Saturday, 25 May 2019

Dawn chorus

Yes it's true I managed a dawn chorus for the first time in many years, and you know what - I really should do it more often!! My pal David, he of the good camera, is now retired and offered to help the RSPB with farm surveys. This means a visit around dawn on four occasions in spring/summer recording birds seen and heard, any breeding/nesting behaviour and checking for six key species (yellowhammer, reed bunting, linnet, tree sparrow, lapwing and skylark). He was given an arable farm near Greyabbey and I joined him for his fourth visit  this week. We were there at 0500, walked nearly 6 miles round the fields and finished around 1030. We saw 25 species including a pair of linnet. I started off with four layers and finished off with one as the sun rose and temperatures headed up. All in all a worthwhile experience and one I would be happy to repeat, but not just at the minute as I am still catching up on sleep. The following pictures give a flavour of the morning but in no way do justice to the sounds and vistas of the experience.

Moonset to the west
Sunrise to the east

Distant Scrabo

Winter barley

Spring barley
WOW continues to entertain with a lot of common terns now present and going through the display/mating routines. Water levels continue to slowly drop, there is about two inches outside the observation room which might make floating the new tern islands a bit difficult, Hopefully they will soon be in place and give the late arrivals a chance. The black-headed gulls have quite a few chicks although many of them are still incubating. Lapwing chicks seem to have been predated, but there are coot and moorhen chicks to be seen. We have not seen any mallard ducklings and the swans are still incubating. Tufted ducks abound so fingers crossed and there were four pairs of gadwall on the reserve so they may nest as well.The first swifts apeared over the reserve last week and a little egret and a ruff dropped in as well as four greylag geese.

Gull chick taking a risk

Mr shoveler

Gap year godwits

Two eggs revealed

A "dread" when everything flies up including the incubating gull.

Exposed chick
The marker stone with two common terns
Last month I fulfilled a long standing ambition to visit the UWT site at Bog Meadows. We managed to find the entrance off the Falls Road and had a wander around. Lots of activity and singing but spoilt slightly by the proximity of the M1 which is the boundary of the site to the south. The traffic noise was loud and persistent. They are conducting guided walks in July and August and we hope to return for an informative tour . The downside will be the ever present traffic noise, I doubt it is ever quiet!! There is a large water area surrounded by reedbed, scrub and trees with a couple of rough grazing fields and some hedgerows. Mostly we saw and heard common birds of the urban fringe including swallow and tufted duck. Fingers crossed we will do better.

Lake and swift nesting tower

Lake view

133: Whimbrel
134: Common tern
135: Swift

Bangor West
55: Willow warbler
56: Greylag goose
57: Swallow
58: Swift
59: Jay

Belfast WOW

78: Whimbrel
79: Comon tern
80: Little egret
81: Swift

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