Wednesday, December 30, 2009

red kite ya bas!

Very wet and horrible again today, but when the rain stopped early afternoon, I was surprised to see a large raptor up getting mobbed by crows. When I got bins on it, I was even more surprised to see it was a red kite  - untagged too, as far as I could see - no sign of any tags thru the scope either. Result (136) - and an Irish tick too! It drifted slowly north, and went down over the area of felled trees, towards Owenahincha. Otherwise, still 1 female scaup and 1 female tufted duck on the lake today - too baltic to venture far from the house though!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

some ducks at last

A scan of the lake early afternoon produced 1 female scaup in with 3 tufted ducks, while 12 teal were lounging on the bank.  Things need to get a bit more exotic very quickly, if I'm going to increase the 2009 patch tally.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas a'body!

Not much birding today but did catch sight of the bullfinch in the garden again, which is encouraging for the 2010 patch challenge - tricky enough to get round here, so they are! The lake was still partially iced this morning but still no obvious sign of exotic (or even boring) wildfowl piling onto it to escape the wintry freeze elsewhere.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas is upon us!

Another wintery day on the patch with lots of activity around the house - firstly a female bullfinch was in the garden again (same bird as 3 weeks ago?), with 2 fieldfares and c. 20 redwing in the fields by the house.  A buzzard and c.25 golden plover were also flying around this afternoon. Must try and actually have a walk around the patch before the end of the year, just in case I'm missing something!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

1 swallow does not make a winter

Had a juvenile swallow past the window this morning - easily my latest one ever, but December records in Cork are not unheard of, per the trusty CBR.

ton up

A fieldfare flying over Long Strand this lunchtime was number 135 for the year, meeting my 100% target for the patch challenge. Just need to bang in a few surprises before the end of the year to secure top spot!

Monday, November 30, 2009

effortless birding

Another good bird turns up outside the window - today it was a cracking adult male black redstart on the roof of the house, and then foraging under the composter - very smart!

bully's special prize

Skiving around in the house dodging work paid off big time this afternoon when I noticed a female bullfinch flying past the window (134). It flew down the garden and landed on phone wires near the road, giving itself up - only my 4th record for the patch, all in the last 2 years. So now just 1 species short of my target total for the year, and just 1 month left in the year to sort it out! Won't do better than 3rd place in the patch challenge, but can I hold onto it?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

black red

Very windy all day but did have 2 great northern divers on the lake this morning, riding out the waves. Ventured down Dirk in the afternoon, trying to find a bit of shelter and flushed a black redstart off a recent cliffslide, plus had the wintering whimbrel & 4 more great northern divers sheltering here. Shame there wasn't anything more exotic!  Checked out the pools at Red Strand on the way home and there were the 5 pintail, large as life - and a good deal larger than the other day!

Friday, November 20, 2009

a dreaded sunny day...

The wind dropped a good bit today, allowing me a chance to scour the lake for gale-blown patch ticks but could only manage a slightly out of place great northern diver, while the reshuffled "aythya gang" made another reappearance and today featured 2 scaup, 4 tufted duck and the female goldeneye.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

a whole new low...

News from mcA of 5 pintail on the flooded fields behind Red Strand this morning got us wondering as to whether they could be visible from the patch. A quick trek to the stubble fields above dirk and the pools were in sight (just), but not the ducks. McA headed back to the car to go check if they were still present. Two minutes later, 5 ducks flushed out of the field and landed on the pool. The excitement nearly reached fever pitch as mcA's car trundled along the strand road, then the 2 arms aloft signalling that them's the birds and they promptly flew onto the patch list and, more importantly, the patch year list (133 and back into 3rd in the challenge). All to play for!

Friday, November 13, 2009


Another scan of the distant trees behind the lake finally produced 2 stock doves for the year (132) - was beginning to think I'd missed them completely. Quiet otherwise, with just the 3 scaup back on the lake early afternoon, hence the desperate treewatching! 

Saturday, November 7, 2009

variations on a theme

Wet and windy today so didn't venture far!  A slight change in the Kilkeran duck flock late afternoon, with the 3 scaup back, but with only 1 tufted duck and a female goldeneye today.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

just like the old days!

Got home just before dusk tonight to find the lake hopping!  A family party of 5 whooper swans pitched down on the lake shortly after I got in - they were a bit nervous though, and flew off towards Ross soon afterwards.  Even more surprising was that there was also a party of 7 aythya ducks on the lake! The light was very poor from the house, so I nashed down to the shore, to find 3 grubby looking scaup (131), and 4 grubby looking tufted ducks! The 2 coots were also still present along with 36 (count 'em!) little grebes, recreating the days of yore when Kilkeran used to hooch with wildfowl!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

last gasp for autumn

Quite a few birders out scouring Galley this am, but not too much to show for it, with c. 7 chiffchaffs and a blackcap in Dirk, and not much anywhere else! There were good numbers of skylarks around, a wheatear near the lighthouse and chaffinches on the move but nothing better than that. On the seawatching front, 1 sooty shearwater and 1 manx shearwater were seen off Galley this morning, while a coot was on Kilkeran Lake this evening - it doesn't get any better than that!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Cork Bird Report just out!!

