February was a tough month on the patch. I did not make it down too often I am sorry to say, and when I did it was more of the same, with various mixes of Gulls, including new Yellow Legs, Glaucs and Icelands, but no new species to be added.
A real blow came last weekend, when I was off patch in co. Wexford and a Long Tailed Duck was found on the lake. This would have been a patch tick.
I managed to make it down there this Saturday, hopeful that maybe the duck was still around. Alas it was not to be, but yet again the mix of Gulls had changed.
First up, was a new Iceland gull, A first winter. Only 2-3 Iceland's have been seen in Ballycotton this winter, compared to an estimated 8-10 Glaucous (mostly first winters).
Next up was this Stunning beast of a bird, a Hybrid Glaucous x Great Black Backed Gull.
What a shame this earns me no points (call me crazy but I think oddities like this beauty should earn you something..I mean look at this beauty!)
Hybrid Glaucous x Great Black Backed Gull - Stonker - If this were a species in it's own right it would be one of the best gulls in existence.
It was to be a day for oddity gulls it seems, with a new 1st winter Glaucous present also, a tiny individual which had me scratching my head for ages. Small, elongated, with a long looking primary projection, and slimish looking bill. But yet still chesty and stout, with a classic Glauc expression.
Interesting Glaucous Gull - Similar size to Lesser Black Backed and smaller than some Herring Gulls present. Distinctly dainty looking at times, with that long primary projection and slim bill. Just musing, but could this be Barrovianus? Or other race Glauc? Hybrid? or well within range for Glaucous? http://www23.tok2.com/home/jgull/030222/ba9.html
A silly musing perhaps, but with rare sub-species having been made fair game, how many points would (I think) a first record of "Alaskan" Glaucous earn me? ;)
From the gulls it was on to some patch year tickage. First up was a rake of pipits feeding on the beach from Ballynamona up to the lake. The recent weather and tides have clearly had an effect on the appearance of Ballycotton right now, as fresh sand and shingle has been deposited along the entire stretch of beach, 4-5 meters wide. This provided fresh feeding for the pipits, and a Water pipit (presumably the bird present weeks ago) was feeding on the silver strand side of the channel, along with what appeared to be a couple of littoralis Rock pipits.
I then walked the lake fringe and finally connected with the usual Jack Snipe.
So March started well with 2 species added bringing me to 99 species, a score of 132 points and a comparative score of 56.01%