Another day on St Mary’s

Lovely sunshine but a bit of a wind today – had a 16km walk around St Mary’s.

Across from St Mary’s to the daymark on St Martin’s

Watermill Cove in the sunshine

The uninhabited island of Sampson

Out to the Eastern Isles

How about that for a view from the green

Oystercatchers on Porthloo beach

Solitary bird

Whimbrel on the beach – there must be 200 of these migrants on the Islands at the moment

Showing off its crown stripe which distinguishes it from a curlew (well at least one of the features)

A rather nice stonechat

And an obliging linnet



St Mary’s birds and landscapes

Spent the day yesterday wandering around St Mary’s, lovely sunny day and lots of swallows and martins migrating through the Islands.

A swallow on the wire in Old Town

House martin at Kitty Down

And in amongst a flock of a 100 plus swallows, house martins and sand martins was this red-rumped swallow – a spring overshoot from southern Europe. Also saw my first swift of the year today.

Looking from Kitty Down back to High Moors and Porthellick

And then this at at Higher Moors ….. the Wildlife Trust have coppiced all the willows next to the hide and as a result there is absolutely no cover when approaching the hide, so no birds at all at the southern end of the pool. Surely this could have been planned and executed differently? It will now take several years before the cover regrows and hide becomes usable again. I really hope next autumn doesn’t see the same treatment up to the next hide……

The beach at Porthloo

Which hosted this 1st winter Iceland Gull – note the bird is all white and has no black tips to the wing. A rare visitor to the UK, but this year has seen quite and influx.

From Porthloo back to the harbour at Hugh Town

The sun setting over the Atlantic (pub and ocean)


Forget the rarities – what about the hawfinches

Every now and again something extraordinary happens.

We were out birding yesterday on St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly prior to me catching the Scillonian back to the mainland. We were in Carreg Dhu, an ornamental garden in the middle of the island when a big flock of …. hawfinches flew into the sycamore tree directly above our heads. It was difficult counting them as the foliage obscured them and they came in two groups separated by around 30 seconds. We made an estimate of 24 + birds. 24 +!!

This illustration is from the Collins Bird Guide app – the broad white bands on the underwings were very obvious as were the white tail feathers. By the way the Collins Bird Guide app is highly recommended, it works brilliantly on an iPhone (see here) and there is also an Android version too.

A little later the flock was spotted again by other birders and it was estimated that there were between 50-60 birds in it. By all accounts there were also some flocks of hawfinches on the mainland too.

I doubt very much whether I will every see such a thing again. The UK is currently experiencing some big southerlies so the most likely explanation is that these flocks have come from the Continent.

Here is a photo of a couple of the birds from wildlife photographer, Richard Stonier’s twitter account. You can checkout his gallery of hawfinch photos here.

Even got a great sunset over the Isles of Scilly on the way back to Penzance.

In so many different ways, Scilly never disappoints