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Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Scilly 2009






I have just spent a week (Sat 10 to Sat 17 October) on Scilly. These are an archipelago of islands situated just south- west of Penzance in Cornwall. Their position in the Atlantic make them well situated to receive a multitude of migrants from Europe, Africa, Asia and even from America given the right weather conditions.
Sadly for migration enthusiasts, the weather was warm, sunny and positively balmy (people were even sunbathing on the beach in the hot sun) and with definitely no howling gales and weather fronts to push the birds over to Scilly.
Birders flock there usually during the middle 2 weeks of October in the hope of finding rare birds particularly rare vagrants blown off course and making landfall on these hallowed islands. 
The regular team of John H, Andrew H, Tim H were augmented by the very welcome return of JP and his friend Alan. Terry T, our usual cohort on this trip sadly had to miss this year due to work commitments. We hope to welcome Terry back next year.
Our trip got off to a good start with a siting of 2 Choughs flying over high seacliffs at the end of one off the Cornish valleys, a Clouded Yellow butterfly flying over the same field. A Snow Bunting seen at the edge of a field bordering the airfield also sealed the good start.
However, this year's Scilly was sadly devoid of mega- rarities the first time we had failed to see any on Scilly during my decade of observations there.
Highlights for me were not the birds but a fish; a magnificent young Basking Shark fishing just off shore off Tolman Point and a Cetacean; an equally resplendant Minke Whale that was breach feeding again just offshore off Deep Point. The balmy weather conditions was ideal for viewing these marine creatures.
Avian highlights were in very short supply indeed compared to the 9 previous years; but included a very obliging Radde's Warbler seen at close range, a Little Bunting, an immature Rose- coloured Starling, a Wryneck, 2 Yellow- browed Warblers, 3 Jack Snipe, a flock of 10 Whooper Swan which swam right in front of the hides at Porthellick Pool, a juvenile Arctic Tern, 4 distant Spoonbill in flight and a very confiding Pied Flycatcher.
Migrant butterflies and moths were completely non- existant with no Clouded Yellows or Hummingbird Hawk Moths or anything rarer in the Lepidoptera front seen at all, disappointing.
Worst part of the holiday was inadvertently flushing an excellent find; a bird that flew off, a pale sandy brown colour with a weird call, a probable Short- toed Lark that flew from the middle of a grassy field (I didn't see enough to clinch the ID) that flew down to the Dump Clump from the Penninis Farm trail I didn't see it again despite me frantically trying to relocate it!

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