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Sun 24th October 2010

Posted on November 2, 2010 at 2:10 PM

Scilly Trip 2010 - day two

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After a restful night in the stable, it was disappointing to wake up really early, well before first light. I was hoping for something of a sleep in as I was not in a rush today. So I hung around listening to my iPod for a while drinking tea until it got light.

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my room

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I set off SW towards Cornwall but there was still no need to speed as my first port of call did not open 'til 10 am. So as I passed through St. Austell I decided to take some breakfast. One of the best things about any birding trip is the regular cafe stops.

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A excellent site for a fine full english

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So at 10 o'clock I was waiting outside the gates of The Lost Gardens of Heligan near St. Austell. I had come here to see an American Green Heron that had been present for about three weeks, and I knew that it was still present yesterday so I was expecting a relatively easy tick. However, as I paid my tenner at the kiosk, the lady says "you do know it's not been seen today, and no-one saw it yesterday afternoon either?". My jaw dropped and I told her I'd go look for it anyway - perhaps no birders had been there in that time. . . . .

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. . . . . two hours later and no sign of the bloney thing, I was not best pleased. It had been there all those weeks and it decides to bugger off the day before I get there. I couldn't believe it. There are about 6 or 7 little ponds that it could have been on and I spent my time constantly racing round and round them, getting hotter and hotter in the sunny weather, getting that dipping feeling.

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The Lost Gardens of Heligan were quite spectacular, especially the jungle section where the heron was hanging out - although I was not appreciating it at the time

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At least whilst I walked, there was a few other birds to look at, including my first Nuthatch for ages and ages. There were also Jays and Coal Tits, two other species I don't get to see at home.

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One of the favoured ponds of the Green Heron

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I felt it was very unfair of the bird to disappear and I was not in a good mood as I left the site just after midday. This was supposed to be my guarantee of a British tick on the trip, as there were no others waiting for me further West. But I soon got over it - if its gone, then its gone - forever onward!

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I headed straight for the valleys of west Cornwall, or Penwith, to try and find some migrants sheltering from the blustery winds. I first visited this area in September 1991 with the BUBO lads and it felt that I had wandered into some subtropical wonderland, after I had grown up birding in the cold North. Of course, now that I am in even warmer Guernsey I am used to such habitats but those valleys are still some of my favourite birding areas. I headed straight for Porthgwarra and had a pleasant couple of hours scouring the valley there.

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Sixty-foot Cover, Porthgwarra - rare bird central

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It was bright sunshine, as it had been all day, and most of the activity was going straight overhead quite high - plenty of Chaffinches and Redwings and other such birds. There seemed to be very little in the bushes, just the odd Blackcap, Goldcrest or Chiffchaff. Eventually, right down in the bottom of the valley by the car park I heard a Yellow-browed Warbler calling from inside the bushes. It refused to come out however and I never got to see the bird, but I did manage to record the call on the Remembird.

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The characteristic 'V' shaped pattern to a Yellow-browed Warbler call

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After Porthgwarra, I tried Nanquidno but it was a similar situation there, so I headed back to my booked B&B in Penzance. I have stayed at the Whiteways B&B three times now - very handy and cheap as chips!

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Walking into the town centre, I tried to find someone's Wi-fi that I could 'borrow' on my phone - which seems to be a lot harder to do than in Guernsey. When I eventually did, I checked the Birdguides website and was devastated to read that the Green Heron was "still at the gardens this afternoon"! Whaaaat!! So I bought a Pot Noodle and various chocolate items from the Spar, and slumped in front of the TV in my room, hoping that this bloody heron would stick it out for another five days and that tomorrow would bring much better luck.

Categories: 2010 Autumn