Friday, 5 July 2013

June, a belter of a month!

Now over the mid-way point through the Patchwork Challenge & things at Kilcoole are definitely looking up! Currently stand with a very good chance of reaching my personal goal of 150 species by the end of the year mostly thanks to a great June which continued to deliver the goods since my last update, perhaps overtaking May as the best month so far.

Latest batch of patch year ticks up until the end of June as follows:

(132) Spotted Redshank:
a breeding plumaged bird flew in off the sea & landed in Webb's field on 18th. Only my 3rd patch record.
(133) LESSER WHITETHROAT: a singing male present in the Sea Buckthorn from 18th-30th. My long awaited 200th patch tick!
(134) Greenshank: first returning bird of (dare I say it?) the Autumn on 24th.
(135) Ruff: a cracking breeding plumaged male (black with rufous 'head gear') in Webb's field late in the evening of 29th.
(136) Tufted Duck: a drake in Webb's field late in the evening of 29th.

Scarce waders have been getting very, well, scarce(!) on the patch these past few years so gleaning Spot Shank & Ruff especially this side of September was most welcome. Tufted Duck has a curious habit of turning up in June so no surprises there & whilst not particularly frequent on the patch, a mid-summer passage Greenshank was certainly expected, although one that could have easily been missed if not out birding on the right days.

The undoubted highlight of the month showed up early in the morning of the 18th. On starting my Little Tern wardening shift at 6am, I picked up a calling Spot Shank flying in off the sea whilst chatting to Cole (our night warden) who was finishing up his shift for the day. It landed in the lagoon not far from our camp & given that it was as black as the ace of spades I figured I best let fellow day warden, Andrew, know about it otherwise he'd have my guts for garters! So after dragging the poor lad out of bed & up along the coastal track to get a better view of the marsh, we had no sign of the bird despite a good search. Andrew toddled off back to bed whilst I spent a few more minutes scanning the shoreline, but no luck. Whilst walking back along the Sea Buckthorn, I heard an unfamiliar, fast & fluid "teh-teh-teh-teh-teh" call coming from within the spiny fortress. Didn't click with anything off hand immediately. Getting closer I heard it again, this time sounding more like a song ringing with an almost bunting like impression... Jaysus!

The next time it sang, the repeated notes were preceded by a short, scratchy warble, with a distinct Sylvia feel to it! And this wasn't no bog standard Common Whitethroat. After another blast of song I zeroed in on the birds location & there it was, plain as day, a LESSER WHITETHROAT, singing away from a-top a branch, shaking its wings & tail during the final notes of its song phrases. MEGA!

I fired off a couple of record shots & legged it back to the camp, waking Andrew once again with the news... 

"Andrew, there's a Lesser Whitethroat in the buckthorn bushes!"

... [groggy noises]

... "Are you having me on?!"

"No it's sitting out in full view singing its head off!"

a pause

... "Ah for **** sake!"

So we bumbled back up to the buckthorns & basked in the wonderous glory that was the Lesser 'throat. Eighteen years in the making and there it was, my 200th patch tick giving it welly!

It stayed around until the end of the month, by which time some 40 birders had come to twitch it (including one intrepid year lister all they way from Co. Clare!). It became very elusive after a few days, showing best & singing most frequently early morning but disappearing for long periods during the afternoon.

Andrew looking very pleased with himself after ticking Lesser 'throat in his PJ's!
Back to everyday patch birding: some signs that the seasons are a changing have presented themselves in the form of a light passage of Sandycove-bound Mediterranean Gulls from the 18th, the return of failed/non-breeding Curlew from 20th with a few Whimbrel thrown in for good measure & the first dispersing juvenile Black-headed Gulls seen on 30th. More unusual were sightings of a Lesser Redpoll on 20th & a Grey Wagtail on 25th, both heading South (probably post-breeders).

Despite having 20+ pairs of Lapwing nesting in the coastal fields this year, just four juveniles have fledged successfully so far, largely due to some pretty intense Hooded Crow predation at the egg/small chick stage. A couple of young broods remain so fingers crossed they'll make it.

One of the precious few juv Lapwing
Also dipped a couple of Spotted Flycatchers in the Sea Buckthorn on 26th & 28th! Not guaranteed to get these guys at all in any given year so an opportunity missed...and by as much as 30 seconds according to Andrew!

Final scores as of the 30th June: 136 species, 172 points & 87.97%

1 comment:

  1. Tell yer man Andrew that Bosco called, he's looking for his pants back...