Saturday, March 24, 2012

One of those days

Started out today determined to get ahead of a college project due next week and hoping to break up the monotony with a look for the ring-billed gull. I got up early, worked till 1030 and went took my break, immediately having the ring bill. Enjoyed great views and a few sketches/photographs of it on the roof of the Dulux building bofore it eventually dropped down to the bread I was throwing out. It devoured almost a full loaf in a few gulps and departed back to its roof top, staying there for the rest of my stay. I gave up after I was out of bread and made my way back to the house for a late breakfast, thinking there would be a hard days work ahead of me.

Almost immediately I got a call from a friend telling me about a Bailons crake on Saltee Island in Co. Wexford, the first in Ireland in over a 150 years! I didn't take much convincing and was on the road in record time. A few buzzards and 2 red kites on the road down near Arklow livened up the journey south. Arrived at Kilmore quay around 2p.m. and all that around was an albino curlew, a strange looking beast that had the heart racing for a second! Eventually the boat arrived and we were on our way, told that the bird was showing well not to worry, wished people would just say nothing at times like these! I have searched for bailons many times before and never got close, so was more than eager to get a decent view of this bird. A long boat journey began and amazingly not a single shearwater or bird of note en route. When we drew near the island, a large crowd was gathered on the beach and my heart sank, thinking the worst and that the bird had disapeared. But they were all in good spirits and quickly told us the bird was showing really well just up the steps from the harbour! Incredibly, less than a minute later I was looking through the scope at the bird only 20 feet away as it basked in the sun shine! We enjoyed incredible views for 30-40 mins before the bird walked towards us, appearing almost under our feet and fluttered around us into the bracken, despite waiting another hour I saw no further sign after this and was forced to leave on the last boat. A single house martin, a few chiffchaffs,willow warbler and 3 black redstarts were the only other signs of migration on the island!

 Fantastic views had by all, but unfortunately not good enough for one camera man who insisted on intercepting it at every turn.
 The tertials were nearly always held above the primaries and gave it a long winged look.

  Bailons Crake. The beautiful colours and markings were easy to take in with such good views, in such good light, I can't imagine a better view of such an amazing bird.
After leaving the island the day wasn't quite done, we still had more than an hour of light left and were torn between heading east or west. The tide was high so we decided that the cull might not be productive and made our way east towards lingstown in the hope of a harrier or 2. After scanning for a while here, we had seen little so Iwalked ahead, amazed when I heard a few reedlings and picked one up in flight a short distance from Shane, Conor and Donal. After a brief wait, we heard them again and a male flew past us at very close range. A distant marsh harrier was joined by a ring tail hen as they fought together in the fading light. We ended the day at the forgotten corner, no sign of the green winged teal but who cares!! One of the best days ever and one that will never be forgotten!

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