Monday, 11 November 2019

Day trip to Cairnryan

Yes, you read the title correctly, this week I took the 0730 Stena to Cairnryan with ace birders Jim and David, birded the local area and returned on the 1530 ferry, all for £22 as a foot passenger. This came about thanks to three birders who have visited WOW a few times doing the same in reverse. Conversations ensued and I reckoned that we could do the same the other way, so we set it up for Wednesday and Val, Bob and Brian met us off the ferry and away we went. We stopped for a brief scan of Loch Ryan and then headed to Wig Bay on the west side. This is a favoured spot for sea ducks and we saw goldeneye, merganser, scoter, long-tailed duck, slavonian grebe and cormorant to add to the wigeon and eider we saw at the first stop. This was good as we experienced heavy driving rain which made using optics and keeping them dry a challenge. Next stop was to a sandy bay north of Stranraer where we added a selection of waders to the list including knot, ringed plover, bar-tailed godwit and dunlin. We also noted pochard, shelduck, mute swan, mallard, brent goose, red-throated diver and scaup. A warming cuppa at the Bunker and we headed off to West Freugh for the hen harrier and geese site picking up 10 whooper swans on a small lake along the road. We were hardly out of the car when we had sightings of both - a ring-tail harrier and 79 Greenland white-fronted geese. Conditions were dryer and we added buzzard and peregrine to the list and also noted that one of the geese had a collar on it. Subsequent reports told us that this goose was ringed in Wexford in 2017 and wintered on Islay last year. We also had a flock of 60+ pink-footed geese flying east. En route to the ferry we added a red kite to the list giving a group total of 53 and a personal total for me of 47 when you add in all the regular species like woodpigeon, collared dove, blackbird etc.

Four year firsts were a bonus and I did my Scottish list a power of good as well by adding nine birds to it. If I list them you have to promise not to laugh - pheasant, slavonian grebe, pink-footed goose, long-tailed duck, ringed plover, knot, dunlin, turnstone and bar-tailed godwit. I clearly haven't been to a beach with common waders and how I have missed pheasant I have no idea - probably saw it and didn't check it off.  The photographs give a flavour of the weather and the difficulty we had photographing birds. They are actually in colour, not black and white. Most of them are by my birding pal and ace photographer David, plus one of the collared goose from Brian. I didn't take that many.

Dawn over Belfast Lough - David
Ships that pass in the early dawn - David
Gannets, what gannets? - David
Scopes ready
Loch Ryan swans and waders
West Freugh - David
Greenland white-fronted geese - David
Y9R - Brian
156: Slavonian grebe
157: Greenland white-fronted goose
158: Comon Scoter
159: Hen harrier

Bangor West
65: Wheatear

Belfast WOW

98: Stonechat

1 comment:

  1. Great day all round. Loved the views of the male Long Tailed Duck, Peregrine, Red Kite and the Hen Harrier.