A late Saturday night/late rise Sunday morning for both myself & my father last weekend put pay to our usual weekend birding in Wexford so we decided to check out a few local sites instead. I try and avoid birding on the patch at weekends when I can (too many dog walkers, dog poos & other birders!) but this provided a chance to get an extra visit in before the months end.
Starting off at Kilcoole, it was instantly apparent that the marshes here were as dead as a Dodo. Seems that most of the duck are down in ECNR at the moment where feeding conditions are favourable. A pair of Peregrines surveying Webb's field from nearby fence posts might explain the lack of birds here too. All the while, four vocal Ravens tumbling South overhead and a singing Skylark on the beach hinted at a seasonal change in the air.
Numbers of Shags, auks & Red-throated Divers offshore had decreased somewhat in comparison to previous visits but the regular Great Northern Diver & a couple of adult Mediterranean Gulls provided some quality. Most welcome though were several sightings of Common Scoters (90) migrating at a distance. Would have no problem getting these guys on Spring/Summer passage but good to have safely under the belt & out of the way in winter.
The real surprise of the day came in the form of a lumbering barrel of a 1st-winter GLAUCOUS GULL (91) flying North over the beach past The Breaches!!! Only my fourth ever on patch with the previous three being seen each in April, May & June. Great to get a 'winger' on the patch yearlist. Iceland Gull remains a patch bogey but I hope to nail one in a similar manner to the aforementioned Glauc this March.
The fields at Newcastle held c.450 Light-bellied Brent, c.180 Greylag & 20+ Whooper whilst an untagged male Hen Harrier was getting mobbed by Rooks over the airfield. At least 3 Brambling were still present in the stubble field near the entrance to the airfield/ECNR along with some Yellowhammers, 2 Collared Doves & 2 Buzzards.
By the end of February the patch tallies are as follows: 91 species, 107 points & 54.73%