North Norfolk At last

New Blog for 2010 - this is the last posting on here

December 10
The forecast rise in temperature - to +3 - saw an 8.30 start for Snettisham. Rather later than usual but we wanted to make sure road conditions were safe - they've had a lot more snow and even lower temperatures in the west. Our lowest was -6.
We had a lovely morning which included Tree Sparrows at two locations, Harpley and Flitcham, a covey of Grey Partridge, a random smattering of Fieldfare and a few Redwing. Still no sighting of Little Owl at Abbey Farm though. The pond there had thawed in places which the myriad ducks were enjoying. I always keep a day list on days out, it's the salt on my chips, makes all bird species equally important and sought after. 25 by Flitcham was a good tally.
To keep up the food analogy..... Snettisham was the cream/icing/jam on to-day's cake.
An hour past high tide, the mud was teeming with birds. The expected Knot, so many Grey Plover, Bar T Godwits, Dunlin and all the other commoner waders. The duck included Pintail and our first Goldeneye of the winter, two lovely males. The pits on the reserve were mainly ice free - unlike the lake in front of the chalets. Two Sanderling fed on the snow cum frozen froth which ringed the shore.

Now comes the dessert topping.......
Stopping politely so that we didn't disturb the only other birder on the reserve, we saw what he was looking at. A flock of 60+ Waxwings festooning the Hip strewn bushes along the path edge.
Afetr giving him enough time to take some photos, we drove as far as the first hide before turning round to return on the seaward track so that I could attempt some photographs. A very happy half hour later, we left them to feed in peace as they were easily spooked by Kestrels, Cormorants, Geese, anything large and flying.

A Selection

Some of the Flock

Waiting for Food

Dragging ourselves away, the next surprise was a Fumar cruising the cliffs at Hunstanton - we don't usually see them until the new year.
Thornham creek on a fast receding tide, produced an actively feeding Spotted Redshank, racing along in the centre of the channel.

Icy Roads and Snow = No Birding

December 5
Late news of a Ross's Goose at Horsey sent us on our way at 3.00 - drizzling and very dark. We had good views (sic) of the bird before it flew off to roost with the large flock of Pinks. Appalling photo.........

December 9
Suffering from birding withdrawal. Our road had thawed at last, whilst our front path, which faces north, is still lethal. Getting to the car involves hugging the garage wall whilst ducking under the hanging baskets. The Horsey Run beckoned.
Frozen ground and water has meant unusual waders in unusual places. A Woodcock rose off the grass road verge outside Sea Palling whilst 20 Dunlin, 25 Redshank and a few Turnstone fed in the P and D beach car park. Before the Horsey gap turning and after Walnut Farm, 36 Snipe probed the softened mud around some standing water pools. A few more Redshank too.
5 Red -throated Divers flew through off Winterton Dunes but the sea was otherwise empty.
 An enjoyable outing.


Winter Cley in Sun

Thursday November 18
We left home late morning on a very grey day. As we travelled north, the sun came out and blue sky appeared.We decided to bird first before, lunch at the cafe (Pam anyway). Negotiating the muddy track on the way to Pat's Pool, surprised to find two fresh molehills in the middle of it, we found the hide empty. Great. We had a good 20 minutes to ourselves enjoying the spectacle of 1,000 Golden Plovers huddled on an island. A flock of at least 150 Dunlin scurried about in front of the central hides and a few dozen Black-tailed Godwits fed at the back of the pool. Suddenly, everything leapt into the air, flying about for 5-10 minutes before settling again. A Sparrowhawk had flown through.

Black-tailed Godwits coming in to land

Two Common Snipe fed quietly in front of the hide - until others joined us.

