30th September 2010 – Holy Island

We decided to have a family day trip over to Holy Island on my rest day today. The weather forecast certainly looked encouraging for maybe seeing a scarcity or two, and the tide times allowed for a full day on the island to search for them. Soon after our arrival I was seeing newly arrived migrants, Siskins, Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, Redstarts, Bramblings, lots of thrushes and a few Chiffchaffs. I made my way over to the Vicar’s garden as a Yellow-browed Warbler had been seen here the day before, there were certainly plenty of birds but no sight or sound of the target species. Then one of the birders alongside me received a call from someone saying they were watching a Great Grey Shrike behind the school! A short dash later and we were admiring this cracking bird as it perched on a fence post. It was initially quite mobile but it soon became apparent that it had a couple of favoured areas and with patience excellent views were obtained, at one point it even flew right over the assembled birders and we also watched it eat a small bird. After some lunch we walked along the Crooked Lonnen and then back along the Straight Lonnen, adding several Wheatears, Stonechats and a beautiful day-flying Barn Owl to the days tally. With the family playing happily on the beach I spent some more time peering into the Vicar’s garden as this seemed to be a particularly good spot for flycatchers and warblers. Then, an adrenaline rush as I got my bins on to a Yellow-browed Warbler! Actually it took me completely by surprise, as there had been no calls from the bird to alert me of its presence, and even during the following ten minutes or so of observation not once did the bird call. I managed a few quick photos as it flitted through the canopy of the larger trees and then it disappeared again. A real gem of a bird to end the day.

Oh, and these were just begging to have their photographs taken in the village! Ok, it’s cheating but they were too nice to miss.

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