BIRDWATCHER BEMOANS LACK OF 'LIFERS' ON SCILLY

A lifelong birdwatcher has said that he will not return to Scilly after he failed to see a 'lifer' for the first time. 

Rob Sawyer, from Southampton, has visited the islands on eight occasions and has always managed to add at least one first-time sighting of a rare bird to his 'life list' in the past. 

 

He posted on Twitter: "So it was the dreaded no lifer Scilly trip. Goodbye Scilly and sadly it's not even au revoir. Can't see I'll return any year soon."

 

Rob, who tweets under the name Birduder344, told This is Scilly: "I had some good birds [on this trip], pretty rare, but I'd already seen them so no lifers. I'm not a twitcher but I do have a life list and my hope was to add some birds to that. 

 

"The weather just wasn't right for it. It was beautiful for walking around but not really for birding. This year, given the cost, it wasn't worth it, which is a shame."

 

However, he acknowledged that he doesn't take part in the social scene which keeps many birders coming back to the islands year after year, describing himself as "more of a dude". 

 

"You can be a dude ('someone who has all the gear, and no idea'), a birder or a twitcher. My Twitter name is a mix of birder and dude, which is what I consider myself to be."

 

Rob said that Scilly "doesn't seem to attract as many rare birds" as in previous years, particularly the heyday of 1981 to 1987, which he described as "phenomenal". 

 

"There used to be tremendous amount of rare birds arriving on Scilly in October but there are fewer and fewer. It could be climate change, it could be that there aren't as many birders coming here because it's so expensive so there aren't as many people in the field.

"A lot of people go to Shetland now. It's been unbelievable on Shetland this year."

Asked if Scilly can regain its place at the top of the October pile, he replied: "I don't know how it can really, other than importing the birds and releasing them on the islands. That's not to say that if the weather changes you still couldn't get loads. October isn't over yet. 

"But getting to Scilly is expensive, the flights phenomenally so. It puts people off. With Shetland, I just fly from Southampton to Aberdeen and then on to Shetland. When I go to Scilly, I have to drive to Newquay for two hours."
 

However, he described the islands as a "fabulous place", adding: "The day after got back I had some Scilly homesickness. Maybe I will go back after all."

Rob, who works as a UK business manager for a medical device firm, has published a book about his birding adventures. Birduder344: A Life List Ordinary is available from Amazon.

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