A fraction of the Golden Plover flock


Shopping and Pinks

Tuesday November 16
After taking Rai and Barbara to the station, Pam decided that she wanted to go to Lathams to get some more fertiliser for the garden. Such a lovely day after a clear, frosty night, it was a pleasure to enjoy the countryside - Potter Heigham via Winterton is definitely going the 'pretty way'.
Nearing Horsey, there was a partly harvested sugar beet field with about 5,000 feeding Pinkfeet, others flighting in to join them. . The sun was totally wrong for pics as was the field containing 500+ Golden Plover.
Flat calm and birdlesss at Winterton, we didn't stay long.
It was mid afternoon by the time we left Lathams, deciding to return via Horsey again. The Pinks were my side of the road this time.  Despite the fast sinking, low and hazy winter sun, I took some photographs.

The sun on its breast, it honks its way in
Good light for these

A small section of the flock

There were four Ruff feeding amongst the geese


Missing a Man U Match !!!

Saturday November 13
Titchwell on a sunny, blue sky, cool, early winter day, lovely. The near gale force winds of the last few days had dropped but the water levels were still disappointingly high. Fen Trail with no sign of the long staying Pallas' Warbler - it wasn't seen all day - one Goldcrest the reward for our limping (me) effort.
There are several new seats, all placed on the side of the path nearest to the reserve - at last. We sat on one before Island Hide, quietly scanning the expanse of water with distant ducks. As I reached the tufted -grass island behind Island Hide, I caught a pair of wings rising from the undergrowth. Then, I saw the white patches as an adult Great Skua rose and flew directly towards us and almost over our heads. I was so awe-struck that I forgot I'd got my Canon Ixus in my pocket. Later, when I tried to photograph the impressive new Parrinder Hide (s), I found both the battery in my camera and the spare were flat. That's the first time ever.......
I was able to admire and scope the Skua again on the return journey. It flew in from the landward side, settling on the Freshwater pool.
We tried again for the Pallas's, still no sign. Several Redpoll around the Centre's feeder area, we only saw a dead Little Auk in a box. A couple had found it at Snettisham and brought it to be identified.
Brancaster Staithe on a falling tide whilst Pam ate her sandwich, then, off to Burnham Marshes, more in hope than certainty. We had to drive past as there was no car parking room, turning round, we were lucky to find one roadside. Almost immediately, Pam spotted a Rough-legged Buzzard sat on top of a Hawthorn before flying off towards Holkham. A small flock of Barnacle Geese amongst the Pinkfeet were added to the month list before we drove to Wells and a Black Brant on the putting green. Not a 'good' one, probably a hybrid.
Man U drew - again - at Aston Villa.


Incidental Birding

Tuesday November 9
Waking to near gale force wind lashing rain against the window, we aborted the planned birding day with Aileen and Bridget, opting for lunch at Cley NWT cafe instead. The splendid panoramic view from there added Avocet and Gannet to our month list. A cloud of Golden Plover rose from the Eye Field - far too distant to distinguish the American Golden amongst them.

Wednesday November 10
After a phone discussion with the Walmsley Sanctuary warden last night, my long awaited trip to Cornwall was cancelled, no sign of the American Bittern since Saturday. So disappointing but not unexpected - it's been there 6 days after 4 days at Zennen. It's taken that long to get Pam to find two clear days in which to travel. Frustrating.......
Late morning, we made a trip to the Harnser to get the menus for Christmas dinner with Mags and Anne in mid December. Good sunshine between the black clouds encouraged a trip to Winterton Beach. We stayed 45 minutes seeing few birds but the ones we saw were good. Five female Common Scoter close inshore, 25 Eider including two bright males flew through and two Red-throated Divers fished amongst the troughs and rollers remaining  from yesterday.
The highlight for me was at least two Little Auks heading west, always a delight. Unidentified Auks scurrying through, much further out, as were the Gannets.
Scratby produced a Skua sp, very distantly flying and then ditching, probably a Bonxie. That's the problem with sea-watching from the east coast, birds are seldom close in.


The Reason - a Filthy Car

November 5
Sugar beet season equals filthy car on our rural lanes. The car wash near Asda does the best job on our CRV as they hand wash the difficult parts before the drive through. first though, a bit of Gt Yarmouth birding.
The Mediterranean Gulls were scattered on the beach behind the Sealife Centre, perched on a wire enclosure - very photogenic.

