06 November 2015

St Agnes 26th September - 17th October

Our annual trip to St Agnes started a bit early this year and in some ways a bit late. We were there before almost all the usual crew but after some really good birds. A Blackpoll Warbler and Grey-cheeked Thrush had been and gone, both, at one time, in the same bush in Santa Warna's Cove (the same spot as the Reed Warbler in the photo here). The Red-eyed Vireo that appeared at the same time was still around and showing well from time to time over the next few days - a cracking bird, one of the two highlights of our visit.

We found a Wryneck in this early period in the gorse and bracken at the south end of Gugh and then saw another found by Will Wagstaff at Kit's Hill at the north end. September is a good month for Reed Warblers and there were usually a few in the good corners.

Always a good feeling being the first people across the Gugh Bar when the tide drops. It's a dramatic place in all conditions.

Smugglers Cottage was a good centre as always and a Water Rail crossing the lawn was a nice garden tick and there was a Firecrest a bit later. This Pied Flycatcher fed in the field next door, strangely preferring the furrows to the surrounding Elms.

Yellow-browed Warblers arrived in force, then disappeared again for a while and Firecrest numbers picked up well. The first Jack Snipe appeared at the Big Pool and one or two were present daily with just the odd Common Snipe thereafter. A Jack Snipe flushed from the Little Pool drain left the following signs of its presence.

The two Pauls (Heaton and Wright) and Kathy weren't examining the prints they were checking out the ultra-rare Least Adder's-tongue Fern in flower on the edge of Wingletang.

The first Black Redstarts arrived on Periglis just as the RAF Helicopter Rescue service said its farewells to active service.

A flyover Little Bunting caused some excitement and even better when Neil turned this one up in the Island Fields at Browarth where it showed well at times.

Photo Neil Wright

There few rare birds in the middle of the holiday but there was a rare butterfly, or at least a rare form of butterfly. A mall Copper of the form 'schmitti', which caused a Butterfly twitch.

The second major highlight of the trip, found by Doug Page at Covean was this really obliging and well-watched Red-flanked Bluetail. At least well-watched when the local Robins would leave it alone.

Photo Neil Wright
This juv Red-backed Shrike was good value for all the birders, it's in the talons of this Merlin, presumably good calorific value also.

This Hen Harrier (a juv male?) spent half a day shooting around St Agnes and the Western Isles, it appeared to show a marked hooded effect in some photos and there was lots of examination of images of Northern Harrier but it remained just a Hen Harrier.

There were three Siberian Chiffchaffs present later on, one at Troytown and two at Lower Town. The latter, in particular, showed well and gave opportunities for comparing them with 'collybita' birds. As usual, they didn't call but I now subscribe to the philosophy that if it looks like a Sibe - it's a Sibe.

Photo Neil Wright
Photo Neil Wright
And then it was time to go till next year when we hope to spend a month on the Island. Can't wait!

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