crossing flightpaths

Sometimes the improbable comes when you least expect it.

We achieved a good number of scarce and rare birds on the Isles of Scilly Tour earlier this month. It has to be said so far it’s not been a classic year; although there was enough to keep us entertained. One moment however will linger a long time in the minds of those of us that witnessed it.

We were walking up Buzza Hill from Porthcressa Bay on St Marys. Having just seen a Brambling we were waiting for it to reappear below us when a Kingfisher flew at speed along the shore. Not an unusual sight on Scillies, we saw several while we were there. However, it was the demise of this particular Kingfisher that was unusual. From high above us we saw a Peregrine stooping. The two birds were destined to meet. In a flurry of feathers the Peregrine didn’t waver as it snatched the Kingfisher from the air and flew on with it’s colourful payload.

2014 10 06 Peregrine St Marys Isles of Scilly Cornwall_Z5A6522


Birds and Butterflies

On our way to Penzance for the Scillies Tour the other week we took a small detour to the Devon coast. Amid the coastal fields we easily found our target; Cirl Buntings. Perched in bushes and feeding on seed crops in the fields they were wonderful to watch. However, also amid the fields were something I didn’t expect, or at least not in the numbers that were present. Clouded Yellow Butterflies were everywhere. More than I have seen in one place before. Although they do breed within the UK they are primarily an immigrant and the majority of overwintering adults and larvae are killed off by our cold wet winters. To see them everywhere we looked was a real treat.

2014 10 02 Cirl Bunting Prawl Point Devon_Z5A5295

2014 10 02 Clouded Yellow Prawl Point Devon_Z5A5338



Everywhere but nowhere

I must type up that report.

My morning walk around the hill found just a single Yellow browed Warbler. Throughout Norfolk rare birds were being found all over … the best of which was a Red flanked Bluetail. I cracked. The report would have to wait.

On arrival at the Bluetail I saw it for 20 seconds and it promptly disappeared for an hour. Behaving very un-Bluetail like, taking jaunts in among the canopy rather than seeking low level perches, it proved extremely elusive. Even the nearby Long eared Owl played peek-a-boo from the hedgerow and a Great Grey Shrike with its mobbing entourage was always distant never near.

The following day I tried again but the Bluetail had moved on, as expectedly had the Long eared Owl. At nearby Wells the previous days Radde’s Warbler showed once and then took to ground. The only sighting of the accompanying Olive backed Pipit I got was as it vaporised over my shoulder at the speed of light.

It was only as I viewed my fourth Yellow browed Warbler of the day did a bird show on the right side of all the intervening vegetation.

Time to type up that report.

Red flanked Bluetail_Z5A8110

Great Grey Shrike_Z5A8355

Long eared Owl_Z5A8181

Yellow browed Warbler_Z5A8462a




A Bullet from a Gun

We were photographing Deer the other week when this little chap shot out from under our feet. We knew he was somewhere in the area as one of my guests had seen him amble behind trees earlier. As we continued to photograph the Deer he certainly managed to lay as flat as a sheet until we were almost on top of him when he sprang up and surprised us all. I managed to get this half reasonable shot of him as he sped for the nearest nettle patch.



Shrike a light

The Scillies tour, hospital appointments and visits to my daughter aside I today had chance to visit the Steppe Grey Shrike in North Norfolk; and what a cracker it is. Initially distant after an offering of a few meal worms it gave itself up in grand style. The last one I saw a few years ago in Lincolnshire was also very confiding. Given it’s probably the first time it has been in the company of humans it knew no fear.

2014 10 12 Steppe Grey Shrike Burnham Norton Norfolk_Z5A8005

2014 10 12 Steppe Grey Shrike Burnham Norton Norfolk_Z5A8064


As I was going to St Ives …

We more or less cleaned up on our tour to Scillies over the last week. Anything that it was possible to see, we saw; with the exception of a Rose Coloured Starling that employed an almost endearing absence each time we went to look for it.
I was therefore delighted to hear that when we disembarked the Scillonian III in Penzance on Wednesday evening one had been seen that evening in nearby St Ives. The following morning we made this our main target.
We wound through the narrow lanes of the ancient fishing village, parked at the appointed car park and trudged up the hill towards the chapel where it had last been seen. Sure, we found a few Starlings but not the particular one we wished to see. I even purchased a nice white loaf of bread …’starling attractant’ … but all I pulled in were the local Herring Gulls. A couple of hours later after seemingly checking every rooftop in the village we decided this particular Starling was using the same Harry Potter cloak of invisibility as the one on St Marys and decided to move on. I hate loosing out!
It was only as we pulled up the narrow roads out of the cove we noticed a large flock of Starlings perched on wires. Surely it was worth a stop and search. It didn’t take long to find the little blighter sitting innocently on a power line; wondering what all the fuss was about no doubt. Success.

2014 10 09 Rose Coloured Starling St Ives Cornwall_Z5A7118


Bit of a Pansy

We were walking through stubble; a misty morning with little to look at. I almost trod on it. A tiny, tiny window of light among the furrows. A Field Pansy wet with dew shone like a white hot ember.

Now getting scarcer to find, it brightened up a grey day.

Field Pansy



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October 2014
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