2nd winter

1st winter
 About 20 Waxwings were perched on tree tops near Lidl's car park in Pasteur Road, too distant to photograph well,
Breydon viewed from under the Haven Bridge was packed with birds, as usual, most of them very distant. Could't see any Avocets, thousands of Golden Plover, hundreds of Wigeon, Lapwing and Teal, tens of Shoveller.


Chance Encounter

Wednesday November 3
A busy social day. Coffee morning followed by lunch with friends at Salhouse garden Centre. Pam decided to call in at Walcott PO instead of going straight home. The shortest route from there is past the Seal Rescue place. Shortly before Point House, we both saw two Waxwings feeding in a hawthorn bush on the north side of the lane. Turning round as soon as we could, we returned to enjoy the view of these delightful birds and to attempt to photograph the, Definitely not the best I've ever taken but pleasing considering the low grey overcast with drizzle in very poor late afternoon light. They spent much of their time on the wires above the hedge, not spooked at all by passing traffic. One pierced a berry onto its upper mandible and took quite a while to manoeuvre it off. I have a photo of this but it's even worse !

Wing pattern shown


November 1

A calling Tawny Owl saw us on our way for our 'first of the month' outing. Not to begin with, but eventually, a beautiful late Autumn day. Warm sunshine with little wind enhanced the warm russet, yellows and red of the still well-leafed trees. We both like ploughed fields too, a soul warming morning.
Three different coveys of Grey Partridges, one before Abbey Farm and the others after, skeins of Pinkfeet making their constantly pattern-changing waves across the sky, what could be lovelier.

 Actually seeing a Little Owl at Abbey probably......we're too early for raptors to be flying there.
Beautiful Snettisham. Acres of glistening mud reaching out to a low tide sea. Snaking, water filled gullies, scoping for heads appearing from the multitude of crevices.

The clouds of Knot springing from the shore, swirling and morphing before settling again. About 600 Golden Plover rose as one, soaring skywards, flashes of gold and then pale under body as they careered about in a cloud mass - for no apparent reason.

Plenty of Little Grebes on the pits, no Goldeneye yet.

Finding a Grey Plover feeding on the grass verge of Snettisham beach car park was surprising.

Plenty to eat

Not able to walk, my calf muscle is still too sore for more than a short stroll - and instructed to rest it (how frustrating) by a physio - Holme was a visit to the hide overlooking Broadwater only.
A Common Buzzard sat on an NWT hide roof, almost impervious to bold Magpies creeping ever nearer - until one tweaked its tail. Even then, it only moved its head.

A few Redwings and Fieldfare still hanging about, we saw many more of the former to-day.
For the first time in three months, there were Corn Buntings in the hedge opposite Choseley barns, plus a few Yellowhammers.
Lunch at Brancaster Staithe watching the tide come in was quite delightful. So enjoying the view that I forgot to photograph until there was too much water. Mud adds texture and depth to the scene.
Despite trying hard, scoping towards Gun Hill and Burnham Overy Marshes from the roadside, I couldn't find either of the two Rough-legged Buzzards. Neither could anyone else. Got home before a pager message announced one sitting in a field late afternoon.
Cley to add a few list birds after failing to see any Waxwings or the reported Great Grey Shrike in Old Woman's Lane.
Eighty species from the car was very pleasing, especially after such a lovely day. Bliss for me, sunshine, birds and photography - not necessarily in that order.