The new Cork Bird Report covering 2005 and 2006 is now available!



182 pages with full colour throughout and many photos and sketches - its a bargain at only 20 Euro a copy, plus €2.00 p&p (£22, inc p&p to UK). Order your copy today here!

Monday, October 26, 2009


Galley's first yellow-browed warbler of the autumn finally showed up in the garden at Shite Lane crossroads this afternoon, (not that I caught up with it). There were good numbers of chiffchaffs in Dirk Bay, with a ringtail Hen Harrier over too - probably the same bird reported during last week. Elsewhere, 2 black redstarts were out near the lighthouse.

Friday, October 23, 2009

satday seawatch

An adult pomarine skua, a juvenile sabine's gull and a bonxie in the first 15 minutes of a seawatch this morning was a good start, but unfortunately things then went a bit quiet, with just 2 arctic skuas and a sooty shearwater seen subsequently.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I saw yer dick's!

News of a richard's pipit out near the lighthouse this morning prompted a speedy(ish) departure from the house, complete with 3 year-old and buggy! Managed to hear it calling, and then watched it fly high off out to sea, still calling, with no sign of returning - shame it didn't stick around (130). Only the second one I've seen here, and neither have shown very well! The rest of Galley seemed pretty quiet though, with nothing obviously new in.

bits and bobs

Didn't get out till late this morning, but walked straight into a male ring ouzel feeding on brambles at Shite Lane - shame it wasn't new for the year though! Dirk seemed quite busy, with at least 5 chiffchaffs, 2 male blackcaps and a lesser whitethroat, which was probably thursday's bird, plus a few chaffinches booting around.

Off patch, 1 spoonbill was at Ross, with 3 more at Clonakilty this pm.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Still no migs to speak of around Galley, but 2 whooper swans on the lake first thing were a year tick bonus (129).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

ooo migrants

At last a light puff of south-easterly, and a few more bits in, as a result. There were at least 6 chiffchaffs in Dirk, plus a brief view of a lesser whitethroat (128), a good one for the year list hereabouts. Otherwise, there were a few redpolls and siskin spanging around, and 1 buzzard over shite lane.

Monday, October 12, 2009

tree pipit

Quiet again this morning around Galley, despite nice, calm drizzly conditions. The first redwing of the autumn was in gardens at the top of Dirk, with a couple of chiffchaffs there too, while a flyover calling tree pipit was a welcome addition to the patch year list (127) - only my second at Galley.

back to earth...

Pretty quiet around Galley this morning, with just 4 chiffchaffs, 2 buzzards, 1 siskin and 4 redpolls over (126).  There was a bit of hirundine movement though, with c. 60 swallows and 2 house martins through. A yellow-browed warbler at Sands Cove was just off-patch but is encouraging - maybe tomorrow?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

mad week begins....

All quiet today till 2.45 when the phone started hopping with news of a blackpoll warbler at Garinish, the 8th Irish record (like yesterday's arctic on Cape). Two and a half hours later it was on the list, showing well too - cracking bird! Big thanks to KG and AAL, the (very) dedicated finders - keep up the good work lads!  Nice photos here

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Arctic Warbler on Cape

The lure of an arctic warbler on Cape was too strong to ignore today, which was just as well as it showed really well - a cracker! There were a few other bits and bobs knocking around too, including a very bright yellow-browed warbler, a redstart and a lesser whitethroat, as well as good number of chiffchaffs and a ringtail Hen Harrier. A grand day out!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

more birders than birds!

Galley was hooching this morning - with birders, that is. Sadly, no-one could do better than 1 blackcap down dirk and 2 buzzards still booting about.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

nae migs

Did galley this am after last night's south-easterlies, and was pretty hopeful there'd be something, but nothing doing anywhere! 1 chiffchaff calling in dirk was it. Ho hum.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

more duck excitement

More excitement on Kilkeran Lake today in the form of a tufted duck (125), and even more unusual (for the lake, anyway), a female common scoter! The coot was still lingering too. Little on the migrant front tho, with 2 redpolls and a merlin at the head, 1 siskin over, 2 chiffchaffs and a blackcap in the bushes, and 3 buzzards still knocking about the top fields.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Galley gets another fea's

A fea's petrel was seen off Galley this morning at 10.45, heading west. Three arctic skuas, 1 sooty shearwater and 10 wigeon were also seen. I was there for the sooty and the wigeon - result! (124). A coot was on Kilkeran Lake late afternoon (yes, I checked, and it isn't).

Friday, October 2, 2009

birding with the stars

A morning sesh with hh and the mckinney down dirk and shite lane finally produced all 3 buzzards, plus I "got" goldcrest for the year, if i hadn't already had it (123). The juvenile american golden plover was still at Muckross Strand mid-morning too, so at least tom saw something good!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Discovered this morning that I'd missed a few easy ones off the year list, hence stonechat (122).

