Sunday, 20 October 2013

Ballycotton Bonanza

I forsook Mizen this weekend, deeming it about time that I gave Ballyc a full and proper scouring in October for once.

Having never really done so in the past, there are lots of species that I should have added to my Ballycotton List long ago, but never got round to it.

Speaking of which, because of the birds this weekend, I managed to detect an error in my lists. Even though I have seen Black Redstart in Ballycotton many times over the years..I had not checked it off when calculating my previous year scores and averages etc. So I amended that.

Anyway, on to the birds. I started off early on the cliffs. With a SW blowing and murky drizzle falling, I gave it half an hour of a seawatch. This paid off with ease. Sooties were going by in close, and with them 1 Leaches Petrel and 2 Grey Phalaropes, both full fat patch ticks, but both unsurprising ones.

Leaches is another one of those birds (along with Hobby, Water pipit, Roseate and Little Terns and Tree Sparrow etc) that I was told was rare when I moved to Cork. In reality bugger all people seawatch in October. Obvious really, what with the prospect of mega sibes and yanks, but the birds are out there.
A couple of years ago I went out on a "pelagic" (it was really just a pukefest in a small yacht) out of Cork harbour in September. Straight out of the mouth of the Harbour, we encountered Grey Phal and Leaches petrel fairly easily, so I have been waiting all year to nab em for the Ballycotton list really.

The sun then came out and it turned into a gorgeous day, so I set off for Phil's back passage (hee).
A Yellow Browed warbler was the next full fat patch tick, calling at me from the sparrow hedge, and mooching towards the southern gardens with crests. This was too easy.

Little else was doing up around Phil's, so I pushed on to skinnys and the main street of the village. A couple of chiffs in most gardens, but nothing more.

The school, however, was jammed full of birds. A Ring Ouzel in the lower hedge was the first bird to make an appearance, burying itself in the fuschia. The garden itself held a Common Redstart (yet another full fat), flicking at the top of the sycamore beside the house, a Pied Fly, and the second Yellow Browed of the day, along with a rake of Chiffs and Crests, including one loud, grey "Swee-oo-ing" chiff.
Returning back to the road, and there was a Black Redstart bounding around the buildings.
5 Year ticks, 4 of them full fat within a couple of hours. Excellent migration by Ballycotton standards.

Another Yellow Browed and Black Redstart were present at the "For Sale" valley, between the school and the gate, and later that evening, a fourth, skulkier, showed itself in the sycamores below the school.
With the Short Toed Lark still present at the lake, the impressive tally was

1 Short Toed Lark
4 Yellow Browed Warblers
2 Black Redstart
1 Pied Fly
1 Common Redstart
1 Ring Ouzel

Back down for seconds today, and much of the same stuff still around.
the School area held the same 2 Yellow Broweds and the Pied Fly. Never made it up to the cliffs, but there was no sign of the one at the for sale valley, or either of the black reds.

The Short Toed Lark was still present at the lake, and 2 Snow Bunting calling as they flew low overhead were a welcome year tick.

With stuff to do at home, I left Ballycotton reasonably early...and paid for it, as a Drake Blue Winged Teal flew into the lake and a Hobby was picked up at Ballynamona.
The coming week will be interesting.

Species: 168
Score: 290
Comparative Score: 122.02%

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