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A Report from


Mark Prestwood

In life's great adventures two weeks on the Isles of Scilly does not seem that important. But Scillies 99, will go down as the best ever.

Before leaving home on the 400 mile overnight drive to Cornwall my pager went off on "mega alert" three times.

Friday 8th October Short Toed Eagle, one of the "megas", was the first on the list, soon followed by Siberian Thrush whilst the third, the White's Thrush, was to take another three days to see. Raddes Warbler, Upland Sandpiper, and Short Toed Lark were also recorded on my first day. Saturday on St. Agnes but no White's Thrush until the following day and also only my second Monarch Butterfly.

Monday, and I visited Tresco for Black-necked Grebe and also saw Melodious Warbler before returning to St. Mary's for a second Upland Sandpiper and a Night Heron. Tuesday produced two more Monarchs, and on the airfield the two Upland Sand's, Richards and Red Throated Pipits. A Yellow-billed Cuckoo turned up on Tresco, with two boats going across  6.00pm.

Wednesday, saw me back on Tresco for the Cuckoo. I had brief views before returning to St. Mary's for a "pelagic" six miles out from St. Agnes with only 2 Storm Petrels, 2 Razorbills, 6 Kittiwakes and an Arctic Skua to be seen..

Thursday, and another "mega"; this time I was on site. A Blue Rock Thrush at Porthloo Beach.  I was on the beach at the time so I just ran. The following day Raddes Warbler at King Edwards Road. It was not a "mega", so I just walked slowly. I had another look at the Blue Rock Thrush and also saw a Wryneck..

Saturday, two Common Rosefinches, two Upland Sandpipers, Short Toed Lark, Raddes Warbler, Wryneck, and Yellow-browed Warbler. Its gone quieter, nine days and I've still not seen 100 species.

Sunday, and back to Tresco to scope the Yellow-billed Cuckoo. I then re-visited St. Agnes on the Monday, scoping the White's Thrush and finally reaching my 100th species with Long-Eared Owl.

Tuesday, and Great Northern Diver was the only bird of note. There was a Pallas Warbler at Hugh Town, in a garden, on Wednesday, the bird flying in front of a birder going for a newspaper. Most birders walk out of town each day to see the birds. I spent most of Thursday in the Dump Clump, in the rain looking, for Firecrest and Yellow-browed Warbler.

Friday, and my pager went "mega" just as I was in the toilets. It was the Chimney swift in Cornwall!!!.  (Appearing fortuitously above a Lancaster car load looking for the Red-flanked Bluetail! -Ed)   When Steve and I had reached the airport, one of the helicopters had broken down and we would not be flying on time. Would the Swift hang around?. Just then my pager went "mega" again.  Chimney swift, this time at Kittydown, St. Marys.  The rule about not leaving bags unattended at the airport went out of the window as all the birders ran out and jumped into taxis and went straight round to Kittydown. We were in the first taxis to arrive at the site, the Swift was ticked and we were back at the airport before most of the other passengers knew what had happened.

Scillies 1999, the best ever!!, but what about Scilly 2000, I will be there to find out.


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