Sunday, 8 December 2013

That puts a nice Gloss on things

Ballycotton is the patch that just keeps on giving.

On Saturday I wandered down mid morning, starting out at the pier. Not much was doing here, so I moved on to Silver strand for a scan of the sea. Some divers were loafing around but otherwise not much compared to recent weeks.

Having a serious need for coffee before I could even face the thought of hiking down the beach, I knocked back 2 big mugs of tar like coffee and then hit Ballynamona. Normally I would walk down the beach first to the lake and then work Shanagary and Allens, but today I changed my route for some unknown reason and walked in towards Shan. As I came up on the gate, I noticed a Black Headed gull mobbing something over towards Allen's, raised my bins, and was stunned to see the bird being mobbed was a Glossy Ibis!
Full Fat Patch Tickage Baby!

I was amazed to see the gull and 3 Hoodies mobbing the poor thing, and they never left it alone the entire time it was on the marshes. Even watching with Phil, from Shanagarry cafe, you could always tell where the Ibis was in the channels from the black head hovering over it.

There is something about Glossy Ibis for me, which seems quite menacing, so I can almost understand the birds mobbing it. That dark, oily plumage and bizzare flight silhouette, really stand out in the Irish landscape.
They always remind me of a book I read as a child, about Hercules and his labours.
The 6th labour was to drive the Stmyphalian birds away from a lake near the town of Stymphalos.
The birds were said to be man eaters which "looked like the ibis", and in this particular book, the illustrations were very much Glossy Ibis like. The image always stuck with me, as did the menacing connotation.

The bird turned up on the lake late evening, looking out of place wandering among the gulls for a few minutes, before feeding for the last hour of the day in the channel, and finally roosting with the egrets and herons.

Glossy Ibis to me is an iconic Ballycotton species. Starting out birding in the late 90's, I would read about all the top birding sites in Clive Hutchinson's "Where to watch birds in Ireland" book, and Ballyc was one of those dog eared sites, in particular that Glossy Ibis had been resident there for some years.

My first trip down to Ballycotton in my late teens (staying in the equally iconic Seaspray, now gone), I almost expected to see a Glossy. Now 15 years later I finally have!

A 2nd year Yellow Legged Gull and a 1st winter Iceland were fresh in with the trawlers late evening.

Today I started out at the pier again, hoping that the increased gull numbers from the previous evening would bring in a topical Ivory. It was not to be, but this beast was here. A series of rubbish shots follows.

Big, dark and brutish. This scary looking individual had a barred undertail and rump that any American Herring gull would be proud of. The strong smooth coloration on the belly and flanks, gave way to a slightly more streaked appearance on the upper breast, the tertials could stand to be a little less patterned for my liking and from what I saw on the tail, it just doesn't look right. But if anyone is down that way and can get video or shots of that tail I would love to see them.

I haven't found many references for American Herring Gulls with reduced tail bands. I doubt such tail pattern would allow for an American Herring Gull to be "Acceptable in a Western Palearctic context" (hate that phrase). But, again, would love for a suite of shots on this bird to appear for experience sake.

Species: 177
Score: 343
Comparative: 144.32%

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