The start of a new Scillies year saw last years lingering goodies include the white morph GYR still on Samson and two CATTLE EGRET on Tresco. Also on the 1st, Common Buzzard, Little Gull, Whooper Swan and Red-breasted Merganser were all seen on Tresco. A CATTLE EGRET over Old Town on the 3rd was the first of three birds seen on St Marys in January and St Martin’s had four Slavonian Grebes offshore. The GYR island hopped to St Mary’s on the 4th flying over High Lanes towards Telegraph. CATTLE EGRETS were the highlight though with four on St Martin’s, two still on Tresco and a single still on St Mary’s. Two CATTLE EGRETS settled in the Carn Friars area of St Marys on the 5th and one decided the dump was more to its liking on the 8th. The latter bird was extremely tame and could often be found following the spade of resident birder John Higginson. It remained at the months end. Elsewhere, a Firecrest was on St Agnes on the 8th.

Two Long-tailed Tits were at Abbey Drive, Treso on the 9th as was the Great-spotted Woodpecker. Three Purple Sandpipers were on Bryher. A possible WILSON’S SNIPE  was seen for half an hour in the morning of the 10th from the ISBG hide at Lower Moors and again on the 12th. Three Woodcock were on the Garrison playing fields. The Spoonbill was still on Samson on the 13th and a Short-eared Owl was at Higher Moors. An adult NIGHT HERON was seen to fly over Lower Moor and appeared to land on Shooters Pool on the 15th and a CATTLE EGRET was in a field at Lower Moors.

A Grey Phalarope was at the back of St Mary’s Quay on the 17th and two probable Little Auks flew past Deep Point. White-winged Gulls began to appear on the 18th with 1st winter Kumlien’s Gull at Porth Mellon beach. The first Iceland Gull of the month, a first -winter bird, was at Porth Mellon on the 21st and two Glaucous Gulls were on St Mary’s on 22nd. Gull numbers totalled five Glaucous, three Iceland and a Kumliens on St Mary’s on the 28th. A possible DARK BREASTED BARN OWL was reported from St Martin’s on the 26th. The bird was seen at 18.00hrs near the school but there were no subsequent reports. Two Iceland Gulls were also on St Martin’s, one of which was unfortunately found dead later in the day. Highlights of a  busy birding day on Tresco on the 28th were Treecreeper, two Glaucous and two Iceland Gulls, Common Buzzard, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Marsh Harrier and Bryher hosted a Hooded Crow at South Hill. A Balearic Shearwater flew past Giants Castle on the 29th and the final day of January saw a Jack Snipe at Porth Hellick, four Slav Grebes off Innisidgen and the CATTLE EGRET remained at Parting Carn. Up to four Firecrests were on St Agnes throughout the month.

Paul Freestone (c) ISBG 2009


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