Tuesday, 11 February 2014

72 minutes

If that’s the answer what is the question? How long does it take a Common Crane to fly from Garron Point to Glynn? 72 wonderful minutes. 
After taking an excited call from Ian Dickey saying he was watching a Crane flying about the coast near Glenarm, I was soon on my way to try and see it.  However, a second phone call soon told me it had been lost to view, flying south.  With no stubble fields for absolute miles, I felt this bird was not going to land anywhere nearby and once it gained altitude would have two options – head for Lough Neagh or keep going south towards Larne.
The coast road was traversed in a timely fashion and I was soon set up on the platform at Glynn Station.  I thought if the bird did continue along the coast this would be an attractive stop off point, as the tide was going out and there was lots of exposed mud.
I knew this attempt to get Crane on my patch (and county) list was a long shot and what greeted me just below the platform seemed to suggest my extended lunch break would end in tears.  Grazing away merrily amongst Greylags was the infamous Larne Lough hybrid goose; like a heckle from the birding Gods.  What the hell, I thought, it’s within digiscoping range so I hunkered down behind a wall to take a few shots and check through the throng of gulls. 

Hybrid Goose, Glynn Station

I was reviewing my efforts on the back of the camera when all of a sudden the whole mass of gulls and geese lifted – I looked up to be greeted by the sight of a large skinny silhouette gliding through the swarm.  It’s the CRANE!!  I pointed my compact camera towards the bird and fired off a few shots as it tried to come in to land.  But the local gulls were having none of it and the bird soon gained height and headed inland.
Gloroius Grus grus 
At this stage I will admit to doing a few Mourinho style fist pumps along the platform! But as I began to regain composure, I saw that the bird was doubling back and heading towards me.  I managed to get to the car, grab my zoom lens and take a few better shots as the bird again looked set to land.  This time a Buzzard appeared to scare it off and it quickly moved on south towards Whitehead. 

Full Fat Score
So a full 3 points were secured for the patch year list and a new species added to my patch and county lists. All thanks to my best ever birding moment whilst standing on that damned platform at Glynn. 
This brings my score to 83 species or 100 points. Since my last update things have been predictably quiet, with Grey Wagtail, Little Gull and Skylark the only other additions.
Little Gull, Sandy Bay, 5 February


  1. My patch could do with a bit of that kind of excitement ! Do you know that a Fea's Petrel was twitched in a similar fashion a number of years back in Kerry?

    1. I think that was also done at Carnsore / Hook before, so always worth a go. I'll expect my next bit of patch excitement around Larne in about 10 years!