Saturday, 21 January 2017

Week of surprises

Quite a bird filled week as you will see when you read on. It started with me helping Bangor Central Primary with their big schools birdwatch as I did last year. Oystercatcher and carrion crow proved the best birds in 2016, this year went one better with a glaucous gull - just goes to prove the old adage that anything can turn up anywhere (within reason). This bird hasn't been picked up around Bangor and I haven't seen it on the patch - the school is about 500m away. We had entertained three classes and had the usual collection of gulls and corvids plus robin, blackbird, woodpigeon and coal tit when we stopped for break. That meant about 300 pupils running round the playground shouting and yelling when a mob of gulls flew in to grab leftover bread lying on the grass. We had up to 60 black-headed gulls, about 10 herring gulls and this great white brute. I thought glaucous straight away but dismissed the thought as highly improbable, but as time wore on I was convinced that is what it was. When the other gulls flew off it stayed on, when we resumed feeding after break it bullied the smalller gulls and came within 2 metres of the pupils. I fired off a photo to NI birds and bingo we had glaucous gull on the garden birdwatch list. You can catch up with the video here:

It was still around when I left at 12.00 and I was able to get a few photos as well as the video.  Apparently it is a 1cy bird - ie first calendar year.

 Wednesday saw me finally catching up with the waxwing invasion. Three visited Grange Park about 400m west of the patch boundary. Despite climbing to the top of the scaffolding, currently erected for plastering purposes,  I was unable to add them to the patch list, I could see the trees they were in but not the birds!!

Was up as high as the chimney
Looking south  for waxwings
Later that day I walked back along the coast and added three ticks to the Bangor West patch including carrion crow, already seen in Bangor Central earlier in the week.

Interesting to see two black guillemot in full summer plumage as well as others still in their winter finery.

Thursday rolled round and WOW beckoned with a lesser scaup reported off shore along with 40+ scaup. I finally nailed it on a third visit on Friday and also added goldeneye, merganser, eider and black guillemot. You can see some nice photos on the NI birds blog here:

These plus a few ticks on the reserve pushed the total up to 51 for the year. All in all a good week's birding. The anticyclonic gloom made photography difficult but unusually a curlew came across to the south side near the observation room. The low tide kept numbers down but I still managed 32 species on the reserve and another 10 at Kinnegar.

Bangor West

41: Carrion crow
42: Guillemot
43: Shag

Belfast WOW 40: Mute swan
41: black-tailed godwit
42: Coal tit
43: Reed bunting
44: Black guillemot
45: Eider
46: Greater scaup
47: Lesser scaup
48: Tufted duck
50: Red-breasted merganser
51: Ringed plover

87: Guillemot
88 Glaucous gull
89: Waxwing
90: Scaup
91: Lesser scaup

Monday, 16 January 2017

Round the Lough delivers

Quite a lot to update since the last post. The Bangor West total stands at 40 with a walk along the coast delivering many expected species including purple sandpiper, red-throated diver and most amazing of all brent geese in the car park at Seacliff Road. A sparrowhawk in the garden is always nice even if it didn’t hang around for a photo.

Grazing in the car park

Not fazed by cars

Looking for a family space?

Belfast WOW kicked off with 39 species including peregrine, snipe, bar-tailed godwit and three twite, a patch first and a first for my reserve list. 

The annual list starter round Strangford Lough was delayed until January 13th, but it  turned up 67 species including little egret, merganser, goldeneye, kestrel, greenshank, kingfisher, redwing, fieldfare, goldcrest, jay, redpoll and tree sparrow. Some views to look at, any of the interesting birds were too hard to digiscope and I was too busy listing to photograph the common stuff.  

Sunrise at the Flood Gates

Quoile pondage

Sunset at Kircubbin

I also did a trip to Whitehead to collect twite (again), black redstart and ring-billed gull. The latter in Carrick was too tempting to drive past. Too wet and dull for photos.

Bangor West
Wren, linnet, house sparrow, rook, oystercatcher, redshank, eider, cormorant, lapwing, red-throated diver, black guillemot, razorbill, brent goose, ringed plover, dunlin, turnstone, purple sandpiper, great black-backed gull, common gull, starling and 40: sparrowhawk.

Belfast WOW

Cormorant, grey heron, shelduck, wigeon, gadwall, teal, mallard, shoveler, sparrowhawk, buzzard, peregrine, moorhen, oystercatcher, lapwing, knot, dunlin, snipe, barwit, curlew, redshank, turnstone, black-headed gull, common gull, herring gull, woodpigeon, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, blackbird, blue tit, great tit, magpie, hooded crow, chaffinch, greenfinch, goldfinch, redpoll. and  39: twite.


Wren,  linnet,  house sparrow, song thrush, mistle thrush, oystercatcher, redshank, eider, cormorant, red-throated diver, lapwing, black guillemot, razorbill, brent goose, ringed plover, dunlin, knot, turnstone, purple sandpiper, great black-backed gull, common gull, sparrowhawk, shelduck, wigeon, gadwall, teal, shoveler, peregrine, moorhen, golden plover, snipe, curlew, barwit, twite, little egret, little grebe, great-crested grebe, pintail, tufted duck, goldeneye, red-breasted merganser, kestrel, pheasant, coot, kingfisher, rock pipit, greenshank, redwing, fieldfare, goldcrest, tree sparrow, carrion crow, shag, black redstart, ring-billed gull, blackwit,  and 86: reed bunting

Monday, 2 January 2017

2017 New year new lists

The year has got off to a slow start as I did not set out on New Years Day to do a bird list. I spent January 1 in and around the garden and Bangor West and today was spent on a drive to Tollymore Forest Park and a walk. Nevertheless some good birds were spotted.  The garden produced all that I expected including long-tailed tit and blackcap. The Bangor West patch is at 19 all seen from the garden and the 2017 list added another ten including bullfinch, dipper, grey wagtail and jay which were all seen in Tollymore. Hopefully I will get a walk along the coast later in the week and add to the totals as well as kick starting WOW on Thursday.
WOW patch list

West Bangor patch list: 19

2017 list: 29

2016 all wrapped up

Saw the old year out at WOW with a high tide and 40 species including a female peregrine which appeared on two separate occasions. Light was good and birds were giving good views. No additions to the Patch list which stayed at 101.

Grey heron

Teal and moorhen


The Bangor West patch has stayed stubbornly at 71 but I had one last walk from Carnalea back home on New Years's Eve at 3.15 as an iceland gull had been spotted the day before. No gull but what is flying up Belfast Lough but a mute swan. The first on the patch in two years, a species I had given up on, but right place right time - two minutes either way and I could have missed it!! Final totals are as follows:

WOW patch list 101  

West Bangor patch list 72

2016 list 190