Monday, December 26, 2011

a little venture off-patch pays off

Out for the first time in a few days and headed to Red Strand to check the off-patch gulls. I wasn't there long as a 1st winter little gull on the beach meant a quick detour to the top of Dirk from where it is possible to scan the distant gulls on Red Strand, provided a dog-walker hasn't flushed them in the meantime! My luck was in today, as the gulls were mostly at the closer end of Red Strand, and the little was still in amongst them (139), before it flew off to play in the surf with some black-heads. Always good to see them at Galley - I think this is about my 4th or 5th on patch over the years, so less than annual - bonus!  And more importantly, it takes me to 3rd in the challenge, with a week still to go!

Thought I'd have a wee look at the sea, as there was a reasonable south-westerly blowing.  There were a good few fulmars, gannets and kittiwakes skelping past, plus the odd band of auks - and in amongst them three darker fulmars slipped through too. This is the most I've seen off Galley in a day, and all were pretty close in. I'd say they were "D" for Dark, but not "DD", in the old Seabirds at Sea lingo.  Better was still to come though, as, whilst staring at the close waves pondering how much longer to give it, I noticed something big and dark flapping through on stiff wings. A quick look through the bins revealed a cracking great shearwater, which was filling the frame through the scope! Awesome! I think it must have been the closest one I've ever seen off Galley, and a very late date too - no records later than October in recent CBRs, although I did see a couple in early November last year I think. Cracking birds altogether!  All in all over the years I've done very little winter seawatching off here. Based on today, maybe I should do a bit more?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

not done yet

A nice calm morning so grabbed the chance to scope for divers in the bay. A few red-throated divers and great northern divers about, but nothing in amongst them, but there was a lone sanderling on Long Strand - ker-ching! (138). So now just one away from 3rd place, assuming no progress on Donside - here's hoping!

Friday, December 16, 2011

last gasp

Not much time left this year so a bullfinch in the garden this morning was a veritable lifeline in the chase for 3rd place in the patch challenge (137). The bad news is I still need 2 more species to clinch third assuming boy roy scores no more before the year end. Time for the lake to start weighing in with ducks galore...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

the wrong white-winger

Not much time or inclination for the patch today, despite a third-place finish still up for grabs. Did time my scanning of the lake well though, picking up both a 1st winter iceland gull and an adult winter med gull soaring around in the breeze. Sadly,its glaucous I still need for the year, and though the opportunity to string it was tempting, I managed to resist. Plenty time left yet!

Monday, December 5, 2011

patch news!

Eh? No entry since 24th October? Janey! No, I haven't been away (much) - I just haven't seen anything! Been out the odd time but got nowt for me troubles. Until Saturday morning. When my tardiness was duly rewarded with 4 (count 'em) gadwall on the lake (135). I only patch-ticked gadwall last december, when I had 4 (count 'em) birds on the sea - no doubt these are returning birds then, setting a new trend by wintering for 1 day only at Long Strand! I can confirm that they were slightly earlier than last year, but I still got 'em!

No sign of them next day, but wonder of wonders, instead there was a great crested grebe and a wigeon. In the same scope! Amayzing! Unfortunately the wigeon wasn't a year tick (or else I ticked it already without seeing one!), but the grebe certainly was (136) - only my 4th on patch, and one that always reminds me of dipping philadelphia vireo! The day that McA turned up the Loop Head one, I balked at going! I'd been on a great roll of successful twitches for it had been a mad yankee autumn, but somehow I got convinced I'd dip! It was really daft - I had child cover, I had no big deadlines, but I didn't go. Instead I spent all afternoon in the office refreshing birdguides every five minutes and trying not to think about philadelhia vireos. In between times I went and checked the lake and saw my first great crested grebe for the patch! Vindicated! That kept me going until the first "its still showing" text came in, and then I just felt sick!

Of course I drove up and back for it 2 days later and dipped completely - twat!

Interestingly (maybe) the only other time that I get reminded of philadephia vireos is every time I wander down dirk, past the big tree where one hung about back in 1985! Its not there any more tho, its gone.