03/11/21 Radde’s Warbler!

Another light NW wind this am and my walk eastwards from Langdon was punctuated by 4 Brambling, c15 Siskin and 6 Tree Sparrow over West, a Merlin over Harbour field ,I’d heard that the Snow Bunting was still in situ and good numbers of Stonechat and Reed bunting were noted. As I’d birded mostly Langdon Hole yesterday (and with finding a Pallas’s warbler on my mind) I drifted towards the sheltered sycamores around lighthouse down and the valley.

The sunny side of the valley seemed quite birdy, and a spot I rarely check held 3 Chiffchaff feeding near a small pond when suddenly movement low down caught my attention. I could see heavily obscured bits and pieces of a darkish looking phyllosc that looked to have warm grey buff underparts and was that some apricot tones towards the vent?! a strong ‘eastern looking’ supercillium, I saw some wing flicking. then it was gone… Wobbly legs followed but then I heard it call, (a bird I’ve readied myself for finding many times before and confirming my suspicions from the brief views I’d had) A Raddes Warbler!! about 5 minutes passed before it came out into the sunshine and fed low down in the base of some willow herb; A Lovely bird.

I put the news out and called some locals. Colin J was basically driving past when I called and saw the bird almost instantly after arriving, Brendan R also arrived quickly enough to see the bird which actually flew into mid height in a bare tree before flitting into more suitable Radde’s habitat.

Below is Brendan’s lovely image of it without twigs in the way.

Im very happy with the find and an hour or so later i received news that a Humes Warbler had been found close to the Radde’s site! I’ll have to hope its there tomorrow as couldn’t get away again today. Well done to Brendan R and Gerald S for finding that.

02/10/21

A light NW , overcast conditions, clearing to sunshine by 8am and some migration. The Snow Bunting was still present although had moved up to the track closer to reach road. Highlights were 3 Ring Ouzel, a late Wheatear,a single Fieldfare, 3 Swallow, c100 Chaffinch, 2 Brambling, c10 Siskin, c500 Woodpigeon all West, a Small Flock of c10 Tree Sparrow flew towards farm, 5 Reed Bunting, c60 Corn Bunting c 30 Yellowhammer.

A lunch time stroll down the sea front looking for Auks or divers etc in the harbour was highlighted by a 1st winter little Gull that flew past me and out to the deep harbour before i could get a decent pic.

I had another look before dusk but the c1,500 roosting gulls were mainly Black headed with many Mediterranean and a few Kittiwake, and nothing else of note.

Scillies 2021

My longest stay on Scilly, 25 Days entirely on beloved st Agnes. A quiet year all round, it never really got going . This, and the fact that I’ve very little time currently means I’ll forego my usual long winded Blog post and just focus on my personal Highlight: Finding this smart BuffBellied Pipit 4 days into our trip.

It had been raining on the 3rd of October, I was walking around the beach-side fields at santawarna with my waterproof hood up but the electric and arresting call of a Buff-Bellied Pipit whipped me out of my ‘head down trudging’ as it was chased by a Meadow Pipit. It took me almost 10 minutes to properly locate the bird as the pipit flock was moving around alot but after that it showed nicely on and off for three days. Quite chameleonic in its appearance in different light.

The Rest of the trip was punctuated with nice scarcities, and great views of some of them but it never really got off the ground. No (other) American Passerines were found during my stay and thus wont go down as a vintage year but I still got to spend time on my favourite island with some excellent people and of course i’ll be going again.

29/10/21 Snow Bunting

A quick break from fitting our new kitchen to go and have a look for a Snow Bunting that Mark K had seen up between Langdon and Fan bay. It didn’t take much looking for as it flew up from the tarmac track in front of someone jogging towards me and landed on the track to the farm, a nice male.

Both myself and the bird were being blown about by the 50 mph SSW gusts, but the typically tame snow bunting was easy enough to get ahead of and wait for it to move towards me. Even non-birding ‘passers by’ mentioned seeing it to me : ‘a little brown and white bird walking around by our feet’. I watched the bird from the relative shelter of lying on my belly, despite having had my fill of these kind of views on Scilly last week; this was a welcomed new bird for the me here on the patch.

Little else of note other than a Firecrest in the sheltered end of the Valley.

26/10/21 Back East!

