White-rumped Sandpiper – Toll’s Porth, St Mary’s, Scilly

After the Yellow-billed Cuckoo we had spent two hours in Old Town Churchyard but with no sign of the Red-eyed Vireo. Thirty minutes later I was on Pungies Lane joining a few birders who were looking for the Short-toed Lark. Dad had a trapped nerve in his hip and decided against the 3 mile route march and Aly decided to keep him company and continue looking for the vireo.

Unfortunately, the lark hadn’t been seen since the Bird Guide message which had me leaving the churchyard. It had been favouring the ploughed field south of Pungies Lane ever since it was found more than a week previously. The furrows were deep and ran perpendicular to the road which made things really difficult and there was only one viewing point and it was taken by other birders. I later discovered that Kris Webb had permission to go into the field and he was the source of most of the daily sightings. In all likelihood anyone else seeing this bird, without the special access, was probably close to impossible.

After half an hour of trying to see the Short-toed Lark on Pungies Lane I decided to give up and as I was at the north end of the Island I thought I would try for the nearby White-rumped Sandpiper. I made my way down Halangy Down to the rocky cove at Toll’s Porth.

I joined a line of three birders and with the rain starting I was offered a quick view in someone else’s scope. I had a brief view before it started to pour down. It looked brighter to the south and so I hid under the hedge and waited for the rain to stop!

After 10 minutes and with the rain stopping I set my scope up again and started a few sketches. The extremely long primaries were evident extending well beyond the tertials and well beyond the tail. At certain points it flashed its clean white rump. I’ve now seen four White-rumped Sandpipers in Britain and this takes me to 243 for the year.

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