Saturday, 21 March 2015

Mallard, patch gold!

Had a quick visit this afternoon and saw the mallard pair again. There were also two grey wagtails on the seaweed bank and yet another heron. This one was hunting in the seaweed and rock pools at low tide. I also scoped Blackhead to see if I could tick fulmars at three miles distance but was unable to convince myself that the white dots were indeed fulmar. Lots of eider and a few guillemot in the lough. The wind had dropped and it was possible to use the scope and see quite a long way out.

The lower pool was dredged and cleaned last year, hence the mallard interest. The upper pool is scheduled for cleaning this year and they have dammed the inflow and done some dredging. Unfortunately it is a lot bigger and deeper than the lower pool and the grab cannot reach the back. The bed is too soft for the digger so work has ground to a halt. It will be interesting to see what they do now.


Lots of blackbirds and robins foraging in the mud and a singing blackcap in the bushes, the first of the year. Hopefully a restored pool will atttract a moorhen before the end of the year.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Spring is here

This week Tanya and I abused our train pass once again and went to Antrim for a walk along the Sixmilewater and Rea's Wood. An added bonus was lunch at Antrim Castle Grounds. The amount of birdsong was a joy to hear and there was a definite hint of spring in the air. This time last year we watched kingfishers prospecting a nest hole, unfortunately this year we did not see them but we did see the other three birds of the river - heron, dipper and grey wagtail. The problem with digiscoping is that once you get on the bird you need to focus the scope. Often I fire off a quick shot and then focus. Unfortunately the dipper does not know this and did not wait around, thus I have a beautifully focused rock and no dipper.

Out of focus dipper
Beautifully focused rock
What was even more annoying is that these excellent dipper views were all we got, we did not see it again. However the grey heron knows the rules and did not rush off. If anything he was too close despite being on the other side of the river.

The grey wagtail never stood still and this was the best I could do.

We looked and listened for sand martin or chiffchaff but had no joy, however we had a good day and lots of singers - blackbird, great tit, chaffinch, dunnock, blue tit, robin and wren were all in good voice. Later the same day I had a quick look at the patch and to my joy and surprise there were a pair of mallard on the lower pond in Strickland's Glen - patch gold  - as I did not expect to get them at all. My joy was increased by the first sandwich tern of the year. Another visit today produced lots of singing birds in Strickland's Glen including bullfinch, goldcrest and song thrush but walking back from Carnalea after a brief, cold seawatch there was a kestrel hunting the rough ground between the Golf Course and the path. I cannot ever remember seeing a kestrel here before. If it had not have been for doing the challenge I would not have been out there today, the joy of patchwork!!

The garden has had a return visit from the grey heron and the male sparrowhawk was through and sat on the washing line post at the back of the garden. The camera was up in the bedroom!! The linnets were back on the feeder and I spotted another jay in Castle Park today.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Urban ravens

Have been out and about but not much time to post. The patch list is up to 53 with the addition of raven, carrion crow and lesser black backed gull. The ravens are breeding again in Castle Park in the middle of Bangor - population 60,000 plus. A walk on Sunday afternoon produced the unmistakable "Kronk kronk" sound and two birds. The carrion crow was in the grounds of a nearby school. The gull flew over the garden. The garden also produced a heron standing in the pond on Saturday morning. Closer inspection revealed frogspawn and at least one frog so I suspect the heron was looking for a meal. I now have a network of sticks to deter said heron and there is more frogspawn. Hopefully I managed to solve the problem before all my frogs got eaten. I have been back to the  RSPB reserve and have added Mediterranean gull to the site list and the 2015 list. Unfortunately today the feeders were empty so there was not much in the way of finches, but the usual suspects gave good views and highlights apart from the gull included snipe, and large flocks of bar tailed and black tailed godwits. Barwits and blackwits to the initiated. The good light and bright sunshine made the teal, shelduck and shoveler really stand out. There are an increasing number of lesser black backs and the iceland gull is still around.