Saturday, 23 February 2013

End of Feb at Ballyquintin

I wasn't able to get out to Ballyquintin in the middle of the month, but have caught up with a couple of visits this week. 

Tuesday 19th Feb I had a chance for a quick walk around. The green-winged teal was still in Barr Hall Bay, and as I headed on past the bay a raven came over, calling (joined later by 2-3 others). One of the fields on the east side of the headland now has some grazing ponies in it, with a sign asking people to keep out, so I followed a circuitous route along the shore, and between the shore and the field, until I had reached the farm, which effectively stops progress northwards, and turned back to go round the field on the inland side. Coming past one of the stony ridges, I was startled by a sudden flapping, and half-turned to see a short-eared owl launching itself into the air - I must have been within 2m of it! They always do seem to sit very tight, but this was one of my closest encounters. Once airborne, it flapped softly away, no doubt to its second-best sleeping place. Continuing inland, I went over the headland and started down the tracks back to Barr Hall Bay. The linnet flock was still present, and sitting well enough in the hedge for a good look, and I found one twite amongst them. Further down, a fine male reed bunting sat up nicely in one of the hedges.

Today, 23rd Feb, I drove past Barr Hall Bay, spotting a flock of greenfinch in a tree by the road at the farm, then up to the National Trust car park, where I started walking. It was calm but steely cold in a light and very chill breeze. The shelduck were going about the business, but very little happening off shore. The tide was out in Barr Hall Bay, and it was busy with waders, mostly dunlin, with ringed, grey and golden plover, one bar-tailed godwit, and four knot. The green-winged teal showed really well, feeding at the water edge in the outer bay. It has broad, pure white vertical stripes at the breast sides, and stands out a mile (as long as it is not behind a rock). All was quiet the rest of the walk back up to the car. I drove slowly north checking the fields towards Templecowey but picked up only a fast-moving sparrowhawk near the entrance. 

So, continuing progress with what should be commoner species, and a couple of less common on the list. I'm ready for some spring migrants now!

81 species, 103 points.

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