What turned out to be one of the best Mays on record for the islands started off relatively slowly with just a Grasshopper Warbler and Cuckoo of note at Porth Hellick on the 1st. Things started to pick up the next day however when a Shorelark was found on Tresco. This was only the 11th record of this species on the islands and it was not seen again after the 2nd. A Little Bunting was on Tresco on the 4th and waders on the island included two each of Dunlin and Whimbrel and a good count of one-hundred and eleven Sanderling. St Mary’s scored on the 5th with a stunning adult summer plumage Bonapartes Gull at Porthloo and a Red-rumped Swallow flew over Helvear and Watermill. On Tresco a pair of Pochard succesfully fledged five young. The Bonapartes Gull relocated to Carn Near, Tresco on the 6th and a Hawfinch flew over Old Grimsby. A Quail and a Ring Ouzel were at Wingletang, St Agnes.
A leucistic Puffin was of interest off the Western Rocks on the 7th and a female Hawfinch was at Porth Hellick Loop. St Agnes held Tree Pipit, nineteen Whimbrel and a male Ruff. A Woodchat Shrike was on St Martin’s on the 9th and the first of two Little Bitterns, this one a female, appeared at Porth Hellick Pool on the 10th. The Woodchat Shrike moved to Bryher and other migrants included a Golden Oriole on St Martin’s and a Hobby on St Mary’s. A Richards Pipit was a brief visitor to St Martin’s on the 11th and a Honey Buzzard flew over Tresco. A Red-rumped Swallow was at Peninnis Head on the 12th and a summer plumage Red-throated Pipit showed well at Porth Coose, St Agnes until the 14th. A Lapland Bunting was nearby at Browarth.
A Great Reed Warbler was discovered singing at Porth Hellick Pool on the evening of the 13th and showed well at times over the next few days from the Stephen Sussex hide. Two Red-rumped Swallows were over Mount Todden, St Mary’s and Porth Hellick Pool held both Blue-headed and Ashy-headed Wagtails. Golden Orioles were at Porth Hellick house and Lower Moors, St Mary’s and also on St Martin’s. The female Little Bittern was again seen flying over Lower Moors on the 14th and two Turtle Doves were seen sporadically near Holy Vale. The male Little Bittern was flushed from Lower Moors on the morning of the 16th and the Great Reed Warbler and two Red-rumped Swallows were still present on St Mary’s.
The 17th saw a very obliging Pallid Swift over Porth Hellick Pool and the female Little Bittern was seen to fly from Lower Moors towards Old town on the 18th. A Red-rumped Swallow was over Lummon Farm, St Mary’s on the 19th and the Pallid Swift was over Holy Vale in the evening. Elswhere a Quail was at salakee Downs and a Hobby was on St Agnes. A male Nightjar was at Little Arthur Farm, St Martins on the 20th and a Golden Oriole was in elms by the cricket pitch.
The Pallid Swift was last seen over Harry’s Walls on the 20th and a Red-rumped Swallow was over Parting Carn. Two Golden Orioles were at Lower Moors on the 21st and the two Jackdaws that had been on St mary’s throughout the month were today at Hugh Town. A Honey buzzard flew over St Martin’s on 23rd and three Common Terns were in the Tresco Channel. The 24th started with a Black Kite that flew over the cricket pitch on St Agnes and was subsequently seen on St Mary’s and Tresco before it flew out to sea from St Martin’s. Elsewhere a male Red-backed Shrike was at Castella Downs. Red-rumped Swallows were on St Mary’s and Tresco and one lucky observer saw seven European Bee-eaters flying over Old Town Bay towards Lower Moors late in the evening.
An American Dunlin was an interesting find on St Agnes on the 26th and a Golden Oriole was at Longstones, St Mary’s. An Osprey roamed St Mary’s on the 28th and a Spoonbill flew over Hugh Town. a Short-toed Lark was at Gweal Hill, Bryher and fifty Common Terns were off Samson. The first pelagic of the year produced ten Storm Petrels and three Manx Shearwaters. A Little Stint was at Periglis, St Agnes on the 29the and it was joined by two others on the 30th. A Bee-eater was more obliging than the previous group on the 30th at Porth Killier, St Agnes and a Spoonbill was on Porth Hellick Pool. Both remained on the 31st. Elsewhere on the final day of the month, a Wood Warbler was singing on Bryher and Golden Orioles were at St Agnes and Tresco.
Paul Freestone (c) ISBG 2009