Tour At A Glance


699 per person (pelagic-only spaces available at 425 which includes Scillonian return crossing)



Single Room Supplement:


Tour Code:

Intermediate with flexible meal times and late finishes.

Group Size:

Twenty plus leaders

Cory's Shearwater Sooty Shearwater Sabine's Gull European Storm-petrel Balearic Shearwater

Isles of Scilly - Pelagic Weekend

Date: 6th - 9th August 2021 - FULL
Leaders: Ashley Saunders & Dr Robert Flood



Meet at Penzance Harbour for the 08:30 sailing on board the RMV Scillonian III. The crossing takes approximately two and a half hours and should provide us with our first seabirds of the trip, and with luck we could also encounter Basking Shark and cetaceans. Once we have docked and everyone has checked in, we will take a five hour pelagic trip beginning at 17.00, approximately six miles offshore. Our experienced boat crew have run many of these pelagics and will chum in the most likely areas for our target species and where we have been successful in finding the most wanted species on previous tours. We return to shore at approximately 22.00.
Today, we will travel further offshore in our quest for seabirds. Departure will be at approximately 08.30 and we will be at sea for approximately ten hours.  We will also hopefully catch and tag Blue Sharks during the time we drift while chumming. Pelagic birding is an exciting method of catching up with some of our most difficult to observe species, which are often only observed at great distance from some of our coastal headlands. The tactic is patience, and once the bait has been set [the 'chum'] then the technique is to give it as long as possible for that wonderful scent to waft on the breeze across the ocean and attract our quarry. The sight of Euopean Storm-Petrels dancing around our boat at incredibly close quarters is an unrivalled experience, and with all hands to the pump and patient scanning, the shout of 'Wilson's' might just go out as we search for this rare wanderer. If we are lucky enough to find a trawler on one of the trips, then we have a real chance of getting extremely close views of Great Shearwater, but also Balearic and Sooty Shearwater, Sabine's Gull and Pomarine Skua. When we find these birds, the views tend to be staggering - you will never want to go seawatching again!
We spend the first half of the day birding on land. The exact location will depend upon what birds are around and weather conditions. Passerine migration is already well underway as the first Pied and Spotted Flycatchers and Willow Warblers are moving, Scarcities such as Eurasian Wryneck, Melodious Warbler and Red-backed Shrike can easily make an appearance at this time. The pool at Porth Hellick on St Mary's should all offer the chance to see waders up close, and this can include rare species such as Lesser Yellowlegs which we have seen on past tours. If it is quiet, then we will take an excursion to one of the other islands to search for our own birds. In the early afternoon, we board again for another half day pelagic, returning at approximately 18.30.
Our final morning is again spent on land, where hopefully there will have been one or two new arrivals. Our crossing back to the mainland departs at 16.30 and arrives back at Penzance Harbour at 19.00, where the tour will conclude.  


Additional Information


Return crossings on the Scillonian MV, all pelagic trips on board the Sapphire, three nights accommodation on bed and breakfast basis, luggage transfers on Scilly, services of leaders. For pelagic only bookings, this includes all the pelgaic boat trips and the return Scillonain crossings, but no accommodaton which clients must source and book themselves. Accommodation for the main group in 2020 will be at Mincarlo Guest House or Crebinick House.
Transport to/from Penzance, lunches and evening meals on Scilly, inter island ferries (if required, at approximately £5.00 per person per return trip), travel insurance, drinks and any items of a purely personal nature.



Tour Reports


20062008  2009  2010  2011  2012  2015   2016   2017   2018   2019   2020




“What a great tour we had this year. Once again we signed up for Oriole Birding August Pelagic Weekend and once again we were not disappointed. We managed to locate [or should I say Bob Flood and Ashley managed to locate] all our target birds. Over the last four years our record has been amazing. Every year we have seen Manx, Sooty and Great Shearwaters plus Wilson's Storm Petrel and scores of European Storm Petrels. We have a 75% record on the more difficult Balearic and Cory's Shearwaters. Twice we have seen Long-tailed Skuas and twice we have seen Sabine's Gull. In 2008 we had amazing and prolonged views of two Pomarine Skuas and we have also seen Black, Roseate and [rare for those waters] Little Tern. Addition "goodies" have included Lesser Yellowlegs, Buff-breasted and Semi-palmated Sandpipers. Perhaps the most amazing statistic is that during twelve outings on Sapphire we have seen the rare Wilson's Storm Petrel on no less than ten occasions, a remarkable 83.3% success rate. If any one wishes to see seabirds really well and with brilliant "bird locators/identifiers" on board you can not do better than sign up for a future trip” D & MR – Lincolnshire


" What a great weekends pelagic birding!  Missing the Wilsons didn’t really matter as the fantastic views of all 5 species of Shearwaters and 3 species of Skuas plus the Dolphins, Blue Sharks and Sun Fish more than made up for it. My great thanks to Oriole, Bob Flood, Joe Pender and the support staff for organising such a fantastic tour.  Looking forward to coming again in the near future" G C Watford