Monday, September 28, 2009

same old, say mould

One of the buzzards was still knocking about the top fields this morning, before drifting off to get a pasting from the gulls. A golden plover flew over then, trying to convince me it was a year tick, before I remembered seeing a whole flock in the spring. The last bit of excitement was when a warbler popped out of the scrub down Marsh Lane, looking for a second like a mythical garden variety. Unfortunately when it showed properly and started calling, there was really no denying it was just a chiffchaff - new in, though!

3 buzzards (count 'em) were soaring over Galley this afternoon, with 8 chiffchaffs loitering in Dirk.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

more buzzards

Out first thing this morning, and had a/the buzzard heading out towards the lighthouse, over Long Strand. Caught up with it and another messing around together in the top stubble fields, but there was little else doing - 1 chiffchaff at Shite Lane the "best".

Saturday, September 26, 2009

not much doing

Two of us thrashed Galley this am but to little avail, with only 3 blackcaps and a chiffchaff to show for it. A 1st w med gull was on Long Strand late morning, while 2 black-tailed godwits circling low over fields near Shite Lane was unusual.

give us a buzz...

Very quiet today, but it just felt like something could drop in at any time! So, I did Galley twice, for the mighty total of 1 male blackcap, 1 chiffchaff and a rather fetching buzzard (121), which are getting commoner in Cork, but are by no means guaranteed as a patch year tick, so happy with that. A few more migs wouldn't have gone amiss though!

Friday, September 25, 2009


Caught up with yesterday's juvenile american golden plover at Muckross Strand this morning, courtesy of my two trusty stake-out agents - showing well it was too.

Monday, September 21, 2009

back to seawatchin...

A strong south westerly dragged the keenest seawatchers back out to Galley today, with 1 pomarine skua, c. 6 great skuas, 2 arctic skuas and 2 sooty shearwaters the best of it.

Here's a nice photo of last week's icterine warbler at Shite Lane, courtesy of Ciaran Cronin, before the Galley rare-fest is totally forgotten!

galley icky

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

no sign today

No sign of the bunting today, but it could easily still be lurking around, as it was pretty breezy this morning. The icterine warbler and turtle dove were both still bouncing around though.

Monday, September 14, 2009

more gratuitous bunting shots!

Here are some more shots of the black headed bunting, courtesy of Mike O'Sullivan, and very good they are too!

The icterine warbler was still around Shite Lane today too, but mobile.

Galley Bunting photos

The (stick me neck out!) black-headed bunting showed well first thing this morning, then again at 10.45 and then 14.00, largely disappearing in between. Hot news of the day was a 1st winter/female type golden oriole found in a nearby garden, before it booted off inland. An icterine warbler in the pines at shite lane was probably the bird from Friday, although could have been new? Not much else around, a couple of wheatears, and the odd willow warbler and chiffchaff booting about, and crowds of twitchers! Galley has become a self-perpetuating hot spot for rares - happy days!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

that bunting is back!

Got a rather breathless phone call late morning concerning the reappearance of Friday's black or red headed bunting - managed to get there before it went to ground again for the afternoon, and a few other birders also managed to connect with it, which was good. The bird did disappear for most of the afternoon, but showed again well early evening, so hopefully it's identification can be clinched from all the photos. The images below are courtesy of Owen Foley - cheers, fella! More images here

I'd say I'm plumping for black-headed, as there is some streaking on the crown, although this was quite hard to see in full-strength sunlight (I think you can see it on photo 3?), plus the wing bars look pretty whitish (not that obvious from these photos). Compare it to this bird on Fetlar in Sept 2006 here

Opinions welcome about this bird!

Friday, September 11, 2009


A bit of a frustrating day on-patch. Quiet enough on the first wander about, nailing 1 sanderling (117) for the year at Long Strand, with 2 turnstones, and 1 willow warbler , 1 whitethroat and yesterday's turtle dove knocking about. Heading up Marsh Lane, I flushed a largish looking passerine which flew up the lane & into the sycamores at Shite Lane - "shrike? wryneck?" -  but no, it was a big, plain looking bunting with a yellowy vent. "gammy greenfinch?" thinks I, stumbling closer. But then it slowly dawned on me that black headed/red headed bunting looks like that - could hardly hold me bins still for de shakes! Could see it had a lightly streaked mantle and a dirty lemony/green rump, but otherwise was pretty plain looking above, with a yellowy vent, a big, stout grey-looking bill, and a dark beady eye. It seemed settled, in a barley crop with sparrows, so I alerted a couple of other birders, and flaked home for the scope, back 10 mins later but it was never seen again! Feck! During the ensuing search, a hippo was called up, but it went to ground before we nailed it -  it looked long-winged to me, with very blue legs, and I'm having it as an icterine warbler (118), cos I'm short of year ticks, plus we had a spotted flycatcher shoot through too (119).  No sign of yesterday's coots on the lake this evening - didn't think they'd stay long.


