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!

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