Monday, 6 May 2013

A new start on Rathlin - Visit 10

As it had been more than a fortnight since my last visit to the patch, I was concerned that I might have missed out on a few of the commoner summer migrants.  I needn’t have worried though, as I managed to pick up no less than 8 year ticks on Sunday 5 May, including a long overdue first island record!

On the ferry across I spotted a fishing boat that was attracting a few large gulls, so I decided to have a check for any skuas and sure enough a Great Skua was in tow.  The bird must have been about 4 miles off Rathlin, but this didn’t stop me trying to see it from dry land.  Unfortunately, I’ll have to leave to off the list for now, as I couldn’t see the boat from Rathlin never mind the skua!

Regular blog readers may recall a few posts ago I mentioned that the West Pier area was bound to attract a Black Redstart someday.  I was watching a few White Wagtails feeding amongst the fresh seaweed at the base of the pier, when a bird popped up onto a rock – a Black Redstart! (94). A new species for the island list, which now stands at 190. I think I will throw in a few more predictions in future posts!
Patch Mega!

A Sandwich Tern then screeched by the pier and a Light-bellied Brent Goose here was presumably the same bird first seen on 15 April.  I made my way uphill and saw several flowering Early Purple Orchids by the Church (in an area I always think looks good for an autumn Ovenbird...).

Early Purple Orchid
As I entered the upper section of Church Valley, I could hear a Sedge Warbler (95) in song soon to be joined by a second.  Next into song was one of 3 Whitethroats (96) in the area and then a Grasshopper Warbler (97) began reeling in the background. This area also held a few Wheatears and 10+ Willow Warblers.
As I made my way along the high road towards the east end two Rock Doves (98) flew over giving good views as they headed towards the north cliffs and a Sparrowhawk looked destined for its own check of Church Valley.  Nothing new was seen around the east end gardens or cattle fields, but Sedge Warblers seemed to be everywhere.
Ballycarry Pool is now almost dry and had attracted the Brent Goose over for a feed.  It was interesting to note that two pairs of Teal were still present.  The shoreline between Church Bay and Mill Bay proved more productive with two summer plumaged Dunlin (99) and 5 Whimbrel (100) in attendance alongside further Wheatears and White Wagtails.
I had already scanned Ushet Lough and made my way to the marsh at its south end, before I heard Black-tailed Godwits (101) calling from nearby.  I finally managed to spot 12 cracking summer plumaged Icelandic race birds feeding along the west shoreline.  Only the second time I’ve recorded this species on the island.
I seawatched from Ushet Port for half an hour, seeing several Manx Shearwaters moving east and 10 Whimbrel moving south.
A great number and variety of migrants were on the island today and the final tallies for the patch were:
4 Chiffchaff, 28 Willow Warbler, 1 Sandwich Tern, 25 Wheatears (mostly now Greenland birds), 1 Black Redstart, 1 Brent Goose, 12 White Wagtail, 13 Sedge Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 5 Whitethroat, 1 Blackcap, 20+ Swallow, 1 House Martin, 8+ Sand Martin, 2 Dunlin, 15 Whimbrel, 12 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Common Sandpiper.
If only I could find a Moorhen!
Score now 101 species, 126 points or 99.21%

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