Addendum: Using the Haig rule (see here) it is technically ok to patch year-tick today's bunting, as it was one or t'other (favouring black-headed personally - its range is nearly identical to yesterday's eastern olly on mizen!), provided I don't also year-tick a red-headed bunting, should one happen by! (120)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

autumn is upon us!

A green sandpiper from under the quilt was a good start to the day (114) - just managed to get to the window in time to see it hoof round the side of the house. Out to thrash Galley for migs then, which got me my first autumn turtle dove on patch (115), 2 chiffchaffs, 1 wheatear and 1 male blackcap - ooo migrants!

More excitement followed this lunchtime when 2 coots were found on Kilkeran Lake (116), showing well too!

late swift

A swift was over Long Strand briefly this lunchtime, drifting off south-west with a gang of mixed hirundines. Easily my latest one ever here, I'd guess. Caught up with yesterday's kingfisher too, sat on a post by the edge of the lake.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

not quite seawatch sw

A good sw blow this morning resulted in the highest balearic shearwater numbers for this year off Galley, with 15 between 8 and 11 ish. A juvenile sabine's gull was an early highlight, with 5 great skuas, 1 arctic skua, 8 sooty shearwaters, 6 common terns and 4 arctic terns also seen. Manx shearwaters were belting past at approx. 4,500 per hour, ish. A kingfisher was at Kilkeran Lake mid-morning.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

two long tails

A brief watch between 12.50 and 14.00 produced two adult long-tailed skuas and 9 sooty shearwaters past Galley. A longer watch between 14.45 and 18.15 produced 9 more sooty shearwaters and 4 storm petrels (thats about 3 sooties per hour - ho hum!) Needless to say, I was there for the long watch, but not the short watch. Bogie strikes again! Another 40 minutes this evening netted 1 arctic skua and 1 storm petrel. Can't wait for the first run of south-easterlies and the chance of some migs!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

semi-p for me!

Caught up with yesterday's semi-palmated sandpiper at Dunmore this evening, in a high tide roost of dunlin and ringed plover, opposite the west end of Inchydoney beach. It flew off with most of the rest of the flock at 18.15 though, as the tide dropped. Also this evening 1 grey phalarope and 10 storm petrels were off Galley.  One greenshank and 2 lapwing were on the lake shore late afternoon.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

more seawatching

A two hour watch this morning produced 66 sooty shearwaters, 2 balearic shearwaters, 19 storm petrels, 1 bonxie , 1 arctic skua, 1 puffin and a peregrine.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

full fat patch tick!

A call from HH about an osprey at White's Marsh this evening seen heading towards Kilkeran Lake had me out scanning the skies, and persistance paid off as it eventually appeared over the Rathbarry trees and appeared to go down into the pines at Castlefreke, maybe to roost? A full-on Galley patch tick, and only my 2nd irish one (113). A few waders on the lake too, with 4 lapwing, 2 greenshank and 1 common sandpiper this evening.

Monday, August 24, 2009

first cory's for ages

A cory's shearwater was the highlight off Galley this morning, with 3 sooty shearwaters and an arctic skua also moving.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

long tail

An adult long-tailed skua hung around off Galley this morning for c. 5 minutes, settling on the water for a while too. Not that I was there, its becoming a bit of a patch bogie! Otherwise the seawatching was quiet today, with 4 balearic shearwaters, 17 sooty shearwaters, 17 storm petrels, 10 puffins and 12 common scoter.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

a few waders

Definite signs of wader movement around Galley today, with 1 black tailed godwit (112) in with the curlew flock around the lake, 1 dunlin over the lake and 4 lapwings over. On the passerine front, 2 willow warblers and 2 chiffchaffs were kicking around Shite Lane this morning, in a light south-easterly breeze. The sea was still quiet, with 1 balearic shearwater, 5 sooty shearwaters, 1 bonxie and 10 storm petrels this evening. Two ruff remained around White's Marsh/Muckross, with an adult yellow-legged gull at Ross this morning.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

waders on the move

Not much sign of wader action on the patch, with only 2 common sandpipers on the lakeshore this afternoon, however a ruff was at White's Marsh this afternoon, with 2 sanderling, 3 turnstone, 60 dunlin and 85 ringed plover at Owenahincha tonight.  One bar tailed godwit was in amongst black tailed godwits at Rosscarbery, with 15 greenshank and a juvenile med gull also there this evening. The wind died altogether this evening, with only 1 arctic skua, 1 balearic shearwater and c. 60 storm petrels off Galley tonight.

Friday, August 14, 2009

sw again

A wee south-westerly produced 1 great shearwater and 3 sooty shearwaters early evening, before the vis crapped out altogether.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

warbler action

At least 2 willow warblers at Shite Lane and another in the garden indicated a bit of local movement at least, while a flock of c. 650 starlings was crying out for something pink to be in amongst them, but it wasn't!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

migs are in!

