23rd to 30th October 2021
Our annual pilgrimage to Scilly saw a depleted group of just five of us on the magical Isles for our ‘teachers week’ Tour. We arrived on the first flight to St Mary’s and after dropping the bags off headed off across the island stopping as usual to check every field and hedgerow for migrants and rarities. Highlights of the first day included Water Pipit, 15+ Black Redstarts, thousands of Siskins, 20+ Brambling, Yellow-browed Warbler, Water Rail, Great Northern Diver and 3 Brent Geese.
The following day was spent on St Agnes, but not before catching up with a ridiculously close Snow Bunting on Porthmellon Beach! The island had plenty to keep us occupied with good numbers of Siskin again, Redwings, lots of Chiffchaff and Stonechat and a ‘desert’ Lesser Whitethroat. An un-seasonal Hoopoe initially gave us the runaround, but we pinned it down on Wingletang Down where it showed down to a few feet. The other highlight of the day were two Red-breasted Flycatchers, one in the parsonage and another on Barnaby Lane. We finished the day off with a traditional Pint at The Turks Head whilst waiting for the boat back to St Mary’s.
Our third day was comparatively quiet and spent on St Mary’s. We certainly did plenty of walking in order to find a couple of highlights! A stomp down to Watermill Cove saw us eventually catch up with the Spotted Sandpiper and a Ring Ouzel was on the side of the airfield. Other highlights included 3 Yellow-browed Warblers, Great Northern Diver and Spoonbill.
Our 4th day on the islands was spent on Tresco. We always make one or two trips to Tresco during the week to add some wildfowl and waders to our trip list. The Great and Abbey Pools are generally the best place for ducks, geese and swans and they didn’t disappoint with our first Lesser Scaup, four Whooper Swans, 2 Pink-footed Geese, Shoveler, Spotted Redshank, Water Rail and a male Eider was offshore in Pentle Bay. Tresco has a couple of photogenic introduced species in the form of Golden Pheasant and Red Squirrel. Whilst we don’t count them on our list, they do make for some great images!
Day 5 and 6
Rain spoiled play for the following two days but we still managed to get out between showers and do some birding. After three failed attempts we caught up with the Woodlark at Sunnyside Farm Trail and another Red-breasted Flycatcher further along the lane. News broke of a Richard’s Pipit at Telegraph so we headed in that direction, the bird showing really well in fields off Telegraph Road. A Reed Warbler possibly showing characteristics of Blyth’s Reed Warbler was uncooperative in Lower Moors until photographs were obtained and it was agreed the bird was just a Reed Warbler.
Day 7 saw the group visit the island of Bryher. The two Pink-footed Geese from Tresco were on the Big Pool and the Hoopoe had relocated from St Agnes. At one point it had a very close call with a Peregrine Falcon, the falcon stooping onto it, almost knocking it to the ground before the Hoopoe made a hasty and lucky escape! A Wryneck gave very brief views on top of some bracken but the highlight was the Glossy Ibis, found by our tour Leader as it flew down the Tresco Channel. Back on St Mary’s later in the afternoon, a Western Subalpine Warbler was found by another one of our group in a hedgerow off Telegraph Road. An amazing find and highlight of the week for some.
Thanks to booking a late flight back to Cornwall, we had almost a full final day on St Mary’s. We spent some time revisiting the Richards Pipit and Western Subalpine Warbler and finally had good views of the Olive-backed Pipit at Nowhere, which had eluded us up until then.
Another fantastic week on Scilly. Great company and an credible 107 species seen. If you fancy joining us in 2022, we still have limited places left on our October Tour 3rd to 10th October!