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.
Will Wagstaff
 
 
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