• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

ISLES OF SCILLY - Autumn 2022 (1 Viewer)

Paul Freestone

Cornwall Birdwatching Tours
United Kingdom

Tour Report 3rd to 10th October 2022​


Our intrepid group of 7 (plus Paul as guide) headed off to Scilly for our first week long tour on Monday 3rd October aboard the Scillonian III. We set of from Penzance harbour at 9.10am having already started our tour list with Kingfisher and Purple Sandpiper! Little did we know that we would soon experience one of the best pelagic crossings to or from Scilly EVER!
Just after we passed Land’s End, things started to get interesting with a few Balearic Shearwaters and two Arctic Skua. However, as we approached the Wolf Rock light house we picked up a couple of large Shearwaters. ‘”Cory’s” was the shout! Cory’s Shearwaters really shouldn’t be in our waters at this time of year, but here they were and showing well! Within 15 minutes we were ploughing through rafts of 50 or more Great Shearwaters, then a long line of Cory’s totalling over 60 birds!! In among this pelagic spectacle were three Great Skua’s, great to see after they were hit hard this year with Avian Flu, as well as 60+ Balearic Shearwaters and as many Sooty Shearwaters. This birding bonanza continued for the next 45 or so minutes, petering out only as we approached the ‘dead sea’ a few miles off the Islands. Our group was elated! How would we top this for the next 7 days!?


Once on St Mary’s we called into the Bell Rock Hotel, our excellent accommodation for the week, to drop off a few items of luggage before heading to the allotments on Peninnis Head. After a short wait we added Common Rosefinch to the list ( a lifer for some) as it showed briefly in its favored sycamore tree. A walk around the headland produced a further 34 species including Northern Wheatear, a fly over Tree Pipit and numerous Med Gulls and Sandwich Terns. After a long day with plenty of birds, an excellent meal and a good nights sleep were very welcome.



We stayed on the main island of St Mary’s for our first full day of the tour, walking 6.97 miles from Hugh Town, through Lower Moors trail, Sunnyside Trail, Carreg Du gardens, Old Town cafe for lunch, then to Higher Moors, Porthellick and back through Tremelethan to Hugh Town. A long and somewhat tiring route collecting 52 species on the way. Highlights were the two Yellow-browed Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and four Firecrests in Carreg Du gardens and 5 Whinchat at Porthellick.



With favourable winds it was decided that St Agnes would be our destination for day 3 of the Scilly Tour, so we joined the boat on the quay at 1015am and set off through The Roads. The crossing was a bit choppy and some of us got a bit of a soaking! Once on the island it was obvious it was going to be hard work in strong westerly winds. Even the sheltered spots seemed to be void of birds but we managed to find a Spotted Flycatcher hunkered in hedgerow and what was undoubtedly the Greenish Warbler shot out of a tree, then back in, in the flick of an eye, giving a frustrating glimpse of what could have been the day’s star bird. Despite the conditions we still managed 32 types of bird, adding a few new species to our trip list.


A pint of Turk’s Ale in the Turks Head is tradition on our St Agnes visit! Just look at that view!


Day 4 turned out to be the best day of the whole week! All but one of our group decided they would join the 5 hour pelagic seabird trip on board The Sapphire that would take us 7 miles south of Scilly, then back through the islands looking for sea duck, divers and grebes. This turned out to be a fantastic decision as, after an hour or so sailing, we encountered huge feeding flocks of Great, Cory’s and Sooty Shearwaters, with captain Joe Pender maneuvering the boat close enough to even hear the Great Shearwaters chattering to each other! A magical experience! A couple of European Storm Petrels put in very brief appearances around the boat and a Grey Phalarope landed on a tiny piece of floating seaweed allowing for great views of this tiny nomadic wader. Other birds of note were 4 Great Skua’s and 3 Manx Shearwaters. Great Shearwater numbers were somewhere around 600 birds! After a good few hours at sea we started to head east back towards the islands. As we steamed towards St Martin’s another birder on board alerted us to a ‘small shearwater’ passing the boat. Only 6 or 7 birders managed to get on to the bird in question as it flew strongly away from the boat into the sun, but as it did the images of the bird taken by the finder were checked. “Its a F@#$ing Fea’s!!” came the shout and everyone on board began scanning off the back of the boat. Sadly, the Fea’s Petrel had long disappeared into the afternoon sun.


Warning! This thread is more than 1 year ago old.
It's likely that no further discussion is required, in which case we recommend starting a new thread. If however you feel your response is required you can still do so.

Users who are viewing this thread