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Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Isles of Scilly: 16th – 24th August 2021

It was back in October when I initially booked the Scilly Pelagics for Jake, Ian and myself as we knew there wouldn't be any foreign travel for us before this time. Ian and Jake arrived before me on the Saturday, and I departed before they did, but still, over the course of eight days we had conjured up some decent birds and myriad sightings of dolphins and Bluefin Tuna. 

Monday 16th August

On the Scillonian Crossing over, I had decent views of Common and Bottlenose Dolphins and some Harbour Porpoise, but the birding was slow with only a single Balearic Shearwater of note. Once docked, there wasn't a great deal to do and a local walk around the Garrison saw many Autumns Lady's Tresses. 

Common Dolphin off Cornwall -
dolphin photography happened to be the theme of the pelagics

Autumns Lady's Tresses

Tuesday 17th August

Today we went over to Tresco and saw the Lesser Yellowlegs and Wood Sandpiper. The island was generally quiet with just the odd Willow Warbler seen, whilst other waders included a few Common Sandpipers, a Ruff and lots of Greenshank. A Red Squirrel was also seen. 




Wednesday 18th August

Today, I went solo and did a large circuit around St. Mary's. I found very little though and instead fell asleep on the north of the island. The only odd bits and bobs seen today included a couple of Wheatears, Willow Warblers and the common stuff.

Thursday 19th August

This evening, Ian and I did the evening pelagic, leaving Jake at home. The decision to join the pelagic was rather late as there hadn't been a great deal seen from the weekend, however, as we were on the island, it would've been silly not to have joined. 

The pelagic turned out to be excellent, with several Wilson's Storm Petrels and a Great Shearwater amongst the commoner stuff. An Octopus was also a good catch from the fisherman and was safely put back; several Pollock were also caught.





Wilson's Storm Petrels


Great Shearwater

Wilson's Storm Petrel

Octopus

Friday to Monday

Over these four days, we had another four pelagics on the M.V. Sapphire. On the first evening, we headed north off St. Martins (the same as last night) where again we scored some Wilson's Storm Petrels

Yellow-legged Gull


Wilson's Storm Petrel

Manx Shearwater

On the Saturday, we headed south, where after some unproductive chumming sessions (only luring in a passing Great Shearwater), we started steaming towards some 'feeds' off in the distance, attracting several pods of Common Dolphins along the way with some showing exceptionally well. We also managed to find some Sooty Shearwaters in the large rafts of Manx Shearwaters, but it was generally quiet for species diversity.

 



Sooty Shearwater

Gannet





Common Dolphins

Great Shearwater

Sunday was an excellent pelagic with countless highlights throughout the day, basing ourselves north of St. Martins to Seven Stones. We encountered many Tuna 'feeds' throughout the day which of course had hundreds of birds around them: Manx Shearwaters outnumbered, but there were also some Balearic Shearwaters and a few Sooty Shearwaters too, but by far the highlight was a stonking adult Sabine's Gull which followed us back towards St. Martins and doing a couple of neat fly-pasts. 



Bluefin Tuna (and a Sooty Shearwater)

Arctic Skua

By-the-wind Sailor



Sabine's Gull

Balearic Shearwater

Monday was sadly my last pelagic, and being in the evening, it gave me the day to go birding and also swimming at Porthcressa. I walked the Garrison and Peninis Head before breakfast, finding only a Pied Flycatcher for my troubles, but it felt great and it was lovely to be actively birding again.

After a superb swim in the sea finding both Crystal and Blue Jellyfish, I, for the last time, boarded the Sapphire and again we headed out to the north of St. Martins. A Minke Whale was seen along the way and the number of birds chasing the Tuna feeds was brilliant and comprised of at least three Great Shearwaters, over thirty Sooty Shearwaters, a Balearic Shearwater and of course thousands of Manx Shearwaters. A Wilson's Storm Petrel followed the boat for a short period, and just before one of the best sunsets I've seen, an adult Sabine's Gull was viewed high up. Certainly an exceptional ending to the run of five pelagics!

Great Skua



Yellow-legged Gull

Manx & a Sooty Shearwater


Common Dolphins

Wilson's Storm Petrel

Sooty Shearwater

Bluefin Tuna

Balearic Shearwater

Manx Shearwater

Great Shearwater