Thursday, 14 June 2018

Muck in the Mist

June 2nd saw us heading for Ballylumford and a trip to the Gobbins via Muck Island. The target was breeding seabirds. There was good news and bad news. The good news was that the sea was millpond calm, the bad news was that the sea fret was in, and there were times we could not see the coast even though we were no further than 50 metres away. Fortunately it lifted a bit at the Gobbins, but on our return journey it closed in from Muck Island home and we saw very little.

Auks at Muck Isle, the nearest bird is a puffin!!

Razorbill & guillemots

What peregrines??

More auks

Gobbins walk


Mist drifting back in

Disembarking at Ballylumford.
We had a good selection of birds and apart from peregrine we saw everything we hoped to see albeit through a mist. Gannets loomed out of the mist a couple of times and disappeared. Anyone shooting film in black and white was well served, but the birds gave good close views and were not spooked as much as we loomed out of the mist as well. All told we saw fulmar, gannet,cormorant, shag, herring gull, great black-backed gull, kittiwake, sandwich tern, guillemot, black guillemot, razorbill and puffin.

I also had a couple of trips which gave nice birds. The first was a whinchat on the Starbog Road near Cappanagh, the second was a skylark on a walk up to Quolie Reservoir near Broughsnane. The latter also gave good views of wheatear, a sand martin colony and meadow pipits.  

Whinchat courtesy of David Miller

And again
Quolie Reservoir

Looking down the valley
Quolie River
There are two reservoirs and not much birdlife on them, the best part is the walk up the valley with good views of the surrounding hills and a wide range of habitats - one of my favourite walks on the planet in May or June, never fails to give interesting birds and butterflies and is just a stunning walk. There is a ruined farmhouse at the top of the second reservoir and it is an idyllic spot for a picnic or an overnight camp. It just ticks all the boxes.

Nothing startling at WOW today (June 14th) apart from 600+ godwits, 1500 black-headed gulls and young, 160+ common tern and up to 8 arctics, 4 knot and 3 dunlin. There were at least 7 Mediterranean gulls on show but some seem to have lost chicks to lesser black backs and herring gulls. There were also 3 young lapwings but we are not sure where they came from or whether they hatched here. Next stop Tallinn and St Petersburg, a family holiday with a bit of World Cup football but I am bringing the binoculars and the travel scope!!

132: Gannet

133: Whimbrel
134: Whinchat
135: Whitethroat
136: Kittiwake
137: Puffin
138: Razorbill
139: Skylark
 Bangor West
65: Gannet

66: Whimbrel
67: Whitethroat

Belfast WOW
87: Raven

88: Gannet
89: Pochard

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