Sunday 25 March 2012

Baillon's Crake

Mike Davis and myself headed down to the sunny South-East for the weekend. On the way down we had this Red Kite soaring over the road. No tags!

Untagged second-calendar Red Kite, Co. Wicklow.

 Untagged second-calendar Red Kite, Co. Wicklow.

Just as we were leaving the outskirts of Wexford town we received the mega news that a Baillon's Crake had just been found on Great Saltee. We were going to have a look for the Siberian Stonechat on the South Slob but that was quickly abandoned. As it turns out it hadn't been seen since Tuesday or Wednesday anyway. For once we were in the right place at the right time. Twenty minutes later we standing at Kilmore Quay waiting on the boat for Saltee along with ten others. I along with several others got thoroughly soaked on the way out. Have never seen such a badly designed boat. On arriving on the island the bird was seen in short order. It was perfectly happy to walk around in amongst rank grass, bramble and bracken unperturbed the assembled group. Only the third Irish Baillon's with the last being over 150 years back - happy days!

 Third boatload of  the day making the beach assualt.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Clifden Quay & Omey Strand

One adult-type and first-winter Iceland Gulls down in Clifden Quay on Tuesday. Both birds were attracted to the small flock of Herrings feeding on the bread but neither joined the melee. At a distance you could easily mistake the adult type as a full adult but on close views I don't think it's 100% there just yet. It had very faint brown tones to the outer primary quills and had some traces of brown/mixed moult to the median, lesser coverts and primary/median primary coverts and alula. Possibly a fourth-winter bird. The few birds that I've suspected of being of this age usually still have a blackish gonys spot which this bird is lacking.

Fourth-winter Iceland Gull, Clifden Quay. 

Fourth-winter Iceland Gull, Clifden Quay. 

Fourth-winter Iceland Gull, Clifden Quay. 

Fourth-winter Iceland Gull, Clifden Quay. 

 First and fourth-winter Iceland Gulls, Clifden Quay.

First-winter Iceland Gull, Clifden Quay.

First-winter Iceland Gull, Clifden Quay. 

Came across a colour-ringed Brent Goose out on Omey Strand while doing the I-WeBS count. Haven't got the full latest life history but as it turns out I had the very same bird in on the football pitch at Nimmo's Pier back on 8th February 2008. It had been seen down in Tralee, Co. Kerry earlier in the winter. Will be interesting to see if it did the same this winter. The 2008 update is below.

Ringing Site; Seltjarnarnes, SW Iceland 
Date Ringed; 24/05/05 
Sex; F
Darvic; SJLY 
Age Code; 5
Status: Metal; 123887 
Right Leg Letter/Colour: S Lime 
Left Leg Letter/Colour: J Yellow 

Date           Obs            Grid            Site Subsite                       
27-Oct-06   GMU         Q740175    Tralee Bay Barrow Harbour 
01-May-07  HG                             Skerjafjörður Álftanes/Lambh./Grandi
01-May-07  GG                             Skerjafjörður Álftanes/Lambh./Grandi
15-Oct-07   KM            J506721     Strangford Lough Ballyreagh (Maltings)
15-Oct-07   GM            J506721     Strangford Lough Ballyreagh (Maltings)
17-Oct-07   KC            J506721     Strangford Lough Ballyreagh (Maltings)
18-Oct-07   HT             J512717     Strangford Lough Finlays Road
17-Nov-07   JMU/FM    Q740175     Tralee Bay Barrow Harbour
07-Feb-08   MBY         M297243    Galway Bay Galway City/South Park
09-Feb-08   DBR          M297243    Galway Bay Galway City/South Park

Monday 19 March 2012

Sunday 18th March

Headed out Rahasane Turough to have a look at the reported Russian White-fronted Goose. Had good views of about 50 birds from the middle gate but there were another few birds feeding further back along the river but were mostly hidden by the bank. Could well have been in there along with the Pink-footed Goose that was present last weekend.
Also had the drake American Wigeon again. A little distant for shots.

 Greenland White-fronted Geese

 Spot the American Wigeon.

Went out to Loughrea for that grebe. Even less birds out there with no sign of the grebe. A few Reed Buntings and Pied Wagtail were knocking around.

 Male Reed Bunting, Louhrea.

 Female Reed Bunting, Loughrea.

 Pied Wagtail, Loughrea.

 Pied Wagtail, Loughrea.

Came across three Stock Doves feeding in an old maize field just before Oranmore. There was a group of Cranes reported in this area earlier in the winter, this would have been a perfect spot for them. Stock Dovesare a fairly scarce bird in Galway which is mainly down to the decrease in cereal crops being planted. I haven't come across any cereals being sown in Connemara since I started here in 2008.
 Stock Doves, Oran Beg.

 Stock Doves, Oran Beg.

A quick look in at the slipway produced the usual suspects of about seven Icelands and one of the adult Ring-bills. There has been amazingly very little turnover of Icelands at this site this winter with the same individuals seen week in week out. Nice comparison with the small dark first-winter Iceland with a normal faded first-winter. Also a very short-billed individual. First-winter Herring Gull with a very retarded plumage. Nice white-head contrasting with a dark body making bad impression of a Yank Herring.
 Second-winter Iceland, Nimmo's Pier.

 First-winter Iceland Gull, Nimmo's Pier, enjoying a quick nap in the March sunshine.

 First-winter Iceland Gull, Nimmo's Pier, extremely short-billed bird.

First-winter Iceland Gulls, Nimmo's Pier - ebony and ivory or should that be ivory and ebony?

First-winter Iceland Gulls, Nimmo's Pier - or should that be ivory and ebony?

 Adult Ring-billed Gull, Nimmo's Pier.

 First-winter Herring Gull, Nimmo's Pier. Nice white-headed bird with most of its juvenile scapulars still retained.

 First-winter Herring Gull, Nimmo's Pier. Same individual as above.

Female Mallard, Nimmo's Pier.

Saturday 17 March 2012

Glossy Ibis & Pallid Harrier

I got an e-mail from Neil Sharkey on Firday night to say that he had recieved a phonecall from May Cashman. She had seen a Glossy Ibis at Mullaghmore Lake near Moylough on Wednesday. There have been just three Galway records with the last being in 1976 in Roundstone of all places. This was my Saturday planned so. I found the lake/wetland easily enough and managed to find the ibis feeding next to the road. I got excellent views by staying in the car. Spent about two hours with it.

Checked several other lakes in the area. All very quiet. Water levels at Glennamaddy were as high as I've ever seen which seems completely at odds with all other Turloughs at the mement.

The other highlight of the day was the Pallid Harrier. Had it a 1700hrs distantly along with an adult female Hen Harrier and a female-type Merlin hunting briefly together. An hour later I was messing around with the settings on the camera when there she was directly overhead (nearly too close!). I rattled off some shots but the light didn't help much but they're the best I've managed to get all winter.