Rare Visitor To Islands Spotted By Birdwatchers

The chough, seen on St Martin’s. Photo taken by Ashley Hugo.

A bird that is rarely seen in Scilly has been causing a stir among local birdwatchers.

A chough, the bird seen on the Cornish county coat of arms, was spotted on St Martin’s on Monday. It’s since moved to the Peninnis area of St Mary’s.

Nigel Hudson, the county recorder for the Isles of Scilly, says that while the chough is a common site in mainland Europe, and numbers are increasing in Cornwall, there have only been five sightings in Scilly since 1876. The last was seen in 2002.

Nigel said visiting birdwatchers were puzzled by the reaction of the locals as it’s such a common bird elsewhere. He said it’s a similar situation with other birds such as the jay and magpie, which are seen regularly on the mainland but very infrequently here.

Nigel says it’s because the wind direction in Scilly is primarily from the southwest and it’s likely the unringed chough seen on the islands came from France rather than Cornwall.

Nigel says it’s unlikely the massive storm that hit the US east coast will blow unusual birds across the Atlantic over the next few days. He said it’s heading in the wrong direction and has missed the major migration of birds on the North American continent.

But he said the unusually cold weather in the north of the UK in October is likely to cause more birds to migrate south early.