Friday, 27 November 2015

Gobbins cliff walk

 Finally managed to get to the Gobbins on a cold blustery November day. We managed to dodge the showers and get back dry and all in all had a very good three hours. We went for the 1300 tour which is the last one of the winter as it is too dark for later trips. It did take the full three hours and was well worth it.  This time we had a range of seagulls, shag, jackdaw, raven and robin. the latter in a cave down at sea level. Why it was there and what it was feeding on I have no idea.

It would be challenging if you struggled with steps - 500 up and 500 down -  and the access path is very steep - about 1:4 but the thought of breeding sea birds would be a great incentive. Hopefully I will be back inMay/June.

The garden is picking up as I go back to a full range of winter feeding. Th local feral pigeons have returned in numbers and I fight a constant battle to deter them. Otherwise I have had greenfinch (6), chaffinch (10), bullfinch (1), linnet (1) and goldfinch (20+) plus all 4 tits, dunnock, robin, blackbird, song thrush, jackdaw, magpie, wood pigeon, collared dove, rook and starling. 

Belfast WOW has been very quiet of late and indeed for the first time ever I walked in and there were no birds at all in the roost spot in the NE corner. This was two hours before high tide and it didn't get much better as there were only 140 lapwing and 110 blackwit at high tide. Not an oystercatcher in sight. Highlights have been 2 ruff, 8 snipe, three mistle thrush , a first for me at the reserve. The feeders have attracted 2 coal tits and and 2 redpoll as well as a blackbird. Goldfinch and greenfinch give nice views. Despite the lack of waders I still clocked 33 species and bird of the day was mistle thrush, you don't get to say that very often. :-)

Monday, 16 November 2015

A week of WOW

Patch birding has been very slow as November has seen shortening days and a lot of rain. Mild temperatures have hung on in there but there have been a few colder spells as winter kicks in. Having volunteered to help with schools week at WOW - or Belfast Harbour RSPB Reserve as we oldies know it - I am now definitely going to add a second patch to the 2016 challenge.

Late October saw a stonechat and 2 little egret turn up giving me my 100th species at the reserve. There is always a good selection of ducks and waders and during the schools week I logged 38 species. The highlights were over 100 greylag geese, 6 whooper swans, then a single bird, buzzard virtually daily, excellent views of snipe and a coal tit at the feeders. Most visitors and volunteers rarely see a snipe but the buzzard flushed 5 and they flew towards the observation room to land and one gave excellent views to everyone including one very fortunate P5 class who happened to be there at the right time.

Buzzard on the grass

Need I say more

Whooper at WOW

Whooper posing outside the window
The year list went up by two thanks to a Short-eared owl at Ballymacormick and a fly past by a Jack snipe while owl watching. I saw the owl twice, once sitting still for over an hour and then sitting on an islet and making a short flight. Always a delight to see this all too rare visitor.