23 Oct 2012

Malc's big six zero.

That scourge of the year listing community a few years ago - Malc Curtin - turned 60 last week and to help him celebrate a plan was hatched to spend a long weekend on the Scillies to join him, Rose & Jas for a few beers!

With Pod already camping on the Garrison it was left to Groucho and me to drive overnight from Cheshire to Penzance with me doing the final push from Taunton to the port. Knackered I promptly curled up on the back seat and fell asleep completely oblivious to the tapping on the windows of the local drunks as the clubs kicked out a 03.30.

Waking slightly refreshed and with a very sore back and neck we set off for breakfast at the Harbourside Cafe. Now under new management the ladies are doing a wonderful job and a full English and mug of tea for £4.00 can't be bad!

Meeting up with Steve Williams and Thomas we boarded the Scillonian in high expectation of picking up some good seabirds and cetaceans. A few hours later enthusiasm was dampened but we still managed a Puffin, a few Balaearic Shearwaters, a couple of Fulmars and a Long-tailed Skua.

With Steve safely ensconced with the rest of his family who'd helicoptered it over Mark & I set off for the Garrison to set our tents up before having a wander.

Most of the birds had cleared out but we still managed brief views of the Re-breasted Flycathcer in the Dump Clump and the three Ring-necked Ducks at Porthellick. These were very instructive  as its not often you get to see females. Well....... that's what we tried to convince ourselves.

Wandering back to our tents we enjoyed a fabulous sunset before setting of for the first of many beers at the Scillonian Club.

The next day dawned bright and clear and we soon had the stove going for a brew before setting off to try and find a few new birds. It soon became clear there wasn't much around with the highlight being a Firecrest, Great -spotted Woodpecker (Scillies rarity!), a Lesser Redpoll and a Yellow-browed Warbler. Still, on the bright side we met up with Malc & family and arranged a nights celebrating with him Big Al & Di who were also on the Islands. Oh dear.............................

With far to much Rattler inside him I was woken in the middle of the night by chunder sounds coming from the youngster in the tent next door. I wonder who that was.........................At least he did it outside his tent although only just. He blames it on to much of Malcs birthday cake.

Dawn broke bright and clear with plenty of visible migration. Parties of Chaffinch, Brambling, Siskin and Chaffinch's circled the Garrison and the highlight was a fly over Snow Bunting. An early meet at the quay side saw us heading to Annet courtesy of Higgo's tours along with Spyder, Chris & Ritchie. Unfortunately we couldn't land as the sea was to rough. Despite the beautiful warm weather with little wind a storm several hundred miles out into the Atlantic had whipped the sea up into an impressive swell.
Aborting the trip we diverted to St Agnes and spent a productive day there. There had obviously been a major movement of finches as we picked up loads of Greenfinches, Chaffinches, Bramblings and thrushes. Our first stop was the Richards Pipit by the pool. It showed well but unfortunately got inadvertently flushed by another birder so we didn't stop long enough to get any decent photo's.
We met up with Barry (who's been on Aggie for a month) and Steve and headed towards the Parsonage where we arrived just as a Red-breasted Flycathcer was found. A cracking little bird and it shared the same patch of cover with a Pied Flycatcher and a couple of Yellow-browed Warblers.

 Pied Flycatcher

 Red-breasted Flycatcher

Yellow-browed Warbler.

We also picked up several of the Coal Tits that had invaded St Agnes. Another Scillie's rarity! Several of these resembled the hibernicus race with a nice lemony yellow tinge to the cheeks.

Great stuff but with the lads wanting to watch the footie back in the Scillonian Club we had a quick bite to eat and a pint in the Turks Head before our journey back to St Mary's. As we arrived news broke of a Serin seen flying towards the campsite. I decided to rest for a couple of hours and look for the Serin before trying Lower Moors for the Spotted Crake that had been seen the previous evening. My much needed rest was rudely interrupted by the sound of a Serin. Rushing out the tent I was confronted by an embarrassed lad playing a tape. He promptly departed.

Luckily within 10 minutes of me arriving at Lower Moors the Spotted Crake showed after going missing for several hours. Photographing it in dense cover as it crept around was pretty hard! Texting the lads in the Scillonian they made it down before the main rush and we all enjoyed good but partially obscured views.

Good stuff! Another celebration was in order!!!!

Monday broke slightly overcast and after packing up the campsite we did a quick tour of the Garrison before heading to Lower Moors and having a wander around there pausing only to photograph a cracking Greenshank.

Hearing about a Snow Bunting on Porthloo Beach (probably my flyover bird from the Garrison) we headed that way before a pasty lunch and a coffee in the Mermaid and finally boarded the Scillonian for out journey home around 15.45.
Sea watching again from the Scillonian was unproductive apart from good numbers of Harbour Porpoise and Common Dolphins. An uneventful drive home had me tucked up in bed by 02.15 this morning.
A great few days and many thanks to Mark for driving and booking the campsite.

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