OVERSHADOWED BY TWO RUSTIC BUNTING

September began well with the Marsh Warbler at Argimore Pools and Baird's and Pectoral Sandpiper on Tresco (found in late August) staying into early September.  The latter was joined by another Pectoral Sandpiper for a few days on 4th September.  The first of a very good run of Ictorine Warblers was found at Carn Gwarvel, St. Mary's on 3rd.  The Citrine Wagtail at Porth Hellick on 4th - 8th September was often feeding under the hides.  Remarkably another was on St. Agnes on 5th.  The Wryneck found on the Garrison on 6th was the first of a good run for this species in September.  A small influx on 11th brought Firecrest, Lapland Bunting, Snow Bunting, and Ortolan to the islands for the first time this Autumn.  The same day saw a Mediterranean Gull on St. Mary's.  An elusive Woodchat Shrike was on St. Agnes on 13th - 14th, with an Eider seen near St. Agnes on 13th (a good Scillonian rarity).  The Tawny Pipit on St. Agnes in mid month was the first of several.  A Common Rosefinch was on St. Martin's on 16th - 18th with a juvenile Red-backed Shrike on Lower Moors on 19th - 22nd.

The moulting adult American Golden Plover found at Telegraph on 20th was joined by another on 23rd the latter originally seen on Tresco on 22nd.  One bird stayed to 12th October, moving between Tresco and St. Mary's.

Easterly winds brought a juvenile Rosecoloured Starling to Bryher and several large birds of prey including a Marsh Harrier over St. Mary's, Buzzard over Tresco and an Osprey off the Eastern Islands.  Heavy rain that night brought many migrants to the islands plus good numbers of Wryneck and Ortolan and a Pomarine Skua was seen off St. Mary's.

The rarity of the month was the Pacific Swift seen over Salakee/Porth Hellick for less than twenty minutes on 23rd.  That evening a Sabine's Gull roosted on St. Agnes with a Common Nightjar hawking nearby at dusk.  The islands eleventh Great-spotted Woodpecker was on St. Agnes in late September before moving to Tresco.  The last day of September saw a new Icterine Warbler on St. Mary's and Red-throated Pipit and Corncrake on Tresco.  Another Red-throated Pipit was on St. Mary's in the first week of October.

October started quietly, the calm sunny weather was not conducive to many migrants arriving to keep the visiting birders occupied.  Showing well on the Garrison was the Chinese Grosbeak which, although an escaped cage bird, is very impressive.  More genuine was the Richard's Pipit that was on Bryher and the first of a scattering of Yellowbrowed Warblers and Firecrest in the more sheltered areas on the islands.

When the gales did arrive on 7th - 9th many seabirds passed the islands including one Long-tailed Skua and a scattering of Arctic and Great Skuas, Great Cory's and Sooty Shearwater were noted from headlands facing the prevailing wind of the day.
These gales did produce the first American land bird of the year.  The Common Yellowthroat that has been in the Rose Hill area has often been very difficult to see (as they are in America).  This is only the seventh record for Britain and the second on Scilly.  Those watching this bird a couple of days later were fortunate to see a Corncrake that spent quite a while sunbathing on a nearby wall.

As in 1984 the Yellowthroat was soon followed across the Atlantic by a Blackpoll Warbler.  This years bird usually fed high in the Elms near Tresco Abbey and was often absent for several hours.  The 10th saw a Monarch butterfly on Tresco at Borough Farm, that or another was seen in the same area a week later.

As the gales passed a Little Bunting arrived on St. Mary's on 14th, originally on Lower Moors then near Porth Hellick the next day.  The same day saw a juvenile Rose-coloured Starling arrive on St. Agnes.  Seawatching in strong south westerly winds on 16th and 17th produced smaller numbers of Shearwaters but many more Skuas with four species noted off Peninnis on 17th.  As the winds eased a Radde's Warbler was found on St. Agnes on 18th.  This was glimpsed again the next day but was overshadowed by two Rustic Bunting on Tresco, another Radde's Warbler on St. Mary's and at least five Pallas's Warblers.  Three on St. Mary's and two on Tresco made this the highest ever daily count on Scilly.  All this after the majority of visiting birders had left for home the day before!

Will Wagstaff
 
 
 

 
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