Tuesday 13 September 2016

Bonus birds on Scilly

While the Cliff Swallow was the main target of Saturday's visit to St Mary's, the time of year meant that there was always likely to be a selection of other good birds to see even had it not been there.
Lesser Yellowlegs, Porth Hellick
Compare and contrast to this Greater Yellowlegs from Titchfield Haven, April 2015
The Lesser Yellowlegs in context of the habitat at Porth Hellick Pool
A dainty and attractive wader
A long-staying Lesser Yellowlegs was our first American vagrant of the day, entertaining us by strutting around outside the seaward hide at Porth Hellick at point blank range while we waited for the Cliff Swallow to wake up. It was accompanied by several Greenshanks, Dunlin and singles of Green and Common Sandpiper - though the juvenile Temminck's Stint which I had hoped would stick until the weekend seemed to have moved on.
I have seen several Lesser Yellowlegs, but not since my first at Abberton Reservoir in 1998 (before I was into photography) had I seen one so close
The white rump was obvious in flight
This reminds me of the cartoon Roadrunner
A good view of the open wing and tail
On leaving Porth Hellick, a few Wheatears punctuated the walk around the perimeter of the airfield as we ambled through the heat of the midday sun which had by then burnt off the grey clouds of early morning. The Standing Stones field in the Old Town proved to be a bit of a migrant trap with a Red-backed Shrike and a couple each of Spotted Flycatcher and Whinchat providing some variety. A Clouded Yellow which buzzed quickly past was my first of the year - Scilly is always a good place to see them.
Common Sandpiper, Porth Hellick
Dunlin, Porth Hellick
I thought we might have another American vagrant on our hands when Rowan said 'Dad, what's this Black Duck?' Hopes were dashed when I raised my bins to this iridescent freak-show reject!
Small Copper at Porth Hellick

All too soon Rowan and I had to return to the airport for our 1425 return flight - but it had already been a memorable day. A brief cruise around Davidstow Airfield on the way home failed to produce the hoped for Buff-breasted Sandpiper (one was found there today) but that still couldn't wipe the smile off our tired and happy faces. Looking back I can't quite believe I agonised so much over whether or not to go, and next time I have resolved to be more decisive. For me, that will mean eschewing the usual full business case development process in favour of just the outline version, slimming down the cost-benefit analysis to a mere 10 pages, and restricting the normally extensive stakeholder consultation to just immediate family. And maybe a few close friends...
Juv Red-backed Shrike near the Old Town
Spotted Flycatcher in the same field as the Shrike
The Flycatcher shares a branch with a Whinchat
Rowan gets the hang of photography at Porth Hellick

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