Monday, 3 October 2011

St Marys, Thurs. 22 Sept 2011.

Another great day on Scilly!  Up early again this morning and around the Garrison, not much happening.  So, around 08.00 head back to Higgo's project pool on Lower Moors again to see if the waterthrush is around still.  I still feel I haven't properly got to grips with the bird's precise structure, shape and markings.  Not long after arriving, another old friend and top illustrator, Ren Hathway turned up.  We spent over an hour there waiting but no sign of the waterthrush.  Amazingly we heard the long-staying Bee-eater fly over us whilst waiting at the pool, and later still Ren suddenly spotted a Wryneck perched up in the nearest adjacent Willow which I barely got onto before it flew across the pool and perched up in an Elm where I managed to scope it and get a quick sketch before it disappeared from view.  Later we decided to go and have a look for the Black-and-white Warbler on the other side of Lower Moors.  Just as we reached the allotments by the town dump, I suddenly heard the Northern Waterthrush calling at very close range about 8-10 ft up in some Elms - it's never been heard of here before!  Despite scanning we just couldn't see it perched, but then suddenly it flew out giving naked eye views only as it attempted to cross the mound of the tip walls, before returning and seeming to perch up in the line of elms between the footpath and the tip.  After several anxious minutes of hearing it call a couple of times it went silent.  Was it still there?  Had it gone?  We then decided to head back to the pool, several minutes walk away.  While we were approaching the pool, we met another birder who'd just seen it there 5 minutes earlier - it had clearly flown here straight from the tip.  We failed to see it again and went back to the old plan of looking for the Black-and-white Warbler.  More time passes, and no joy with that.  Decided to head toward the airfield when I suddenly heard the Bee-eater calling at 12.58.  I franticly scan the sky, and bingo, finally see it this time, such an elegant shape, long-winged, and I can even see the tail streamers.

Ren had headed off to the north end of St Marys by this time, while I was still looking for the Black-and-white Warbler.  So I was amazed when he called me on his mobile just ten minutes later to say he was watching the Bee-eater perched up in elms just opposite Watermill House, near Borough Farm, Maypole.  So ensued another epic Scilly route march all the way to Higher Moors, then Holy Vale, and finally to Maypole. I'd forgotten how much sweat and toil Scilly can be at times. Would it still be here?  Would it fly off two minutes before I arrived?  Thankfully it was still there when I arrived, and afforded stunning views - the best views of Bee-eater I've ever had in Britain, and the painting below doesn't really do justice to this stunning bird - I will have to do another painting of it.  I spent a couple of hours watching it and also venturing to Newford duck pond in the vain hope of seeing the Blue-winged Teal that was still here yesterday - alas it was not to be.  I returned to Watermill House where the Bee-eater was still performing, catching wasps and Bumblebees, and switching its direction of perch by 180 degrees in a split-second!  Whilst here, a visiting birder who'd hired a bicycle had managed to lean it against a stone wall oblivious to the wasp's nest within.  The wasps were soon swarming all over the bicycle.  I think the hire company had to wait until dark before retrieving the bike.  It's certainly good security against bike theft.

Late afternoon, I shared a taxi back toward Hugh Town and then wandered back to Higgo's pool, where yet again after a patient wait the Northern Waterthrush performed amazingly well until dusk.  I spent the time feverishly sketching the bird, getting all the crucial lines onto paper as fast as possible.  Finally I felt I've captured the essence of this bird.  These sketches will do to make some new compositions when I get home.  With a rapidly moving bird there is no time to turn the page, just have to get the next outline in before it leaves my memory.  Hence multiple images tend to accumulate on the page...

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