Took the small fella for the first autumnal check of Shite Lane this morning, and we were flung headlong straight into mig action with cracking views of a collared dove on the telephone wires - a genuine Galley mig! Unfortunately there didn't seem to be much else around, but its all ahead of us!

satday morning

A few things moving this morning despite not much wind - 2 great shearwaters, 13 sooty shearwaters, 4 bonxies, 2 arctic skuas, 10 storm petrels, 16 puffins, 12 sandwich terns and 97 arctic terns in 4 flocks between 8 am and 12.  One bonxie and 2 common terns were off Long Strand late morning.

Friday, August 7, 2009

another great, another planet

Just the one lone single great shearwater past Galley tonight, (found by our dublin correspondant visiting his country retreat!)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

great news, ted!

A seawatch from 6.30 - 8.15 pm produced 5 great shearwaters, 2 balearic shearwaters and 2 bonxies.

Monday, August 3, 2009

grey phal

A few bits passing this morning, with 3 sooty shearwaters, 1 balearic shearwater, 7 bonxies, 27 puffins and 12 storm petrels between 7 and 8.30, while an hour this evening netted 2 sooty shearwaters, 3 balearic shearwaters and a lingering grey phalarope.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

little bit of movement through the crease

The first great shearwater for a few days went past Galley this morning, with 4 bonxies, 4 sooty shearwaters, 12 storm petrels and a few sandwich terns moving too.

birthday fea's

A quiet enough seawatch off Galley this afternoon, in a strenghthening southerly - just 1 sooty shearwater, 2 balearic shearwaters, 2 bonxies, 1 common scoter, 3 arctic terns and 2 sandwich terns until Rick shouted up a fea's petrel heading west and things went a bit mad (111) - happy birthday fella!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

not quite bridges of ross

One sooty shearwater and 5 storm petrels this morning off Galley, with 1 balearic shearwater this evening. Looks like there's not going to be a whole lot of south-westerlies around all week either - feck!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

flat calm

Much calmer this morning and even less doing as a result, however did get 1 common tern for the year (110) and 2 sooty shearwaters west in 45 minutes.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

windy but

Another good south westerly blow dragged several birders out of the woodwork for a session on Galley but unfortunately numbers of good seabirds remained low, with just 1 great shearwater, 15 sooty shearwaters, 6 bonxies, 2 arctic skuas and 5 arctic terns (109) seen from around lunchtime to 7.00 pm.  Good numbers of storm petrels were also recorded.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

another day, another wader

A dunlin loitering in the channel at Long Strand this morning was new for the year (108). A cory's shearwater was seen from Galley this morning too, while 2 arctic terns and 2 arctic skuas were seen between 6.00 and 7.30 pm.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

picking up...a bit

A good south westerly blow this morning produced better seawatching, although it was still fairly slow, with 3 great shearwaters, 1 balearic shearwater, 13 sooty shearwaters, 15 common scoter and several storm petrels between 6.00 and 9.30 am.  A common sandpiper was at Long Strand this morning. Another hour seawatching this evening netted 5 more sooty shearwaters and 1 arctic skua.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

nuffin but puffins

A seawatch this morning scored only 9 puffins - ho hum.

Monday, July 13, 2009

where are all the big shears?

Another quiet night on the Galley - gave it an hour with a reasonable SW blowing, but still little sign of any movement, with just 1 immature arctic skua, a distant sooty shearwater and 3 storm petrels west.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

seawatching with no scope

Forgot to take my scope up to Galley tonight, but luckily the single balearic shearwater (107) that went by was well within bins range, in with the stream of manx shearwaters. Didn't look like there was much happening further out, but who knows what I missed? 

Friday, July 10, 2009

not much

Gave it a lash this afternoon in a strong southerly, but didn't get much rewards - just 3 bonxies, c. 10 storm petrels and a few puffins was it, plus the usual stream of manx shearwaters.

sooty on the starboard bow

Little doing past Galley this evening, despite a reasonable south-westerly. One sooty shearwater was the best (106), with 8 puffins and a heap of manx shearwaters all going west.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

wader movement

The first sign of wader movement on the patch today, with 1 common sandpiper on the banks of the lake (105). There were 4 at White's Marsh this morning too.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Much quieter off Galley this morning despite a good SW blow, and getting up there a whole hour earlier! It made the difference though, with tystie and sabine's gull both in the patch year list bag by 6.20 (104). We stuck it out till 8.00 am but had little else to show for it, except 2 bonxies and a handful of puffins.

A pectoral sandpiper was at Clogheen Marsh mid-morning.

Friday, July 3, 2009

sat'day seawatch

The first hour was the best this morning (not that I made it!), with 44 cory's shearwater, 1 great shearwater, 1 sooty shearwater, 1 bonxie, 1 arctic skua and 1 adult sabine's gull. Things had slowed down by the time I arrived, but still managed c. 10 cory's shearwaters, 1 great shearwater (102), and a 'commic' tern that slipped through, nearly unseen - one that got away for the year, but hopefully only temporarily.

a bit more like it....

