Friday, 21 January 2011

'Nutcracker' - ucd

Got a text last night telling me reports were appearing on Surfbirds of a 'Nutcracker returning to ucd for the 2nd year'. A nutcracker in UCD!! That would be unreal - too unreal.
Most people over the years have seen an 'albino blackbird' around ucd. I've seen it for at least two, maybe three years, often around O'Reilly Hall and near the lake. Niall reckons it's been around since he started ucd 4 years ago. Anyway, he reckoned this was probably the 'Nutcracker' and I agreed.

However, once a 'sighting' like that has been planted in your head, once there's even the remotest Chance - and it's so closeby, well, you're going to check it out aren't you? It's a possible Nutcracker on home turf afterall. Never seen before in Ireland.

Lurking at the back of a bank was not great. I wished I at least smoked so it looked like I was actually doing something, but I don't, so I just stood there whilst people looked at me, looking at apparently nothing. The joys of birdwatching.
I saw Blackbirds, Wood pigeons, Goldcrests, finches and tits coming and going - and then I saw it, a black bird flying onto a tree showing off a lovely white tipped tail. Could it be?! I got the 'heart jump' and stayed very still. Took out my binocs and sure enough, black head, white tail feathers and white spots - along with - a yellow beak and obvious yellow eye ring. I was looking at our old friend, the ucd leucistic Blackbird.
So unless this is the biggest coincidence in the history of coincidences and there's Also a Nutcracker down there which I didn't see - then I think this is the Nutcracker.

Leucistic Blackbird, back of AIB, UCD, Dublin.

Leucistic Blackbird with yellow beak and eye rings.

Looking for the nuts it hid last year..

Nutcracker? Woodpecker? Oystercatcher?

Yo, I'm the famous ucd albino blackbird nutcracker - talk to my agent if you want another photo...

At lunch I went for a little walk and got my first sighting of a Kingfisher in ucd. I saw it twice in flight, first time the orange was really obvious, second time the electric blue was really obvious. Great to see. The Teal were still hanging around, looked to me like 4 females and 2 males.
You can just see the green speculum of the female Teal

Female Teal, small lakes, ucd
During the week I saw my first Water Rail in ucd too, I got a great view, probably the best I'll ever get, some joggers ran by, I glanced up at the joggers and the Water Rail was gone. I haven't seen it again since, but what I did see was crystal clear views - maybe the best I'll ever get. Beautiful bird.
Male Bullfinch, ucd

Female Bullfinch, ucd

Robin, ucd. Not the forinrobin I've been seeing with the olive back.

One of the family of Long Tail tits getting a bit of shut eye

Some of the 12 Tufted Ducks which have returned to the ucd lake
Tufted Ducks can look similar to Scaups, but Scaups have lighter backs and a pinch of black at the end of the bill, not as much as Tufted Ducks have.
Plus, only Tufted Ducks have the tufts.
Tufted Ducks, ucd lake.
Not a bad bit of birding during a lunchtime.
I also saw 6 Mistle Thrush, 1 Goldcrest, 2 Goldfinches, 2 Chaffinches, 6 Woodpigeons, loads of Magpies, 8 Redwings and dozens of Bh Gulls.
Still no Brambling.