Friday, 8 January 2021

Early days of 2021

Up and out before dawn for a socially distanced two car birdathon round the northern and western side of Strangford Lough. We went anti-clockwise and kept to minor roads as much as possible but we still hit 68 species. I am not going to list them all, just mention the highlights which were many. We started at the Flood Gates in the NE corner wher we had up to 2000 golden plover in the air, a nice flock of knot and pintail. All photographs of our jaunttaken by David Miller.

Dawn with flying golden plover

Golden plover and green plover


Islandhill next for tree sparrow and then round to Castle Espie for kingfisher.

Comber river at Islandhill

Egret at Castle Espie

Whiterock gave us shag, black guillemot and little grebe as well as snipe and buzzard

Teal and snipe if you can find them

Then to Killyleagh which we nearly left out and were glad we didnt as we ticked grey wagtail, red-breasted merganser, guillemot and three overwintering sandwich terns!!

Always check your gulls!!

Terns on New Year's Day

Finally to the Quoile for the overwintering bufflehead, redwings, shoveler, gadwall, goldeneye and sparrowhawk. By that time the light had gone, and we finished there and headed home.

All redwings, not a fieldfare among them.

The local patch is ticking over nicely and  the garden added bullfinch, goldcrest and blackcap to the 2021 list as well as all the usual suspects including five linnet. I even managed a buzzard along the coast being mobbed by hoodies. WOW is closed apart from Hide 2 and we are not supposed to leave home except for essential journeys. This rule came in on Friday so on Thursday we drove to Belfast Waterworks for our exercise and happened to see an iceland gull - quelle surprise! All photos from here on in are mine.


Waterworks, top pond largely frozen

Iceland gull. We walked past this point five times and only spotted it once.

On the way home we swung round WOW and Kinnegar and added eider, great crested grebe and ringed plover to the list and ticked off 20 other species for the WOW patch. I think there won't be a lot added to WOW until mid-February but the local patch will get a battering over the next four weeks and the garden is always liable to turn up something unexpected. Stay safe and bring your binoculars on your daily exercise even if you are only going to the shops. 


Long-tailed tit


Greenfinch pair

1 - 68 round the lough on January 1st
69: Blackcap
70: Bullfinch
71: Goldcrest
72: Iceland gull
73: Eider
74: Great-crested grebe
75: Ringed plover

30: Goldcrest 
31: Dunnock
23: Ringed plover


  1. Sounds like a good day. Did you get the colour ring details of the terns? David E

  2. The red ring beginning E is probably the Grampian Ringing Group.

  3. Unfortunately no, we only noticed the rings when David checked the photos at home. We were so excited to see terns on New Year's Day we never thought to look!!


    This is the contact if you want to email him your photos. I think he may be able to get details from one of them. If not I'm sure he'd be interested in the Wintering Record. All the best. David E