October's End

Thursday October 28
After a week of rain and enforced leg rest, I was pleased to spend an hour at Cley watching Pat's Pool. The American Golden Plover - not even a month tick - had left,  but the Green-winged Teal was on view briefly before disappearing behind an island. To rest I assume as it didn't re-appear.
Friday October 29
With the G Y Waxwings as the final destination, we went the pretty way, via Sea Palling and Winterton. A single Red-throated Diver flying by. Patience short as it's still half term, no parking places and hordes of children and dogs everywhere. Good that they're out and about I suppose - but not where I am ! Grouch......
Several adult Med Gulls on the beach behind the Sealife Centre, oblivious to the throng of people strolling by.
Crossing Haven Bridge, we saw a flock of Waxwings hurtling about, turned at the roundabout and drove into the estate near Tesco. From here, we could see the flock still flying restlessly about. No sign of them settling so we drove home.


Last Day on Scilly

Wednesday October 20
A lot cooler to-day, I actually wore my birding jacket - not done up though. Spider took us to the Longstones cafe entrance where we had a sausage bap lunch, sitting at an outside table enjoying the Autumn sunshine. The highlight was pods of Common Dolphins passing Porthcressa Bay, distantly viewed from the cafe. Small pods but it must have taken 20 minutes for them all to pass through; diving Gannets accompanying them as usual. I was able to enjoy scoping them.
A Bar-tailed Godwit flew over as did Crossbills and Golden Plover and then, a flock of Siskins on the way to Carreg Dhu gardens.
On entering the gardens, we heard a racket from a sycamore tree. We coudn't see the source of the agitation but did identify a male Blackcap, Firecrest and Goldcrests.
I sat in a glade watching a large Sycamore whilst Pam went off to look at the plants. Most of the flock dispersed but I added another Yellow-browed Warbler amongst the Goldcrests and Chaffinches.
Rocky Hills is, as its name implies,  a difficult walk, although downhill and a much shorter route to Porth Loo than via the road.
We love sitting on a bench looking over Port Loo beach, we've seen many good brds here. Not to-day but it was good to see six Sanderling back, they've been absent for the last few years.
Whilst at Lower Moor yesterdays, we saw an Accipiter which I initially called as Merlin but decided it was bigger - but small for a Sparrowhawk. Was it the suspected Sharp-shinned Hawk first reported by Spider, pooh poohed by everyone but now appearing on the pager as 'possible' ? Armchair tick........


Lower Moors

Monday October 18
Not a lot of incentive to go out to-day. Grey skies, lack of birds and sore joints. We eventually contacted Spider who dropped us off at Lower Moors, early afternoon. A flurry of common birds just inside the gate, including a Chiffy and a fleeing Water Rail, before lunching in the Hilda Quick hide, watching a Jack Snipe bobbing and doing its sewing machine feeding action in the mud. Two Water Rails crept through the reeds and a female Sparrowhawk made two unsuccessful fly throughs, the second almost into the hide windows.

Moving on to the ISBG hide, a very close Jack Snipe gave excellent opportunities for photographs, I had to move back to get it in focus.
This Common Snipe, mud encrusted beak, made it scurry back into cover before re-appearing under the bank.

Old Town Cafe had closed - open this morning - doing us out of an anticipated Cream Tea treat.
We sat on the bench, talking to various friends, before Spider took us back to Hughtown.

Perfect Day on Scilly

Sunday October 17
After a week of resting my right leg (suspected Achilles tear turned out to be a muscle tear, one which governs the Achilles - local doctor), I was anxious to do some birding. We'd managed some short outings or taxi rides but nothing more.
Taxis are not available on Sundays here, Peninnis was the walk of choice. Half way along Church Street, I started to regret the decision but, decided to try to walk through it. Negotiating the steep hill up to Buzza and the Health Centre, the seat outside was very welcome. The sun shone warm and bright from a blue sky with occasional white cloud to make it interesting; this reflected by the sea which was barely textured by the light wind. Visibility was excellent, The Bishop lighthouse and the Cornish coast all showing clearly . All the islands look within swimming distance (if you swim well) from the top of Peninnis.
Refreshed, we plodded on, Pam making side detours wherever possible, me slowly walking straight ahead along the grandly named King Edward Road - it's a wide, stony farm track along the centre of the Headland. An oncoming birder gave us the rough whereabouts of the reported Lapland Bunting, a relief to know it was still here.
About a 100 metres before the millstone, there was a gap in the wall  and through the escallonia hedge, deep tractor tracks marking its purpose. Pam was on another of her sorties. To my astonishment and delight, the only bird in view was the Lap. Bunt, roadside, feeding happily. Pam joined me and the bird stayed whilst I got my camera out of my backpack. I fired off several shots, cursing having to do so into the sun whilst enjoying the present.

