Monday, February 7, 2011

Carlingford weekend

Before I start with the birds we saw during the weekend, I have to get something off my female chest.
This next sentence is not political correctness gone mad, it's not lesbo feminist rantings, it's not pmt, it's not anti men, I'm not promoting reverse sexism, or bra burning and it's not a femmo reaction against that prick andy gray - it's not any of these things people come up with to try and put down a woman's plea for fairness - this is a FACT.

There has been no out and out cull on all female birds.

'Look at his wings, look at his legs, do you see his undertail, look at his colouring on his chest' - these sentences were non stop over the weekend whilst looking at Redshanks, Godwits,Turnstones, Dunlins, Oystercatchers - birds where the sex of the bird is mostly unknown visually, so the birds could have been male or - FEMALE!
I know it's a stupid norm in language to have the male as default for everything and anything and that's it's done with thoughtlessness and laziness rather than any quest for patriarchal supremacy - but if I hear much more amongst birders I'm going to end up clocking someone.
The best this weekend was 'HIS colouring may suggest a Female Hen Harrier'. My eyes were out on stalks.
And it's not just this weekend, it's a continuous thing by both women and men and it has nothing to do with the people saying it, they're usually really sound people - it's just how it is.

So I want to say, for the record, it can annoy the hell out of me and I'm not going to be responsible for my actions if I flip out after half an hour of similar sentences which assign male genitalia to all birds regardless of their sex.
All I can do is I dream that one day, when birders don't know the sex of a bird, I'll hear, 'Look at it's rump, it's primary coverts, it's wings, it's coloring on the mantle suggests it might be a female Hen Harrier' etc. Far out dream I know.

So, anyway....that's my overemotionalhyeprsensitivelesbofeministmanhatingpenisenvybraburning rant over eh.
Just don't get me started on motorbikes and mopeds using the cycle lane in Dublin!

The Carlingford weekend could be described as a bit of a wash out, there was so much rain that the outings for Sunday morning had to be cancelled and replaced with Eric giving a talk.
However on Saturday we managed great views of 70 Common Scoters, 7 Red Breasted Mergansers, a Stonechat and my first sighting of a Common Snipe, so all in all I had a great weekend.
Frank reckoned we saw about 70 species, which isn't bad at all.

The female hen harrier actually turned out to be a Merlin (sex unknown!), Eric also spotted a Great Northern Diver, some Red throated divers, Buzzards and 2 Waxwings on Barrack Road in Dundalk. Unluckily we saw the Waxwings from the bus and by the time we'd got the bus to stop, unloaded and trekked over to the trees, they had disappeared.

Lots of birdwatchers, no Waxwings.
We got lovely views of a male Bullfinch though, a Dunnock, Goldfiches, Chaffinches and heard a Song Thrush.

It was down at Hermitage we got the great close ups of the Common Scoters and Great Crested Grebe, I can't remember which part of the coastline we were on when we saw the GN and RT diver, the rain was so bad, the grey coastline stops blended into one.

I do know that it was Gile's quay where we got great views of the Red breasted Mergansers and Stonechat.
4 Female and 2 Male Red Breasted Mergansers. In Annagassan we saw 5 males chasing one female, they were so funny.

Female Redbreasted Merganser. Interesting bouffant
Male Redbreasted Merganser. Equally interetsing bouffant

At Gile's quay there was a lovely little flock of hooded birders in winter plumage. See how they are huddled together, presumably for warmth and protection against the elements.
After a whole year of not seeing a Stonechat, it was like a release of tension to see one unexpectedly at Gile's quay. Lovely little bird.
On the Sunday, after Eric's morning talk, we manged to get out for an hour in the rain. Again I didn't take the camera, but got these shots later when the rain had eased a little.
I was hoping to get a photo of the Snipe we saw, but by the time I had gone back with camera it had disappeared. We got great views though of the stripes on it's head whilst it was scavanging in the seaweed.

Male Wigeon in amongst Dunlin, Brent Geese and Oystercatchers

Dunlin feeding

Turnstone in the rain

Electric orange legs on the Redshank and Turnstones feeding

Not a beak in sight - Oystercatcher and Dunlins roosting.

Carlingford Castle. Watch out for an attacking Fulmar as you walk up the steps. And no, it didn't get me.

Carlingford at the foot of the Mourne mountains.
Despite the rain I loved the weekend, had some really nice chats with people and saw a Snipe and Stonechat. Around Carlingford is beautiful and with my gf's parent's living nearby it's nice to know which spots to visit when we're up for a weekend.
Big Thanks to both Eric Dempsey and Breffni Martin for organising and running a very enjoyable couple of days and answering everyone's questions. Thanks to Eric too for the common sense field photography tips, keep low, approach slowly, keep in the background, be still for long enough that the bird relaxes and comes towards you rather than you go towards the bird and blend into the background.
Big up for the discussion on the Green Party too!