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A Scilly long weekend - April 2023 (1 Viewer)


Virtually unknown member
United Kingdom
A couple of weeks ago a friend asked me if I fancied getting away to a quiet island for a few days. The answer was of course. yes! As he was part of a crew I used to go climbing / mountaineering with, I was expecting it to be a Scottish or perhaps Welsh island. About a week ago he messaged to say that a long-weekend on Bryher in the Isles of Scilly had been booked. A surprise but as a birder I was beginning to feel a bit ashamed that I had never been to the Scillies - so I was well pleased to get the opportunity.

I won't do my usual style of day by day trip report as much of the time between eating, drinking and sleeping was spent just sitting or mooching around the same places. A bit of logistics below and a list of birds with comments to follow.

So on Friday 21st April I began the 5 hour drive to Penzance with a couple of friends; one a sort of birder and the other not much interested. Following a better journey down than I had feared, we parked up and after a short wait got a shuttle bus to Lands End Airport and then a Skybus Twin Otter for the short hop over to St. Mary's. No time to take in anything of the island as a Tresco Boat Services fast boat was waiting and soon we were at Church Quay on Bryher. We were booked in to the campsite and while we walked over the bags were transferred by tractor. From the friendly girl who met us we found out the local pub (Fraggle Rock) was about to stop serving food so we set off for a meal and drinks before returning to set up the tents - by now very dark!

It rained very heavily in the night but I woke on Saturday to a nice view in the morning and a drizzly day. Not pleasant but not too wet to go for a wander to get an idea of the lie of the land. Found the shop and a nice café (Olivia's Kitchen) so we were sorted. On Sunday the weather was much better (dry & bright) but with a cold northerly wind - another stroll around the island. Monday was again dry, bright and breezy and for a change of scene two of us went over on the only boat of the day (due to the timing of the low tides) for a walk around Tresco for the day.

Tuesday was leaving day so we had a leisurely pack up, leaving the bags for the tractor transfer, breakfast and a walk to the part of the island not yet covered. The ferry back to St. Mary's got us there in plenty of time so we had a quick walk around The Garrison and Hugh Town before boarding Scillonian III for a chilly, windy crossing (sea state moderate to rough). Then a frustrating drive back - I had assumed that an evening journey would be good and indeed the traffic was light but I had forgotten all about night-time road closures for maintenance: the A30 near Bodmin, the M5 south of Bristol and the M4 near Swindon - in each case the diversions were extremely painful and I finally got home in the early hours of Wednesday.

A couple of very peaceful and scenic islands and, whilst the migrants were not dripping from the trees or falling from the sky, some good birds. The weather could have been a bit more friendly but equally it could have been a whole lot worse. The campsite was great, as was the food on the island. I had a good time.


1. Skybus Twin Otter;
2. View from tent;
3. Shipman Head;
4. Hell Bay;
5. Campsite;
6. Popplestones & Gweal Hill;
7. Rushy Bay;
8. Sunset from Shipman Head;
9. Bryher & campsite valley from Tresco;
10. Scillonian III.

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Bird List:

