Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Blast From The Past - 1989 Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk on Tresco, Isles Of Scilly - September 1989
Four of us hired a car and drove down overnight to Penzance, where we managed to get on the first chopper flight across to St Mary's. On arriving at the quay we found that the first scheduled boat across to Tresco wasn't for another hour and a half. Bob, one of my fellow birders had the gift of the gab, and managed for a small fee to blag us a lift on the mail boat which was about to leave for Tresco. The next seven hours seemed like a lifetime, as we along with around six other birders searched for the nighthawk. To be honest we had pretty much resigned ourselves to dipping, when our CB Radio crackled into life. The bird had been found hurrah! Infact it had almost been trodden on, so confident was it of it's camoflauge in the heather. The next hour was absolutely magical, we had crippling views of this rare vagrant from across the Atlantic. At one point it even flew around briefly before settling back down close-by. We drank a few pints of Tinners that night to celebrate and travelled back home the following day. Just over a week later I was back on Scillies for my annual two-week holiday and the photos published here went down a storm in the Porthcressa.

I had a mini claim to fame, as it was believed that I had, up to that point, taken the first photographs of a Common Nighthawk in flight on this side of the Atlantic Ocean and they were published in BB, see below. Some years later I learnt that the late David Hunt (Scilly Birdman) had taken flight shots of a previous Scillies record, oh well, at least I was in good company!

Extract below taken from British Birds magazine.
Scilly, Tresco, juvenile, 16th-22nd September (A. Vittery, W.H. Wagstaff et al.) (Brit. Birds 83: plates 257, 258 &268).

The second record for Tresco, and just one day earlier than the first there (in 1927!). There are still only four records for mainland Britain and Ireland.