Friday, 8 January 2016

2016 is up and running

A good start to 2016 with the first “Round the Lough “on New Years Day since 2006. We started at Islandhill at dawn and the first bird seen was a buzzard sitting in a tree. Ticks racked up quickly as the light improved: - Buzzard, Little egret, Whooper swan, Brent goose, Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Knot, Dunlin, Blackwit, Barwit, Curlew, Redshank, Black headed gull, Herring gull, Woodpigeon, Dunnock , Robin, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Mistle thrush, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Hooded crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet (30)

Islandhill at dawn

Whooper swans

The flood gates at Ards added Great-black backed gull, Lapwing and Pintail, quickly followed by Collared dove at Loughries (34). Next stop was the flooded area at Anne’s Point which gave us Greylag goose, Teal, Wigeon, Grey heron, Mute Swan and Little grebe (40). A low tide at Kircubbin added Common gull, Eider, Red-breasted merganser, Pied wagtail, and Greenshank (45). Bishop’s Mill was disappointing and the run down to the Ferry only added Cormorant, Shag and Carrion Crow. (48). The ferry crossing added Guillemot and Black guillemot (50) and we stopped again at Castleward Bay to add Mallard and Gadwall. (52). A brief stop at the Great Dam added Coot, Shoveler and Tufted duck (55) before we hit the hide at Castle Island and the Quoile Pondage Nature Reserve. No feeders at all in front of the Countryside centre was a disappointment and the water levels were very high so Collector’s Bay had few birds in the open and no new additions to the list except Goldeneye.

View from the hide!

Mute swan auditions for Game of Thrones
 However two brief walks produced Redwings and a mixed tit flock with all four varieties of tits – Great, Blue, Coal & Long-tailed AND Treecreeper, Goldcrest and Wren. (64) A Jay put in an appearance near the Coal Quay. (65) It was at this stage we realised we had a number of omissions on the list – like Moorhen and Great-crested grebe - but it was also at this stage that the long awaited rain finally set in and the light dropped. As we headed North we decided to try and target omissions at Killyleagh, Whiterock and Castle Espie but not one new tick did we get in the last hour and a half, the total remained stubbornly on 65 and the moorhen was never added to the list. 

The NDCP Patch list did not really get started till Saturday and Sunday but I managed to rack up quite a few garden/local ticks in the first 5 days – Sparrowhawks were seen three times in five days and the male paused briefly in the apple tree between the feeders. Herring gulls sit on the roof and the feeders attracted  Woodpigeon, Collard dove, Blackbirds, Dunnock, Robin, Blackcap, Starling, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Great, Blue, Coal and Long-tailed tits, House sparrow Redpoll and Siskin. In 2015 I waited until mid December for a redpoll and 31st December for a siskin. Rook, Jackdaw, Magpie, Hooded crow and Mistle thrush appeared in the garden or nearby giving a total of 25. 

Today (January 6th ) I walked the coastal path from the Long Hole into Bangor and home and cleaned up a lot of the well expected common stuff – Shag, Cormorant, Eider, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Turnstone, Pied wagtail, Black-headed gull, Guillemot, Black Guillemot (35),  plus two Great northern divers (36), one at the Long Hole and one at Pickie. The most surprising bird was a Moorhen on one of the pontoons in the Marina!! Not seen on the patch in all of 2015 and missed on New Year’s Day. I had a good look at it walked off, turned and looked back and lo and behold it had disappeared and I have no idea where it went. That took the total to 37, half of my total for 2015.

Update on Friday 8th with a walk from Strickland’s Bay west to Carnalea and return added three more patch ticks in the shape of Lapwing, Grey wagtail, and Song thrush. The latter two were also year ticks.
Combining the New Year’s Day list with the local stuff now puts the 2016 list at 74. The 65 species seen on   January 1st plus the patch ticks since then  - Sparrowhawk, GND, Redpoll, Siskin, Blackcap, Moorhen, Grey wagtail, Song thrush  and Turnstone.  The NDCP patch now stands at 40. Hopefully the RSPB Harbour patch will kick off on Thursday when I resume volunteering duties.

 2016 totals:  1 - 72 above
73 : Grey wagtail
74 : Song thrush

NDCP patch : 1 - 36 above
38 : Grey wagtail
39 : Lapwing
40 : Song thrush

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