Sunday, 29 September 2013

Migs at last!

Managed to nip down to Ballycotton for the afternoon on Friday.

With all the migrant activity being reported along the coast, I bypassed the beach as the tide was low, even with the possibility of running into the AGP found by Denis, and made straight for the cliffs.

3 Wheatear on the benches at the pitch and putt course was a good sign of migration, and swallows were streaming over.

Phil's back passage had 1 spotted flycatcher and a few crests and phyloscs. But there was little of note around the fields and gardens around the boreen.

The gardens on the seafront were much the same, a few crests and chiffs the best.

The school had a rather nice pied fly though, giving good views in the sycamore south of the dusky house.

Silver strand had a whinchat on the hedges, with a yellow wagtail on the seaweed of the little beach (seaweed rack is starting to build up again, which gives hope for waders and passerines in October).

I then decided to try and re-locate the AGP. The lake was devoid of any waders of note, and nothing much was doing at Ballynamona or Shanagarry pool.

2 cracking juvenile Long Tailed skuas were a really treat out in the bay. These birds were actually loafing on the water, only visible due to the kite surfers putting them up every few minutes as they disturbed them.
The amount of birds that must pop into the bay and go undetected on the sea.

The bird of the day came in the form of a confiding Wryneck. Found whilst calling up to Phil's for a cuppa. The bird was feeding on the road behind Waves cafe, before moving into the hedge/bank behind the new houses, viewing from the car the whole time. Only my second on patch, the first being way back in 2006 on the cliff walk.

Species: 158
Points: 252
Comparative score : 106.93

With October here, Mizen now beckons and it may be sometime before I see Ballyc again.

Tough Going – Visit 21

My latest visit to the patch on 28 September did not produce what I had hoped for given that decent birds appear to be turning up almost everywhere at the moment (e.g. YBW in Portrush!). Instead it acted as a reminder of just how much of a slog Rathlin is in autumn, when there is often little of note to be seen.
Here’s what I saw on the day:
3 Lapwing, 2 Great Northern Diver, 30 Robin, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 2 Goldcrest, 4 Blackbird, 1 Song Thrush, 9 Stonechat, 3 Swallow, 55 Goldfinch, 70+ Linnet, 12 Lesser Redpoll and 40+ Meadow Pipits.
Nevertheless, the numbers of birds noted above will serve as a baseline to compare future counts, if and when things start to improve as I increase my efforts in the coming weeks.

Monday, 9 September 2013

A Skua at Last - Visit 20

It was great to be back out on the patch on 8 September to find that some different birds have finally started to trickle through.  Most notable of these were 2 year ticks, my first since 5 July!
A quick check of the West Pier area failed to deliver anything unusual, so I had a few scans of the sea and along the cliffs running down towards the west end.  A commotion overhead alerted me to soaring raptors being mobbed by Hooded Crows, these turned out to be Buzzards and a female Kestrel (111) – year tick!
I spent far too long checking out a phyllosc warbler in Church Valley, which turned out to be a rather weird looking Willow Warbler that appeared to be in heavy moult and had just taken a bath; a really tatty bird. I also saw 2 Whitethroats in the hedges here.  The east end gardens were very quiet.
Mill Bay shoreline had 15 Ringed Plover, 6 Curlew, 3 Redshank, 1 Turnstone, 1 juv Knot and a White Wagtail. The fields here held a smattering of Wheatears.  Three Chough were then seen tumbling about east of Craigmacagan Lough.
I spent a couple of hours in the Ushet Port/Rue Point area scanning out to sea and checking rock pools, wet flashes and short turf areas for migrants.  On land the best I could manage was a juv Common Sandpiper, small flocks of Linnets, some Wheatears and 2 Skylarks. A tringa species which shot out of a rock pool right beside the south lighthouse had me scampering after it, only for it to be a juv Redshank. Scanning out to sea was uneventful until a squall started to move towards Rathlin skirting past Ballintoy and Ballycastle in its tracks.  A small movement of birds began heading east past the south light. This involved Gannets, Fulmars, Kittiwakes, the odd Manx Shearwater and 4 Brent Geese.  I was checking through a flock of Kittiwakes when a dark adult Arctic Skua (112) went crashing through. The first skua to make it on to my patch year list! Bring on the rest of the autumn...
Score now on 112 species, 138 points or 108.7%

Nearly missed this Knot!

September. Here at last.

Back down to Ballycotton after last week's shameful, yet successful betrayal to the Bridges.

Started out on the cliffs, where quite a few Wheatears were knocking about, as well as good numbers of swallows. It was a tad windy along Phil's back passage (heh) so, not much to be seen there (heh).

On down to the beach chasing waders. A reasonable flock of smalls view-able from Silver Stand could not be relocated when I made my way around to Ballynamona. But a Lapland bunting headed east over the sluice was a nice year tick.

A couple of Dunlin and Ringos on the pools but not much of note otherwise. A large influx of Lesser Black Backed gulls as per usual this time of year. Though no Azorean with them this time, there were a couple of very black, long winged, slim billed individuals, which I would have no trouble calling Baltic if I was back in Finland. Ces't la vie.

I then mooched to the Garryvoe pool which I have been spending some time with lately, and was nicely surprised when a female Gadwall lifted out. As I said before, any quack other than teal and wigeon (of which many return migrants of both species are back in BallyC), is a welcome treat.

On Sunday I again started out on the Back Passage. This time a much calmer day, and lots of phyloscs in the hedges. Under the sycamores you could hear lots of bill snapping. And I spent a good 15 minutes staring into them to be rewarded with a cracking Wood Warbler making a brief appearance before moving into one of the hedges.

Moving on to the rest of the village, 2 Tree sparrows (at last) were just down from Phil's house and yet more phyloscs and a couple of whitethroats.

I moved down to the lake for the evening, and as I was awaiting the high tide, the sky suddenly darkened. I looked behind me out to sea, to be greeted by the sight of a solid wall of rain inbound from the Island. B*llix.

By the time I made it back down to the ballynamona end of the beach I was well and truly sodden through, but just as I made my way to enter the car park I hear the familiar call of a Pectoral Sandpiper. Two waders were passing by me, and I lifted the bins to see that there indeed was a Pec...and a gorgeous Buff Breasted Sand with it. Classic BallyC. No sign of a Little Stint or Curlew sand, but sure enough two yanks.

The birds carried on into the marshes and I left them to it, cranking the heat in the car up to thermo nuclear and making my way home. Hopefully this is the start of some nice yank wader-age at BallyC.

Score: 242
Comparative: 102.69%