Sunday, 10 October 2010

Lark-ing about

So, apparently, we don't identify falcons on the Scillies anymore. No, instead we have 'large falcon', 'dark falcon' and 'large-dark falcon'. Heavens forbid if anyone who saw a falcon on the Scillies would actually identify it!
OK, gripe over, on to what we found/saw/identified today….
After a solid nights sleep (I'd only had 30 minutes, max, the night before), Mark and I headed out into the field at 8.30, with the plan to meander up to the airfield, see the rare waders up there and then head up to the north of the island, trying to avoid any large party of dudes. As the school was closed (Sunday) we headed down into the playground and looked around the wood areas around the school. Common Redstart, Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were all present, making us hopeful that there would be more of the same over the island. Old Town Churchyard was devoid of any life (well, it is a cemetery after all!) so we headed up to the airfield. When we got there, the first bird we saw was a Whinchat, and then we realised there was a nice big flock of Meadow Pipits making use of the lack of Sunday flights and feeding on the airfields short grass. About 100 birds were feeding on the southern slope and we slowly made our way through them to see if we could find anything interesting (a Red-throated Pipit had been reported earlier). Although nothing other than Mipits could be found, I noticed a small pale bird feeding with the Mipits. It was barely bigger than a Mipit and was dwarfed by a nearby Wheatear. It then turned round to face side-on and it was then that I realised that the bird was actually a lark! The penny dropped – Short-toed Lark! Mark got onto the bird and agreed and we watched the bird for a few minutes feeding with the Meadow Pipits until it was flushed by a dog walker and flew north over the airfield. It was seen again later in the morning, but disappeared after midday, but was possibly seen by Ian Lewington on Tresco at 2pm. The American Golden Plover and Buff-breasted Sandpiper also put in an appearance, but only in flight before touching down out of sight near the airport buildings.
We spent the rest of the day in the north of the island, seeing some nice migrants such as Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, 3 Firecrests and a smattering of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. We finished the day at Carn Friars where we met Ian Lewington and watched 2 Little Buntings and a few Yellow Wagtails feeding quite close.
So a nice haul of birds for the day and with 5 Mega Alerts for birds in other places in the UK from both sides of the globe, we hopeful of an even better day tomorrow.
Prediction: Red-eyed Vireo (and more dark falcon sightings of course)

Little Bunting, Carn Friars, St. Mary's.

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