Sunday, September 11, 2011

Kilcoole / Newcastle

Made it down to Kilcoole for 10.30am to meet up with South Dublin BWI branch.
Despite the grey clouds, rain and desire by most I'm sure to stay in bed, there were about 20 birders up for the walk led by the ever patient and seemingly all knowing Niall Hatch.

Nearly immediately we all got our reward for getting out of bed as we managed the best views I've ever had of a female Kestrel hovering. The chestnut colour was nearly glowing as the sun decided to break through the rain clouds. Absolutely beautiful.

This viewing was unfortunately disrupted (as they tend to be on group outings) by the shout of Stock Dove! A bird I've never seen in Ireland.
I shifted my scope over to the stubble fields which were full of feeding Wood Pigeons and yes, amongst them all Niall had managed to spot a Stock Dove!
Great to see.
I would have liked to have seen it out from the stubble just to distinguish the lack of white wing bars (could have been a juv wood pigeon).

Gannets, Guillemots, Shags, Razorbill, Cormorants, Sandwich Terns and Black Headed Gulls all out to sea.
No Divers that we saw.

Wigeon, Teal, Mallards, Mute Swans, Little Egrets, Sandwich Terns, Curlew, Common Terns and the Black Backed Gull still in with the Cormorants at Webbs field.

A flock were seen in the distance flying inland over the sea - 'Is that a flock of geese flying in'? Someone asked.
I scanned up as reports yesterday had mentioned 100 Brent Geese already spotted in Antrim and Clare, but all I could make out was that the flock were ducks, not geese.

'That's a flock of Wigeon', said Niall, 'you can tell from the white patch near the shoulder'.
Nice tip - be great if I remember it!!

In the reeds I managed a brief glimpse of a Sedge Warbler, but no other warblers/buntings that we saw.
No Stonechats either.
All the Little Terns gaawwn. All the Lapwings gaaawwn.

Ringed Plovers and Dunlin (still in summer plumage) were skipping the light fandango, turning cartwheels cross the shore, the many Wheatears on the beach shingle, they all called out for more.
I wished I had my camera, but there you go, sometimes it's just better to see everything.

The others left about 1ish but I kept walking down to the Breeches and Newcastle.
I wanted to see the remnants of the Little Tern colony.

It was strange with everything gone - the Hide, the lad's caravans, the lads!, the Colony News board, the fencing - and especially absent, was the sound of the Little Terns with their noisy comings and goings to and from their nests.
It all seemed very quiet and 'empty'.

As ever, Hunger struck so I walked the long walk back to my car to have some lunch before heading down to the East Coast Nature Reserve.
The rain had cleared so I figured it would be safe to bring my camera with me.

To be honest - I've never really had much luck seeing anything unusual in the ECNR, apart from the Garganey this summer. I've read reports of other people seeing great birds from the hides, so there are great birds around, just not on my watch.


Today was no different.
I opened the hide door and was happy to see I had it to myself. It meant I could be as noisy as I wanted setting my scope up, moving the bench, moving the bench again, getting my camera ready, moving the bench a little bit again - and no evils from anyone!
After a while, I realised why I had the place to myself.
Nothing of much interest was out there. I watched the Moorhen for a while, a male Mallard zipping its feathers and a female Mallard snoozing, but eventually I felt it was time to move, so I walked over to the new 'Woodland Hide' - which is quite a walk by the way, especially on a warm day with scope and camera/ biggish lens. Took me 25 mins hide to hide.
Again nothing unusual to be seen from the Woodland hide either.
Bad timing I suppose.

I left the woodland hide and headed down to Newcastle beach where I waited to try for some decent photos of Wheatears.


Made me smile anyway.

I positioned myself amongst the boulders and sat and waited.
And waited.
I could see the Wheatears further down on the shingle to my right, happily bobbing around, feeding, standing, looking about, bobbing around a bit more and it was tempting to just get up from where I was to move closer to them, but I stuck it out and stayed put, all good things come to those that wait and all that.
Plus, it was a lovely evening and the sun was setting so the waiting gave me a chance to have some quiet time and practice my wistful 'looking out to sea' poses.

Eventually, I smiled and said my thankyous as a Wheatear hopped close to where I was sitting.

So, you're off in a few weeks eh? Good luck with that. Was nice seeing you. Hope you enjoyed yourself.

Even if I say so myself - not a bad shot.

Yes, you're right, it's all to do with the subject matter. Female Northern Wheatear.

Female Northern Wheatear, Newcastle, Co Wicklow

Good luck with your flight to Africa. Don't forget to pack your earplugs and eye mask for the long flight.Think this might be a 1st Winter Wheatear?

Some of the Wheatears we see on the East coast over the next few weeks have actually flown from Greenland or Canada on their way to Africa. How's that for a migration trek?!

Ok, time for the next pic - READY?? Newcastle today.

Check this pic out - on boundry fence between Newcastle beach and ECNR

The colour of the breast has me excited about a juv Stonechat! I haven't got my Collins with me, Eric's shows a Siberian immature, but says immature similar to female adult - which this could be? Googling images only goes so far.

Reddish, peachy breast, dark eyes, black legs, pale chin, speckled white around the eyes and nape..Also like the white wing patch in above photo. If it is a Stonechat, that's a Result for ECNR!

and is this a juvenile Dunnock?

So - Stonechat? Go on, shatter my illusion.