A decent wee south-westerly blow this evening so headed out to Galley, and was duly rewarded with a fine cory's shearwater, more or less the first bird in the scope (101)! A steady trickle of them past over the next hour and a half, with a wee rush towards the end, resulting in a final tally of 37, plus 1 storm petrel and 2 puffins. Not a bad start to the seawatch season - there'll be a few folk out first thing I'd say.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

a strange day....

Lets just say that 2 collared doves on patch on the way to kerry (to dip on the caspo tern there, or not there, as it turned out) were the best things I saw today. Its definately time to give up twitching! 

Saturday, June 27, 2009

here be dragons...

Still no birds on patch so here's a pic of a male keeled skimmer that I took in Kerry last week. The seawatching will be starting very soon, with any luck!

keeled skimmer

Saturday, June 20, 2009

bring on the fish

No birds today but a minimum of 6 bottlenose dolphins were feeding and splashing around close in at Long Strand all day - they don't normally hang around so long.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

royal tern how are ya?

A ringed plover at Long Strand this evening brought up 100 for the patch year list - slightly ahead of the last 2 years too, despite the lack of sightings recently. Who cares about missing royal tern anyway, when this kind of quality turns up on the patch? (well, I do, but them's the breaks).

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Three swifts zooming around over the house this evening were new for the year (99).  I never seem to get them early at Galley, its always 2 or 3 weeks after they are "in" before they show up here - great birds though, one of my favourites.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

here come the skuas

A great morning seawatching today with a good movement of skuas west past Galley between 8.00 and 10.30 am. In all, we had a total of 81 pomarine skuas, 21 bonxies and 5 arctic skuas, plus 4 storm petrels, 3 common scoter and 2 great northern divers, which has boosted the year list a bit (98).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

update from portugal

rufous bush chat oml ya bas!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

seawatching in the gloaming

Managed to get to Galley for the last half hour of light tonight in a fairly stiff south-westerly. Wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped but I was maybe a bit late. Did manage 2 puffins and 2 bonxies for the year (94), and 1 sandwich tern, while manx shearwaters were coming past in bunches of 30 at a time (approx. 600 per hour).

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Another morning wander with not very much to show for it - the male yellowhammer was singing again,  a collared dove at Shite Lane was the second for the year, and a sedge warbler was just beginning to break into song in the roadside roses at Long Strand (92).

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Another blank this morning with just a few willow warblers and chiffchaffs singing around the place. A first winter iceland gull at Long Strand is getting a bit late, while year tick of the day materialised at lunchtime in the form of a whitethroat singing near the house (91).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

bits 'n' bobs

A brief look at Shite Lane & Marsh Lane this morning produced 5 willow warblers, 1 chiffchaff and a male blackcap (90).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

(sp)ring ouzel

A fine male ring ouzel booting around shite lane crossroads was a real bonus for the year (89) - can be tricky enough in autumn, but this is my first spring one at Galley. Nothing much else doing, although the male yellowhammer was still trying his hardest to find a mate - give it up, fella!

take it away, gropper!

A reeling grasshopper warbler at Long Strand this evening was new for the year - can be tricky too, so a bonus (88).

Friday, April 10, 2009

vis mig

Still quiet this morning but two willow warblers in Dirk Bay and a trickle of sand martins over were both new for the year (87).  A few swallows were knocking around too, and the singing yellowhammer was still present this morning - bet it gives up soon though!

happy hour again

News of a male sub-alp and honey buzz at Mizen Head stung me into action late afternoon, but didn't do better than 2 chiffchaffs, one singing (!) yellowhammer and c.60 golden plovers wheeling around. Did glean a house martin for the year at Long Strand this evening (85).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

more seawatch news

Another blustery wet day produced a steady stream of manx shearwaters (1,900 per hour) and puffins (150 per hour) plus 2 pomarine skuas and 8 bonxies west.  Two sandwich terns were off Long Strand mid-morning.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

should have been seawatching...

The first seawatch in anger today and I missed it! Not a bad haul either, with manx shearwaters moving at approx 1,200/hour and puffins pelting past at 190/hour - pretty impressive!  Highlights included 1 sooty shearwater, 3 'blue' fulmars, 4 bonxies and a sub-adult pomarine skua, all heading west.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

10,000 up!

The 1st winter glaucous gull was lumbering past the window again this morning when I opened the blinds. A bit wet and windy so I didn't venture out, but did have 2 or 3 swallows hawking over the lake - still no sand martins though!


