Monday, August 22, 2011

Lock 12, Grand Canal

If you want a decent cycle / walk into the countryside from Drimnagh, get on your bike or put on your walking boots and do the walk / cycle from Lock 1 (Suir Rd Luas stop, Drimnagh) up to Lock 12 (Adamstown, Lucan) and beyond.
It's a cycle that takes a few hours up to Lock 12 and then you can decide how far you want to go after that.
The footpaths have been worked on and opened up to the public and people seem to be being putting this new access along the Grand Canal to good use.
Ian has done the cycle several times and he suggested we both go up to check out some of the good birding spots he's found near Lock 12.

So off we drove to Lock 12.

Cycle/walk all the way there?
Are you mad.

Lock 12, Grand Canal, Lucan Road bridge, Adamstown. You can park your car outside a golf place and turn right to walk down the path.

This is the habitat you're rewarded with.
Ian knew that the sound of a sparrow along here usually gave a sighting of a Tree Sparrow.

He was right. Tree Sparrow, Grand Canal walk.

We saw what we presumed was a family of 4 Buzzards

See it?

There was a lot of calling going on and eventually this Buzzard took to the air.
Farmland to the left and right of this bridge gave us views of Wood pigeon, Rooks feeding, Hooded Crows. We also had several sightings of Sparrowhawks.

Adult Bullfinch in moult, with food in his mouth...

...for this little 'un. We actually saw the Bullfinch feeding his chick which was very cool.
There were quite a few Moorhens along the route - and that was it for waterbirds. Actually that's a lie, we also saw a Heron. But no Mute Swans, no Tufted Ducks, No little Grebes - not even a Mallard. Not a pied or Grey Wagtail, no Cormorant - nada. Walking next to a healthy looking canal for 4 hours, I would have expected to see more than Moorhens.

Did spot 2 friends of mine cycling along though - they live in Inchicore, so some people do actually cycle the whole way. Looks good doesn't it?

Happy days for Ian.... finally a Spotted Flycatcher on his patch
We also saw Willow Warbler, there were lots of them and lots of Chiffchaffs. We also saw Coal Tits, Blue tits, Long Tailed tits, a Robin, Chaffinches and heard lots of Blackcaps. Ian said that one time he counted 70 Blackcaps along the canal walk, 70!

It appeared in the area just as he was saying 'Along here would be good for Spotted Flycatchers...'

On we walked, arriving at a pub called..hazel hatch? or was that the one that was closed down... There's a pub anyway, with tables at the side of the canal if you want to sit out, or chairs inside.
Important to note, this pub does not do food - so bring your own, or alternatively give the barman €10 for 10 packets of scampi fries.
After a brief stop here we headed back.

The route back

More Spotted Flycatcher sightings.

New camera is doing wonders for my twig photography skills.

Juvenile Heron, we think it was just swallowing a rat.

Collared Dove

Linnets - there was a flock of around 30, some with reddish summer breast still showing. We also saw lots of Swallows and some Housemartins. No Swifts.

Blackbird eating the berries, not sure what the berries are.

I think we got back to our cars about 6ish, so it took us about 4 hours to walk down as far as the pub and back. And not one drop of rain. Just as well, as there'd be nowhere to shelter if you did get caught out.
Highly reccommend this walk for anyone, birding or no.
Thanks to Ian for pointing out most of the birds.
And it doesn't matter that we didn't see any Yellowhammers. Or Reed Buntings. Or Sedge Warblers.
Actually, I've said it before - it's better when birds don't appear 'on demand', that's what makes going out looking interesting - it's impossible to predict what you're going to see.

Once I got back home I went down to the Suir Road bridge to take a photo of some paintwork I noticed from the luas the day before.

ADW at work here. I've seen other ADW stuff around town, but can't remember where or what.

Bridge at Suir Road

Girl fishing by ADW. Hope she throws it back in.