Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Round the Lough

So to Strangford Lough and a grand total of 63 species. Highlights were a male scaup at Castle Island  Road, little egrets everywhere, 250+ bar-tailed godwit with 150 pintail south of the flood gates, 8 snipe at Bishop's Mill, 30+ whooper swans between Ards and Comber and 28 golden plover at Whiterock. We were fooled by the snipe as when first spotted three of them were swimming. We harked back to the excitement of 2008 when we first saw an egret on our Strangford trip, this year they were everywhere, a sign of changing times. Strangely we saw neither heron nor coot. How can you drive round Strangford without seeing a heron? A most unusual occurence especially when we remarked at the Quoile that we hadn't seen one and started actively looking for one. Anyway we had a cracking day despite the Castle Island hide being less productive than usual due to a reed cutter. The upper stretch of the Quoile had very few birds compared to the 1970s and 1980s. We're unsure whether this is lack of food or birds coming in fewer numbers due to milder winters. Some of the places which used to have feeders were either empty or missing. There was house near Ardmillan which gave us tree sparrow and redpoll, but the owner moved to a care home and the new owners don't bother. The nature reserve at the Quoile also had empty feeders. I don't really see the point of putting feeders up if you don't keep them topped up!! By the time we reached Castle Espie it was too dark so I have no idea what state the feeders were in, last time they were active but tree sparrows were absent. Greenfinch is also less common as is kestrel. It was a zero raptor day - again a bit unusual as we usually get buzzard. First seven photos are from David whose camera as you know is way better than mine. The last five are mine as scenes don't move about.

Bar-tailed godwits
Pintail and brent goose, note mill pond water
Green plover and golden plover
Arty mute swans at the quoile

Dawn at the Flood Gates
Dawn at Islandhill
Scrabo view
Reed cutting
Reed cutting
I am not going to list all the birds seen since the start of the year in the three lists, too boring to read, you will just have to take my word for the robins, dunnocks, blackbirds, magpies and black-headed gulls etc..

Since then I have chipped away at the lists and added a few species such as the two ravens which flew over the garden kronking one morning and grey wagtail mallard and mistle thrush locally as well as as lesser black back, merganser, common gull, cormorant, dunlin, goldeneye, pied wagtail and great-crested grebe at WOW. Today WOW was frozen over apart from a couple of small areas crammed with teal and shoveler. Here are a few shots from WOW.



West Bangor sunset

Winter  coastal path

Frozen WOW 

Highest tide ever at Strickland's Bay

88: Raven
89: Grey wagtail
Bangor West
43: Raven
44: Mistle thrush
45: Mallard
46: Grey wagtail

Belfast WOW

48: Lesser black-backed gull
49: Red-breasted merganser
50: Common gull
51: Cormorant
52: Dunlin
53: Goldeneye
54: Great-crested grebe
55: Pied wagtail

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