Saturday, 15 February 2014

Kenmare Birding....

After waiting 5 hours in the airport on Wednesday, our flight to Ireland was cancelled. Snow, ice and winds of up to 110mph in Cork made sure of that.  This storm left over 100,000 people in Ireland without electricity. Thankfully we did manage to rebook for the following day. The flight was still slightly delayed, but only by about 40 minutes.  So we made it to Ireland, at last.

 Today the weather wasn't too bad, so we decided on a spot of local birding.  The day started at Kenmare Pier. There were a few year-ticks here; Lesser Redpolls on the beach and the water held Great-northern Divers and Shag.

 We then headed across the road to Kenmare Bay, and soon found a Little Gull.  After a few minutes viewing it flew off in the direction of the pier.  I imagine it had probably been blown in by the strong winds, as they aren't very common in this area. Although it was my second sighting of one here.
There wasn't all that much else in the bay. So we headed back to the pier to see if the Little Gull could be relocated. In rather typical Irish fashion the rain now set in.  There was no sign of the Little Gull. However, as we were waiting for the rain shower to pass, a distant white winged gull flew by.  A 1st winter Glaucous Gull! Being my first Glauc.... I was pretty happy.  I presume another wind blown bird.
 Not  a bad start to my trip, 7 year-ticks and a lifer on my first days birding.  Hopefully this trend will continue.....

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Newhaven Harbour

Today started early, at the ungodly hour of 6:15.  It shouldn't have been too hard to be up by that time, but with the neighbours playing karaoke until the early hours of the morning.....
 The plan was to head down to Newhaven Harbour with Caleb, to look for Black Redstarts and Purple Sandpipers.  The early start had us on location before 8am.  It wasn't even fully light yet.  Not the way most people would spend a Sunday morning, far from it.
 To start the morning off we had a look for the Black Redstarts near the industrial estate, a surprisingly fitting location.  However that drew a blank, there were just a few Meadow and Rock Pipits around.  The Pipits showed well enough though, and with a spot of sunlight.... How could I resist taking a few shots?

We had a walk around but there wasn't too much to see, some Brent Geese and Skylark.  So we headed back to have another look around the Industrial Estate and soon caught up with a fantastic male Black Redstart. There are supposedly four Black reds in the area, an adult male and three young/female birds.  We only managed to see the male and it wasn't the most approachable bird, but you just can't fault a Black Redstart.

After getting the Black Redstart we moved on to the pier to have a look for the Purple Sandpipers.  It didn't take long to find them, and when we did they showed unbelievably.  Down to five or six foot at times.  Typically the light was terrible, it was a fantastic experience though.  They didn't really seem bothered by us photographing them.  I just wish I could have photographed them properly.  They seemed to never stop moving, and in the low light it was certainly a challenge to get anything.   Out of the several hundred shots I took, very few at all were keepable.   Even so, it was a great day out.  I got my year-list up another three which puts it on eighty six.  And it's always nice when you have a good subject to photograph...

Friday, 7 February 2014

Early Spring?

Today was my last chance to visit the patch for a few weeks as I'll be in Ireland for most of February. How could I have gone without saying goodbye? Luckily we got a break from the near constant showers of rain, and believe it or not we had some sun.  Not the wished for pure blue sky, but I made the most of what little sun we did get.
 There wasn't that much to see unfortunately, the only thing of note was Valentino the Med Gull. He didn't come all that close, however I noticed that he is beginning to get more black on his head.  It's still quite patchy, but it's more filled in than it has been.  However I doubt that I'll get to see him in full summer dress as he is usually gone by March.  It could be enough time though, we'll see.

The numbers of gulls on the lake seemed much lower than they have been recently, and there has been no sign of any Redwing or Shoveler recently.  It seems the winter birds are beginning to move on.  What will be left when I get back I don't know.  There were some daffodils coming up around some of the paths too, spring seems to be coming early this year.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Still Here

It had been almost three weeks since I'd last seen the Kingfisher on the patch.  So as I'm sure you understand I was beginning to doubt that it was still here.  Although with the amount of locations around the park people have told me they'd seen it.... It was hard to be sure.  I kept up a visual anyway and tried all the locations I could but to no avail.
 So Sunday morning when I walked into the park and the third bird I saw was the Kingfisher, well, I was -I believe the phrase would be- over the moon.  It only showed briefly, but after its long absence, even a few second's view was appreciated.   I just wish I could find out where it frequents.  If it does frequent a particular area that is.  At the moment is seems rather spontaneous. 
 To continue on from the Kingfisher, it was a successful patch visit.  We managed about 32 species and it looked as if a new record could be in sight, maybe 38?  But then we got the Grey Wagtails.  I suppose you could say I got a bit carried away.  The Wagtail showed amazingly, some of the best views I've had yet.  It may even have come too close for the camera.  At least that's my excuse for the out-of-focus shots.  Or perhaps that's just because they're such erratic birds? Before it came so close though, it sat preening for quite a while.  I've noticed them preening a lot recently, perhaps they are beginning to moult into their spring plumage? Again this could be due to our mild -if a little wet- weather this winter.  I haven't photographed them in their summer finery before, so I for one am looking forward to when they do change.  Whether or not that's the reason for this increase in preening I don't know.   Time will tell.

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