Sunday, December 29, 2013

A fairly vintage year on patch

Although I've so far failed to add any further year ticks in December, overall the 144 species that I've gleaned at Galley in 2013 makes it the second best year total since records began (2004), beaten only by last years monstrous 149. With a whopping five full fat patch ticks, it shapes up pretty well, leaving me just 3 short of the magic 200 barrier! First of the year's patch tickage was this fine female long-tailed duck, back in January.

Exhibit A
This was followed in April by a distant but definite velvet scoter, which you can read about here.

August weighed in with a fine wood sandpiper, while 2 spotted redshanks nearly slipped through the net one September evening, but were sorted out the following morning. Final patch tick of the year involved this fine pair and a friendly push in the right direction from a loyal slave!

galley geese

Aside from the patch ticks, there was a good haul of decent migrants at Galley this year,including yellow wagtail, at least 3 wrynecks, 2 red-backed shrikes, red-breasted flycatcher and yellow-browed warblers. The seawatching was red-hot at times, with big numbers of big shears and a fantastic fea's day too!

yellow fever

fat neck


who ate all the flies?

In other news, I managed to twitch a hefty four (count 'em) Irish ticks, I think - black duck, gull-billed tern, mongolian plover and  serin:

Dack Blucks

oooof - bird of the year I think
Mizen Serin - lovely!
Bring on 2014 I say! Happy New Year (List!)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

christmas globby

News of a glossy ibis only 10 minutes from the in-laws this afternoon was a welcome distraction from the kids and the lego! Didn't have long tho cos had to be back in time to watch Superman The Movie with the kids - tv heaven!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

barney and me

Got word of 2 barnacle geese just off patch this lunchtime (thanks KW!) so obviously had to try and get 'em from within the patch boundary. Luckily Old Spoons was at my gaff at the time so we headed off eagerly to see what we could see.  The birds were on a flooded field between Rathbarry and Red Strand, but unfortunately were invisible below a small ridge from the nearest spot on the patch.

Luckily a willing volunteer did the decent thing and it wasn't long before the two barnacle geese decided they'd like to see how things looked from above the flooded field - hey presto, there they were zooming over the ridge, straight onto my patch list - happy days! Discovered later that they were a Cork tick too - double bonus!

Any geese are mega at Galley - I've only seen brent goose on 3 occasions in 10 years, and otherwise I've only seen egyptian goose (potential 1st Irish!!) and ruddy shelduck (which isn't technically a goose, but hey its close enough). So far I've resisted ticking either on my patch list, but handy to have in reserve.

I nipped back late pm and managed to get a shot of them in the gathering gloom, thusly:

patch tickage baby yeah!
Maybe winter isn't quite so bad after all!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

courtmac & timoleague

Took a wee spin to Courtmacsherry this morning to have a sconce at this

Surf Scoter, Courtmacsherry
Unfortunately it was a bit more distant than it had been yesterday, so the shots were correspondingly even poorer than they might have been! Only discovered on checking this evening that my last surf scoter was 10 years ago to the very day, at the same site! Spooky!

On the way home I stopped to check the gulls at Timoleague and found 2 adult yellow-legged gulls in amongst the lessers - here they are in situ...

2 adult YLG with LBBs
and in more detail

Jeepers, I feel like Gavin Haig

C'mon Gav, talk us thru this fella!

Still find these fellas tricky & don't feel confident about them at all. Reckon it must be down to my deprived Scottish upbringing! Kind of getting the hang of adults tho - just need to find one on patch now!

Friday, October 25, 2013

YBW action

Gave Galley a good thrashing today in lovely conditions - lovely & calm, with just a hint of a south-east breeze, after c. 18 hours of strong SE & rain.

Around the lighthouse road, chiffchaff and black redstart were clearly new in, while a mobile yellow-browed warbler was in the blue house garden (& then Old Spoon's new garden - oops!).

Failed to dig anything out in Dirk, but Shite Lane held another 2 (count 'em) yellow-browed warblers and c.8 chiffchaffs. A good few meadow pipits & skylarks were flying over too.

Good to finally see a few YBW at Galley this autumn - been a while coming!

