SUMMER BIRDS ON SCILLY
THE CROSSBILL INVASION CONTINUES
As noted in the last issue, Scilly began to see Crossbills reaching
the islands from mid June onwards. These increased in late June and
early July, with the peak count of over 100 noted on St Mary's on 3rd July.
At that time it seemed that every group of Pine trees had some of these
northern finches feeding on them. Many were female or young birds
which are basically green in colour. Some were adult males.
These brick red birds could be surprisingly difficult to find at times.
One of the best ways was to listen for their call which they often give
prior to flying to another tree. Another sound to listen for was
the crunching noise they make as they split open the pine cones in search
of food. Smaller numbers were then seen on most islands through the
month with St. Mary's and Tresco being the most favoured islands.
The more settled weather in early July brought a Hobby to St
Mary's on 1st followed by the first Water Rail of the autumn on
Lower Moors the next day. A White Wagtail on the Airport on
3rd was unseasonable. The escaped Chinese Grosbeak that had
been noted some weeks before in Hugh Town made a reappearance in late June
along with a Hawfinch before appearing on its own on 6th July, again
in gardens in Hugh Town.
The Sooty Shearwater noted near Annet on 6th was possibly the
bird seen in the same area, again in calm weather on 17th flying just off
the island. The Wheatear noted breeding on St Martin's and
Tresco in mid month were only fourth breeding records in recent history.
The Mistle Thrush found on Peninnis Head on 8th was very unusual
at this time of year. The same day saw the start of the now annual
increase in Little Egret numbers with three on Tresco roost that evening.
Strong winds on 12th brought large numbers of Manx Shearwater past
St. Mary's plus at least five Cory's Shearwater. Mid
month saw the Little Egret count go up again, so that by the end
of the month at least seven were on the islands. More waders were
around the shore with Turnstone and Sanderling counts increasing
almost daily. Small numbers of Common Sandpiper and Whimbrel
were occasionally noted with the first Green Sandpipers noted
on St. Martin's on 27th. A Mediterranean Gull was noted on Tresco
on 22nd in the ever increasing Black-headed Gull flocks. The weak
front passing the islands on 26th brought fifteen Cory's Shearwater
and a lone Sooty Shearwater past Peninnis. The first Kingfisher
of the autumn was on Porth Loo on 28th. Still on Tresco were
the long staying American Black Duck and the elusive Longtailed
Tit. The latter only showing about once a month, usually somewhere
near the Abbey. As the return migration gathers momentum we should
see a wide range of birds passing through the islands in the next few months.
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