Sunday, 24 January 2016

January ticking over nicely

A few rambles along the coast, another week at WOW and the ticks are racking up. Ballyholme Bay added dunlin and ringed plover to the NDCP patch while four mallard were over the Marina - a nice tick to get out of the way. WOW on Thursday produced two rooks, barwit, long tailed tit, knot and gadwall. The rooks were unusual for the reserve and they were there three days running. The red- breasted merganser was still showing well.

A visit to Carrrick gave rock pipit and ring-billed gull while my birding pal's garden in Carnalea had a pair of brambling and some tree sparrows. 

Below are three hangovers from late 2015 of the starling murmuration at the Albert Bridge.  

 2016 totals: 
80 Ringed plover
81 Rock pipit
82 Ring-billed gull
843Tree sparow
84 Brambling

NDCP patch :
47 Ringed plover
48 Dunlin
49 Mallard 

WOW patch:
44 Rook
45 Barwit
46 Lon-tailed tit
48 Gadwall

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Update and Belfast WOW

The local patch is still producing new birds - purple sandpiper, common gull, goldeneye and great black backed gull were added recently. As well as a moorhen the marina produced a carrion crow

The garden turned up the fourth sparrowhawk sighting of the year a female which sat in the evergreens behind the garden long enough for me to to go upstairs, set up the scope and camera and get a couple of photos. I have seen the male twice and the female twice.

 Belfast WOW on Thursday morning came up with 43 species to kick off 2016 on the second patch. 39 at the reserve and 4 at Kinnegar shore. Highlights were 1 red-breasted merganser, 4 reed bunting, 1 snipe, 2 redpoll and 6 siskin. Sparrowhawk and buzzard put in an appearance, the latter eating a female wigeon whilst fending off hoodies and magpies. Once the buzzard lost interest there was a general free for all dominated by an immature great black back.

Hungry buzzard

 2016 totals: 
76 Golden plover
77  Purple sandpiper
78  Snipe
79 Reed bunting

NDCP patch :
42 Goldeneye
43 Great black-backed gull
44 Common gull
45 Purple sandpiper
46 Carrion crow

WOW patch:
1 Grey heron, mute swan, shelduck, wigeon, mallard, teal, shoveler, tufted duck, red-breasted merganser, sparrowhawk, buzzard, moorhen, coot, oystercatcher, lapwing, dunlin, snipe, blackwit, curlew, redshank, turnstone, black-headed gull, herring gull, common gull, great black-backed gull, woodpigeon, wren, robin, blackbird, song thrush, mistle thrush, coal tit, blue tit, great tit, magpie, hooded crow, starling, chaffinch, greenfinch, goldfinch, siskin, redpoll, 43 reed bunting.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Garden news

Just a brief post to report a female bullfinch today and a male sparrowhawk which came in and perched beautifully allowing a couple of ipod photos. It totally ignored a visiting pigeon which flew off once the hawk was perched.The quality of the photos reminded me to set up the digiscope as  I would have got some cracking shots.

It is on the washing line just to the right of the garage!!
A walk along the coastal path this afternoon gave beautiful views but no patch ticks!!

 2016 totals: 
75 : Bullfinch

NDCP patch :
41 : Bullfinch

Friday, 8 January 2016

2016 is up and running

A good start to 2016 with the first “Round the Lough “on New Years Day since 2006. We started at Islandhill at dawn and the first bird seen was a buzzard sitting in a tree. Ticks racked up quickly as the light improved: - Buzzard, Little egret, Whooper swan, Brent goose, Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Knot, Dunlin, Blackwit, Barwit, Curlew, Redshank, Black headed gull, Herring gull, Woodpigeon, Dunnock , Robin, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Mistle thrush, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Hooded crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet (30)

Islandhill at dawn

Whooper swans

The flood gates at Ards added Great-black backed gull, Lapwing and Pintail, quickly followed by Collared dove at Loughries (34). Next stop was the flooded area at Anne’s Point which gave us Greylag goose, Teal, Wigeon, Grey heron, Mute Swan and Little grebe (40). A low tide at Kircubbin added Common gull, Eider, Red-breasted merganser, Pied wagtail, and Greenshank (45). Bishop’s Mill was disappointing and the run down to the Ferry only added Cormorant, Shag and Carrion Crow. (48). The ferry crossing added Guillemot and Black guillemot (50) and we stopped again at Castleward Bay to add Mallard and Gadwall. (52). A brief stop at the Great Dam added Coot, Shoveler and Tufted duck (55) before we hit the hide at Castle Island and the Quoile Pondage Nature Reserve. No feeders at all in front of the Countryside centre was a disappointment and the water levels were very high so Collector’s Bay had few birds in the open and no new additions to the list except Goldeneye.

View from the hide!

Mute swan auditions for Game of Thrones
 However two brief walks produced Redwings and a mixed tit flock with all four varieties of tits – Great, Blue, Coal & Long-tailed AND Treecreeper, Goldcrest and Wren. (64) A Jay put in an appearance near the Coal Quay. (65) It was at this stage we realised we had a number of omissions on the list – like Moorhen and Great-crested grebe - but it was also at this stage that the long awaited rain finally set in and the light dropped. As we headed North we decided to try and target omissions at Killyleagh, Whiterock and Castle Espie but not one new tick did we get in the last hour and a half, the total remained stubbornly on 65 and the moorhen was never added to the list. 

The NDCP Patch list did not really get started till Saturday and Sunday but I managed to rack up quite a few garden/local ticks in the first 5 days – Sparrowhawks were seen three times in five days and the male paused briefly in the apple tree between the feeders. Herring gulls sit on the roof and the feeders attracted  Woodpigeon, Collard dove, Blackbirds, Dunnock, Robin, Blackcap, Starling, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Great, Blue, Coal and Long-tailed tits, House sparrow Redpoll and Siskin. In 2015 I waited until mid December for a redpoll and 31st December for a siskin. Rook, Jackdaw, Magpie, Hooded crow and Mistle thrush appeared in the garden or nearby giving a total of 25. 

Today (January 6th ) I walked the coastal path from the Long Hole into Bangor and home and cleaned up a lot of the well expected common stuff – Shag, Cormorant, Eider, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Turnstone, Pied wagtail, Black-headed gull, Guillemot, Black Guillemot (35),  plus two Great northern divers (36), one at the Long Hole and one at Pickie. The most surprising bird was a Moorhen on one of the pontoons in the Marina!! Not seen on the patch in all of 2015 and missed on New Year’s Day. I had a good look at it walked off, turned and looked back and lo and behold it had disappeared and I have no idea where it went. That took the total to 37, half of my total for 2015.

Update on Friday 8th with a walk from Strickland’s Bay west to Carnalea and return added three more patch ticks in the shape of Lapwing, Grey wagtail, and Song thrush. The latter two were also year ticks.
Combining the New Year’s Day list with the local stuff now puts the 2016 list at 74. The 65 species seen on   January 1st plus the patch ticks since then  - Sparrowhawk, GND, Redpoll, Siskin, Blackcap, Moorhen, Grey wagtail, Song thrush  and Turnstone.  The NDCP patch now stands at 40. Hopefully the RSPB Harbour patch will kick off on Thursday when I resume volunteering duties.

 2016 totals:  1 - 72 above
73 : Grey wagtail
74 : Song thrush

NDCP patch : 1 - 36 above
38 : Grey wagtail
39 : Lapwing
40 : Song thrush