Saturday, October 12, 2013


North-easterlies again, so gave Galley the works this am. Not a whole lot doing but did manage to glean two ring ouzels out of it (140). Here's one of them (just for Jono)

A plastic garden ornament
Another two whooper swans arrived on the lake late afternoon - All good!

Friday, October 11, 2013

er fins and a dragon

Had a leisurely hoof-about on Galley today with lots of non-birdy action. As I wandered down the top lane I could see a heap of gannets out at sea so had a quick scan - some blubber blowing! Hoping that they were yesterdays humpback whales I hurried home for the scope and returned in time to see some leaping about as well as lots of blows - humpbacks fins all right! I dunno, did see a couple of animals leap right out of the water but in retrospect I think they were probably breaching minke whales as fins very rarely breach. I was reasonably convinced that they were humpies but Mr Barnes was out in the Holly Jo & could only see fins so best retract that record! Moving on...

Retracing my steps up the lane I flushed a pale looking dragonfly with a very obvious blue patch just at the base of the abdomen. I took a few shots and confirmed later that it was a vagrant emperor - a bit of a mega with only a handful of Irish records. There's been a small influx lately with 2 in a moth trap near Red Strand and a couple more further afield but this one appears to only be the 7th Irish record - amayzing! Rarest thing I've found on Galley for a while!

male Vagrant Emperor, Galley Head 11/10/2013
Did finally track down a few migrants at Shite Lane, but couldn't do better than blackcap, a handful of goldcrests, and a chiffchaff or 2. However, the year list was blessed with a fine whooper swan on the lake this afternoon, taking it to a heady 139.

Friday, October 4, 2013

things fall in my lap

Slogged the patch 1st thing but couldn't do better than an arty wheatear

Arty ear
Had pretty much given up for the day and was enjoying a late lunch when I noticed something small flying around over the lake. A quick squizz through the bins revealed a juvenile black tern hawking around - only my 2nd one at Galley - fantastic!

boy with a tern

Shortly afterwards, whilst doing me moffs, I got a call from CC who was watching a female marsh harrier over the lake. After some headless chicken moments, a couple of laps of the house to gather me thoughts and a scopeful of a buzzard I eventually got on the harrier as she soared around and gradually drifted off north-west. First one for a few years for me here.

News of a serin at Mizen Head got me seriously twitchy, and after a very brief dalliance with work, I gave in and hoofed down there. Success!!

a serin earlier
2 good patch year ticks and an irish tick in the same day - all good!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

more migrant fun

Had a whole day to hoof around Galley and I enjoyed every minute of it! Got off to a good start right away as I banged into a shrike just round the corner from home. It took a while to pin down, as it was booting around a lot & the strong sunlight was making it look really pale, but with a few extra folk looking for it, it eventually gave itself up as another juvenile red-backed shrike - nice!

Tried for a wryneck in Dirk that was seen this morning, but waaaaaaaaay too much cover! However a spotted flycatcher was in there. As the rain began to close in, we picked up another spotted flycatcher on the cliffs, which hadn't been there long - fresh arrivals! Exciting! A male redstart sheltering in a garden was my first for the year - probably just less than annual here, so a bonus for the patch total this year. At least one whinchat was still hanging about around the top lane fields too.

Managed to finally get reasonable shots of one of the wrynecks that has been hanging around for a few days, before we bumped into a new bird on Marsh Lane. Pretty sure there was at least 4 different birds today, and possibly 6 or more over the last week. Reckon I can legitimately count finding 3 different birds so far this autumn - a good year for them! 

reed warbler and a male blackcap were also in the valley.

With the wind finally going away from the east for the first time in about 8 days, these birds may move off again, but there's a fair bit more rain due tomorrow, so there's still a chance of some more migrant action, once it dries up again - we shall see!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Migrants at Galley!

Conditions have been good virtually everywhere of late, with a long burst of easterly winds blasting out of central Europe towards the UK and Ireland. Having just got back from an excellent trip to Shetland on Tues night, I was keen to get back out on patch as soon as possible.

And the east wind did the business!

