Thursday, 16 February 2017

Steady work and progress

A couple of visits to WOW and a walk along the coastal path helped to add a few ticks to the patches. The Long Hole in Bangor produced a rock pipit and a good variety of waders and shore birds. The little egret was too far off the patch to count being at the eastern end of Ballyholme beach.

WOW addedl lesser black back, great crested grebe, linnet and an unseasonal chiffchafff at Kinnegar which unfortunately was not singing. Signs of spring abound with the next stage of the camera installation being put in place and the tern island weeded and decorated to keep the gulls off. There are windows which have to be met and tides which have to be worked round never mind lack of daylight.

Cable ready for digging in

Ropes and CDs
The low tide allows millet to be spread under the window and this attracted 3 reed buntings on Thursday and black-tailed godwits on Sunday.
Mr Bunting

Mr & Mrs Bunting

Black-tailed godwits
 If you look carefully you will see our old friend from Iceland back again. Nice to see him returning and bringing a lot of his friends with him.  He was last seen at WOW on10th November and I mentioned him here:

A quick walk along the coastal path yesterday added heron, mallard and grey wagtail. The four mallard were on the pond at the top of the Glen. While I was scanning the beach five minutes later they flew overhead towards the Marina and disappeared. Just goes to show - right place right time!! WOW today produced 39 species but only added little grebe and carrion crow to the list. Mind you carrion crow was a first for the reserve which also had 2 mergansers and a cormorant  fishing inside the reserve.

Mallard on the pond in Stricklands Glen
Off to England tonight with the scope and the binoculars. Firstly to Bolton for family duties and then to Cramlington in the North-East for the dawn to dusk yomp round Cresswell, Druridge and Hauxley. Report will follow but not for a couple of weeks. I hope to do some incidental birding on the way - watch this space!!

Bangor West
48: Rock pipit
49: Mallard
50: grey wagtail 
51: Grey heron
Belfast WOW

57: Lesser black-backed gull
58: Great crested grebe
59: Linnet
60: Chiffchaff 
61 Little grebe
62: Carrion crow

97: Lesser black-backed gull
98: Chiffchaff

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Payback time

After a reasonably dry and bright run of weather we have more than made up for it with some dull and wet days. Last Thursday at WOW was not the best for birding with squally, wintry showers and poor visibility. Our reference point of Rathcoole Flats appeared and disappeared regularly.
Now you see them.... you don't
On one occasion we were nearly unable to see the Stena boat just across the Lagan. 30 species was all I saw but that did include 12 pochard, a year first and a patch first for 2017.



All the ducks are coming into their breeding finery. All we need now is a nice sunny day and a few birds on the observation rom side. The shipping highlight of the day was a Stena tanker being guided in by two tugs in a rain squall.

The previous day I had walked the coastal path to try and add birds to the patch list for Bangor West. I was also hoping to pick up the glaucous gull on the patch. No luck with that but I did add curlew, song thrush, mistle thrush and mediterranaean gull. The high tide roost on Seacliff Road had over 60 ringed plover and 200+ dunlin, but strangely no purple sandpipers.

Doesn't look promising....

.....but covered in birds
This photograph from the very end of 2016 illustrates the spread of little egrets round the province. This bird was close to  a bridge on Lynne Road in the Rathmore housing area on a small un-named river which flows between back gardens. It drains from the lake in Clandeboye Estate and enters the sea at Carnalea. Not the sort of place I would have expected to see an egret.

I have encouraged my son to feed birds in his garden in East Belfast and they now have a nice garden list. The plan was to digiscope goldfinches but they did not co-operate so it was left to this robin to fill the void.

Oi you don't point that thing at me!
I also picked up a few 2017 ticks as well as the pochard and the med gull. Mosley Mill added treecreeper as well as two dippers and a trip North added a goosander on the Maine at Randalstown and whooper swans at Toome. The green-winged teal at the Ecos Centre in Ballymena was not showing well and we dipped and froze. 

Bangor West

45: Song thrush
46: Mediterranean gull
47: Mistle thrush
Belfast WOW
52: Coot
53: Pintail
54: Mistle thrush
55: Great black-backed gull
56: Pochard

92: Treecreeper
93: Mediterranean gull
94: Pochard
95: Goosander
96: Whooper swan