Congratulations to the 10,000th blog visitor, who hails from Altrincham in Cheshire, and visited at 14.50 this very pm - its only taken 2 years to get this many! But that's page views folks, not hits (or something) - here's to the next 10,000!!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

more on the board

The sight of a 1st winter glaucous gull and a 1st winter iceland gull at Long Strand first thing this morning wasn't very spring like, however 5 chiffchaffs and a collared dove in Dirk Bay was more encouraging, as was 2 wheatears and 1 manx shearwater from the lighthouse, with a female merlin trying to slay everything in her path. Two swallows at Long Strand this lunchtime were long overdue for the year (84).

Friday, April 3, 2009

wet glauc

Very wet today, so no outdoor birding for me! Did have a 1st winter glaucous gull lumber past the house mid-morning, heading towards the beach, but not much else.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

wet sunday

Not much of note mig-wise on patch this weekend - 1 chiffchaff this morning at Shite Lane was the best of it. A smattering of manx shearwaters off Galley, with c. 100 in 20 minutes and a fully winged 1st winter iceland gull at Long Strand this afternoon was the rest of it!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


A flock of c.80 golden plover flying around Galley and Kilkeran Lake mid-morning was visible from the patch (81).  There was a lot of gull action on the lake today too, with a first winter iceland gull the best of it, struggling to fly with several missing primaries. Didn't manage any wander for migs today though, but did have the 7 cattle egrets still near White's Marsh on the way back from clon this morning.

Friday, March 20, 2009

early cuckoo!

Continuing the theme of birds finding me, a cuckoo flying past the window this lunchtime was an unexpected surprise - well early! Otherwise, just 2 chiffchaffs gleaned from this mornings sojourn around Galley (80), with 3 black redstarts (new in, I'd say) and another chiffchaff at Long Strand in the afternoon.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

you should never go to them...

You should let them come to you! So sang Morrissey and he should know. Sound birding advice too, if the last couple of days are anything to go by. Just 1 black redstart in the garden this morning when I opened the curtains. An hours wander round shite lane & the top lane in a cold easterly produced absolutely nothing, so I gave up and went back home, only to be rewarded by a sandwich tern on the lake, from the kitchen window - result! (78).

black reds

Two black redstarts were loitering with intent between Long Strand and Shite Lane this morning (77). Missed them last year, although they are usually pretty regular on the patch.  Nothing else around though.  Three black redstarts spent the afternoon knocking around the garden, allowing some poor quality camera work - new birds? could easily have been, though not far from this mornings sighting.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

ear we go!

Finally got to grips with a nice male wheatear this morning, although i did have to twitch it (76). Should have been up earlier, as the finder took great delight in telling me! Did have a female merlin out by the lighthouse too, but there didn't seem to be much else about, as I gave all the usual haunts a hoof along the way, to no avail - maybe tomorrow!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

hammer time

Another blank on the mig front but did happen across a male yellowhammer booting around (scarce here) and a flyover siskin heading north-east - unusual in the spring, so a good morning to be out (75). The first patch year ticks in over a month, so hopefully that signals the end of the winter lull!

nae migs

A three hour thrash round Galley this morning produced no sign of any migs. Did have a male merlin and the wintering whimbrel was still in Dirk, along with 72 (count 'em) red-throated divers and 7 common scoter (which I missed). At least another 29 red-throats between Galley and Long Strand giving a v high count of 101 (Bully's special prize!) I'd have swapped all of them for an 'ear though!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

ivory gull - baltimore

A welcome phone call late morning about a 1st w ivory gull flying around Baltimore harbour was followed by excellent views of it a short while later. What a cracking bird! I've only seen one other, in Fraserburgh in October 1997, so its been a while! Keep up the good work, Julian!

Photo: C Cronin

Back on the patch, the white gull theme continued with a 1st w iceland gull on the lake for a while early afternoon. Happy days!

Monday, February 16, 2009

monday, and a dip

Was at Ringaskiddy 1st thing this morning to try for yesterday's great spotted cuckoo - no luck, though, and it seems that it either pushed on, or hopped off its mortal coil during the night. Did bump into 5 cattle egrets on the way home, between Inchydoney and Ardfield, so that should please our spanish reader, assuming he has internet access (and time to waste!)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

little gull

A cracking adult winter little gull was loitering off the beach at Long Strand this morning, only my 3rd for the patch, I think.  A 1st w iceland gull was also on the beach there.  A scan offshore produced 48 red-throated divers - a good count, along with 6 great northern divers.  A grey wagtail over the house mid-morning was also new for the year (73).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

winter gulls

Large numbers of common gulls around Kilkeran today but couldn't do any better than 2 med gulls in amongst them - an adult & a 1st winter.  A  look at Ross in the afternoon produced the huge adult glaucous gull still lumbering about, plus the two first winter iceland gulls.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


A single redwing was hanging out with a couple of mistle thrushes near Shite Lane this afternoon - just reward on the way home from doing my bird atlas tetrad (71).