Great Norther Diver - in a channel from boat to Bryher
Northern Fulmar - nesting on Shipman Head & from Scillonian
Manx Shearwater - 100+ from Scillonian
Balearic Shearwater - 2 from Scillonian
Northern Gannet - distantly from west coast of Bryher & closer from Scillonian
Cormorant - 2 on rocks east of Shipman Head & 1 in flight from Scillonian
Shag - numerous including rafts of 100+
Little Egret - 1 in flight on Bryher
Grey Heron - 1 in Great Par Bay
Mute Swan - 2 pairs on freshwater pool by Hell Bay Hotel
Canada Goose - a few on lake north of Tresco Abbey
Common Shelduck - a pair at least on each island
Mallard - a few on freshwater & sea on both islands
Gadwall - a few on both islands
Northern Pintail - drake on lake north of Tresco Abbey
Eurasian Wigeon - drake on lake north of Tresco Abbey
Common Kestrel - at least one resident near campsite plus single on Tresco
Red-legged Partridge - 2 on Tresco near Abbey
Grey Partridge - 2 flushed from campsite - presumably escaped from being shot at on Tresco?
Common Pheasant - one very noisy resident on campsite plus one in nearly every small field on both islands - presumably same as above
Common Moorhen - a few on lake north of Tresco Abbey
Eurasian Coot - a few on lake north of Tresco Abbey
Eurasian Oystercatcher - numerous on coasts and noisy
Common Ringed Plover - a couple each on Popplestones & Green Bay
Ruddy Turnstone - a couple on bay west of Hell Bay Hotel
Common Sandpiper - one with above
Common Redshank - 2 at Rushy Bay
Bar-tailed Godwit - 2 at Great Par Bay
Eurasian Curlew - 1 at Great Par Bay
Whimbrel - a few small flocks on bays on both islands plus 2 small flocks from Scillonian
Herring Gull - common everywhere
Lesser Black-backed Gull - a few scattered generally
Great Black-backed Gull - a few scattered generally
Black-legged Kittiwake - half-a-dozen from Scillonian
Atlantic Puffin - a few small flocks from Scillonian
Common Guillemot - nesting on Shipman Head & a few from Scillonian
Razorbill - small numbers off Shipman Head & from Scillonian
Wood Pigeon - a few on both islands
Eurasian Collared Dove - a couple in New Grimsby on Tresco
Common Cuckoo - one heard from campsite
Common Skylark - a couple seen between campsite & Shipman Head
Sand Martin - one in a hirundine flock over Popplestones
Barn Swallow - in the first couple of days many hawking very low over beach edges & after that smaller numbers scattered
Common House Martin - as above but earlier larger flocks around Hell Bay
Rock Pipit - a couple on beach strandlines
Meadow Pipit - a few on Shipman Head & elsewhere on short heath
Winter Wren - singing from every gorse bush & in scrub elsewhere on both islands
Dunnock - a few in gardens around settlements
European Robin - only a couple around gardens
Common Redstart - one at back of Popplestones
Northern Wheatear - on Saturday afternoon the short vegetation along the whole strip from Shipman Head to Hell Bay was crawling with them -
presumably just arrived as they were fewer in number and scattered after this
Common Stonechat - large number with the Wheatear on the same day and scattered in suitable habitat afterward
Song Thrush - a few very tame individuals on the edges of habitation & others heard singing
Common Blackbird - numerous & confiding around the edges of habitation
Ring Ouzel - a great looking bird in garden / small field between pub & campsite
Cetti's Warbler - one heard briefly in reeds by lake north of Tresco Abbey
Willow Warbler - a couple singing on heathy top inland from Rushy Bay
Chiffchaff - one singing from the tall trees near Tresco Abbey & a couple seen on heath edge near campsite & one at The Garrison
Great Tit - one singing on both islands
Blue Tit - a few in gardens on both islands
Western Jackdaw - a few around habitation
Carrion Crow - a few around habitation / fields
Common Starling - a few on and around houses on both islands
House Sparrow - ubiquitous around habitation especially the pubs, hotels & cafés - incredibly tame
Common Chaffinch - only a couple seen around houses
Common Linnet - many on scrub & farmland - the most numerous bird in sizeable flocks; I think I saw as many over these few days as I have
seen in my life!
European Goldfinch - a couple of pairs around 'villages'
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I forgot the mammals:

Grey Seal - 1 off Rushy Bay (Bryher) & 1 off Gimble Porth (Tresco)
Red Squirrel - 1 near Abbey on Tresco


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Sounds like a good weekend Pete, thanks for sharing!


It was, thanks, Chris. With the nice additions of a quartering Short-eared Owl from the shuttle bus to Lands End Airport and both Tawny & Barn on the return journey - but I'm not sure where as both were on one of the many diversions and I was occupied looking out for diversion signs and ignoring the satnav which was trying to send me in a different direction.
managed to get sunburnt and windblown at the same time!
We did the same! Also you got some of the same migrants that we had much further south on our Easter trip. Very envious of all your waders though... it looks as if we won't be seeing many as where we used to go for them is apparently off limits now... 😞. Is Balearic Shearwater a common sight in those parts?
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