October proved to be one of the best in Cornwall and Scilly with rare and scarce birds seemingly all over the place. However, due to work and family commitments I managed to miss most of them and I pretty much gave up the ghost until the final week when Scilly provided some much needed quality birding time.
I did manage a few days out and as a result my Gwithian patch list blossomed! Taking Adam Hutt birding on my local patch is always fraught with danger and low and behold the 2nd October was no different. Within ten minutes of being on patch he’d found a bloody Wryneck! Best bird of the autumn there….so far! Still, they all count on the patchwork challenge! On the 6th (and without by birding pal!) I managed to relocate the juvenile Rose-coloured Starling there which had eluded me on four previous occasions. It gave great views right on the far eastern edge of the reserve, sadly not at a distance for any decent photos. The same day, two far more obliging Little Stints dodged the dog walkers on the exposed flood water and 10 Common Scoter flew past Godrevy Head.
I then had an enforced two week break from birding, frustratingly, as there were some good birds around, including Red-eyed Vireo, Pallid Harrier, Black-thraoted Thrush and numerous scarce migrants. There were also four Snow Bunting reported from Godrevy, which I needed for my patch year list. On 20th I finally broke and made time for a trip to Godrevy. After a short time I managed to find the very showy Snow Buntings and settled down to get some photos. After nailing two of the four I stood up only to see a large pale Wheatear fly a short distance to the ridge at the highest point on the Headland. At this point I said to visiting birder Roger Treeby, who was stood by me, “Christ look at that thing, it’s got to be an Issy!” I then fired of a few shots on my camera and watched as the bird disappeared over the cliff edge. A look at the back of the camera concluded it was indeed an Isabelline Wheatear! I went off in pursuit but could not relocate the bird anywhere! After a few more minutes of searching I phoned Brad and Mark, Birdnet, Steve Rogers and Dave Parker, the county recorder. Unfortunatley I then had to leave, just hoping birders would get here and it would be refound! Thank God for my camera. This is the exact reason I carry it. Not for getting amazing photos but as proof I’d seen the bird in the first place! Believe it or not, there are some doubting Thomas’s down here! I tweeted back of the camera shots on to the web, and everyone agreed that it was an Isabelline Wheatear. Shortly after I recieved a text from Dave confirming the bird was still present. Phew! By the afternoon most Cornwall birders had connected with it and the rest, as they say, is history. This is only the 2nd record of Isabelline Wheatear for Cornwall! The last was on The Lizard in 1996 and was only seen by a few visiting birders. Thats the joy of finding rarities for me. Sharing the news and allowing everyone to see it. So, thank you to those who took the time to congratulate me on my find. You know who you are. And of course it worth a whopping 15 points on the Patchwork Challenge! My second 15 pointer of the year!! I also caught up with the Pink-footed Goose and Fieldfare and Little Egret were new for the patch yearlist.
And so to Scilly……………….