Moving to get a better position, with the sun behind me, flushed it into the shade, so we moved on.
Peninnis always has flocks of Meadow Pipits feeding in the pasture, so many Starlings too. Harold Wilson's seat was empty for a quick sit before walking to the end seat with good views over the Head and its Lighthouse, Old Town Bay to the left, the rocky west coast to the right. A single Redwing flew in to the hedge nearby.
We lunched here, basking in the sun, watching a small herd of Red Ruby Devon cattle grazing inside their electric-fenced enclosure. They're obviously moved around as the area to our right was devoid of heather, looking strangely bare. A pair of Stonechats led me a merry dance.....

I decided to walk back to Hughtown along the western side of Peninnis, ending behind the Allotments, scene of many a twitch. Maybe if my memory had been more accurate  - and there hadn't been the possibility of seeing a Wryneck - I would have made a different decision. The 'path' is a steep rocky descent down the rugged hillside dotted with granite boulders for much of the way. It becomes less steep but just as bad underfoot. Five Siskins flew over as we set off, alerting us with their calls.
The one seat along the way was occupied. We found some large rocks on which to sit and look for the Wryneck, unsuccesfully, it hasn't been reported to-day. Stunning views of Hughtown, across the narrow neck between Town Beach and Porthcressa to Telegraph in the far north of St Mary.

Good views of the Red-throated Diver in Porthcressa Bay from here too, the sun in the right place but too distant to photograph.
At last, we arrived at Hughtown. I was very tired with weak knees and an aching leg, necessitating another sit on the benches at the end of Porthcressa Bay. This route back is longer as well as being more arduous than the one we used to access the headland. Daft decision, BUT I enjoyed it. Must be a closet masochist. The stairs up to the flat are a killer at the end of a hard day.


Expensive Injury

October 13
My Achilles hasn't improved, another lovely sunny morning sitting in the flat watching the Chilean miners being brought to the surface. What a feat of engineering.
If the Pied Wheatear had been reported, I'd planned a Bants Carn trip. The island seems to have emptied of birds overnight, all the reports of the regulars of the past few days were negative .After lunch, we caved in and took a taxi to Porth Loo, where we could bird whilst sitting on a bench. The next couple of hours were most enjoyable. Long strings of Shags fished the other side of Taylor Island, there must have been almost a hundred. Big shoal? Waders gradually revealed themselves amongst the  tidelines of thick seaweed. Two Dunlin, a Common Sandpiper, one Whimbrel, two Curlews and a dozen Ringed Plover. A single Mediterranean Gull on distant rocks.

The highlight was the tamarisk corner where a Common Redstart, two Wheatears and a Stonechat occasionally showed, before moving out of the rocks onto the shore.

Common Wheatear

Common Redstart

'Common' seems an utterly inappropriate first name for such lovely birds.
Island taxis home again, another £5 for a 2 mile trip. Come back on duty please Spider, he'd charge us half of that.
22 miners on the surface so far......


Carn Friars Afternoon

October 12
Such a beautiful looking day, warm and sunny. Couldn't stay in another day to rest my achilles, all those birds out there.....
Spider's not working, Duncan's busy - he gave me Island Taxis' number - and Rob picked us up at the Town Hall at 2.00., dropping us at Carn Friars Lane. No sign of the reported Wryneck at the farm buildings.  A short walk down the track, we arrived at the horse jump field and immediately saw a Little Bunting, feeding in the grass. The easiest Little Bunt ever, we stood in this area for hours last year. I attempted some photos.

