Monday, 2 September 2013

Pied-billed Grebe and co.

Been a while since my last blog post. Busy few weeks since.
I managed to get down to the Bridges of Ross for a spot of seawatching on the weekend of 17th & 18th August. Excellent weekend with the undoubted highlight being two Fea's-type Petrels on the Saturday. The first bird which was picked up by Victor Caschera which gave good views. The second bird picked up by Keith Langdon gave briefer and more distant views. The other highlights were 697 Great Shearwaters, 25 Cory's Shearwaters, 6 Balearic Shearrwaters, 177 Sooty Shearwaters, 2 Blue Fulmars, 6 Pomarine Skuas, 30 Arctic Skuas, 22 Great Skuas and 20 Sabine's Gulls.
I also had a very good seawatch by Galway standards off Inishbofin on Monday 19th August with the following totals - 1 Cory's, 13 Great, 926 Sooties, 4 Balearic, c.3000 per hour Manx Shearwaters, 8 Great Skua's and 2 Sabine's Gulls. The Cory's was a long overdue county tick for myself. A lot of the shearwaters were feeding quite close in to the shoreline. The Great Shearwaters were the only birds that didn't stop off to feed. Interesting to see that only 128 Sooty Shearwaters were noted off the Bridges of Ross the same day. I think that the West coast of Galway may well be an important feeding area for quite a few seabirds as we have had 8000 Sooties feeding off Slyne Head over the course of a weekend in August 2011. Amazingly over the same period a grand total of just 41 passed the Bridges!

Skip forward to yesterday I was up in Mayo to check on a few wader spots in SW Mayo. Numbers of waders up there and here in Connemara have been quite low of late. Afterwards I headed up to Achill to twitch the Pied-billed Grebe. It proved to be very elusive and remained hidden for long periods in vegetation. It was first picked up on 14th May and hadn't been seen again until 27th August so it's feasible that it was there throughout the summer given it's skulky behaviour and the fact that the site rarely gets checked especially during the summer.

While down near Ballyconneely today I found a second-calendar male Surf Scoter. It had a reduced white forehead patch while the white nape patch was completely absent. Nearly all the Surfers I've seen have been females so it was nice to find a male on the local patch though not what I was expecting to find in early September. This is the most regular American duck I've seen out here now with three different individuals.

Colour ringed Little Egret at Kilcaimin, one of two present and both ringed very close-by.

I headed on up to Glenamaddy Turlough on Saturday on the off chance that the water levels might be low and thankfully my luck was in - oodles of mud! A real wader-fest with 1 Little Stint, 52 Dunlin, 150 Lapwing, 14 Ringed Plover, 6 Golden Plover, 8 Ruff, 133 Snipe (all out in the open), 21 Black-tailed Godwits, 20 Curlew, 1 Greenshank, plus 41 Grey Herons and 116 Little Grebes, not bad for a site 45km inland, I'll definitely be back before the Autumn is out.

Glenamaddy Turlough full of mud which is a rare sight Galway. 

Irish Hare

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