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Friday, 11 October 2013

Saw a Sora

Launching into university life has seen a major drop in the amount of time I've been able to go birding and I've made the most of the times that I have had a chance to get out into the field. Since the Booted Warbler, a couple of days back at Canons and the odd quick look at Sheepcote Valley (yielding a couple of Whinchats the other day, but it has the potential for much more) is about all I've been able to do in between lectures and social time.

A fair few rarities have appeared on the news but none have stayed long or been practical enough for me to go and get. I'd likely have gone for the Thick-billed Warbler and Ovenbird had they remained a little longer but it was not to be... When a Sora came through from Scilly on Wednesday afternoon I hatched plans to enjoy my first long-distance twitch in a while and was off very early the next morning with Kevin McCoy, Mike and Dan Booker and George Kinnard.

St Mary's as seen from the Skybus...

Believe it or not, before going to Scilly yesterday I had never been on a plane before. Our family holidays were always done by car, train and boat as my mum is petrified of flying; I've only ever used boats to get to islands. So, it was a real treat and quite an experience having the Skybus launch me skyward for the first time! After enjoying a new perspective on the world as we made our way from Land's End and over the archipelago, we touched down and were whisked to the quay where we managed to get on the boat to Tresco. I was loving being back on my favourite islands, especially as it wasn't looking like I was going to set foot on them at all this year. As we got off the boat, Dick Filby informed everyone that the bird had not been seen yet but it hadn't been looked for particularly hard so we remained hopeful. We piled into the hide and started scanning the edge of the reeds around the Great Pool.

Half an hour or so passed with no movement at all and we were beginning to wonder whether it might turn out to be a dip when I picked the SORA up near the roosting Greenshanks and Redshanks on the opposite side; everybody else soon got onto it and as it clambered onto the rocks were it showed for a few minutes before disappearing behind the reeds. Result!!! There was a boat back to St Mary's at 10.30am which was coming up and the others wanted to catch but I was reluctant to leave without having soaked up the bird a bit more so I decided I'd get the 12.30pm boat and meet them on St Mary's before getting the flight back to the mainland. As if to iron the situation out, at about 10.00am the Sora appeared by the reeds, somewhat nearer and for a good few minutes rendering me truly satisfied just in time to rush back to St Mary's.

The Sora eventually obliged and showed itself in front of the reeds on the Great Pool

Kevin and I headed to Newford Duckpond in search of the Arctic Warbler while Mike, Dan and George walked to Lower Moors where they succeeded in finding the Bluethroat, but didn't see the Purple Heron. After a couple of hours' searching, it became clear that the Arctic Warbler wasn't playing ball and we got a taxi back to Hugh Town where we enjoyed some absolutely class burger and chips at The Mermaid before meeting the others and catching the plane back. On the airfield there were five Wheatears which made for a nice final touch a very enjoyable, and quite relaxing (for a twitch!) birding day.