Sunday, 21 September 2014

Early September 14 at Slyne Head

Continuing on from the previous post the Truska area has proved to be very good site for Snipe in recent weeks. I had 32 Snipe here a week ago while on Monday I had a minimum of 70 birds. All of these were flushed and are generally never seen on the deck. Given its location and with the number of snipe that pass through the area, one has imagine that Wilson's Snipe must be a regular vagrant here, if only we could actually manage to get some proper views of them! I've included a few record flight shots here of some of the birds from yesterday to give an idea of the variation in the underwing barring.
A few other shots taken in the area also.






The bird on the bottom looks interesting, however it's the same two birds in the shot below. Just goes to show how they vary with light, angle, camera settings, etc.
 
Not as interesting..
 


Eurasian Teal

Eurasian Teal

Eurasian Teal

Eurasian Teal

Sedge Warbler

Sedge Warbler

Sedge Warbler

By-the-wind Sailor before and after.

By-the-wind Sailor
 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

16.9.2014 Truska Pecs

It had been about a week since I had last checked Truska at Slyne Head. The marsh on the West side of Truska Lough hasn't been grazed by the cattle in recent weeks so its a little overgrown making it less than ideal for waders. However the edge of the marsh behind False Bay is still being grazed and the area immediately behind the beach is particularly good for Snipe. While checking this area I had three Pectoral Sandpipers yesterday evening which were mainly doing their own thing by themselves in slightly different areas. It was only while reviewing the pictures that I noticed that one of the birds had replaced a single scapular on each side in a slightly different position. The shots aren't as good as the bird I had in Crompaun as they were generally that bit more timid in nature. With the high pressure system still holding here its strange to think that three Pectoral Sandpipers can still show up here in non-existent conditions for crossing the Atlantic!

Juvenile Number One

Juvenile Number One

Juvenile Number Two

Juvenile Number Three, note the replaced lower scapular.

Juvenile Number Three, note the replaced lower scapular.

Juvenile Number Three

Juvenile Number Three, note the replaced rear lower scapular.

Juvenile Number Three, note the replaced lower scapular.

Juvenile Number Three

Juvenile Number Three, note the replaced rear lower scapular.

Record shot of two of the Pectoral Sandpipers with Snipe, one if on the top left and the low right.

Muddy work walking through the marsh!

The strip of marsh grazed by cattle.

The Snipe and Pec hotspot behind the False Bay

Monday, 15 September 2014

Wee Stint

I checked the stretch of coastline just South of Louisburgh in County Mayo yesterday. Wader numbers particularly Sanderling were surprisingly low. The water levels are still very high at Roonagh Lough also despite the recent dry spell. The outflowing channel has been altered due to the winter storms so I'm not sure if this has had an effect. The only birds of note were down around the Corragaun Lough area. While searching through a flock of 80 or so Lapwing (which contained a single Ruff) for a Buff-breasted Sandpiper or even an American Golden Plover I could hear the ever present Ravens giving agitated alarm calls. They were busy giving a high flying Short-eared Owl a hard time. This species is fairly scarce on the West coast of Ireland. I have heard of hunters sometimes flushing a few during the winter while shooting Woodcock. I've only seen one in Galway at Barrany beside Lough Corrib. Interestingly there was one seen on Brannock Island which is just offshore to the West of Inishmore on Saturday by Sean Pierce.
After checking the lough itself I left the area via the outflowing channel and flushed a small calidrid. While I was hoping for a Least Sandpiper it turned out to be a juvenile Little Stint. While not too approachable I eventually managed some decent shots of it. It seems to be a good year for the species this Autumn.
Ireland along with the UK have been stuck with an untypical high pressure system for the last fortnight or more which is diverting any fast moving Atlantic crossing low pressure systems away from these shores. While it's great to have decent weather at this time of year it has resulted in much lower than usual numbers of American waders. Hopefully the high pressure system will break down shortly!












 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Crompaun Pectoral Sandpiper

I found this juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper in Crompaun Bay which is just West of Ballyconneely Bay on Sunday. It was in a back channel full of rotting seaweed along with 30 Dunlin and a few Ringed Plover. I had a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper in the spot earlier in the week. Nearly all of the "Pecs" that I've found in in the Ballyconneely/Slyne Head area were in the calcium rich spring fed marshes in the Truska area. It's often hard to get good views of them in here due to vegetation. More often than not they are flushed from the marsh much like Snipe while walking through the area. This bird was right out in the open thankfully and after a bit of patience it became quite accustomed to my presence and would feed happily within five metres of me. It often resorted to running from one area to the next if it was disturbed. Last year was the first time that I didn't record a Pec in this area since I arrived here in 2008. I think they're an underrated wader whenever I'm lucky enough to see one and it never fails to amaze me that they've manage to fly all the way across the Atlantic Ocean all the way from Arctic Canada. Video here.
https://vimeo.com/105595756








Sunday, 7 September 2014

Murlach Ortolan Bunting

I got a text from Richard Bonser to say that his Swiss birding friend Julien Mazenauer had found an Ortolan Bunting down by Murlach at Ballyconneely (thanks Rich). I was at a meeting in Offaly for most of the day and it was 1900hrs by the time I got back to have a look. The light was going and it wasn't too approachable but I managed to get a few record shots which are below. This is the second county record of this species after the first one turned up on Inishbofin from 10th to 12th September 2012 which was found by Craig Nash, see here
http://dermotbreen.blogspot.ie/2012/09/ortolan-bunting.html.
Ortolan Bunting is the only rare bunting on the Galway list. Clare for example has had one Black-headed, one Rustic, several Little and also several Ortolans at this stage. The bird in question here favoured a field just past Murlach and also feed along the laneway itself. It was quite vocal in flight.
I've uploaded a video of the bird on Vimeo taken on the phone which was shot through Michael Davis's amazing 95mm Swarovski scope.
https://vimeo.com/105493613