A Clouded Yellow danced its manic way from daisy family yellow flower to yellow flower.

Arriving at the end of the path, Porthellick Bay at low tide is not at its best. A tight, narrow mouthed , horseshoe-shaped, bay, showing an  expanse of sand, rocks and seaweed. What a delight, we found two whole, white, plastic chairs where we sat in comfort for over an hour basking in the sun whilst birding. A flock of about 50 hirundine fed around us, at least one House Martin amongst the Swallows. One Black Redstart and a male Stonechat  sallied forth after insects from the nearest boat deck and ropes. We couldn't manage to ID the Plover sp in the bay nor its short-billed companion. Were they the AGP and the Pectoral Sandpiper reported here this morning? Looking into the sun, distance and lack of scope mitigated against a positive ID.
News of the Wryneck 'showing well' in Carn Friars lane took us back up the hill, pausing for another view of the L Bunting, feeding on the path.
No Wryneck but, a Chiffchaff, Yellow-browed Warbler and a Goldcrest (only our second of the year) in one willow tree near the farm. Taxi home to eat and get ready to watch to-night's footie.


Help, Please Send a Buggy....

The highlight of our stroll to Porth Low via Porthmellon and the coast path, was sighting the mystery Falcon which is occasionally turning up. Eleanora's has been mentioned....We were resting on a seat overlooking Thomas Porth when a flurry of small birds attracted my attention. Causing the scare was a large falcon, our immediate reaction was Peregrine BUT, the poor light made seeing any ID features impossible. Did it have long wings and tail? Pass. It flew over us quite low and fast. It was almost immediately reported on the CB as having flown up Lower Moors towards the coast. Hm. Eleanora's would be great.
Pam photographed a beautiful Wheatear which flew up onto a gate beside her.

It became cold sitting on a seat at Porth Low, scoping towards Taylor Island, scrutinising the extensively exposed rocks and sand of a very low tide . We saw a Blue Rock Thrush here on Pam's birthday, in the 90's I believe. Notable for the sight of Justin in his canary yellow and green Norwich City shirt standing out amid the largely drab clad birders.

Eventually the lack of sun and a cool NE wind moved us on. Not before we'd seen a Med. Gull, a Dunlin, four Ringed Plovers and two Black Redstarts, hearing a Common Sandpiper.
No sign of the Turtle Dove near the duck pond, not a lot else either until we got to the ISBG hide at Lower Moors. There, a very bright and lovely Jack Snipe showed unusually well in the open but, too distant for a compact camera. I carried my scope to-day. It's manic bobbing made me wish I'd taken Stugeron.
A Common Snipe flew in close enough for Pam to take this photo with her Ixus compact.

For the first time in many years, Old Town Cafe is open. A hot drink was welcome.
News of a Red-breasted Flycatcher in the churchyard sent us around the bay. A Whimbrel flew in to feed on insects in the swathes of seaweed left by the tide.
The Fascicularia are looking good at the moment. We tried to grow them in pots at home, they grew lots of greenery but never flowered like this.

No sooner had we got there than we learnt that the R B Fly  had disappeared as news broke of a possible Blackpoll Warbler and an R B Fly at the Trelegraph end of Lower Moors.We re-traced our footsteps, running the gauntlet of many birders on the narrow, tree - enshrouded footpath, wet marsh on either side, squeezing past tripods, backpacks and paunches. No sign of either bird. It was a very slow trudge/hobble back to the flat, my right achilles was very painful. That's a new experience. Pam's back and hips not good either. Oh for transport.
Pam was looking at the Turnstones which scurry about on the beach under our window at high tide when, leaning out, she noticed a half grown Grey Seal Pup beached below. It was nearly dark but I managed to lighten the photo.

I asked for help on the CB and was advised to phone Heike the vet. She was lovely, saying that its mother lived in the harbour and the pup often spent the night resting on the beach. I am to phone her again in the morning if it's motionless.