Scanning a wall of a field I was delighted to spot a wryneck sitting tight. Unfortunately I botched the attempted photograph and it disappeared, as they do. Onwards and upwards though, as I bumped into 2 (count 'em) whinchats a little bit further on, before stumbling over the bird of the day - a fine juv red-backed shrike - only my 2nd ever on patch!

Additional year ticks in the form of pied flycatcher  and spotted flycatcher were also most welcome! (134)

ooo migrants

Sunday, September 8, 2013

accidental ear

Took this shot on full digital zoom by mistake this morning, but it seems to have come out not too bad!

flukey wheatear

Saturday, September 7, 2013


A pleasant morning on patch kicking around for migs. Although the forecasted north-westerlies were never going to drop much in, it was nice & calm first thing and the prospect of something out of the ordinary knocking about dragged me out at 7.30, despite only 5 hours kip.

An acro at Shite Lane kept me occupied for a bit, until it revealed itself as a sedge warbler, and there were a few willows and chiffs around too. Further on round, a warbler jumped out of some brambles and sat on the fence really close for what seemed like ages - grasshopper warbler - always great (and hard) to see one well. Eventually I managed to wrestle the new cam out of its case by which time only the birds head was visible - still, quite pleased with the one shot I managed.

A few waders were on the move with dunlin and ringed plovers going over but couldn't manage a year tick today. Maybe tomorrow?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

ooo migrants

Tried my luck for migrants at Galley again this morning and it paid off! As I walked down past the sycamores at Shite lane, I could hear something giving little tic noises and began to pay more attention. But a quick glimpse of a plain winged small flycatcher was all I got, before it booted out over the maize field and away. I hot-footed it in pursuit, to the next lot of pines and picked it up at distance in a big willow - red-breasted flycatcher! Cracker! I got a bit closer, and eventually saw it well, and even got a few shots...

In action! (fluke-shot)

In repose
A great wee bird - this was my 3rd at Galley, but first outside of the forests of Dirk! In the same willow there were a few phylloscs and a reed warbler, which was also very welcome for the year list (127).

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

more large shears

After last night's haul, it was back out again this morning for first light. Once again, the first bird through the scope was a cory's, and the morning watch continued where I'd left off last night. There were more great shearwaters in the mix this morning though, which was nice! A couple of other birders joined me, and we made the best of the bad light, while the shearwaters went by at varying range. It was great practice trying to ID them all in the tough conditions, however after 4 hours my eyes were almost falling out due to the glare & hazy conditions. Time to leave, but not before a tightly packed flock of c.45 cory's flew past, with one sooty shearwater in amongst them - an amazing sight - like being in the mediterranean!

Today's numbers as follows - 6.45 - 10.45 am - all west

1,107 Cory's shearwaters
290 Great shearwaters
44 sooty shearwaters
19 Bonxies
2 Pomarine skuas
1 Arctic skua
17 Puffins
2 Storm petrels

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

surprise seawatch

Headed out for a seawatch this evening, mainly to escape the kids, but also as the wind was looking like it might possibly be ok-ish. So it was a bit of surprise to get 5 cory's shearwaters go past in the first 30 seconds. But they kept on coming, sometimes really close in, and sometimes pretty distant but a steady procession. At times, they even outnumbered the manxies! Every so often there'd be a smattering of great shearwaters go through, although these were mostly more distant than the cory's. A juv long-tailed skua was another surprise, with reasonable numbers of  bonxies & sooties too. Final scores as follows:

800 cory's shearwaters
57 great shearwaters
1 long-tailed skua
13 sooties
10 bonxies
1 arctic skua
10 stormies
19 puffins
3 arctic terns

Friday, August 16, 2013

a new wader for the patch

Sunny calm mornings have been fairly scarce here of late, so it's been a few days since I checked the lake. However it was worth a look as I noticed a wee wader running about on the mud. A wee zap of zoom and hey presto - a wood sandpiper! Patch gold and a full fat patch tick! Galley doesn't have much in the way of wader habitat, so such things are pretty scarce around here. Delighted to get one at last! A common sandpiper was also skulking around, for comparison purposes (123 for year).

