Wise Birding Holidays

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

WR Sandpiper, St Gothian Sands

On our way back from Scilly, we popped in to see this lovely juvenile White-rumped Sandpiper.

Juvenile White-rumped Sandpiper - St Gothian Sands, Cornwall

Juvenile White-rumped Sandpiper - St Gothian Sands, Cornwall

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Bryher October 2017

Lately, I have been too busy working and dealing with Sparrows(!) so haven't had time to post anything from my recent visit to Scilly. 

From 27th October, the Mrs and I spent 5 nights on one of my favourite islands, Bryher on the Isles of Scilly. I first visited Scilly in 1989 and have visited almost annually since. Regardless of birds, the islands are simply stunning and I really love visiting them and from a birding perspective, Bryher is a really workable island.

Nothing outrageous from our visit but finding a Vagrant Emperor was exciting, though sadly I found it dead the following day. A Richard's Pipit over Popplestones on the 28th was nice, daily Merlins, a Woodcock on the 31st, Yellow-browed Warblers (more on a future post) and the regular movement of thrushes and Brambling. I have no doubt we will return again next year! If you have never been, hopefully the following pics give you a feel for the place. It is certainly a place that is close to my birding heart. 

The view from our place on Bryher looking across to Tresco

This Juvenile Surf Scoter was the first bird we saw when arriving on Bryher - We even saw it from the flat!

Surf Scoter

Vagrant Emperor - A surprise find in the garden of where we were staying on Bryher.
It is an erratic migrant species to the UK from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. I often seen them in Morocco.

Fieldfare movements were obvious most mornings

Redwings were less in number than Fieldfare 

Brambling - During the last couple of days Brambling were regularly flying over and calling

Common Chiffchaff

Presumed Siberian Chiffchaff though not heard to call

The view across Popplestones looking towards the Great Pool and Gweal Hill.
Gweal Hill is the only place I have seen Yellow-breasted Bunting, in Sep 2003

It would have been rude not to have met up with good friend John Higginson.
Higgo has found many great birds on Scilly and Bryher is his regular patch

Adult Mediterranean Gull seen from the flat

Female/Juv Merlin - A few birds were seen on most days

Shaggy Parasol ?

Three of the four Whooper Swans that were seen daily on the Great Pool, Bryher

The view looking towards the Fraggle Rock Pub and Cromwell's Castle on Tresco

The Mrs as we travelled to Tresco for the day

Castle Down, Tresco

A novel use of the old style phonebox on Bryher

Yellow-browed Warbler, Bryher

Firecrest in the Maize

Green Bay, Bryher

Jerry - One of the local pigs

Golden Plover, Green Bay

Bishop Rock Lighthouse at dusk

View from Samson Hill, Bryher

Song Thrush - I always think Scilly is synonymous with this sadly declining species. Great to see so many and often so tame!
The view looking towards our accommodation

Monday, 23 October 2017

Short-eared Owl

Not much change on the top fields this morning whilst kicking the stubbles with similar counts of Skylark and Linnet and maybe a few more Meadow Pipits around. However, the highlight by far was unintentionally flushing a beautiful Short-eared Owl from the stubble. I think it was as surprised to see me as I was it, before the bird floated over the cliff top and then off inland. One of my favourite birds.

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Lesser Whitethroat, GND and Firecrest

Most of the day spent slogging the patch again today with good friend Andy S. An early start with some vis mig on the cliffs. Regular small flocks of Linnet, Meadow Pipit, Siskin, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Pied Wagtail and the odd Bullfinch, but still no hoped for Hawfinch! Though a high flying Great Northern Diver was my first of the autumn.
A walk round the top fields produced a late Lesser Whitethroat thanks to Andy. Just a standard looking Sylvia c. curruca and not anything from further east sadly!  
Also at least 3 Firecrest today.

Lesser Whitethroat, Otter Estuary

Lesser Whitethroat, Otter Estuary

Great Northern Diver, Budleigh Salterton

Firecrest, Otter Estuary

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Badgers and Migrant Hawker

A full day on and around the patch today in lovely weather with good friend and fellow birder Russ! I also retrieved my trail camera that had been left near Budleigh in the hope of filming some local badgers.

Highlights today included:
Linnet 100+
Skylark 50+
Wheatear 1
Firecrest 1
Peregrine 1
Kestrel 2
Cirl Bunting 3

Migrant Hawker
Common Darter
Red Admiral
Hummingbird Hawk-moth

Migrant Hawker, Otter Estuary 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Cedar Waxwing

I couldn't resist a day trip to Scilly and the island of St Agnes to see the juvenile Cedar Waxwing. Scilly is a great place and one I have very fond memories of over the years, so a great excuse to head over and the weather was fabulous.
Cedar Waxwing - St Agnes 6th October

Cedar Waxwing - St Agnes 6th October

Cedar Waxwing - St Agnes 6th October

St Agnes looking across to Gugh and St Mary's

St Warna's Cove, St Agnes - the bird remained faithful to this area feeding on the Coprosma berries
Cedar Waxwing - St Agnes 6th October

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Staying Local

I have been busy with survey work the last few days and slipping out to the patch when possible too. Highlights over the last few days have been my first Firecrest on 30th September followed by 3 different birds on the 1st October. A few Wheatears, a late-ish Sand Martin on the 2nd October and today a Merlin at Orcombe Point.

Keep slogging away!
Firecrest on the coast path today below the Golf Course

Firecrest on the coast path today below the Golf Course

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Norwegian Ringed Plover and First Firecrest of Autumn

It has been a while since my last blog post as I have been in California, but I hope to add some highlight photos from that trip soon.

Closer to home and it was great to see my first Firecrest of the autumn this afternoon. It was in the regular place on the clifftop path below the golf course.

Yesterday I visited Davidstow Airfield in Cornwall where amongst a group of Ringed Plover I found one with a red ring and a yellow flag with black letters VSV. After a little research it turns out it was ringed at Makkevika in Norway (62*30'N-06*02'E) at the Giske Ornithological Station! It was caught in a mist net at the wader ringing station on 6th September and 23 days later it is on Davidstow Airfield! Of course the other highlight at Davidstow was a lovely group of 3 Buff-breasted Sandpipers - Such great waders. 

I saw my very first Buff-breasted Sandpiper on Davidstow Airfield 25 years ago when at Plymouth Uni. I travelled by train to Bodmin Parkway and then hitched to Davidstow! Happy days.....

Colour ringed and colour flagged Ringed Plover from Norway!

Distance travelled 1,464KM

Two of the three Buff-breasted Sandpipers at Davidstow Airfield

Wing stretching Buff-breasted Sandpiper