After 5 and a half weeks I finally got home last night. Scillies was quiet but there were some brilliant moments. Warm sunshine and light SSW winds greeted me on my walk up the cliff this am. A two Hour walk from Langdon Hole to South Foreland and back chalked up 25 Tree Sparrows, 13 over west (groups of 9 and 4) and 12 in the stubble fields up top, hopefully they’ll winter again.

2 Brambling, c20 Siskin, 4 Swallow and 3 House Martin also flew west, 2 Blackcap were in the valley as were about 5 Jays. 3 Reed Buntings were noted and a 2cy male Marsh Harrier flew south over the Port and out to sea.

Good to be back.

16/09/21

A very light Sw and a warm sunny day. Another good day for Chiffchaff numbers, A single Willow ,1 Common Redstart, 2 Black red, 1 Tree pipit over East, a few Yellow Wags , 4 Whinchat, Reed bunting, 2 Wheatear and the highlight was 6 Tree sparrow, (2 over west at the lighthouse and 4 together dropped into bushes on lighthouse down 30 mins later)

Juv Tree Sparrows

A Green sandpiper (2nd of the autumn) flew over west y’day morning and was the only thing of note for me.

Green sandpiper

I am away with work for the next 12 days and following that I will be on St Agnes , Scilly for the following 3.5 weeks so no birding here till 26th Oct… Bit worried about what i’ll miss!

Rave on!

13/09/21

Light Easterlies, a clear blue sky first thing and a similar situation to yesterday although less birds. A lone Crossbill (my first since June) flew west over Foxhill down calling as did 2 Grey Wagtails and 3 Wheatears were present in the harbour field. The bushes in Langdon Hole were fairly empty beyond a few Lesser Whitethroat and Chiffies and today was my first day since early August not seeing a Whinchat. A lunch time skywatch produced 3 Golden Plovers, (2 landed in the ‘castle field’ and a single flew right over my head at Reach road.)

12/09/21

A Light WNW wind and a sunny start to the day, a noticeable increase in Chiffchaff with over 25 birds seen and only 1 Willow Warbler noted, A single Common Redstart, 6 juv Black Redstart, 3 Grey Wagtail, 4 Sparrowhawk, c100 Swallow and 25 House Martins West along with around 30 Meadow Pipits. 5 Whinchats were still around the farm and I counted 5 Wheatear and 15 Yellow wags across the patch. A call from Nigel J letting me know that a White stork was heading my way was appreciated although it seems the bird diverted west away from me. Later it seems the entire flock of Knepp birds decided to get up and fly around the Dungeness area, I was in place waiting for them to fly over but they never came.

Hobby

This smart adult Hobby was my bird of the day, It had 3 unsuccessful attempts at the goldfinch flock on Foxhill down before continuing East in the afternoon light.

Light Easterlies tomorrow…

11/09/21

Despite some switches in the wind over the past few days the numbers of migrants have fallen considerably on the headland, probably been abit too dry and clear at night. A notable clear out on the night of the 7th, the following day all that remained was a single Common Redstart and single Pied Flycatcher at the top of the Valley.

Pied Flycatcher

Having said this things like Chiffchaff have begun to grow in numbers, outnumbering Willows this am. Grey Wagtails have been notable migrants most days this month, as have Sparrowhawks and Ive also had a singles and a group of 3 Snipe fly east yesterday.

Juv Sparrowhawk

Occasionally a group of House martins or Swallows will go through and this morning there were 2 Hobbys hunting near fan bay, the only other thing of note for me were 2 Willow warblers, 10 Yellow wagtail west and 4 Whinchat. Mark ringed a Grasshopper warbler on the farm. Lesser and Common Whitethroats are still the most numerous warblers I think.

Common Whitethroat

06/09/21

Warm, light Easterly wind and bright sunshine today. A similar set of birds to the past week including 3 Common Redstart, 3 Black Redstart, 5 Willow, Single Reed and Sedge, Still good numbers of both Whitethroats, 30+ Yellow Wagtails, 6 Whinchats. Both Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, a Tree pipit on the deck was entertaining in the grass and bushes around the ‘pony Corrall’ at Langdon. Still no Wryneck!

Tree Pipit
Pied Fly

From about 11.30 onwards I could see large numbers of small gulls feeding over the Western end of the patch,On approaching I noticed they were mainly Mediterranean Gulls , with some Black Headed too and perhaps 600-800 in number at times, all feeding on flying red ants. Quite the spectacle. The harbour was also rammed with Med gulls this evening as we went for our swim.

Ad Med Gull
1CY Med Gull