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ISLES OF SCILLY 2004

In 2004, Birdfinders was the only company offering a tour to the Isles of Scilly at peak migration time, the middle two weeks of October. This year was, comparatively speaking, quiet but as can be seen from the photos, excellent birds are always to be found at this time of year, and, of course, almost anything can turn up. If you're not there you will miss it!

On the very first day of Birdfinders' tour, we recorded an amazingly rare bird, Cream-coloured Courser, the first for the UK for over 20 years, as well as Merlin, Short-eared Owl and Black Redstart.

On subsequent days we have recorded mostly European migrants such as Mediterranean Gull, Eurasian Wryneck, Eurasian Turtle-dove, Snow & Lapland Buntings and Eurasian Hobby passing through the islands although Short-toed Lark, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Yellow-browed Warbler were somewhat rarer. Although we experienced an unusual amount of rain, later in the first week the sun finally shone and we visited both Bryher and Tresco via the 'scenic' route around Samson and Hell Bay! Our first good bird of the day on Bryher was 'Greenland' Mealy Redpoll followed by an Ortolan Bunting. Common migrants included Redwings, Fieldfares, Common Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Goldcrests, Common Redstart and the resident Common Ravens. On to Tresco where the highlights were eight Water Rails, a Jack Snipe and a female Long-tailed Duck.

Later in the first week we visit St. Agnes where we saw another Eurasian Wryneck and Lesser Redpolls before giving in to the temptations of Sticky Toffee pudding at Cove Vean tea rooms! Back on St. Mary's, we watched Common Rosefinch and Ring Ouzel whilst at the very last gasp a Radde's Warbler was added to our lists.

The second week followed broadly along the lines of the first week but with a lot more sunshine. The Cream-coloured Courser remained along with common migrants and scarcer migrants such as Red-breasted Flycatcher, Yellow-browed Warbler and Common Rosefinch. In the middle of the week on a glorious day we took another scenic boat trip around the lesser know islands; Tean, Green Island and Round Island looking for a summer-plumaged Red-throated Diver. Eventually it was found back on Tresco and showed along the tide line at point blank range as it hunted fish. Some of the best birds waited until the end of the week however, when Bohemian Waxwing, Pallas's Warbler and Little Bunting all turned up.

Only Birdfinders visits the Isles of Scilly during the acknowledged peak autumn migration season in the second and third weeks of October each year. Next year we will be offering two weeks again. Don't miss out as these tours invariably fill quickly.

Black-throated Thrush

Black-throated Thrush