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Bulwer's past Galley

Unfortunately I can't really write a post on this spectacular event, as I was at home sheltering from the rain, whilst still glowing in the er after-glow of multiple fea's action. Still, I reckon I can kind of claim some sort of part in the proceedings as if me & CC hadn't struck fea's gold repeatedly the day before, I doubt the Bulwer's Three would have sat it out so long! Anyway, over to Mr Paul Moore to give a brief rendition of what it feels like to find a Bulwer's Petrel on a seawatch....

"Well, that probably won't happen again any time soon. I'm sure people are wondering how was Swinhoe's eliminated so without going into too many details . . . I was a bit cheesed off at missing Galley yesterday as I thought it might be good, but decided to go down today anyway. Things were quiet (compared to yesterday) and two Dublin lads left about 11 leaving just 3 of us from Cork. Just after 12 while scanning the closest Manxies I glimpsed a large petrel disappearing behind a wave. I alerted the others, (shouting "Oh F***" does that very efficiently), and was rather pleased to see the bird reappear to reveal an all dark rump. I indicated where and what they should look at (though they might say I screamed 'dark rumped Petrel, 'what the f*** is it?') but even after just a few seconds it was clear to me that this was no Leach's type bird.  If I was to compare it to anything it would be a demented melanistic Feas.

It continued on it's merry way just c.300m offshore in view for a little over a minute. Thankfully the views were so good as we might have struggled if it were further out. As it was, we noted the size as a little smaller than a Manx (almost direct comparison), a long tapered tail throughout the time it was on show and faint pale upperwing covert bar. The rest of the plumage was entirely dark including underwings with a brown tinge. It was incredibly rakish and actually did very little flapping. The head protruded a bit and the wings were
angled forward. Flight style is a bit hard to describe due to different interpretations of words, but swinging, angling, veering were all used, Alec summed it up as 'it covered more ground laterally than a Manx. I'll leave the rest for another time as it's been a long day but God knows what else is out there with three Fea's the day before."
Paul Moore

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

fea's fun

The alarm went off at 6.00 am but a quick check of the wind revealed it was still easterly. Besides it was hosing it down out there! Back to bed so. Unfortunately I crashed out till 9.00 am by which time the wind had gone round to the SW but my possible morning seawatch time had evaporated! It would have to wait till later.

By 13.00, the conditions were looking great - the wind was a good strong south-westerly, but the mist & rain had gone off, leaving a good stretch of viewable sea below the mist-obscured horizon. But I was still stuck in the office! Slowly the clock ticked round until a text came in from Mizen - 1,500 cory's shearwaters this morning! Feck! Amazingly the report I was working on almost finished itself and I was finally off to Galley!

10 minutes later and I was in situ. The mist was really low again, with just a narrow strip of sea visible close-in, while the wind was a healthy south-west force 4-5. Set the scope up and after one manx shearwater, a cory's came through with 3 great shearwaters - all really close! Fantastic! The next half-hour was incredible, with amazing views of cory's and greats coming through really close.

The mist slowly lifted, allowing more sea to be scanned. About 30 minutes into the watch, things suddenly went up a gear, as a fea's-type petrel flew into the scope view! The angle that it came in at meant I didn't really have to think about it, and I only managed one expletive before the adrenalin rush hit - Amayzing! I watched it flap and swoop all the way past, until saying goodbye to it just before it disappeared from view. I did wonder how many years it would be till I'd see another one.

Good birds continued to go by, with big shears every one or two minutes, and occasionally something else.  A distant small skua turned out to be a long-tailed skua, with two pomarine skuas slightly further out.  Only my 2nd long-tail for Galley.  I was delighted!

But then that fea’s thing happened again! Something with black underwings flew into my scope view, and after a couple of seconds revealed itself to be a second fea's! By this time, I’d been joined by CC, and we both enjoyed the views this time, with the bird even landing on the water briefly - slightly more distant than the first bird, but with a pale "collar" round the neck that the first one hadn’t showed – a different bird!  Two fea’s in one day!

As it disappeared we congratulated each other and tried to calm down and concentrate on what else was moving through. Cory's were still going by every few minutes, with a few great shears in amongst them, while another four long-tailed skuas and three more poms were very welcome.  A bonus fly-by turnstone was also crucial from a Golden Mallard perspective!

