The Isles of Scilly ( Magical islands.... but
not in 1998!),
An all-night drive to Cornwall, followed by a 20-minute
helicopter flight saw Steve Rock and myself at the opposite end of the country
from the previous week. (See Fair Isle article)
The prime target is an Olivaceous Warbler and we dropped
our bags at the flat and caught a boat to St Agnes. It is a good job we were
prompt because, after showing itself to 30 or so birders, it was never seen
Day two saw the so-called 'Scilly Starling' on the
list (this was the bird initially identified as Spotless). We would definitely
have wasted our money on it when it first turned up! A Ring-necked Duck was
seen on Porthellick, but not much else.
Just a Rustic Bunting today, my third of the autumn.
In compensation were butterflies: Clouded Yellow, Small Copper, Speckled Wood
and Small Tortoiseshell
Visited Tresco today for ducks. We saw Pochard, Shoveler,
Tufted Duck, teal, Gadwall, Whooper Swan (3) and Little Grebe. There were
also 10 Little Egrets roosting on the Great Pool. We visited Castle Down and
saw two Dotterel, Richard's Pipit and Lapland Bunting before returning to
the Great Pool for Pectoral Sandpiper.
A Corncrake in Old Town Churchyard saw most of the
islands birders camped out hoping to see it so we headed out to the top of
the island. After reaching Carnvean tearooms and ordering a pasty and pot
oftea, news of a Yellow-rumped Warbler at Watermill Cove had everyone
running only for it to turn out to be a hoax! Back at Old Town churchyard,
the Corncrake was still showing, the Rustic Bunting was still present and
Red Admiral took my butterfly list to seven.
The best things today were Large White, Painted Lady,
Clouded Yellow, Red Admiral and c100 Common Dolphin off St Mary's. Three boats
went out to look at these (I stayed behind) and they also saw 3 Great Shearwaters.
Friday saw us at Penninis Head at 7.00 am seawatching
until 2.00pm. Dipped out on a Great Shearwater but had 2 Sooty, one Med. Shearwater,
Great Skua and Harbour Porpoise. A Whimbrel in Old Town Bay became my fifth
island tick of the trip. As two people in our fiat were leaving in the morning,
we went to the pub and then the disco until 2.00am (I am too old for this).
Hangover for most of the day!
Finally got out of bed today and had Red-necked Grebe
in Porthcressa Bay then went to the airport for two American Golden Plover.
On the way back, called at Porthellick and had a red darter dragonfly. Then
the CB's told us about a Monarch Butterfly in Hugh Town. Moths, butterflies,
dragonflies and cetaceans are far better than the birds this year!
Watched the release of the Monarch this morning then
went looking for a Barred Warbler. Then CB's told of a possible Cliff Swallow
on Tresco. We went but it came to nothing and returned to St Mary's to see
the Barred Warbler. A Red-throated Pipit near the airport was the first new
'BB rarity' for a week but there was very little else about.
Perhaps the best bird of the trip was an Olive-backed
Pipit, my first in Scilly. Besides looking at both rare pipits, we spent two
hours at each end of the day seawatching. We saw small numbers of Gannet,
6 Kittiwakes, 8 Guillemot, 3 Razorbill and Great Skua.
We seawatched from 11 until 3 today, with the same
species as yesterday (except Razorbill). With gale force winds forecast for
tomorrow we look at 2 Firecrest and a Wryneck and then catch an early flight.
Like Fair Isle, we will be back.
(This article first appeared in the Lancaster and
District Birdwatching Society Newsletter, November 1998)