UK - Isles of Scilly........ 30th September to 7th October 2024

Birdwatcher’s Mecca

The Isles of Scilly are the most southerly point of the British Isles. The Scillies are a magnet to birdwatchers in October, because of their phenomenal record for rare and vagrant bird species turning up annually. The regularity of North American vagrants being recorded is quite amazing and unequalled by anywhere else in the UK.
American Golden Plover, Upland & Solitary Sandpipers, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Common Nighthawk, Cliff Swallow, Grey-cheeked Thrush, Northern Parula and Bobolink are just some of the wondrous Trans-Atlantic migrants that have turned up on Scilly. In 2022 the star birds from the USA were Blackburnian Warbler and Swainson’s Thrush.
However, there is much more on offer than the occurrence of North American birds, for autumn migration normally brings an abundance of avian gems from Europe and Asia, that could include some of the following species Arctic, Radde’s, Dusky & Yellow-browed Warblers, Bluethroat, Pallid Swift, Red-backed Shrike, Red-rumped Swallow, Richard’s Pipit, Wryneck, Ortolan, Rustic and Little Buntings, making Scilly the ideal location for a birding break. A variety of more common migrants are also an important feature in the ornithological calendar and in autumn there are usually good numbers of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Firecrests. Those delightful Northern thrushes, Redwings and Fieldfares are usually present, with smaller numbers of Lapland & Snow Buntings also regularly seen. At locations such as Lower and Higher Moors, the bouncy characteristic Jack Snipe often shows well in daylight hours. An Autumn ‘Avian Adventure’ to the Isles of Scilly – aptly named the “Isles of Dreams” for birdwatchers, offers great birding in a simply wonderful scenic location, with some dazzling seascapes. Our base on St Mary’s is St. Marys Hall Hotel (4*), an elegant and ideally located hotel, just a couple of minutes from Porthcressa and Town Beaches and less than 10 minutes from the Quay, for catching boats to other islands (Tresco; St. Agnes; Bryher & St. Martins) and boat trips to two of these islands are included in the price.

Day 1: Meet at Penzance Harbour and then board the Scillonian Ferry for the crossing to St. Marys. There is always the chance of seeing a selection of species on the sea crossing, with skuas, Gannets, Cory’s and Balearic Shearwaters possible. After arrival at St Marys Harbour, we will then walk the short journey to St. Marys Hall Hotel, our base for 7 Nights.

Days 2-7: During this period we will explore St. Marys and several of the other islands. Daily itinerary and venues will depend on where scarce and rare birds appear. If no unusual species are not being recorded, we will search a variety of locations to discover our own. St. Marys will always produce uncommon and rarer species annual and regularly records include Jack Snipe, Spotted Crake, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Ring Ouzel, Yellow-browed, Radde’s & Dusky Warblers, Red-backed Shrike, Bluethroat, Short-toed Lark, Rose-coloured Starling, Lapland & Snow Buntings and Common Rosefinch. Bryher, St. Agnes and Tresco are very likely islands we will visit. Tresco Great Pool generally has a good selection of wetland species, such as Gadwall, Water Rail, Greenshank and Spotted Redshank being regular in occurrence. However, rarer specie often occur and include Sora, Spotted Crake, Lesser Yellowlegs, Penduline Tit and even Black-and-white Warbler in the Willow clad pool margins. The Parsonage on St. Agnes often produces species such as Yellow-browed & Pallas’s Warblers, Firecrest and Red-breasted Flycatcher and elsewhere on the island, top recordings have included Cedar Waxwing. During the last couple of years Bryher’s rarities have included Blackburnian Warbler, Buff-bellied Pipit and Swainson’s Thrush.

Day 8: An afternoon return journey on the Scillonian Ferry to Penzance.

Tour ref: AA24**

Cost: £2,195
Deposit: £400
Single Room Supplement: £440

Leaders: Neil Glenn & Peter Scholes

Max. Group: 10 plus Leaders

Includes: : Return Scillonian Boat Journey (Penzance-St Marys-Penzance), accommodation (St. Marys Hall Hotel) based on twin occupancy; Meals (DB&B) ; 2 boat trips to other islands and services of leaders.

Excludes: Lunches; Travel Insurance; drinks and items of a personal nature