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!