Monday, 3 October 2011

Scilly: Fri. 23rd Sept. 2011.

Today I woke up early and thought about going back for yet another look at the waterthrush, but couldn't quite face it, and also, I thought given that I had already had such amazing views, it'd be good to leave the space to others who still want good views, so I stayed away this morning.  I was up at 05.30, and when I stepped out of the tent was blown away by the amazing skyscape that greeted me, so I ended up painting this instead.  To be honest, I could easily spend my whole time just painting landscapes on Scilly, there's always a good view around every corner.  But if there's a bird around, then I always want to paint that first! 

Later, after a walk around the Garrison, not seeing a lot, just a few Meadow Pipit and Chaffinch, I went to Tresco for the day for a change of scene.  I trekked around Castle Down, then Old Grimsby, Borough Farm, and finally the Great Pool.  All favoured old haunts where I've seen so many great birds in the past...  But today nothing of any note.  Only 15 or so birders came over today and I saw virtually no-one for most of the day, but also no notable birds either.  I have been contemplating staying on Bryher to try and look for un-discovered birds.  One has to look so incredibly hard to find birds (most birders don't even look properly and don't use their ears either - I see it time and time again).  You have to spend time in the field, and also have that other crucial element - luck.  It seems very hard to believe that all the Nearctic passerines that arrived on Scilly after Hurricane Katia all arrived within a 500m radius of one point on St Marys.  Where the hell were all the others?  Yet people were out searching - there were other birders scouring other parts of St Marys, and people looking on St Martins, Bryher, and Graham Gordon and Doug Page searching on St Agnes.  So where were the birds here?  Who knows...  Maybe they were overlooked?  Maybe there just weren't any?  Or maybe they all just homed in on the largest island, yet that seems so implausible given that we all know birds do turn up on the off-islands.
I decided that given how much I've spent on getting here, I don't want to come away empty-handed; I want to leave with sketches of something, rather than potentially nothing!  So I have decided to spend the rest of the time looking at birds already present on St Marys, as well as looking for new birds here too (there are always places where people have not looked, and there is always a chance that something has turned up in a place since the last person looked).
Anyway, my haul from Tresco today has amounted to six Pectoral Sandpipers, all from the Swarovski Hide at the Great pool - OK, someone else found them, but I am very chuffed to see a multiple count of an American wader.  I can now say I saw a flock of Pec Sands in that vintage autumn of 2011 when record numbers of American waders crossed the Atlantic! 
Back on St Marys, I thought about returning to Higgo's Pool again, but then thought better of it when I noticed there were already a few people looking there.  Amazingly though just as I paused along the dump clump track to scan the waiting birders, I saw then all look up - the bird must have just flown, and sure enough I picked up the Northern Waterthrush as it flew toward me and dived into the cover of some sallows in the dump clump.  I continued on up to the airport where I was joined by Kris, and eventually had quite good scope views of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper, after the airport had closed for the day.  I was a bit concerned that we might get arrested for trespassing onto the airfield.  These days they're paranoid about airport security and terrorism.  Kris reckoned it'd be a good spot to pitch my tent!

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