) flew over for 10am with Adam Hutt, Adam Stoyle and Nathan Pickering arriving just after midday (too late for the Tanager unfortunately!) Anyway, on arrival Mark and I headed straight to Lower Moors and got straight on to the Northern Waterthrush which was showing well at Shooter's Pool, along with Firecrest and a Yellow-browed Warbler. After only 10-15 minutes, the pager went off, signalling a mad rush for Sandy Lane, where a Scarlet Tanager was showing. After an agonising wait I was soon watching it moving through the top of a pittisporum hedge! Nice to get that one back after missing the one at St Levan the previous day. There has been talk of the birds being one in the same, but closer scrutiny of photographs shows them to be different. After the rush, it was nice to take a relative stroll to Watermill Lane where the two Olive Backed Pipits showed extremely well in the bulb fields. The Upland Sandpiper was next on the target list and was located in another bulb field at the back of Borough Farm. Three lifers in the space of a few hours, superb. The others had by now landed on the island and were enjoying views of the Waterthrush!

The rest of the day was spent between Porth Hellick and Lower Moors, the latter area providing great vioews of the Wilson's Snipe from the ISBG Hide.

New Look and long update!!

The Blog has had a bit of a re-vamp as you can see and I hope you like the new design! As for birding, 2011 has been a superb year and Scilly was well above average on our week birding holiday there at the end of october. Im currently on 249 species for the year with some goodies like Northern Waterthrush, Upland Sandpiper, Scarlet Tanager (three lifers in one day!), Olive backed Pipits, Red-eyed Vireo, Pallas' and Dusky Warbler, Glossy Ibis, White-rumped Sandpiper and Wilson's Snipe at the end of October. Before that Black Kite in Cornwall, Common Crane in Yorkshire as well as an awsome viz mig day at Spurn, Red-backed Shrikes in Devon then back to Cornwall for Baird's, Buff-breasted, Semipalmated and Pectoral sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitcher, Lesser Yellowlegs and a Bee-eater on The Scillies. A superb seawatch off St Ives on September the 18th produced all the Skua's, Leach's Petrels, Sabs Gulls by the dozen, Black Tern and Red-necked and Grey Phalaropes! One more bird for 250 and I can retire for the year! I'll keep you posted.