Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Last day on Scilly

My third and last day of a short trip to the Isles of Scilly saw me resist the temptations of island hopping to stay on St Mary's. The day began as had the previous two with a quick trip to the Garrison for views of the Blue Rock Thrush. From there I meandered around Peninnis for the first time in years, reminiscing as I went about seeing my first Siberian Stonechat, a Short-toed Lark and an ill-fated Chough which spent a few days in the fields on the flanks of the headland in 2012.
Female Stonechat, Peninnis
Male Stonechat, Peninnis
From Peninnis I sauntered through the idyllic Old Town churchyard and on to the Standing Stones field where a male Brambling had joined the House Sparrows at the feeding station set up by the Isles of Scilly Bird Group. After this I strolled through Lower Moors, gaining another brief view of Monday's Spotted Crake, and up the road to Salakee, where the Citrine Wagtail which turned up on my first day was still hanging out with the cattle.
Teal, Higher Moors
Greenshank, Higher Moors
Continuing to Higher Moors there was time for a chat with some birding pals from the mainland and, bird-wise, nothing more exciting than a small flock of Greenshank. My energy levels were flagging at this point and with just 90 minutes to go before last check-in on the Scillonian III, I figured a return to Hugh Town was probably my best option.
Male Brambling, St Mary's
Song Thrush, Old Town churchyard
At this point my phone alerted me to news of a Spotted Sandpiper on the islands - I assumed the St Agnes bird which I had failed to see the previous day had returned but on looking again this time it (or another) was at Watermill, a 15 minute walk from where I was standing. Quickening my pace, I took the direct route through Holy Vale, where we spent several happy October holidays when the children were younger, past the refurbished Borough Farm, and down Watermill Lane towards the cove where the Sandpiper had been reported.
Spotted Sandpiper, Watermill
Juveniles of this species resemble Common Sandpiper but have more yellowy legs, shorter tails and plain tertial fringes
As I approached the beach I heard a Sandpiper calling, and on reaching the strandline the birders assembled there informed me that this must have been the Sandpiper flying off around the corner to the next cove! With just 15 minutes to go before I had to leave to board the Scillonian, I was not optimistic about it returning, but after 14 minutes it did just that, giving me a minute to take some quick pictures before a brisk walk back to town. It was a poetic ending to the trip as this was the only target bird I had missed up to that point - and a reminder of the promise and beauty of the islands which provided many happy memories of my previous visits.
The Spotted Sandpiper picked insects off the rocks in the background
A good bird to end a successful trip

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