“I thoroughly enjoyed the Isles of Scillies pelagic last weekend with you, and I hope that I'll be able to come on another of your tours at some point in the future” W. M. Pontypridd


“What can I say?! Many thanks for a fantastic birding experience – one that will remain with me forever. Everything was spot on. First and foremost the birds performed perfectly on cue – helped of course by Bob, both Ashleys, Joe and the ‘spotters’ incredible knowledge of reading the conditions and attracting the birds in to the boat; the accommodation, the food, the weather . . . everything. Many, many thanks . . . and best wishes” D J J Cardiff

“Had a great weekend on Scilly and did very well with species seen and numbers. Thanks again for organising a superb trip” WS Cardiff


"Neil, just a short note to say how much I enjoyed the Scillies trip. The Mincarlo was a lovely place to stay and the group were very friendly. It was a pleasure to meet you and Ashley, not to mention Bob Flood" M. M. Hampshire


"My son, Matthew, and I have recently returned from our THIRD season of pelagics with you. Once again we were blessed with very indifferent weather but still managed to go out with Bob Flood, Joe Pender and others on three consecutive days. Despite it being an extremely poor year for Wilson's Storm Petrel we managed to find one on our first trip. As usual there were a fair number of Great and Sooty Shearwaters, but this year Balearic and Cory's also put on an unusually good show. Add to this an adult Sabine's Gull, two amazingly close juvenile Pomarine Skuas and hundreds of British Storm Petrels and we had an unforgettable weekend. We even managed to see all five regular shearwaters on the way back to Penzance on Scillonian III. Despite all the above, the birds were almost a bonus as the whole ambience of the group was terrific, superb leaders and such a friendly group of folk. We have already booked for 2009 AND 2010" D & M R Lincolnshire


"This was an excellent holiday, birding at its best and led by the best there is. I enjoyed the whole time on board the Sapphire. The views we had were unbelievable. Stunning Sooty Shearwaters , Storm Petrels at arms length. The juvenile Pomarine Skua that repeatedly came within ten metres from the stern, the Great Shearwaters that gave views that birders dream of. Great Skuas directly overhead and the privilege of the close views of Cory's Shearwaters in British waters and being on the same boat as Bob Flood were the many highlights. Bob's enthusiasm was infectious and together with his knowledge of seabirds and methods of attracting them make these pelagics the best there is. Oh, and the Wilson’s Petrel wasn't bad either!" P. C. Preston


"Thanks for making the holiday one we will never forget"! H & DG Berkshire


“ I enjoyed every aspect of the trip, but in particular the pelagics ” J. B. North Yorks.


“A most rewarding and enjoyable trip, thanks to ALL concerned” R.W. Devon.


“Many thanks Neil, it was really great” D & M.R. Lincolnshire.


“Thanks for a great time on the Scillies. It was a great weekend with loads of great birds” S. J. Hampshire


 “Thanks again for a great trip” F.G. Surrey


 “You certainly couldn't have had a better advert than the success we all enjoyed” L. N. Staffordshire.


 “The guide was superb – I doubt there is anyone with a greater knowledge of seabirds. I particularly enjoyed the views of the birds at such close quarters, which I would not have thought possible if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes” R. H. Leicester


 “Just thought I would let you know I had a great trip to Scillies - thoroughly enjoyed it despite the weather and not being totally at ease on boats [the pills worked really well!]. Had three lifers on the pelagics - Wilson's Petrel, Great Shearwater, and Long-tailed Skua - great views of them all, particularly the L-T Skuas. I also enjoyed the views of Sooty Shearwater which I'd seen only once before. Joe and Bob were excellent, and Geri did a great job too. The group mixed well” A. D. Edinburgh


 “Just thought I'd drop you a line to say what a great weekend I had. We managed to see all we wanted to see with the exception of Cory's Shearwater but that was made up for by the adult Long-tailed Skua that followed the boat for quite a while, stuff of dreams! It was fantastic to see the birds at such close range, particularly the Wilson’s Petrels which we saw on every trip out. The company was good too and Bob and Geri did a fantastic job. The trip was made by the enthusiasm and expertise of the Sapphires captain, Joe Pender and Bob and the others who joined the trip.” W. S. Glamorgan


" Just thought I would drop you a note to say how much I enjoyed the Scillies trip this year. Good to see the target sea birds at sea and the land birds were an unexpected bonus. Thanks to Ashley, Bob and the rest of the Sapphire crew for great bird watching. " R S Buckinghamshire


" Thanks guys for a brilliant trip!! " R G Essex


" many thanks again Neil for a fantastic pelagic trip" P T Cornwall


" Thanksd Neil for a fantastic trip last week" J B Devon