Monday 19 September 2016

Rusheen Bay LBD

I happened to be passing Rusheen Lough today and since the tide was out I decided to have a look. I first had a look from the Silver Strand where the best views of small waders can be had. I went through all of the close waders and then had a quick check of the waders on the far side of the bay. In amongst a flock of Redshank I could see what appeared to be a dowitcher asleep with the roosting flock. Thankfully it woke briefly showing its head. It was facing me the whole time but I thought it was rather bright on the breast. I picked up Aonghus O'Donaill who lives quite close by and we managed to find the bird feeding along the outflow from the Barna Stream on the north side of the bay. This is the third Long-billed Dowitcher recorded at this site and all have been from the very same small area of the bay. Surprisingly Long-billed Dowitcher was the only American species of wader ever recorded at Rusheen up to today.

A while later I picked up a juvenile Baird's Sandpiper about 500 metres out in the middle of the bay. We managed to get to within 300 metres later. It was great to add another American wader to the site list. It's looking like 2016 will be a record year for the species. The best year on record was the famous wader year of 2011 with 14 records. So far I think 2016 has just about matched this and there's still plenty of time for a few more yet before the autumn is over. Rusheen is probably one of the best sites in the whole of Galway Bay for Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Redshank so it should really be much better for rarities. Cathal Forkan is now regularly checking the site so hopefully it should pay dividends in the next few years.

Saturday 17 September 2016

Inishark 16.9.16

I paid a quick visit to Inishark yesterday. Nothing much doing in the nettle beds around the deserted houses apart from 3 Song Thrushes, 1 Blackbird and 1 Wren. I was expecting Lapland Bunting on the island as there's a bit of an influx ongoing at the moment with a very high count of 84 seen on Tory Island, Co. Donegal in recent days. I wasn't to be disappointed as I had a single bird not too far from the village up on one of the hillsides. Most of the island is covered in very cropped heather which is perfect for them, about as close to tundra in the west of Ireland. I sure I would have picked up more had I more time to check the entire island. I think it may have been an adult female on account of the lack of chestnut on the nape, the tertial pattern and black smudging on the breast. This seems to be the first record for the island but they must surely be annual in a spot like this.

Nearby I decided to check a reasonably large wet area. It looks like this area may have been formed by hand cutting of turf by long gone islanders. There were at least 30 Snipe in this area along with a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper - another first for the island. It proved impossible to get a shot of it on the deck as it would suddenly appear at very close quarters before being flushed by Snipe. Pectoral Sandpiper strangely hasn't been recorded from Inishbofin yet. Inishbofin has a rather poor list of American waders with just 1 Semipalmated Sandpipers and 2 White-rumped Sandpipers so far. Inishmore has fared much better with 1 American Golden Plover, 2 Pectoral Sandpiper, 2 Semiplamated Sandpipers, 1 White-rumped Sandpiper, 1 Baird's Sandpiper, 1 Buff-breasted Sandpiper, 1 Long-billed Dowitcher, 1 Spotted Sandpiper and of course last years Hudsonian Godwit.
This particular area on Inishark looks suitable for the likes of a Solitary Sandpiper, dowitcher or maybe a Least Sandpiper, if only it wasn't such a remote spot.

Lapland Bunting 
Lapland Bunting
Lapland Bunting 
Pectoral Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper pool

Pectoral Sandpiper pool

Great Skua, one still hanging around the island.

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Adult AGP

I found this adult American Golden Plover today on the machair commonage on the west side of Omey Island. A small flock of Eurasian Golden Plover spend their time between here and Omey Strand during the winter. I also had a single early Eurasian Golden Plover out on the strand earlier. They obviously hadn't encountered each other as they usually like to associate with each other. I've previously had a juvenile American Golden Plover on Omey Strand back in November 2008. Of all the "AGP's" that I've found in Galway this was the first one that wasn't in the middle of a flock of the Old World variety. Consequently I managed to get my first decent shots of the species as they are very difficult to approach once in a big golden plover flock. It was initially with a small mixed flock of Oystercatchers and Black-tailed Godwits but later did it's own thing. It was also rather vocal.

The tide was on the rise as I walked onto the island and by the time I made my way back to the van the tide had covered most of the strand. Thankfully the water was still very shallow and I was able to wade back across the strand. Only an hour after leaving the AGP I decided to give Aughrus Point a quick check for Lapland Buntings. There seems to be a large arrival of this species in the last two days or so along the west coast. There's a decent amount of windswept dry heath on the headland at Aughrus Point which they seem to be quite fond of. I was half expecting some out on Omey itself as well. Although there were no Lapland Buntings at Aughrus, I quickly came across the very same adult American Golden Plover! Aughrus Point and Omey Island are less than two kilometres apart so it wasn't a big surprise. Where will it end up next?