The Garrison Again

Preparing for a relaxed morning, which included a big cook-up for the next few days, before walking to Porth Loo, the pager doing its exciting 'mega' alarm and the CB bursting into life put paid to that. A Black-eared Wheatear on the Garrison in private grounds near the Star Castle. Thank goodness for the CB which kept me fully informed of progress from then on. 'Now flown out of view and hasn't been re-located' slowed our hasty preparations....We met a proud and beaming Spider outside the Co-op, he'd been asked to look at someone's photo - taken in the Star Castle grounds - on a camera screen. His ID was upheld by Ron Johns and the message put out.
As we panted to the top of the hill and passed through the arch, the CB told us the bird was on the shore under a cliff, this side of Steval.
We followed a stream of birders coming back down the hill to turn towards the shore just inside the archway entrance.

This mainly grassy track - a new one for me - led along the shore for half a mile or so to where what passes as a cliff in Scilly was being scrutinised by 50+ birders. I turned off the path and fought my way through thick spongy grass down to the edge so that I could lean on a fence, where I hoped I'd have a better chance of viewing than in the throng ahead. It didn't take long to see a very active white rump flitting about the muddy cliff face and among the rocks below. Where was Pam? Just making her way down towards me. Five minutes later, she got a tickable view too, thank goodness. After walking further in the hope of a better view of a UK tick, we slowly made our way back to the flat for lunch - at 2.30!

We'd missed the Stiffkey bird in the 90s by two minutes, I wish we hadn't stopped for the Black-throated Thrush in Sheringham - which wasn't a tick.
It's been warm but foggy all day to-day, Tresco out of view for most of the time. This view of some more autumn Scilly plants would have been improved by sun.


Around the Garrison

After a day of rest, we decided to walk the Garrison, which towers over Hughtown, walls and batteries built in the 18C. For probably the second time ever, we did the walk in an anti clockwise direction, which, in the first place, entails a very steep climb up to the Star Castle Hotel. Here we saw a Pied Flycatcher in a small clump of pine trees. We've never walked all around the perimeter either, we usually cut across the middle and the camping ground.
Steval Point had a Snow Bunting but we decided not to do the steep climb down to it, across rocks. We did walk the sea-side of the walls, sighting a Stonechat and a Wheatear, before reaching our favourite seat looking over the Sound to St Agnes. The seat nestles against the massive granite block walls, giving some shelter from the southerly wind.
As we ate lunch, the Scillonian, now on her winter schedule , hove into view, passing between us and St Agnes. Still misty, the sun didn't break through until early afternoon.

Walking back along the western path was much easier, we were tired by now. The variety of plants which grow 'wild' in Scilly is amazing.
This roadside group, looking across to Peninnis contains Brugmansia.

Another planting uses the walls as shelter.

Belladonna Lilies

A thoroughly enjoyable walk, back to the flat for a rest!


Four Year Ticks

Not an early start, both of us reluctant to start the walking so necessary on Scilly. Spider drove us to Porthellick, offering to take us to the Airport en route. We turned him down as the birds had last been reported at the turning circle, the thought of the yomp up the hillside past Tolman's was not attractive.
Such a beautiful day, warm and sunny, we sat in the Stephen Sussex hide, overlooking the pool, for over an hour, loving the view.

 We were well rewarded. A Kingfisher flew through - and back again five minutes later, Swallows buzzed the pool surface and the Spotted Sandpiper was just visible on the far seaward side of the pool. I'd carried my camera to-day rather than the scope......wrong decision?
No, it wasn't. Just us left in the hide and the juvenile Spot Sand flew the length of the pool, landing on the grassy edge to our left. I took many photographs, this is one of the better ones.

