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Saturday, 26 October 2013

Scilly 2013: Days 1 & 2: Sea Crossing & American Duo

A fine crossing on the Scillonian on Saturday 12th October revealed some exceptional seabirds, a Bonxie early on was a good start but thus improved when I picked up the first one an extremely close Balearic Shearwater that flew exceptionally close (being a rich chocolate brown colour and smudged brown and white underwing) to the boat and then sheared away and diagonally right away from the boat, which I shouted out so everyone could get on it. I found another Balearic Shearwater flying further away on the horizon and shouted out this one too. A great start & the first time I have ever found this particular species! Another Bonxie flew by plus a Razorbill and later 3 Guillemots and several, c30 Gannets seen too. Arriving at the Quay we quickly dumped our stuff at the accommodation and we took the boat over to Tresco and the Great Pool to look for the Sora. We walked quickly to the Swarovski hide which was almost full when we arrived. I managed to get a seat but with an obscured view. John picked up the Sora walking in out of the reeds to the right of the hide and I picked it up walking back into reeds, the excellent Sora. After a false alarm when somebody mistoke a half obscured Water Rail in the reeds washing. The Sora was seen again after a while around the margins of the reeds and then right out in the open. Similar to Spotted Crake but with distinctive yellow bill, black around the lores between the eye and the base of the bill and lot less spotting. The Sora walked out in the open for a while before eventually disappearing into the reeds. An abortive attempt to go to the David Hunt hide to look for Garganey had to be abandoned due to lack of time as we had to tight deadline to meet to catch the last boat back to St. Mary's. A Jack Snipe was seen very close to the right hand end of the hide in the reed fringes between the edge of the reeds and the mud and was characteristically bobbing up and down. Walking back to the boat near the heliport we saw a Wheatear and an immature Stonechat plus a Meadow Pipit and 2 Sky Lark on the grass. On Sunday 13th October at Lower Moors, we saw a Water Rail run away from the dyke a female Blackcap and a calling Yellow- browed Warbler eventually revealed itself in the bushes between the road and shooters pool. A Greenshank and Grey Wagtail seen at Lower Moors whilst in Old Town Bay, I saw a Whimbrel fly in and onto he rocks, we would see much more of this bird a little later on. Around Pennines Head lighthouse, we saw 4 Wheatear and 4 excellent Common Dolphin swimming right out to sea, which the finder were convinced were Porpoises! Another Whimbrel flew onto rocks here too. We were having trouble finding pulpit rock which we had already passed as it was on the coastal path leading 2/3 of the way up to the lighthouse and as we got there both Laps were seen on a rock but somebody with a little camera just walked straight up to them flushed them (all I saw were 2 Wheatear) and I had to wait until one Lapland Bunting flew into the large rock at the top of the hill where it fed and promptly disappeared for my first sighting. Later on it flew back and showed down to 2 feet far to close for he camera at times but it did return to the rock area to feed. By the rocks by the shore on the way down to Old Town Churchyard, a confiding Whimbrel, the one I mentioned earlier, was walking around feeding on the rocks giving exceptional views so I spent some time here photographing it. back at Lower Moors, 2 Grey Wagtail flying around like hire wires and up to 4 Jack Snipe dotted around the far end of the pool edges and a Kingfisher breifly perched on the post at the back. By the skate park by the School by the large Elm opposite Nowhere, a calling Yellow- browed Warbler constantly on view showed well before flying to bushes nearby. A Speckled Wood landed on the grass. We then received news that the Thrush had been seen near the farm on the road to Hughtown, we tried with no luck but headed back to the Churchyard. The Churchyard was full of people and when the CB went off saying it was currently showing we didn't know where until I walked to the start of the path leading to the back top edge of the Churchyard. Incredibly looking back at the top monument, the excellent Grey- cheeked Thrush could be seen in full view barely 20 feet away. Only trouble was there such a hem of people, there was no room to set my camera up but I received superlative views through my bins. Smaller than Song Thrush and greyer, this was by far my best ever views of this species as it fed around the monument disappearing behind it at times before popping out the other side, watched for some twenty minutes. Later a Yellow- browed Warbler was heard and 2 calling Raven flew over. A great start to the 2013 Scilly holiday.

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