Made it back to dry land after two weeks onboard the R.V. Celtic Explorer so I’ve been birding the patch four out of the past five days trying to make up for lost time. Thursday & Friday were spent scouting for the Wicklow Bird Race which was held on Saturday and today, myself and a few others from BirdWatch Ireland conducted the monthly I-WeBS count along the North Wicklow coast. Managed six patch year ticks in the process: Pochard, Oystercatcher, Fieldfare, Redwing, Brambling & Yellowhammer. Saying that, I missed out on Pintail, Little Gull & Carrion Crow whilst at sea.
Brambling have been reported in the area since last Monday when 15+ were seen by Paul Smith near the entrance to ECNR. A mixed flock of finches & buntings have settled in a nearby stubble field since then and on the days I was about this flock contained 4+ Brambling, 3+ Yellowhammer, 20+ Reed Bunting & plenty of Chaffinches.
The stubble field directly West of ECNR (O’Connor’s field) has been alive with Lapwing, Woodpigeons, Starlings & Black-headed Gulls for a few weeks now. Careful scoping of it from the main hide on Thursday revealed some Golden Plover mooching about in there too plus a mixed flock of thrushes in the Ash trees along the border. Scoring Redwing & Fieldfare there was a major bonus to the year list challenge as I have (rather amazingly) failed to see either species on patch for the past two years. Had visions of standing around Six Mile Point some night in October hoping to hear them calling overhead in order to get them on the year list!
Oystercatchers are surprisingly scarce in Wicklow during the winter so three in The Breaches over the past few days are presumably the first returning birds of the Spring (several pairs breed around here & many more pass through in May). A male Pochard in Stringer’s channels today was most welcome. Generally only see them once or twice a year on the patch which isn’t great for diving duck all round.
Other highlights in recent days include 43 Whooper Swans, 207+ Icelandic Greylag Geese, 5 Gadwall, Great Northern Diver, a 2nd-winter male & a ringtail Hen Harrier, Buzzard, Peregrine, 1050+ Lapwing, c.230 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, Grey Wagtail etc.
Went stomping about a small area of wet rush & iris along Newcastle Sea Road for Jack Snipe but to no avail.
So now up to 88 species, 102 points & 52.17%