Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Travelling again

A brief update to keep things ticking over before we travel to Bolton, Venice and San Marino. I have surfed birding in  Italy and am not that hopeful of much in the way of birds, so anything is a bonus. Bolton involves a lot of family so opportunities will be limited there as well. Last week saw WOW produce 35 species including common sandpiper, ruff, raven and sparrowhawk. I had a couple of days at Castlerock and finally got a key for the Barmouth hide. An hour on a dropping tide gave good views of greenshank, curlew, knot, blackwit, redshank and dunlin. Nice to link up with Richard Donaghy and put a face to a good website (http://causewaycoastrg.blogspot.co.uk/ ). Things are generally quiet all round and the patch lists show no change,  so a couple of pics and see you in September.


Friday, 11 August 2017

200 up

Finally ticked number 200 for the year a mandarin duck on the River Braid at Broughshane. Number 200 had to be a bit out of the ordinary as I have most of the common stuff. Mind you I missed cuckoo, whimbrel and grey plover, might get the latter two but cuckoo has passed me by. WOW on Thursday was relatively quiet with less than 30 species seen. Highlights were a common sandpiper and a greenshank at Kinnegar. Ten greylag appeared and two of them had neck collars on as part of a study funded by the Airport to see where they go and how this might impact on the planes. Feral greylags continue to be a problem!! Black-tailed godwit numbers reached 250+ as the tide pushed in and one of them appeared to be hopping on one leg. It turned out to have a cockle shell clamped to one of its toes so was unable to put its foot to the ground. It can feed and fly but is a bit slow in the take off department so has a higher chance of falling to a predator.

Godwits feeding right up to the window

Second or third brood of mallards

The cockle shell hero

Serene coots


Moorhen at rest
200: Mandarin
Bangor West

66: Raven
Belfast WOW
93: Greenshank

Friday, 4 August 2017

Ailsa Craig plus plus

It’s been busy few weeks with a trip to Ailsa Craig and Portmore Lough as well as duties at WOW. Ailsa Craig turned out to be a bit iffy weather wise as it was windy and rainy – heavy squally showers. The birds were up to scratch with the 30000+ gannets, all the auks, fulmar, shag, cormorant, oystercatcher, ringed plover and four species of gull. We also saw common and grey seal and slow worms which are easily found on the island. The journey over gave good views of Manx shearwaters and 3 sandwich terns. The main problem was in getting back off as it was choppy with quite a swell and we had to wait until the boat came in to the pier, then step/jump onto the rubber hull, grab the hand rail hang on and inch back towards the stern.  We could only do two at a time and with quite a few attempts to get into position it took 45 minutes to get all 8 of us back on board. Suffice to say we were all relieved when the operation was complete and we were able to head back to Cushendall. We picked up peregrine on the coast on the way back which was a nice bonus as the nest on Ailsa was empty and we could not find any around the island.

Slow worm

Passing squall

 Portmore Lough RSPB reserve hosted a barbecue for volunteers and a guided tour. The highlight was the breeding common terns – 102 nests this year. We also saw little grebe, great crested grebe, tree sparrows and over 100 mute swans as well as coot, tufted, mallard and gadwall.  The wildflower meadow was at its best and there were good numbers of butterflies, mainly green-veined white. It was nice to see another reserve and to catch up on the work there. 

Tern raft

Wild flower meadow
 Visited Rowallane for a walk and picked up breeding swallows, two nests and five young.

Belfast WOW is still fairly quiet as the main wader passage hasn't kicked in yet. Thursday saw common sandpiper, ruff and sanderling as well as 600+ black-tailed godwits, some still in breeding plumage having newly arrived from Iceland. The entire reseve lifted twice, once when a buzzard came in and then when a raven paid a visit. Lesser black-backed gulls also cause a stir if they do not fly high and straight over. There were still sand martins and swifts, plus over 220 black-headed gulls and 250+ common terns including a good number of chicks. Only the gulls and terns came over to be photographed, everything else stayed on the far side. I need to get a nice moorhen or coot shot, but those who come close move about too quickly for the digiscope set up. The two below had the decency to pose for a while.

Common tern

Black-headed gull

199: Black-necked grebe
Bangor West
66: Raven
Belfast WOW
91: Sanderling
92: Raven