Sunday, November 14, 2010

Black Redstart, Bull Island

During the week there was a report that someone (lucky by nature and lucky by surname) saw 3  Waxwings in Clondalkin, Dublin. Along with most birders, I find these birds amazing, so yesterday I set off trekking around Drimnagh first (loads of Rowan Trees in Drimnagh), then Clondalkin to see if lady luck would shine on me.
She didn't. Closest I got was a flock of Chaffinches and some Starlings who in the bad light actually did give my heart a surge, thinking they were Waxwings - but they weren't. After a few hours walking around Monastery park, road, rise, drive and surrounding areas I called it a day and headed back home.

This morning was Richard's class. We met in Malahide at 10am and spent a good 30mins in the train station carpark looking at Song Thrushes, House Sparrows, Chaffinches, Starlings, Tits, Rooks and Collard Doves.

Moving near the railway bridge we saw 3 Little Grebes, some Red Breasted Merganser and Great Crested Grebes swimming in the sea..
Moving to Swords Estuary we saw only one female Goldeneye (Rhona saw about 50 there yesterday), we saw some Knot, Golden Plover, Grey plover, Dunlin, Redshank, 1 Greenshank, Black tailed Godwits and then we went over to the other side where Richard ringed a Mute Swan!!


I was sorry I didn't get my camera out of the car for the ringing, because it was really weird how docile the Mute Swan became once Richard became the obvious 'dominant' of the two.
Richard caught the Swan, then finally after some flapping got the swan under control and in a grip that gave Richard easy access to the swans's legs. Richard may be 66 years old (he said this on radio!) but he's ringed over 1,500 Mute Swans in Dublin and handling this 13kg of bird didn't seem to phase him at all. In fact he put his face so close to the Swan's that I winced thinking the swan would take a swipe with it's beak, but it was a very gentle scene and there was no hostility from the swan at all. Richard should now be known as the Swan Whisperer. Once Richard had taken all the swan's details (it was a male, 12.9kg adult), class finished and people dispersed.

I had planned to go up to Howth Head for the rest of the day, but ended up heading over to Bull Island with a few of the others from class. They only lasted another hour (lightweights) but I didn't have to get back home so I stayed out.
With the sun setting at 4pm ish these days I decided to stay down in the salt field rather than walk over to the causeway, by which time it might already be dark.
There wasn't anything too unusual about, until Mir and Michael turned up and told me there was a Black Redstart down at the wooden bridge, so I headed over there, saw the lovely little bird, luckily got a photo in the dark light and then headed home.

Great way to end the day.

juv or female Black Redstart, Bull Island, Nov 14 2010.
Black Redstart cropped. Last time I saw a Black Redstart was March (this year) down in Dun Laoghaire on the other side of it's winter stay in Dublin.
Juvenile Grey Heron, Bull Island
one of many Juvenile Brent Geese, Bull Island
Turnstone, Bull Island
Dunlin, Bull Island
Female and male Wigeon weeeeoooooooooo
The dreaded one step too close.