But then things just got stupid, as 45 minutes later the day’s third fea's appeared in my scope from the east. At about the same range as the first bird, this bird also gave great views as it whizzed its way west. Amazingly, this bird also showed a distinct plumage difference from the other two, as it had extensive white around the face.  Make that three fea’s!

Unsurprisingly the rest of the seawatch was a blur, and activity began to tail off after about 18.30.  However, the final species tallies were pretty spectacular:

Bonxie – 10
Arctic skua – 3
Pomarine skua – 7
Long-tailed skua – 5
Blue Fulmar - 1
Sooty shearwater – 7
Balearic shearwater – 1
Great Shearwater – 53
Cory’s Shearwater – at least 250
and just the three Fea’s-type Petrels! (122)


Friday, June 14, 2013

1st seawatch of the autumn

News of a long-tailed skua off Ballycotton this am made me realise I hadn't been watching the forecast enough! However, by the time evening rolled around, the sun was out and the wind was swinging round to the west. Still gave Galley a lash for an hour, and was rewarded with a brace of year ticks for me trouble. First on the list was a fine balearic shearwater scooting past with the manxies, and eventually coming in really close. As it went by I picked up a close-in storm petrel too, with another seen a bit later on. Just before I jacked it in, a bonxie came through, but no other skuas - maybe too windy? Still, only saw one balearic last year, and not many in 2011 so good to get one tonight! (111).

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Another weekend of patch goodies

A slow week with too much work & far too much tedious wind from the north-west! However, yesterday evening the wind started to drop and I chanced a look at the lake - instant reward - partial summer plumage dunlin! Score!

Absolutely flat calm conditions this morning - my favourite for spring at Galley! And it wasn't long before I was back in the year ticks! Evidence of wader migration was still going on in the form of 14 partial summer plumage sanderlings on Long Strand, which was nice. And then a furtive collared dove was cooing hopefully from a telephone pole - he'll be lucky! First collared dove hereabouts since last summer I'd say! They don't breed and only pass through occasionally, though I'm not sure from how far away!

The fourth and final year tick was the best! Whilst scanning yet another hedgerow for a non-existent shrike I heard a snatch of grasshopper warbler reeling away (109). As I got closer, I could see it sitting right out on a bare bramble, before it flew inland to the next dyke - the way it was booting around suggesting it had only just made landfall. My latest ever here, as normally they would be through in the 3rd week of April, and I'd given up hope of getting one this year. A real bonus!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

more migs!

Its been a slow couple of weeks at Galley - predominantly breezy north west winds haven't particularly conducive to going out looking for migs, and on the few mornings when it has been calmer there's been very little about. Until today....

First stop this morning was the top lane, and as I meandered down it, still half asleep, I noticed a dove flying past - flung up the bins in time for a blip view of a turtle dove zooming over the ridge towards Shite Lane - a good start!

There didn't seem to be much else until I arrived at Shite Lane to try and dig out the dove, only to find a whinchat on the whinchat hedge! Another bonus, and one that has been tricky enough in recent years!

A jaunt down Marsh Lane produced the years first 3 swifts, and by now I was feeling pretty happy with my lot, after such a dire couple of weeks, but the best was yet to come! Stopping to check Long Strand for the two female long-tailed ducks that I'd seen earlier in the week, I noticed what looked like a roosting wader on the rocks. Or was it just a grey stone that looked a bit like a roosting wader? Good job I checked more closely as it turned out to be a grey plover!! Only my 4th ever at Galley, and the first one I've actually seen on the deck here! Amayzing! (105)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

patch yellow!

Been hitting Galley fairly hard over the last couple of weeks with little to show for it! However, today my luck was in for once! Approaching the Shite Lane crossroads I noticed a field of cows, with very short grass. It looked perfect for a yellow wag! "Better scan that for yellow wag" I thought, seconds before clapping my eyes onto a stunning bright yellow wagtail! Ker-ching!

Yellow wagtail - what a cracker!

This is only my 4th at Galley, following two together and a single a few autumns ago. First one in spring too, though I did miss a few spring ones in 2011, whilst away. All in all, a cracker! Maybe things will heat up a bit now!!

