Red Letter Day

In the spirit of being a bird finder these days instead of a twitcher I decided not to follow the sheep yesterday and join one of three boats to St Martin’s. I had spent the morning alone slowly working the Harry’s Walls/Rocky Hills/Sunnyside Farm area and had met Leigh for lunch at Juliet’s Garden. I’d added Spotted Flycatcher, Fieldfare and Mistle Thrush to my trip list.

After lunch we headed up around the seaward edge of the Golf Course and caught up with a Whinchat by the 6th/12th tee. Moving into Cunt’s Barn we spent a while chatting to Seth Gibson and Danny Cooper and watching/photographing a Common Redstart feeding around Bant’s Carn. Seth and Danny had now left to go via Telegraph for their bikes and a trip to the Eastern Isles.

A while later we decided to follow their route out of Bant’s Carn and set off for Telegraph to look at the Black Redstarts. Earlier all had seen the eight or so Meadow Pipits that were feeding in Bant’s Carn. As Leigh and I got to the gate a lone pipit rose up (initially unseen) from a terrace a bit further up the grassy area. No other pipits flushed up with it. As the bird rose it called 2-3 times and I immediately called it as Red-throated Pipit. I am very familiar with the call having heard it in the field a number of times and regularly listening to pipit calls on my mobile phone/iPod.

Despite being familiar with the call I find describing it very difficult and I doubt there is on fieldguide description I could agree with. The initial (close call) had a bit of a buzzing quality and was a shrill stchweeest. The bird was then picked up in flight as it headed away from us past the tall radio/TV mast appearing to swing to the right and was lost to view quickly. It made 3 or 4 more of the series of calls that got less buzzy as it moved away.

If I could say anything about fieldmarks I would but we got no plumage detail at all. The flight was stronger and more direct than Meadow Pipit and if anything the bird appeared slightly shorter tailed but with no Mipits for comparison that is subjective.

I put out news over the radio and Dick Filby came back to say it was maybe the bird he heard briefly an hour before. When I asked where he was, Dick replied Daymark, St Martin’s. Leigh and checked all likely fields in the Telegraph area and even used a bit of tape-luring. The bird was not seen or heard again. Once we saw the flight path of the bird from the mast it is probable that it continued out towards St Martin’s.

Moving on we looked at the 2+ Black Redstart at Telegraph and readied ourselves for a Cream Tea (well coffee actually, I hate tea) at Juliet’s. Sadly we were thwarted by a lack of scones! Deflated we wandered back down Porth Low, complete with summer plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit, and got to the new Dairy Cafe to enjoy fresh – still warm – scones, jam and clotted cream. Lovely. Another 3 Black Redstart fed in front of the Lifeboat station.

A fine day was topped off with a lovely meal, with Leigh, at Dibble and Grub. A few pints of the excellent St Austell beer, Proper Job finished things of nicely. I’m always going to be a sucker for a beer that says ‘powerfully hopped’ on the pump clip.



5 responses to “Red Letter Day

  1. Nice one John – that’s rarer than anything we found in Shetland this year!

  2. It’s very useful to have all those ‘calls’ on yer phone ain’t it? Nice one with the pipit….

    ps…am gripped by the ‘still warm’ scones jam n cream…plus the beer…all sounds quite excellent!

  3. thedrunkbirder

    Bloody thing’s have dropped off the BBRC list though now. As things stand there will have been only one BBRC rarity on the islands this week the Long-billed Dowitcher on Tresco which I didn’t bother going for.

    The crowds are just silly. People are twitching fucking Black Redstarts for fucks sake. There are probably enough for every birder to find one of their own. Leigh and I just walked past 100’s looking for Radde’s Warbler – at least the cafe was quiet – till their attention spans wandered!

  4. thedrunkbirder

    A Red-throated Pipit was called over Longstones Cafe this lunchtime which was brilliant as it gives a bit of creedance to the record. It must have been round the back though as we were on the front terrace and heard bugger all!

  5. Sounds like a sad state of affairs on Mary’s!?

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