Monday, 6 April 2015

Spring and migrants

After a mild St Patrick's day and a settled spell we exited March with gales and rain. These lasted into early April and suddenly over the weekend a high moved in and the temperature shot up to a year high of 17C. More importantly the wind dropped and swung into a southerly direction so we have hopes of better birding and a few year ticks.

Started off on the patch at the end of March with gannet and meadow pipit bringing the patch total to 58 and 67 points. On April 1st I had a visit to the Harbour reserve with a friend from Scotland and although there were no stunning birds we saw  little grebe, red-breasted merganser and the black-tailed godwits which are showing a lot of breeding plumage. I even remembered to take a few photos for those of you who do not know the reserve.
View from the road, sorry about the tape, they are still working at it.
The lagoon.
The observation gallery

Sand martin bank
 The following day I took a drive with Tanya and a couple of friends to Kearney, Killard and the Quoile pondage. The strong NW wind meant that the birds were not singing and keeping hidden yet we still managed 39 species including a flock of around 200 golden plover on the beach near Kilcleif Castle. Most of these were well into breeding plumage and were a sight to behold. We also saw a carrion crow in Strangford close to the ferry terminal, and a jay on the way to Castle Island where high water levels and the strong wind made viewing difficult. There were still a few goldeneye around and a small party of brent geese near Killard. 

At long last  I did an early morning walk on the patch today and added reed bunting to the list. There were two song thrushes singing loudly and most of the regular birds were singing or calling. A sandwich tern gave a fly past and there were good views of wren, dunnock, bullfinch, goldfinch, greenfinch and linnet - all singing and calling. As you can see it was quite a spectacular sunrise.

Low tide at Smelt Mill Bay

Looking East towards Bangor

The sun breaks the cloud

The final port of call today was Scarva for a walk along the canal towards Poyntzpass. There were at least four chiffchaff holding territory and we lost count of soaring buzzard including three over the tea room at Scarva and a soaring sparrowhawk over the village. Managed to dip out on swallow and martin but they are hopefully on the way.

 57 meadow pipit
 58 gannet
59 reed bunting

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