Bird Photographs, Isles of Scilly, last week of October 2008

All photographs, copyright Paul Gale

Going to the Isles of Scilly in "Teachers' Week" is always a bit of a risk, although it generally turns up a late rarity or two. Indeed, when we arrived it seemed most of the rarities, including a Sociable Plover, Red-flanked Bluetail and Grey-cheeked Thrush, had gone, with the exception of the Blyth's Reed Warbler which had been on St Agnes for about three weeks. So Sunday morning we set off for St. Agnes and after 3 hours' wait we got good views of the Blyth's Reed Warbler. We get brief glimpses of a Scarlet Rosefinch. As we were departing on the boat from St. Mary's to St Agnes, news came on the pager of the Grey-cheeked Thrush found on St Mary's. In fact, we could the line of bird-watchers from the boat as it headed to St. Agnes. Anyway we got good views of the thrush on returning mid-afternoon, and then on to the airport to get a brief view of an American Golden Plover which had landed on the airport. There's also a message about a Red-backed shrike near Maypole at Borough Farm, but it's too late to get there in the fading light. Later that evening, that bird is re-identified from photographs as a Brown Shrike. So Monday morning, we're up before dawn, arriving at Borough Farm at about 6-00 am. Luckily the bird is still there. The problem is, as someone points out, the primaries are too long! - and in the early morning sun-light the bird looks very rusty on the back and tail, and the head has some grey. It's clearly a Red-backed shrike. I must say, during the afternoon, we were lucky to get such good views of a first winter shrike catching wasps. We have distant views of a White-rumped sandpiper on Porth Hellick beach in the late morning. Tuesday morning and we set off to Tresco. There's a single Whooper Swan on the Great Pool with several Greenshanks and Redshanks. A message comes on the pager about a Red-flanked Bluetail and we rush back to Newford Farm duck pond on St. Mary's, but there's no sign. Anyway, the light's going and suddenly it's found about 200 yds up the road on the way to Trenowth. Wednesday morning and real excitement - a Snowy Owl is seen flying in over Porth Hellick towards Holy Vale. Soon it's found sitting on a stone wall just up the road from Newford farm duck pond. Then the weather sets in very wet. Thursday morning is dull and grey, but there's Spotted Crake to photograph on Lower Moors. The Snowy Owl has been found on St. Martin's, and so on Friday we head over there. It's sitting in a field on the north side of the island. We leave St Martin's mid afternoon and find two Snow Buntings on Peninis Head. We find a Jack Snipe on Lower Moors, and there's a flock of Long-tailed tits and Pallas's Warbler on the lower Broome platform.

Snowy Owl

Spotted Crake

Red-flanked Bluetail

Grey-cheeked Thrush

Red-backed Shrike

Blyth's Reed Warbler

American Golden Plover

Hawfinch

Jack Snipe

White-rumped Sandpiper, Porth Hellick beach, Monday 27 October 2008

One of two Snow Buntings on Peninis Head, Friday 31 Oct 2008

Numerous Redwings and Fieldfares came through - this one on the school field at Old Town.

A juvenile Kittiwake from the Scillonian

A chiffchaff on St Agnes

A wren on Porthloo beach, St Mary's.

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