Saturday, 27 April 2013

Yellow Fever

Standards were starting to slip. Extended survey time on board the R.V. Celtic Explorer along the Rockall Trough and a recent trip to Scotland meant that I hadn't been birding on patch since 4th March...shameful! 

An impressive arrival of Wheatears & Grasshopper Warblers on the Bull Island during the week hinted that I needed to get the finger out and go patching so I headed off down to Kilcoole for 8am yesterday morning and 10 hours later I had racked up no less than 17 patch year ticks!

Swallows, Sand Martins & House Martins were trickling North in small bursts throughout the day along with a total of 9 Swifts. Great to see these guys back. Warblers were in song everywhere, particularly Willow Warblers & Blackcaps but only a handful of Chiffchaff were noted. Counted 10 singing Sedge Warblers along the full length of the coast and a nice Reed Warbler was chugging away at Ballygannon reedbed in exactly the same spot I hear one most years. Crippling views of a Grasshopper Warbler at a range of 3m in amongst the Sea Buckthorn at Kilcoole was most welcome. A further two were heard reeling at ECNR during a brief shower. Six species of warbler in a day is not to be snuffed at, but as hard as I tried, I couldn't dig out a Whitethroat anywhere.

White Wagtails and Wheatears were scattered along the coastal fields and beach, with six & ten respectively. Sandwich Terns were feeding up and down the shoreline throughout the day, at least 57 of these along with 4 Little Terns at the traditional colony site at Kilcoole. Nearly that time of year again! A few Manx Shearwaters loafing around offshore too along with some nice breeding plumaged Red-throated Divers and a couple of drake Common Scoter migrating North.

 A rather dull looking Wheatear (2cy?)

Common Sandpiper on the first scrape at the BirdWatch Ireland Kilcoole Reserve and 11 Whimbrel along the coast were more additions for the year whilst c.145 Black-tailed Godwits & c.190 Golden Plover, all in full breeding plumage added a nice splash of colour to the coastal fields. Other migrant waders included a Bar-tailed Godwit & 4 Turnstone. A few wildfowl linger on with 3 Greylag Geese, 37 Light-bellied Brent Geese, 4 Wigeon, 12 Teal, a drake Gadwall & 2 Shoveler noted. A good day for raptors too with 1 Peregrine, 2 Buzzards, 2 Kestrels & 2 obliging Sparrowhawks seen.


A tiny wee immature male Sprawk

Best was saved for last when I got to Blackditch ECNR in the afternoon. After a mooch around the Northern walkways & hides I scanned out across the coastal fields where a nice wet flash is still present. "Looks good for a Yellow Wagtail" says I...and sure enough there it was! A cracking male flavissima prancing about like a Dandelion on legs! A former rare but regular breeder along the Wicklow coastline, records are becoming more sporadic in recent years unfortunately so most definitely a good one for the scoreboards.


A great start to Spring! 

111 species, 133 points & 68.03%

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant day, topped by Yellow Wagtail. I guess you wouldn't have found it without knowing that it might be there. Great birding. No whitethroat here on my Sandyford patch either, wondering why they're not here yet. No Swifts, that I've noticed, but tons of Swallows, some House Martins.