Sunday, January 29, 2012

money well spent

I got a new scope recently, with a rather nice 25-50x zoom. This got me wondering how far off-patch I could see stuff, whilst out scanning for divers this morning. Like, is there anything to see on those rocks over there approximately 2.5 km away? Yes, there are 3 oystercatchers and some small dark waders hopping about. Could those small dark waders be small enough and dark enough to be purple sandpipers? Only one way to find out! Drive 2 km and scan the rock from a bit closer! Why look! Three oystercatchers and half a dozen purple sandpipers hopping about! Am I definately looking at the right rock? Only one way to find out! Drive 2 km back to the patch and have another look at the rock again! Why look! Three oystercatchers and some purple sandpipers hopping about! That's a patch tick no less! Result! (64)

When I got home, I realised the rock was also visible from the house, but alas, a wicked heat haze had sprung up in the time it took to get home, dashing my chances of a "from the garden" tick but now I know where to look they should be a dead cert!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Galley gets more Gadwall

Gracing the lake this afternoon were a pair of gadwall - great (63)! I only ticked gadwall on the patch two winters ago, and had 4 more last December, so to get another two today was a good bonus for the year - result

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Where not to watch birds at Galley

Got my hands on the Galley Head section of the newly revised "Where to watch birds in Ireland" book yesterday and have to say it appears to be a bit crap! The original book was written by Clive Hutchinson a good while ago, and while the blurb claims that "the book has been extensively revised" it doesn't seem to be the case for the Galley Head section at least!

 Perhaps the strangest bit of text in the section is the news that "Dirk Bay and the gardens at Galley Head may well be productive in spring, but they have never been watched at this season!" How bizarre! I've been thrashing Galley every spring since 2004, and I'm certainly not the only one! And I wasn't the first either! And there's even been some good birds found in spring e.g. hoopoes in March & April 2005, male woodchat shrike in April 2005,  male red-backed shrike in May 2010, wryneck and alpine swift in May 2011, to list but a few. And who found the black-winged stilt at Kilkeran Lake in May 2005 if it wasn't birders doing Galley in the spring? Actually, spring 2005 was pretty fecking good looking back on it, and should surely have got a mention in the book!

The autumn round up is patchy to say the least, with the ancient 1985 but still amayzing haul of american redstart and philadelphia vireo getting dragged out again, but no mention of two pallas's warblers together in November 2003, the cracking swainson's thrush in October 2008 (Ireland's 5th) or the black-headed bunting from September 2009. All in all, it would appear that there has been little in the way of revision in this section at least, and the directions and maps are pretty scanty on detail. If this is typical of the book, then I'd advise potential buyers to get a copy of Eric Dempsey's "Finding Birds in Ireland" instead - its a better researched and more up-to-date book, IMHO. (And it mentions and maps Shite Lane too - bonus!)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Urban birding

Had to go to London for a meeting today so challenged @wansteadbirder and @p4rus to a mini-peanut challenge: who can the most species in the day. Off to a flyer even before we'd landed with black headed gull & wood pigeon, closely followed by starling, 2 (count 'em) skylark & kestrel. Gleaned magpie, crow & feral pigeon rattling in on de heafrow express before netting blackbird on the way into the meeting.

Bird of the day had to be the cracking peregrine belting past the window 11 floors up - cool! Tried really hard on the return journey to de plane but couldn't do better than adding herring gull & lbb gull to finish with just 12 for the day.

Soundly by beaten by both the other peanuts, but I'll just have to try harder next time. Not easy, this urban birding lark!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

some more for the year

Managed to struggle out to the light for black redstart today, despite feeling like death warmed up. Also scored fulmar & kestrel for the big 60

Seriously running out of possibilities now tho, unless the lake starts working its magic!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Best Patch Find 2011

The voting has started for the Best Patch Find 2011 - click here to see the poll, and make your choice. Which would you most like to find on your patch? The winner receives the much-coveted porcelain Snowy Owl - there's a lot at stake!

Pimped for 2012

A new year and a new look, courtesy of Surfbirds moving over to WordPress. Got locked out for a few days in the move hence the lack of posts, and I don't know how things work in the new set-up either so apologies if it all looks a bit clunky to begin with.

Got the new year off to a flyer anyway, with a mighty 52 species on patch, my highest ever by some way. The downside is, it means I haven't got much still to get before the spring.

Best of the lot was the lingering little gull which was still in Dirk over the weekend, plus there's also been a fair few med gulls on the lake, plus wintering chiffchaff and whimbrel (52). More news as it happens!