Saturday, October 09, 2004

Cream-coloured Courser, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly


Mr Creamy Courser, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly Posted by Hello

Twitchers are renowned throughout the birding world and beyond for doing stupid things. This weekend, I did something pretty stupid. Or sensible, depending on your outlook. I went with Mark Ward and Steve Dudley to see the Cream-coloured Courser on the Isles of Scilly.

We departed Peterborough at 10pm on Friday night, drove almost non-stop to Penzance (arriving in record time at 4am), had a couple of hours' dozing in the car, and caught the first helicopter (transport tick!) to St Mary's.

The bird had moved from St Martin's to St Mary's airport the day before, which we hoped would save us a boat trip. There was no sign of it initially, so the three of us set off to try to relocate it. We'd got a fair way with no sign whatsoever when the vital pager message came that it was showing well from near the terminal building! What a bird! There was something slightly surreal about watching it trot about on the turf, in all its peachy glory...

We knew the weather was going to be bad and indeed, it was very windy. Then it started raining. So, instead of sitting in a cafe with a cup of coffee, we went looking for birds, of course. Didn't see a lot. Too windy and wet. I ticked Short-toed Lark, and the Short-eared Owl we saw was quite good. We got a good soaking, adjourned to a cafe and decided to leave early if possible.

Saw the courser again in a bulb field near the airport, where I took the above record shot. The bird looked utterly miserable, as did its admirers, in the relentless rain.

Thanks to Steve for taking this picture of me and Mark. We're having fun!


Fortunately, we managed to take an earlier flight back to Penzance and thus had time to stop at Tesco's for a hot meal.

It was my first time on the islands, and though it felt stupid spending such a short time there, I suppose that's what time-efficient twitching's all about... Peterborough to St Mary's and back again in less than 24 hours isn't a bad use of time, is it?

There are much better photos of the Cream-coloured Courser on BirdGuides and Surfbirds, to name but two. And Steve got some OK photos.

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 62 with 16x eyepiece