It stayed for about ten minutes before flying back to its original feeding place, where it joined a Redshank, 3 Greenshanks and a Pectoral Sandpiper. Much too distant for even a record shot.
As we were eating lunch, a very pleasant and friendly couple joined us. Chatting away, they offered to drive us to the Airport where the birds had been all along , the CB message was wrong. Excellent. They were understandably secretive about where they'd managed to get a 2010 reg VW Golf. Acquiring transport other than taxis and bicycles is impossible on the islands.
Neither wanted bird was in view from the terminal building, having disappeared 5 minutes before our arrival. The field is not flat. Time for a cuppa.
Ten minutes later, the American Golden Plover and one of the two Buff-breasted Sandpipers were in view under the tailplane of Skybus. This is the record shot of all record shots.....

Happy, we walked back via our favourite seat looking over Old Town Bay, chatting to a couple we'd met at the airport. Next along were Reston and Pat on their way to the terminal - after a lengthy chat with us - Pat is deafer than ever. Spider then pulled up to tell us about a small accipiter cruising the island. He'd seen it perched and thought it might be a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Watch this space.
Pam had noticed building work in the Carngwavel school playing field as we flew in. Not only on the playing field, it's huge.  Excavation and major building in the two large fields on either side too. The new 'Five Island School' the notice said. Is it an all age school I wonder. A shame for the small island schools and for the young ones having to travel daily, especially in the winter. However, the numbers have been falling drastically. Will they all board Monday to Friday as the seniors always have. We'll find out.
A very sturdy path has been laid around the side where the skate ramp is, ending at the school gate.
More than enough of a walk for our first day.


Cornwall and Scilly Season

Sunday October 3
Not too early a start, 6.15, we made good time to St Austell, despite several rest stops, the longest at Collingford Lakes. I decided not to make the detour to East Prawle for the House Finch  Asking Pam to drive those one track lanes with very occasional passing places at the end of a long drive, was not reasonable.
After settling in to the Travelodge, we drove to Mevagissey and a few other nearby seaside places without finding anywhere with a view to park and eat supper. A grassy car park was the best we could manage.
Monday Oct 4
Truro and The Lizard -Kynance Cove
THE place to look for Choughs. Such a beautiful day, warm, almost cloudless, the views were stunning. We walked from the Nat. Trust car park to the viewpoint which gave extensive views of the rocky coast and the tiny Kynance settlement below, nestled against the cliffs . Many more visitors than we'd ever seen here before, most walking down to the cafe far below and then climbing all over the cliffs beyond.

Good views of Ravens and a Peregrine in the two hours before departing for an Ann's pasty and an icecream at the Lizard village. With so many tourists around, the narrow drive down to the  end with its very small car park was not a viable option. We returned to Kynance for lunch in the hope of a different corvid from the dozens of Jackdaws.
Eating and reading with the window open......two short calls ...views of two Choughs flying east. Result, but fairly unsatisfactory. Thank goodness they're vocal birds, more alerting calls. This time, four birds flying west, rising against the cliffside and along the ridge before disappearing once more.
A short detour to log in at the Hayle Travelodge, before driving through Penzance to park on the western promenade and sea watch. I saw a probable actively diving Grebe before sighting another birder scoping further on. We walked towards him and soon saw a dark duck-shaped blob towards Newlyn. Pam walked to the birder whilst I looked through my small hand-held travel scope. The white neck bar and yellow blob bill became more obvious. A handsome adult male Surf Scoter. Excellent.
Tuesday October 4
The 11.10 helicopter flight was over 5 minutes late leaving and, into a headwind, took 5 minutes longer than usual . The male flight attendant was great, commentating on the landmarks and giving interesting historical detail of lighthouses and reefs passed. For example, the reef where the Torrey Canyon was grounded spilling millions of gallons of crude oil - taking a short cut from Kuwait to Milford Haven.
Duncan was waiting at the heliport, waxing lyrical about  the lack of birders and the greediness of the island's property owners. It's the first time ever that we've been the only binocular hung passengers on the helicopter.
The afternoon was spent unpacking, shopping at the Co-op, sorting laptops, drinking coffee and snacking. Much needed respite.