1/8/15 - 7/8/15 - Scilly Trip
Me and my dad always go on a birding holiday once every year, and since neither of us had ever been to Scilly, and my dream has always been to do the pelagic, we decided this year, we'd give it a try. We booked for two nights on Scilly, and the rest of the week touring the UK sites we'd never been to either. In summary, we racked up 125 species for the week, however the Scilly Isles themselves were a bit of a flop! The Scillonian Crossing was absolutely horrendous, and everyone was ill, which left us in poor stead for the pelagic later that day, and suffice to say, the pelagic was a tough 5 hours for us! The birding was slow, but the sea was not and within 30 minutes of leaving, I wanted my 'dream trip' to end, and was ill throughout, therefore I didn't take any photos! Despite being green all the way through, we managed to get 200+ Storm-Petrels, Balearic Shearwater, 6 Bonxies and not a lot else! No Wilson's, Cory's, Greats... But, we did get some brilliant views of a Pectoral Sandpiper at Porth Hellick on the last day.
However, the week on the whole was superb! I got 3 lifers in Red-Footed Falcon, Montagu's Harrier and Cirl Bunting, plus a massive supporting cast of waders, especially at Norfolk on the way home with 4 Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, 20+ Whimbrel, Wood Sandpiper at Titchwell plus 25 Spoonbill at Stiffkey, and Spotted Redshank everywhere! We also went to Ham Wall RSPB which was hard work, but still managed a Great White Egret. Here are a few photos from the trip:
Avocet at Titchwell RSPB
Black-tailed Godwit at Titchwell RSPB
Brimstone at Ham Wall RSPB
Cirl Bunting at Broadsands (Lifer!)
Gatekeepers at Ham Wall RSPB
Super Views of a Pectoral Sandpiper at Porth Hellick Pool.
Wood Sandpiper at Titchwell RSPB
Red Admiral at Ham Wall RSPB
Red-footed Falcon at Chatterley Whitfield, Staffordshire
Another outstanding highlight for me in August was the very showy Long-eared Owl that hung around the patch all month before inevitably being moved on by pushy photographers.
Later in the month, I went on a family holiday to Budapest for the week, but managed a day out with hungarianbirdwatching.com, which was a fantastic day around the city surroundings with no less than 8 lifers: Eastern Imperial Eagle, Saker Falcon, Great Bustard, Black Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Grey Shrike and Golden Oriole! Not many photos taken, but here's a couple:
Black Woodpecker in the Buda Hills
Lesser Grey Shrike and Turtle Dove
Arguably my bird of the year so far took place on the 5th September this year, and when the news broke, I was at Spurn dipping a Black Stork! A Great Shearwater went north past Old Nab in North Yorkshire, so we admitted defeat and headed back north in hope it would be seen again. It was seen in numerous locations north close-inshore and also seen at St. Mary's as we came back through the Tyne Tunnel! In a last ditch attempt, we headed for Church Point at Newbiggin, and just as we arrived, it was in view and we got stunning views of it as it came north really close giving some crippling detail! Superb lifer!
Later in the month, I went out on Paul Stewart's pelagic out of the Tyne in the hope of getting over my fear of the open water (after my Scilly experience!), and I can honestly say it was much better than the Scilly one! We got 2 Storm-Petrels, Blue Fulmar, Great Northern Diver, 6 Sooty Shearwaters, 2 Arctic Skuas, 2 Great Skuas and a Roseate Tern, and I even got some photos this time!
Sooty Shearwater hanging around the boat
Other notable photos:
Roseate Tern at St. Mary's
Comma at Tynemouth
By far my best ever views of Shore Lark at Blyth
Song Thrush on Holy Island
Speckled Wood at Tynemouth