Wednesday, 21 October 2015

70 up - birds not years

Having managed nothing in September I find myself mid way through October with three patch ticks and I have reached the 70 species I thought I would be able to make. Ringed plover was expected and over 40 at the Long Hole did the job. As yet there are no dunlin with them. Whooper swan flying in to Strangford over the house was a long shot but five did just that the other morning. Fortunately I was looking in the right direction at the right time. A female pheasant bursting out from under my feet as I walked along the coastal path was the least expected of the three. I did the same walk today and was fortunate to see a peregrine flying west over the coastal path. I also saw a wide range of coastal species, meadow pipit and linnet. The eider are back in force and there are black guillemot off shore.

While at the Long Hole looking for roosting waders- oystercatcher, redshank, ringed plover, turnstone and 5 purple sandpiper - I also saw four black guillemot flying in to their nesting holes along the road, behavior I have not noticed before. They sat looking out for some time and this one was unfazed my me taking a photograph on the phone.

Winter plumaged black guillemot
The garden continues to attract a few common species but is generally quiet. I still have hopes of siskin and redpoll in the garden and hopefully a diver off the coast, anything else will be a bonus. It is too late for patch shearwater and to date no brent have been seen and mute swan, coot and moorhen remain a dream.

Patch list:
68  Pheasant
69  Ringed plover
70  Whooper swan

Monday, 5 October 2015

The autumn moon lights my way

Hard to believe the patchwork challenge is three quarters of the way there and for the first time I managed a month with no patch ticks. Partly because I have got most of what I am going to get and secondly because most of the month was spent "Rambling On". I dashed outside last week to look at a flock flying over but lost them so they remain a mystery. I am still missing mute swan, coot and moorhen.

A week in France around Nice and Vence  produced two new year ticks in the shape of a Fischer's lovebird, an escaped species which is common in and around Beaulieu, and a white wagtail. Yellow legged gulls were the default gull and this one came down to a puddle for a drink.

Yellow-legged gull

 Pennington Flash in Manchester produced a lovely nuthatch and the Wetland centre at Barnes Elms gave superb views of a hobby thanks to a bird ringiing team who put me on to it. I only caught the tail end of the ringing but it was fascinating to watch and an education for me as a birder. I have been birding almost 40 years and this was the first time I have been up close and personal with the objects of my hobby. The other feature of this site was the total lack of large aircraft heading for Heathrow which gave it a beautiful noise free quality. The blocking high meant that the flight path did not go over the reserve and we had blissful silence instead of a 747 every two minutes.

Belfast WOW last week had 32 species including 104 teal, 6 common tern, 2 coal tit and a late house martin.

London wetland


Long-tailed tit

Ruff from WOW a couple of weeks back.