Thursday, February 16, 2012

Greystones, Co Wicklow

Last Sunday I had it in my head that I might fit in a visit to 3 of the East coastlines; Greystones, Bray and Dun laoghaire but instead I ended up spending the whole day just in Greystones.

Did Greystones do something different with its hair?
I was last in Greystones about 4 years ago, if not more, and it seemed to me on Sunday, like I was in a different town altogether.
Did they just bulldoze down the old harbour and build a new one?
And whilst they were at it, did they build another 20 coffee shops, cafes and restaurants? The place was heaving with people, walking, sitting around having coffees, eating, there was quite a buzz. Greystones even has its own veggie place 'The Happy Pear' (recommend!).

The only clue that it was the same Greystones as years ago was the familiar chip shop on the corner, hanging in there, keepin it real.
Other than that, Greystones has definitely experienced a make over - and for the better.

Anyway - burds.

Jim had spotted some 7 Snow Buntings in behind the green wired fences near the chip shop (at the harbour), which I scored a big Fail on.
Looked and looked, but couldn't see anything in there except Oystercatchers, Redshank, Pipits, various gulls and crows.

Walking from the harbour over to the beach there were great views of Turnstones, Purple Sandpiper, Rooks, Starlings, Rock and Meadow pipits. Out to sea there were Shags, Cormorants, Razorbills and Guillemots.
On the way back from lunch (when I didn't have my camera) I saw a Black redstart down on some boulders below the path at the back of the old yellow hotel, there was a Rock pipit down there too.

Out at sea, there was also a Red throated diver which came in quite close to the shore when I was way down the other end of the beach (heading for Kilcoole). I got some 'ok' shots, still not close for sharp detail though.

The day was surprisingly sunny and pretty warm. So strange to think that just over the sea the UK was going through winter hell.

Greystones, Co Wicklow with new harbour, Feb 2012

Guillemot, in the sea - Greystones

Razorbill, Greystones

Herring Gull balancing its tea in a shell

Herring Gull balancing, Greystones

Greystones beach, Co Wicklow

Purple Sandpiper - my first time ever seeing one! I'll admit I initially thought it was a young Redshank (with yellowy legs) but there was something different about it which suggested it was a different bird. It was very tame, a Redshank would have noisily fled once I got this close, the legs were much shorter, stubby and yellow, the plumage a lot greyer and darker, so this was in fact my first Purple Sandpiper. Purple Sandpipers are nearly always found on rocks, boulders, especially ones covered in seaweed, they're also often found with Turnstones as they eat the same food - and this Purple Sandpiper was in with about 20 Turnstones.

Purple Sandpiper sliding

Turnstones in Greystones
Rock pipit sliding
Rock pipit sliding

Rock pipit standing

Meadow pipit hovering , Greystones Feb 2012

Out in the Irish sea, relatively close to shore - a Red throated diver. Even from a distance you can see the bill pointed upwards, when you see this, you can usually be sure it's a Red throated diver not a Great northern diver

Red throated diver

with a white throat - in winter; in summer the throat turns a deep blood red colour

Grey stones beach, I walked from the harbour to quite a bit beyond those rocks. I'm assuming the path heads to Kilcoole? There were Brent Geese and Oystercatchers on a driving range and footie pitches to the right.

Male Linnet (left) Female Linnet (right) Male with summer red breast flush showing, Feb 12th 2012

Male Linnet, summer plumage, Greystones, Feb 12th 2012

Varying degrees of summer plumage showing on these Black headed gulls. Feb 12th 2012

The fishermen seemed to be having a slow day and weren't having much luck catching fish...

Unlike this Shag which wasn't having any problems

Shag with very tropical looking fish, Greystones, Co Wicklow

Shag fishing

I had a great day out at Greystones and would love to do the Greystones to Bray walk - or Bray to Greystones then on to Kilcoole (if you can), hopefully in summer when the evenings are longer and more can be fitted into a day.