Monday, January 30, 2012


I had planned all week to travel down to Wexford all week with a friend in search of bearded tits and a pair of long billed dowitchers. We started at the Cull, and with the tide in there were very few waders about, my friend flushed a water pipit a few times but just couldn't pin it down. We got news that the Caspian gull was found again at Rosslare so we made a move and joined the gathered birders on the roadside over looking the harbour. 2 iceland gulls and an adult med were picked up straight away, and walking around the carpark we found a stunning adult male black redstart, and shortly after a duller female type. The Caspian was re located on the pier and after some confusing directions, everyone got to see it. The weather was miserable, constant misty rain and the bird was always distant. A very subtle bird and I dont think I would have flagged it if it was sitting beside me.
After that we moved straight to Tacumshane in search of bearded tits. We were told roughly where the birds were hanging around amazingly they flew into the reeds infront of us almost immediately! We got some fantastic views of 6 for a few minutes before they dropped down to feed in the reed bases. Every few minutes they would burst out into a bout of frenzied calling, but despite spending another 3 hours there we were never treated to the great views again. A female and imm male hen harrier drifted over the dunes along the coast. The rain was constant all day, but was still a great day out.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Meally redpoll?

 There have been upto 4 redpoll visiting my parents garden since christmas and today I had a nice surprise of a flock of 10-12 descend onto the feeders. Almost immediately a pale, greyish bird jumped out at me and I instantly thought meally redpoll. It was quite small, only marginally larger, if even, than the lessers but its cold grey colour, white underparts and clean white wing-bar made me think it was good enough for a meally. Hopefully it will stay around for a few days and I can get the scope or camera onto it for a better view

 Lesser redpoll sketches, the birds were quite flighty and numbers disapeared for periods of time.  Most years I find a few meally's in amongst flocks of redpoll at traditional sites where I know there are stands of alders. Usually then the birds are feeding high up and difficult to see well, today I had left my bins and scope elsewhere!

Meally redpoll above left with one of the typical lesser redpolls. The cold grey plumage and streaked white rump really stood out amongst the lessers.

Ross's Gull

I travelled upto Ardglass harbour in Co. Down last week to see one of my all time favourite birds. It has been 10 years since I last saw a Ross's gull off Nimo's pier in Glaway, so this was long overdue. This stunning adult ross's had been found 2 days previously and showed well from the moment I arrived. Circling the bay it passed by the tip regularly flying high over my head or dip feeding right infront of me, it was well worth the trip and am cosidering a second trip tomorrow!

Also in the harbour were atleast 12 Iceland gulls, 3 Glaucous gulls and 3-4 kumliens gulls. This 1st winter was one of 2 coming to bread off the tip of the pier.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

 Rough-legged buzzard. Another successful day out in Wicklow. After a quick search for the snow buntings at Greystones, I made my way to the viewpoint above Kilcoole and spent over an hour checking the local buzzards there before heading back down to the coast to try the area around Glenroe farm. Almost immediately I spotted the bird circling low over the ruins in the stubble fields just to the north. It dropped out of view so I walked down the road and got great views of it perched in trees constantly mobbed by the local hoodies.

 Always seemed to perch on the thinnest of twigs at the tops of the trees revealing tiny feet!
After some great views in flight and perched I went down to Kilcoole to look for the tundra Bean Geese found the day before. There was already a group there watching the birds distantly behind Webbs field when I arrived. Although distant and in poor light the long neck and head/bill of the birds was striking though most other features seemed to rule out Taiga, nice to see despite the conditions!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

 Rough-legged buzzard. This Juvenile may have been in the Greystones area of Wicklow since Nov 2011 but wasn't identified until early Jan 2012. I was treated to fantastic views as it soared with upto 6 common buzzards also in the area. The fields were full of redwings and stock doves and even had a crossbill fly over me calling as I watched it. The bird was re-located along the coast at lunch time and a short drive later, I had fantastic views as it circled the fields before passing over close overhead on its way back to its original location. In the fading light I headed to Greystones harbour and the perfect end to the day was 11 snow buntings feeding on the shingle beach down to 10 feet. If only it was always this good!
 Rough-legged Buzzard, a quick water colour sketch done at home ahead of a second trip down to Greystones. While chatting with others present I was given a red kite primary, I always find it a challenge to paint the detail of the feathers up close.