Saturday, January 31, 2009

redneck in west cork

News of a red-necked grebe near Durrus had me hot-footing it to the wesht - a full-blown irish tick, no less. Got cracking views of it too, must be 10 years since I've seen one! Closer to home, the 4 goldeneye were back again today, for some more loafing around on the lake.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

fisher of kings

A kingfisher spent ages sitting on a post looking over the flooded fields at Long Strand this lunchtime - a tricky one to get for the patch year list (70), and one I missed last year. Had the black-necked grebe again on the lake this morning too.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

glauc again

A 1st winter glaucous gull headed along Long Strand towards Owenahincha this morning. Nothing much doing lakeside though.

Friday, January 23, 2009

cashing in

Cashed in reed bunting, skylark and peregrine for the year this morning (69), with a merlin over too.


A fine 1st winter glaucous gull and 3 lapwings (66) were on the lakeside this afternoon, with the black-necked grebe still out on the lake.

Monday, January 19, 2009

water rail

A squealing water rail in the reeds by the lake got onto the patch year list this morning (64), while the black-necked grebe was still hanging around.

And the winners are....

Congratulations to Fat Paul Scholes, worthy winner of the 2008 Patch List Challenge, with a whopping 107.96% !! Best find on-patch for 2008 went to Lord Buffy, for his fine buff-bellied pipit at Lough Beg (59% of the votes), with a supporting cast of citrine wagtail - both firsts for Northern Ireland! The jammy git!

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Six turnstones at Long Strand were the only year tick today (63), with the black-necked grebe still present on the lake.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

windy but

The gales continued today, driving a great northern diver onto the lake, along with the black-necked grebe and the 4 goldeneye. Kilkeran hasn't been this busy for ages - shame there's no grey phal though, and none in Dirk either, with just 2 great northern divers there today.

Friday, January 16, 2009

BNG still here

A lull in the wind this pm allowed a scan of the lake, with both black-necked grebe and the 4 goldeneye still present.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

wet 'n' windy

Very windy and wet today so birding was limited to scoping the lake from the jax window (no sign of the grebe), and watching a 1st w iceland gull fly over Long Strand (62).

Monday, January 12, 2009

11 o'clock rarity

I remember years ago there was a running joke about rare birds always being found on North Ron at 11 o'clock, and that when news broke, folk would put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea before heading out to see it.  It was a bit like that today (although less rare!) as I scanned the lake while waiting for the kettle to boil and my toast to pop up. There appeared to be a black-necked grebe diving in the near corner! I made the tea and toast, headed out to the office for my scope, and behold, it WAS a black-necked grebe - only my second for the patch - nice one (61). Of course, had it been a red-necked grebe (an irish tick) I'd have been straight out there, in full headless chicken mode! The 4 goldeneye were still present too.

bn grebe kilkeran lake

Black-necked grebe, Kilkeran Lake - Sean Cronin  More of Sean's photo's here

Saturday, January 10, 2009

that's more of it, ted

After dipping on 1st January, I finally got fulmar for the year out near the head this afternoon, plus a cracking adult winter med gull on the lake and a fly-by kestrel at Long Strand late on (60).

Friday, January 9, 2009

one more

Off patch for most of the day, but managed sparrowhawk over the lake this morning (57), and had the male pochard there late afternoon.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

another day, another duck

A pair of shelduck graced the lake this morning - not quite what I had in mind following the cold snap, but they all count on the year list (56).  The 4 goldeneye and a nervous pochard were still loitering there too.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

awash with wildfowl

Crazy scenes this morning on half-frozen Kilkeran Lake, with 4 pochard (my first since Jan 2006!) 4 goldeneye and 4 mute swans present (55) - typically, the pochard had departed by noon, although the ice hadn't!

Monday, January 5, 2009

slow going

Not much in the way of obvious movement around the patch yet, although 9 teal on the lake mid-morning were new for the year (53).

Vote now for best patch find 08

A merlin flew past the kitchen window this morning, onto the patch year list (52). Quiet otherwise, though up to 12 cattle egrets strewn around the Clon area. Don't forget to vote for the best patch find of 2008 (see right hand side) - which of these would you most like to find on your local patch?

Sunday, January 4, 2009


No time out on the patch today but did have a snipe over the house late afternoon (51).

Saturday, January 3, 2009

and the last shall be first...

Today was the annual Great Island Bird Race, with 5 Cork teams meeting on the pier in Cobh at 8.30 to battle it out for the honours. We didn't really put a foot wrong all day, and by 1.00 pm were on 88, only 1 behind our paltry total for last year, when we really struggled.  Our luck held for the rest of the day, and we retired to the pub on 101, which turned out to be the winning score by 1 species! Jammy gits to a man!  Not too much in the way of highlights, with 1 cattle egret, 2 adult ring-billed gulls, 1 glaucous gull and 3 or 4 iceland gulls, long-eared owl and merlin the best.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

happy new year!

Off to a flyer for 2009 with the patch year list on 50 by the end of day 1.  No real surprises, with the wintering whimbrel still in Dirk, with 2 great northern divers also there, and good numbers of guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes feeding off Galley this pm.