So now that everyone has got the first spring migrants out of their system - yes everything is very late isn't it, no I've never had swallows before sand martins either. The first fine day in quite a long long time came in April , visibility was good so I made my way at high tide to the highest point of the farm, in appropriately enough 'The High Field' . (Field nomenclature can be as imaginative as the bird variety, the equally elevated next door field is called the Top Field, so I'll leave it to your imagination to guess why the adjacent Boreen Field got it's name.) Once more looking south to the north channel of Cork Harbour in hopes of something flying high above the intervening hills. After about 10 mins two ducks flew through and quickly disappeared, 'bugger' I was sure they were Wigeon but just not sure enough. Another couple of minutes and five more ducks, except this time they showed well against the background and they were clearly Shellduck, only the second patch record ever. Clearly you can seawatch from an inland site even when you cant see any water.
Five or ten minutes later and 4 more ducks and this time they were Wigeon, again showing below the horizon but above the intruding hills and trees, first ever patch sighting, the previous record was a migrating flock at night; now if only Grey Plover and Turnstone were given to such flights of fancy.
The bitter spring has had it's impact on crops and birds. The Oilseed Rape should by now be 6-8 inches high, due to the cold it was at best 2 inches, now I'm sure you'll admit, we've all used that excuse from time to time,but from a farming point of view this crop had had it's chance and had to be ploughed down. Whatever about the expense the year listing upshot is Sedge Warbler may be trickier this year as 2 pairs bred in last years OSR.
I'll be waiting for the post breeding dispersal this year when a few birds can usually be found in cereal crops pre harvest. The migrating wave of Willow Warblers were also late, but at least they did appear eventually and moved on just as quickly. I also finally got a Kingfisher and both Martins on the same day. As for breeding species Greenfinches seem to be commoner and possibly are making a comeback from Trinh ...Trinch ...Tricn....that disease they get.
Gratuitous Greenfinch Pic
Lots of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs now singing and Stock Doves are finally appearing in numbers, eating the late sown Barley but at least they're around. Finally last night while locking in the dog for the night I was most surprised to flush a Long - eared Owl from a gate in the yard. Just the third patch record - question is, does it count as a Summer or Winter record?
66 species and 76 points. Paul