Friday, 30 March 2018

Winter hangs on in there

It looks like spring is finally on the way as things are happening albeit slowly. Birdsong in the garden is ramping up- I was doing a bit of cutting and tidying the other day and had robin, dunnock. woodpigeon. collared dove, great tit coal tit, chaffinch, and a bit of blackbird all singing. Not sure if the calls of hooded crow, jackdaw and herring gull count as song but they were vocal. I have been along the coastal path several times in the last ten days with a view to connecting with as much as possible and have added lesser black-backed gull, meadow pipit, jay and a patch gold red-breasted merganser. It was very close inshore just west of the marina and it is a first patch tick in four years. I also saw three male mallard in and around Strickland's Glen and saw the jay twice on separate visits. As the days get longer the sun moves round and sets further west increasing the opportunity for nice sunsets.
Patch gold mallard
Looking up the Lough
Nothing like a nice bit of cirrus
More cirrus looking east
Garden jackdaw, almost too close to digiscope.
Standing guard
WOW is still more brown than green but the first sandwich tern appeared and lots of the black-tailed godwit are starting to show a bit of orange as they change into breeding plumage. Thursday March 22nd had 42 species including 2 buzzard, 1 raven, 40+ bar-tailed godwit and 60+ knot as well as two scaup in the reserve and two more offshore. There was also a red-breasted merganser in the reserve. Two little grebes swam across in front of the observation room which is not their usual haunt. They are normally off the reeds across at hide 2 and more difficult to see.  The feeders had redpoll, reed bunting and linnet as well as all the usual suspects. All in all a good three hours with the hint of spring on the way. Water levels are still high as there has been a lot of rain and plans are afoot for new tern rafts. Both islands are covered in black-headed gulls- over 300 at present,  plus a few Mediterranean gulls - between 1 and 5. The smaller island has been decorated to deter the gulls.

Not all gulls are deterred!
The new islands will not be floated out until the terns arrive - ie late April/early May by which time most of the gulls will have nested and be sitting on eggs or feeding young.

Orange coming through

Little grebe and obligatory gull

Six species here, can you name them?

Little grebe close in, not their usual haunt.
Spot the Med gull

A lonely knot with a godwit

The knot was on its own with over 100 godwit and unusually came over to the observation room, normally the are distant on the far side. The attached video shows how close and active it was.

112: Sandwich tern

Bangor West
55: Lesser black-backed gull
56: Meadow pipit
57: Jay
58: Red-breasted merganser

Belfast WOW
69: Sandwich tern
70: Carrion crow

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