Thursday, 5 January 2017

Highlights from Larne and Rathlin 2016

This was going to be the year I'd finally find that mega on Rathlin. In the end I only managed 10 visits to the Island, which is considerably less than my first year taking part in 2013, when I recorded 121 species over 30 visits.  Looking back, I'm not sure how I managed it back then. Nevertheless, among the species recorded in 2016, were some absolute crackers.  A close encounter with a White-tailed Eagle on a fine spring day will be forever etched in my memory. Setting off in hope of a glimpse, ending up floored in the heather looking straight to the heavens, listening to its wingbeats as it fended off ravens, hooded crows, buzzards and a peregrine, making each appear like a speck on the horizon. 

White-tailed Eagle

Unringed and untamed

Cruising the thermals above the north cliffs, with a Raven giving chase

WTE dwarfing Buzzard

Other visits produced some decent birds like Whinchat, Cuckoo, Gadwall (rare on the Island), White-fronted Goose, Snow Bunting, Barnacle Goose, Hen Harrier and Twite.  Plus some patchgold in the form of my first Mistle Thrush in eight years!

Common Scoter flying by Rue Point

Male Whinchat at Craigmacagan Lough

The year ended on 96 species for 120 points and a pathetic comparative score of 82.8%. My comparative target for 2017 is 135 points which gives me some hope of reaching 100%.  Someday that mega will fall. 
As for Larne, it was gulls, gulls and more gulls.  Here's a selection seen on patch this year.

Several Little Gulls appeared throughout the year around Larne Harbour

First fledged Black-headed Gull seen at Sandy Bay on 2nd July - over 5000 pairs bred this year

This Kumlien's Gull was first found off patch but eventually made its way to Glynn

Amazing views of Med Gull guaranteed
Standing out from the crowd
Several Iceland Gulls were seen but strangely I couldn't find a Glaucous Gull this year. Another six point larid was a Ring-billed Gull at Glynn Station on 28 February. There wasn't much else to shout about, but other decent birds seen included Goosander, Jack Snipe and a patchtick White-fronted Goose.  A nice run of birds in November added my first ever patch Velvet Scoters, a flyover Skylark, a patch scarce Stonechat, a couple of Long-tailed Ducks and a Slavonian Grebe.  The year ended on 121 species for 158 points and a comparative score of 96.3%.  A decent enough effort.

I have signed up both patches for 2017 and look forward to seeing what I can find.  Here's a few other bits and pieces from around Larne.

Patchtick Greenland White-fronted Goose, Glynn, 12 March

White Wagtail, Sandy Bay

House Martin, Glynn

Common Tern, Glynn

Knot, Sandy Bay

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