Thursday, 24 November 2016


With a title like that I should get lots of hits from people looking for a cartoon character, but NO, this is WOW frozen for the first time since I started volunteering there in June 2015.

This meant that birds were at a premium. We struggled to reach 20 species and apart from 180 curlew and about 25 lapwing there were no waders. The only duck was teal  and empty feeders meant fewer passerines. The low tide probably didn't help either. The two female pheasants were around for the third week. As usual they favoured the area in front of the observation room.

Teal (F)

Teal flock on the only bit of open water.

Moorhen foraging.
Pheasant (F)
 Last week was a little better and we had full feeders and softer ground for feeding mallards.

The goldfinch "charm" totalled 30+

Mr Mallard
Patch birding in Bangor West is now clutching at straws as I have ticked most of the stuff I should see and am wating for a bit of luck. I finally managed a red-throated diver in Ballyholme Bay but three walks in the last ten days have not added any new birds. In fact Tuesday's walk saw the roughest seas for some time and very few birds were around.

Its all very well having five weeks to go but there is not much to hope for apart from a waxwing or a brambling. I still have never seen mute swan or coot on the Bangor West patch and that is a long shot in shorter darker days. Anyway targets were 70 for Bangor and 100 for WOW and both have been hit.

WOW patch list is still at:   
101 Razorbill
West Bangor patch list:
71 Red-throated diver
2016 list is still at:
190 Willow tit

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Visitor from Iceland

This week at WOW we had a lot of interesting events, not all bird related. First the heavy rain showers gave some spectacular rainbows.

Then we watched a ship head off down the Lagan loaded up with wind turbines from the site next door. This is a specialised vessel called the A2SEA Installer which transports and "plants" wind turbines. The four large rusty poles go into the seabed and lift the ship up above the sea. The cranes then lower the turbines into place. It is an unusual sight and sound so the waders and ducks all spooked and lifted. If you want more info on the operation use this link

Next Phyllis and Kenneth noticed a colour ringed black-tailed godwit which has been seen before here and elsewhere as we had a record of it in the file. The attached photo of the log shows that it is 9 years old and was ringed in Iceland. It has wandered around a fair bit but has not been seen since 2013 until it was spotted twice this week. It has not beeen spotted in Iceland again, only in its wintering areas

Not only is the bird 9 years old, so are the flags on its legs! They have endured all the flying miles and feeding in wet lagoons and are still hanging on in there. It was nice to be able to contribute to a little bit of scientific research as humble volunteers.

Finally the water levelels are rising as a result of the recent rain and the ducks were feeding outside the observation room for a change.

Pair of teal

Pair of wigeon

Pair of shoveler
The lists are updated with a willow tit in Bolton. The local patch, Elton Reservoir now has feeders maintained by the local patch watchers, so they gave up willow tit and nuthatch. I will be back in the new year!!  I went looking for divers off Carnalea, but sometimes you get lucky, I turned up three common scoter. I still have 6 weeks to turn up a diver or a grebe.

WOW patch list:    
101 Razorbill
West Bangor patch list:
70 Common scoter
2016 list
190 Willow tit

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Islay 2 and ton up

First a few more shots from Islay taken by Horace Reid who is clearly a better photographer than I am and also has a better camera which he knows how to use. He was there on the Friday. The pictures are superb,  what is lacking is the soundscape which was equally good. I never thought to take a video, but I suspect it would be a letdown.

WOW on Thursday had 29 species and at long last a peregrine appeared. It spoooked everything but we stil saw 5 snipe, 60 golden plover and a little stint. My SD card was in the computer, so no photos. On Saturday Daniel Newton reported a long-tailed duck off Kinnegar so on Sunday I called in to see if it was still there. Pulled up in the car park and there was Daniel with the duck in his scope!!  We also had a young razorbilll close in and a wheen of mergansers. On checking my lists later I realised I had omitted to record guillemot on the day I saw the diver, too excited or more likely thought it was already recorded. This is a long-winded way of saying that the "old squaw" was number 100. Thankyou Daniel. West Bangor is still stuck on 69 but divers have been seen off the coast so I live in hope. We are heading for Bolton for a few days so I am still in with a shout of a willow tit or some other exotic English species.

Somewhere out there is "old squaw"
Return from Islay
 The shot of Belfast Lough at Kinnegar last Sunday is what I would call a millpond. The trip to and from Islay is what the boatman calls a millpond ie no white caps on the waves. I think we are going to have to agree to differ on this one.

 WOW patch list:    
98 guillemot 
99 Peregrine
100Long-tailed duck
101 Razorbill
West Bangor patch list:
69 Brent goose

2016 list
189 Long-tailed duck