Monday, 10 October 2016

Achill Semipalmated Plover

I took a trip up to Achill Island yesterday to have a look at the Semipalmated Plover and to see if there was much else around just to take a break from birding in Galway for a day. I met Pat Lonergan and Micheal O'Briain who were already on site and who had the bird in a flock of a hundred or so Ringed Plovers at the stream outflow from the golf course. This bird had been found by Tim Jones the previous Sunday. The birds were quite skittish unsurprisingly but I managed to get reasonably close using the "belt buckle" approach, not easy over cobble stones! As usual it remained overcast and cloudy the whole time unfortunately. I didn't manage to get any shots of the feet due to the low angle of shooting.
While it certainly was smaller than the adjacent Ringed Plovers it didn't seem as small as the Galway bird. I also never heard it calling in the two hours or so of observation.

As I was finishing up a flock of eleven Pink-footed Geese flew in from the west and eventually landed in fields between the beach and Sruhillbeg Lough (photos to follow). Micheal had a single bird the previous day on Sruhill Lough. Also on Sruhillbeg Lough was a female Garganey that Micheal had found the previous day. Most likely a first for Achill, can't be many county Mayo records for that matter. I checked a few of the gardens west of Keel afterwards with Micheal but I was a little surprised not to see a single warbler in any of them. I've just seen that Micheal had a Yellow-browed Warbler in one of these garden this morning. There can't be many spots along the headlands and islands of Ireland that don't have at least one Yellow-browed Warbler. Fingers crossed they'll bring a few of their Siberian friends with them. I had five birds around the Ballyconneely/Slyne Head area on Saturday, four on Inishbofin the same day and at least ten on Inishmore yesterday. The numbers seem to increase with every passing year.

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