Whitethroats are definately in today too, with at least 4 setting up territory, moving me up to 101 for the year! All good!

Saturday, April 20, 2013


The wind continued this week, however the lake kept drawing things in in search of shelter. Highlight was a 1st w kumlien's gull on tues lunchtime which I'd seen coast pass the house a couple of days previously but didn't nail. Good that it reappeared anyway! First one I've seen on patch! The two house martins at the other end of the lake were new for the year, while a shag on the lake was also my first there, which was nice! Up to 15 arctic terns hawking over the lake despite the gale was also good to see.

Sedge warblers arrived on friday after the wind finally dropped, with at least 2 singing from the lakeside reeds.

Had a 2 hour hoof around Galley this am, but couldn't do better than a wheatear and a chiffchaff - pretty poor considering hordes of migrants seem to be hitting elsewhere! However, today was the first day of any real whimbrel movement, and I was pleased to pick out 3 bar-tailed godwits in one flock, including a nice summer plumaged one - tricky enuff for the year list, which now stands on a whopping 98, and I still need sand martin!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

the seawatching

Very windy all weekend, but had to try and get some birding in so went seawatching for a change.  Manx shearwaters were pelting past in great numbers - several hundred going west in just a few minutes! Also managed 4 bonxies, 2 puffins and 2 arctic terns all west into the gale - good to see arctics this side of the summer - usually more of an autumn species here. The year list keeps ticking over! (94)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

patch tickage baby yeah!

Well, the inevitable finally happened! A calm and dry morning first thing so I hurried back down to the scoter-scanning-spot to try my luck at bagging the lingering velvet scoter off Cloghna Head (approximately 1.5 miles off-patch). The scoter flock was still there, diving just off the rocks at the base of the head, seemingly unperturbed by the still fairly huge swell. It was quite easy to pick out the female common scoters, despite the salt spray, but seeing any kind of detail of the head pattern on the other birds as they bobbed up and down was pretty impossible.  However, my luck was in, as after only a few minutes, the velvet scoter flapped its wings briefly, and the white wing feathers shone out! Patch tick! Whoop! 30 minutes later, I clocked it again from the lay-by on Cloghna Head, on the way home from the school run - confirmation that the velvet hadn't morphed into a white-winged scoter overnight!

As the morning remained calm and dry, I had a quick scout around for migs, but couldn't do better than a solitary chiffchaff - the migrant floodgates are still to open hereabouts!

Final score of the day came in the form of a flyby 1st winter iceland gull from the dinner table this evening - April does seem to be the most regular month for these guys - another valuable year tick, bringing up the 90 with only a handful of migrants so far! Plenty still to get!

Monday, April 8, 2013

on-patch purps

Survived the easter holidays off-patch relatively unscathed although missing iceland gull & brambling could prove costly later! Biggest news in my absence was of a velvet scoter at the far end of Long Strand - its still floating about so I'm hopeful that when the wind drops, it might be visible from this end of the beach! Time will tell!

In the meantime, attempting to see it has got me two year ticks! A few sandwich terns were being blown around the bay yesterday, while today's gems were 4 (count 'em) purple sandpipers on the rocks at this end of Long Strand, well and truly on-patch (88)! Means I don't have to get up to any of this nonsense trying to get them on the year list - I'll just do that for the velvet!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

migbashing in january

Today was freezing! Not as cold as the arctic conditions across the pond in englandshire but still way too cold to be looking for migs surely? It felt like the middle of January! with added wind chill! And yet there were birds about! And quite a few of them!

A male blackcap was an early bonus, and then the phylloscs took over, with c. 20 chiffchaffs and 2 willow warblers gleaned over the next hour or so (86). Most were working hedgerows and ditches on the sheltered side, trying to avoid getting iced by the savage wind, as was I!!

After a bit longer, the lure of cups of tea & warmth got too strong and I headed for home. Two warbler year ticks tho - pretty good for January!!

