Sunday, May 27, 2012

Desperate times

Its been a pretty good spring for turtle doves in Cork but the species still eludes me on patch for the year, and its about the only regular thing I still need this spring.
News of two at nearby (but off-patch) Red Strand got me wondering if they’d be visible from the top of Dirk Bay (on-patch, but approx. 1 km from Red Strand). There is a bit of history with long-range patch ticking from Dirk, (e.g. here) but not for a couple of skulky doves – this could be tricky!
Efforts to find a willing volunteer proved futile, meeting with various piss-poor excuses like “I’m in Kerry” and “Isn’t that harassing migrants” etc, so I drove to Red Strand to dig the birds out myself, in the unlikely hope they’d remain in full view while I pegged it back to Dirk. All was going well, until a power-walker appeared and headed purposefully up the very track alleged to be containing the doves! Bollox! If I was still at Dirk, I’d have seen them flush! Well, I did see them flush twice and then disappear into a tarmaced garden surrounded by a high hedge.
With the doves now pinned, I pegged it back to Dirk. The garden looked pretty small from there, and the light wasn’t great, rendering the 50x on the scope obsolete. However, after about 10 minutes, I noticed something grubbing around on the tarmac beside the house, followed by another something! The excitement reached fever pitch as the two dots doves headed down the driveway towards me – well, ok they got ever so slightly closer! At one point you could nearly clearly see that they were doves, and then one flapped a bit and the crowd went wild!
So, I finally got turtle dove for the year, which together with the water rail I gleaned last night (actually that was off-patch too, but clearly audible from patch) puts me on 115 for the year – streets ahead on any previous year, but will my luck hold?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A wader day

May continues to surprise, with a few year ticks still dribbling in. Since the last post, I’ve jammed a huge flock of 16 (count ‘em!) bar-tailed godwits and a soaringbuzzard, as well as a wee late fall of spotted flycatchers (at least 8). Wasn’t expecting much today on the mig front, and couldn’t do better than 2 collared doves and a lingering spotted flycatcher. However, waders were on the move today, as a look at Long Strand showed – another 2 bar-tailed godwitsconsorting with a knot!! And lingering in view for several minutes! Unheard of!
Noticed a massive number of hirundines on the deck in the horse field by the lake late morning – there must have been at least 150 swallows, c30 house martinsand  the odd sand martin hunkered down – never seen them sheltering like that before! By mid-afternoon, numbers had at least doubled, but couldn’t pull anything rare out of the bag. 10 dunlin on the lakeshore was another spring wader bonus though – 113 and counting!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

more migs

Its been a busy week for year ticks! Although things slowed down a little after the bumper harvest on 1st May, there’s been plenty of on-patch action to keep me busy.  Weds & thurs were quiet enough, with numbers of willows, caps and ears slowly dropping off after the big fall, although I suspect there were still new birds moving through.  Friday morning also had nothing new, but a late afternoonspotted flycatcher at Shite Lane lifted the spirits, and was quickly followed by 20sanderlings on Long Strand – not seen many in spring – some were just coming into summer plumage too.
And then this weekend its been all ducks. Still bashed the patch both mornings, and had another spotted flycatcher and a male whinchat this morning, but an ever-expanding aythya flock on the lake has proved good value for year ticks, with 4 tufted ducks, 2 pochard and a female scaup all gleaned.
The discovery that I’d omitted pheasant from the year-listing proceedings was very welcome. I’d had an inkling that I maybe hadn’t counted it, but kept forgetting to check. All in all, patch year list now standing at a whopping 109 to date – beating my previous best in 2010 by 2 species and 3 days – all good!
Its currently blowing a stiff south-easterly and bucketing down with rain – what’s to be had tomorrow I wonder?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

patch bogey nailed at last!!

An amayzing day on patch!! Galley was heaving with common migrants, and the birding was great! It was a bit like a uk east coast fall, I guess, not something that we are used to over here! The common stuff consisted of at least 200 willow warblers, 150 wheatears, 40 blackcaps, 20 sedge warblers and 10whitethroats, while scattered in amongst all these were 4 grasshopper warblers, 3 whinchats, 3 cuckoos, 2 redstarts, 2 lesser whitethroats and areed warbler. My best moment of the day was walking a hedge with willow warblers flitting everywhere when suddenly, bam! a garden warbler jumped out in front of me! Patch Tick! Patch Bogey nailed! In a day of big winds, it was the showiest bird I saw, which was just as well as its taken me 9 years to get one on patch! Ridiculous!
A call of black kite late in the afternoon had us all out scouring again, but no joy! However, the day wasn’t over as a tree pipit called explosively from somewhere, 2cuckoos appeared from nowhere and a short-eared owl came in being mobbed by corvids – only my 3rd one on patch, and 1st one for several years! Excellent altogether!
With patch gank like ringed plovermanx shearwater and common sandpiperall falling too, the final tally on the year list front was 12! That where to watch birds in Ireland Galley section definately needs a re-write now!! (103)