Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Tree Sprog delight & some dodgy Geese

Total patch tick today! TREE SPARROW! (no. 203 for patch life list, no. 96 for PWC2014 year list)

Stephen McAvoy found a Tree Sparrow at a farmyard along Newcastle Sea Road during the Wicklow Bird Race last Saturday. Thanks to some excellent directions & a wee map scribbled down on a sheet of paper I was able to rock up this morning, scope the exact section of hedge and sure enough there it was in the company of two Yellowhammers. Class! Now, this farmyard is on what I consider my patch in any normal year but given the 3km² range constraint of PWC it sat well outside the scoring boundary. So I duly made the most of the 'seen from the patch' rule, scoping the farmyard from a carefully chosen spot on the inland side of the PWC boundary and sure enough there it was... still present as a brown blob with the two yellow blobs! Real Galley Head style tactics this. 

Elsewhere on the marsh, the Russian White-fronted Goose was with c.215 Icelandic Greylag Geese, c.785 Light-bellied Brent Geese & 50 Whooper Swans in Webb's field. A ringtail Hen Harrier, Merlin, adult Mediterranean Gull, 2 Gadwall, Greenshank & Grey Wagtail were the best of the rest.

Russian White-fronted Goose

There was also this curious Brent among the hrota flock which has doubled in size in recent weeks (typical for March, may get up to 1,000 birds come mid month). It superficially showed some pro Grey-bellied Brant features such as the smooth brown chest & belly with evenly spaced dark 'claw marks' on upper rear flanks (giving a ghost of a Black Brant pattern), slightly darker upperparts compared to surrounding birds & obviously dirty brown colouration extending beyond legs. However, the collar was only as thick on the sides as can be shown by some hrota (it had a completely dark throat from what I could see) and the length of the uppertail coverts seemed 'normal'. Never saw it close enough for a proper look so best leave it be for now (hopefully it'll stick around for better views).

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