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WEATHER: overcast all day, some rain showers until 4:30pm then persistent rain, moderate winds.

You know when you may have made the wrong decision when you see the boat to St Agnes filling up very fast whilst very few people got on our boat to Tresco. I knew that a couple of goodies were out on Aggie but I was willing to take a chance on Tresco.

We docked at Carn Near jetty and walked to the airfield at Tresco Abbey, our hopes of seeing anything on the airfield were dashed when a helicopter came in to land, doh! We scanned the beach area and found a few birds, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Turnstone and a Grey Heron.

After the helicopter departed we were allowed across the airfield where we scoped the large expanse of short grass and found two Whinchats, a single Northern Wheatear, Dunnock, Stonechat and a Blackbird.

the beach near Carn Near

Our view of the Abbey Pool was from the road to the Abbey entrance, we logged Mallard, Teal, Gadwall, Moorhen and a bunch of G BB Gulls. In the sallows around the lake we heard a very noisy bunch of Goldcrests and found at least 6 of them.

The walk along the side of the ‘Great Pool’ was pretty much unproductive, we added Mute Swan and Cormorant and saw many more Gadwall, Mallard and Teal. Passerines were non-existent except for more Goldcrests and the usual common ‘garden’ birds. We did however hear a Chiffchaff singing!!

the beach at New Grimsby

From the Swarovski Hide we watched a few more species but not many, we couldn’t find the two Pintail reported earlier or a Yellow Wagatil but we did see a single Black-tailed Godwit, a couple of Redshanks and dozens of Coots.

A House Sparrow sitting on my scope - 'bird of the day' so far

After coffee and cake in the very expensive  Flying Boat café near Tresco Stores we sat on the benches at the sea-front in New Grimsby, it started to rain whilst we ate. Sue picked out a Greenshank on the shore with a few Turnstones and the obligatory Oystercatchers.

By this time many reports were coming through on the WhatsApp group about bird finds on Agnes and nothing for Tresco!! Red-eyed Vireo, Short-toed Lark, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Pectoral and Buff-breasted Sandpipers, I was green with envy and mad at myself for not taking the Agnes boat.

After our lunch we marched up the hill and onto Castle Down making our way along to the two Castles at the headland. The scenery was pretty amazing especially looking across to Bryher and down the channel towards Agnes. We found a pair of Kestrels, some Crows, dozens of Meadow Pipits, a few Stonechats and several Northern Wheatears but not much else.

the ruins of King Charles' Castle in the distant on Castle Moor

a few more, well wrapped, ruins standing at King Charles' Castle. This wasn't the first time I got a soaking on Castle Down! A couple of years ago I got soaked through my clothes and had mild hypothermia, I got the shivers!!!

Behind the ruins of King Charles’ Castle we scoped the sea and found Many Gannets and a few Cory’s Shearwaters. The pathway took us to Kettle Head and round to Piper’s Hole (don’t ask?), we searched for a reported Snow Bunting but saw only Rock & Meadow Pipits, Northern Wheatears and a Wren.

walking to Kettle Head

the view across to Bryher and beyond

We zig-zagged across the Down looking for Plovers or even a Dotterel but found only Linnets and Pipits, I had just about enough of seeing nowt but the group seemed to be very happy with the walk and the fantastic scenery, “it’s not all about finding birds” (yes it is).

Kettle Head

A message came through that a Turtle Dove and a Common Rosefinch had been found in a vegetable garden just a few hundred meters from where we exited Castle Down, we had time to spare to look for them.

The vegetable patch was a large field and it was covered in birds, mainly House Sparrows and Linnets but other ‘stuff’ lingered.  Just one guy was watching the field and he hadn't seen the Rosefinch or the Turtle Dove.

We quickly found the Turtle Dove, it was nestled down in a bunch of sunflowers, yippee a migrant species in the bag.


the Turtle Dove hunkered down in the Sun Flower heads

Phil Naylor's picture of the Dove in flight taken 10 minutes after we found it

We saw Willow Warbler and a Common Whitethroat before the Rosefinch appeared in my scope, wow! I made at least 10 attempts last year to see this non-descript little blighter. Now it was in the bag and in the can. Unfortunately a few of the group had wandered off to the quay before the bird appeared.

the head and shoulders of the Common Whitethroat

Common Rosefinch - finally! A goodie in the bag at last. Re-finding this bird cheered me up no end!!

The trip back to St Marys was wet, it rained a little and the aptly named ‘Sea Spray’ boat lived up to its name, I got wet again. Another day over, more birds in the bag, tomorrow we are off on a ‘pelagic’ trip to look for Shearwaters, Petrels, Booby’s, Skuas and cetaceans. Must remember to take my anit-seasick pills and a good raincoat.