A Quiet start to the month with a Dotterel on Bryher and a Corncrake flushed at Porth Hellick being the only birds of note in the first five days. The 6th saw the first autumn migrants arrive with a Melodious Warbler on St Mary’s and a Wryneck on Bryher. Both of the aforementioned islands held Pied Flycatchers and a Lesser Redpoll and possible Honey Buzzard were seen on Tresco. A bumper day on the 9th saw birders connecting with two Buff-breasted Sandpipers on the golf course, a Red-backed Shrike and a Melodious Warbler in fields near Old Town, an Icterine Warbler on The Garrison and a Golden Oriole at Lower Moors. Elsewhere, a Pectoral Sandpiper began a lengthy stay on the islands at Abbey Pool, Tresco and an Icterine Warbler was on St Agnes. The following day a juvenile Citrine Wagtail was on Porth Hellick Pool and was joined by another, or possibly the same, Pectoral Sandpiper.
An Ortolan Bunting on Private land on St Agnes may have been the bird on Tresco on the 11th. A Spotted Crake began a three day stay at the Big Pool, St Agnes. On the 12th a Grey Phalarope was near Western Rocks and an Osprey, first seen over the inbound Scillonian III, was over Hugh Town and later over Annet. A Red-rumped Swallow flew past one lucky observer on The Garrison on the 13th and a Spotted Crake was at Porth Hellick Pool. Most of the days’ migrants however were on Bryher with Barred Warbler, Wryneck and Osprey of note. A Melodious Warbler was on Bryher the following day and a late Cuckoo was on St Agnes on the 16th. ‘Aggie’ took the lion’s share of the scarcities on the 17th with Richard’s Pipit, Rose-coloured Starling and a Red-backed shrike on the island. St Mary’s saw a small influx of Wheatear and a Wryneck was on Peninnis Head. An Ortolan Bunting and a Pectoral Sandpiper joined the list on St Agnes on the 19th and an American Golden Plover took centre stage there on the 20th.
Not to be outdone, St Mary’s scored with the first ‘mega’ of the Autumn in the shape of a Yellow-breasted Bunting which remained for only eight minutes in a field at Peninnis before flying south and was never seen again. This was duly outdone the next day when a fisherman described a Black-browed Albatross that was following his boat a few miles off St Mary’s. The islands pelagic stalwarts set sail immediately and were amazed to find the beast still behind the fishing boat less than a mile off Peninnis. With a bird of that size at that range, it wasn’t surprising that it was soon picked up from Peninnis Head, allowing some of the resident birders the chance to add to their island list. Elsewhere, the first Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn was on The Garrison and a Golden Oriole was in Holy Vale.
The run of good birds continued on the 22nd when a Long-billed Dowitcher was found at Abbey Pool. Amazingly, this was the first record of this American wader since December 1985 and was therefore another welcome addition to many an island list. A Red-breasted Flycatcher and Barred Warbler were on St Martin’s on the 24th and two Ortolan Buntings were on St Mary’s. The following day saw yet another Scilly first when a Steppe Grey Shrike was on The Plains, St Martin’s. The bird had re-located to St Mary’s on the 26th, much to the delight of the travelling mainland birders. Two Juvenile Rose-coloured Starlings were by Nags Head, St Agnes. A Common Rosefinch was on Gugh on the 27th and St Mary’s held Richard’s Pipit and an Ortolan Bunting. A Red-breasted Flycatcher was at Higher Moors on 28th and an early Redwing was on Bryher. The Long-billed Dowitcher and Pectoral sandpiper remained on Abbey Pool into the beginning of the ‘Scilly Season’
Paul Freestone © ISBG 2009