Saturday, March 23, 2013


The very first hint of spring movement happened yesterday afternoon when a chiffchaff hopped and hooweted its way around the garden. The first official mig of 2013! Wasn't that confident that there'd be much doing this morning, as was still feeling pretty cold. However, the birding gods were on my side, as a male wheatear finally popped up just when I was about to give up, and then, while stalking the wheatear, a black redstart flew past! Bingo! Migrants galore!

Managed at least 3 chiffchaffs heading back towards Shite Lane, and then rounded Springwatch off nicely with my first swallow of the year over the lake (84) - 4 year ticks in the last two days! Spring must be here after all!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

No migs yet

A lovely spring morning at Galley and I spent a pleasant 2 hours hoofing round the patch seeing very little! But it felt like there was always a chance of something; a wheatear, a hoopoe, or a great spotted cuckoo, which is the first time there's been any hope of a migrant since late October.

A scan of the lake this lunchtime, and the long-staying female long-tailed duck is still here. Did score a bonus half dozen black-tailed godwits in with the curlew flock (79), which was nice - can be tricky enough to get on the year list, so good to get them out of the way early on.

Exciting times ahead! Bring on the spring!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A twitch to Mizen Head

Finally got a chance to go for the two black ducks down near Barleycove on Mizen Head today, and was glad I made the effort! The two were sat on a flooded pool by the side of the road opposite the Barleycove Caravan Park, near Cockles Strand, looking very pleased with themselves!

Even though they were pretty close, I still managed to balls up the following record shots, but note the white underwing and lack of any rings on at least one leg! Fortunately one of the shots is almost in focus! Almost!

Look at the underwing on that!

Unringed (on one leg anyway!)

Couldn't get them both with their heads up at once! 
And then they went to sleep, no doubt still wrecked from their tough Atlantic crossing, so we left them to it!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

otters and ducks

Sitting at the breakfast table this am when I noticed a duck flying around. On raising the bins, I could see it was the female long-tailed duck and that there was an otter in the lake nearby, and this was what was flushing her off. A bit later I dragged the scope out onto the magic patio for a proper look, Now there were two ducks and two otters! One of the ducks was the female long-tailed duck but she'd found a friend - a male tufted duck, which just happened to be a year tick (77) - result!

Exhibit A - ducks!
Another chance for me to practice my amazeballs digiscoping techniques - a lot more practice required!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

bonus glauc

Dodged out between deluges of rain to scope the lake for storm-flung vagrants and was quite surprised to see a soggy looking glaucous gull having a bath (75). On closer inspection, it may have been oiled on the breast I think, as it looks dirty on the awesome record shot!

Soggy glauc - bonus!
White-wingers are never guaranteed at Galley - I'd expect to get one or other in a year, but getting both is trickier. Will probably have to wait till later in the winter for an Iceland moving through - fingers crossed!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

long tail larging it

Scanning for the green-winged teal from the patio this morning, I was rather surprised to see this!

Yes indeedy, a female long-tailed duck no less, and a full fat patch tick! One that has occurred on patch in days of yore but not very often. Long-tailed ducks used to be reasonably regular at certain sites in east Cork but seem to have become a fair bit scarcer in recent years. This is only my second for the county, and possibly Ireland, as I can't recall seeing any elsewhere, the tart that I am!

Anyway, it was a most welcome addition to the patch list, now standing at 193. Good early bonus for the year too! The male green-winged teal remains on the lake also.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January so far...

January at Galley has been quite good so far! I've been doing the footit challenge, with a target of 70 species based on the last 3 January totals. Wasn't very optimistic I'd get very near it, but as things have turned out, the patio has been most productive, with the vast majority of my 69 species seen from here - indeed probably 60 out of the 69 have been from the patio (or elsewhere in the garden) - pretty good going! Might have to keep a patio list for 2013 if this keeps up!

Most of the 69 species have been fairly typical for January, with the wintering whimbrel in Dirk probably the best of it. However 2 gadwall on the lake on 13th were a good bonus, while the male green-winged teal on 14th and today was better again! Only my second at Galley, with the first showing up late in 2005 and remaining into 2006.

Today the green-winged teal was quite close but I still could only manage this amazeballs bad record shot, despite having 5 cameras out on the table at one point! Know your limits!
Er, its the one on the right! (I think!)