Friday, December 31, 2010

best patch year ever?

As 2010 draws to a close, and with nowt else to do, I thought I'd look back at the highs and lows of 2010 on the patch. I may have got the idea from here, but I'm sure Jonathan won't mind...

Best birding moment

The best birding on patch this year has to have been the wilson's petrel day back in July. Watching the second wilson's petrel come through right beside a storm petrel - amayzing stuff, particularly given the paucity of good seawatching this year. Watching an untagged red kite come in off the sea during a massive January cold weather movement of thrushes and waders was a pretty close second though! And I mustn't forget finding the 4 gadwall off Long Strand in December!

Worst birding moment

 Probably hearing about a fly-by great white egret while i was over in the UK - of course, it may not actually have been visible from the patch anyway, in fact, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have been, almost certainly wasn't in fact!

Best patch bird

This is a tricky one, but I think it has to be the siberian stonechat out near the lighthouse - a wee cracker and quite unexpected. Feckin rare in irish terms too, so the sooner they split it the better!

Worst patch bird

Has to be hobby, as I missed at least 3 on patch, in a really good year for them! The annual dip on long-tailed skua was so expected that it barely hurts these days! Missing 3 red-breasted mergansers on an otherwise crap, "i can't be arsed going" seawatch was also a bit galling!

Best patch find

A couple of contenders, although neither showed well - male red-backed shrike from the bedroom window in May was pretty good, although the fact that I was hungover, not wearing glasses and carrying a baby at the time didn't help. I think the ortolan bunting in September just shades it though! Did I mention those gadwall already?

All in all, a vintage year on the patch, with 5 (count 'em) patch ticks:  woodcock, red-backed shrike, wilson's petrel, ortolan bunting and gadwall, plus I finished on my highest ever total too - 141. Of course, its all relative - my irish list remains paltry, i can't id waders anymore cos I never see any, and no-one gives 2 hoots about those gadwall but I'll still be raring to go all over again from first(ish) light tomorrow. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

thou shalt always bird

The lake was almost totally iced up again today, but a few ducks still persisted, namely 3 tufted duck, 1 pochard and 2 goldeneye, as well as the 3 coots.

Much more amusing was this birding propaganda link I got sent - cheers, Rick!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

far east twitching

Spent half a day tazzing round east cork for a change - finally managed to find the pied-billed grebe site in Cork Harbour - took over an hour, but once there, the bird itself was a bit easier, diving out in mid-channel - showed pretty well in the end though - tick! After that, a quick whizz over to Ballymacoda for the 4 bewick's swans, a good one for the cork list these days. A quick look at Aghada clinched both black-necked grebe and slavonian grebe, but we couldn't dig out the surfie. Hopefully he'll stick around for the bird race.

Friday, December 10, 2010

patch gold!

OK so I was wrong about the date and the location, but there was no mistaking the 4 (count 'em) gadwall off Long Strand this lunchtime (141) ! Crazy scenes broke out, I must admit - a good bird for west cork, and with the long-running Galley Bubo listings controversy still rolling on, I was delighted to get them for the patch! Certainly beats a heard-only, off-patch jay, anyday, but thats another story.

33 red-throated divers and 6 great northern divers were also off Long Strand, while 3 pochard, 3 tufted ducks and the teal gang were still on the lake.

Monday, December 6, 2010

no gadwall

My psychic powers failed this morning, with an absense of gadwall on the lake. My id powers weren't much better, as I failed to get on 2 possible red breasted mergansers flying past the house - pretty sure they were, but cos it would be a patch tick, I'm not having them on that. Bugger! The 6 tufted ducks remain, along with 2 new male pochard, plus 3 black-tailed godwits - quite a run of waders this week, most unseasonal.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

in which i appear to be psychic

Only 3 days ago, I said that knot & sanderling would be two more useful year ticks (but pretty unlikely given the time of year). Yesterday's knot on the lake edge was surprising enough, but things got a bit spooky this morning when I scanned the lake edge again to find a sanderling running about! And no, it wasn't the knot, sure that flew off, remember? A new personal best, not that anyone but me will be interested, and not like its doing me any good in the patch challenge. Still stuck in 6th, and definately unlikely to get any higher. Still, good to reach 140 anyway.

Numbers of tufted duck had risen to 6, but there wasn't much else doing. A look off Long Strand produced only 3 red-throated divers and a female common scoter. News that there's a few gadwall around at Ross & Muckross gives me hope that one might show up on the lake tomorrow, since I seem able to predict the future all of a sudden! Can but hope!


Saturday, December 4, 2010

patch year tick record equalled

Finally got around to scanning the lake mid-afternoon, and it was a good job I did too! Noticed an odd looking wader on the lake edge (Galley doesn't get that many waders so I'm always a bit rusty!). First thought was grey plover, which I've never seen on the deck on patch, then ruff, before the penny finally dropped - knot! Almost as the id clicked, it flushed off with a redshank, and disappeared! Timing is everything! Not much else doing, although 3 tufted ducks were new in.

So the year list moves to 139, level with my 2008 total. Wonder if I can break the 140 before the year end?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

still snaw

Another small cold weather movement at Galley this morning, with the arrival of 4 whooper swans on the lake. They didn't stay long, as the semi-resident mute (swan) chased them off, which was a shame. At least 2 coots still remain, plus 13 (count 'em!) cormorants, a huddle of teal and a smattering of lapwings. Two bar-tailed godwits flew past the house this morning too, which was a bit of a waste as I already year-ticked them yesterday. Sanderling and/or knot would be much more welcome!