Thursday, October 25, 2012

More college work

 Have been working away on the roughs for one of my college projects. I have to illustrate 5 pages from a book I read recently and chose 100 birds to see before you die. I have since decided to refine it down to 5 of my favourite birds seen in Ireland, snow bunting, puffin, bearded reedling, waxwing and pallas's warbler.

 I used photographs and sketches to work from.
A colour and layout rough, have quite a bit of work still to do but am happy enough so far.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tory Island

 One of the first birds I saw on Tory was this male snow bunting in the harbour as I got of the boat, I was thinking it would be the 1st of many. After dropping of my gear I went back with the camera and sketchbook and it was briefly joined by a 2nd. They were the only 2 of the week.

 Whooper swan. 13 on the island during my stay. 10 on my 1st day, 2 on the monday and this juv was on its own on my second day.

 Eider, one borealis was seen amongst 16 eider as I approached the harbour, numbers dropped down after that to 5 until my second last day. The upper male in the photo showed quite an orange tinge to the bill and rounded frontal lobes. Perhaps some borealis or even dresser's influence??
 Buzzard, 1 of 3 on the island. The rabbits on the island are dying in their 100s from myxamatosis and the buzzards are doing well.

 Blyths reed warbler. Some great views of the bird, but like most rarities, the need for photographs comes ahead of field sketching. Should have spent a lot more time on it.

Tory lighthouse.

Mute swan-         2 pairs and a lone juv. A lone adult on the west lake on the 9th driven off by the local pair
Whooper swan-   10 (8 ads,2 juvs) 6th, 1 juv 7th, ad and juv 8th
Barnacle goose-  over 200 on the islands on the 6, with several flocks of 20plus circling the island daily.
Mallard-              Roughly 5 on each lake.
Wigeon-              Lone male west end
Teal-                   5 west end and 3 east end
Eider-                  16 on the 6th included one Borealis, 5 daily till it rose to 12 on 9th and 10th
Pheasant-             1 female behind Graces daily
Fulmar-                small numbers daily around the island
Manx shearwater-  1 from the boat on the 6th
Gannet-                good numbers daily
Cormorants-         common
Shags-                 common
Grey Heron-         1 daily, probably 2 on 10th
Common buzzard- 2 daily with a 3rd on the 10th, fattening up on 100's of dying rabbits.
Sparrowhawk-       male on the 8th caught a starling, circled high and south late in the eve, juv female on the 8th.
Kestrel-                2 everday, joined by a third on the 8th.
Merlin-                 Female type from the 8th, juv male on the 10th
Peregrine-            2 adults daily, 1 juv daily and another at Maheroarty
Oystercatcher-     30 west end
Ringed Plover-      1 on the morning of the 9th, grew to 22
Grey Plover-         1 juv 8th
Golden Plover-      1 calling and flying west on the 9th
Lapwing-              30 west end
Purple sand-        3 on the 10th
Turnstone-           common
Dunlin-                 1 in the harbour on the 10th
Redshank-           common
Curlew-                3 most days, over 20 on the 10th
Snipe-                 flushed a few most days
Black headed gull- 2 a few times around the harbour
Common gull-      scarce, but a few around the harbour
Herring gull-         common
Great b b gull-      common
Kittiwake-            common, amazed they didn't lure in a sab's!
Black guillemot-   a few around Maheroarty, none on Tory
Razorbill-             a few mostly distant
Guillemot-            1 in close east end harbour, a few out to sea
Feral pigeon-        20 mostly west town
Skylark-               1 calling overhead on the 10th
Rock pipit-           common
Meadow pipit-      common, noticable daily fluctuations
Tree pipit-            1 on the 9th looked a lot brighter than 1 seen well on the 10th
Pied wagtail-        10 or more most days
White wagtail-      1 6th and 7th, a different bird on the 8th
Dunnock-             1 west town 6th
Robin-                  from 2 on 6th, grew to 5 on the 10th
Wheatear-            2 most days, 4 on the 9th
Song Thrush-       1 7th, and 1 daily afterwards,
Redwing-             noticable daily movement in small numbers, 12 on the 8th
Blackbird-           2 daily, atleast 4 on the 8th
Blackcap-           1 male on the 9th
Blyth's reed warbler- 1 on the 8th, east end garden
Chiffchaff-            2 6th, 1 everyday after and 2 on 10th
Wren-                 common
Chough-              atleast 2 pairs
Hooded crow-      common
Raven-                5-6 daily
Starling-              100's
Tree sparrow-       6 west town, 20 or more east town. No house sparrows seen
Linnet-                 8 on the 9th
Goldfinch-            min 7 on the 10th
Reed bunting-      2 6 and 7th, 3 on the 8th, 1 9th
Snow bunting-     2 on the 6th, 1 on the 7th, apparently around the graveyard for the previous week atleast
Lapland bunting-  2 on the 8th,

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tory delivers again

Decided I would bite the bullet and finally give Tory some of the time it deserves in Autumn. Despite some slow days, there was a constant turn over of birds. No great numbers and only one star. Will put up some sketches over the weekend and a bit of a trip report, a few shots for now.


 After almost identifying it on posture I started to try and get some 'proper' criteria. The wings were constantly drooped and made accessing the primary length difficult, even shots of the bird are mis leading at times. Grey brown above contrasting with a rusty tinge through the wing, starkly white underparts with a grey cast along the flanks and a distinctive 'chic' call all added to identification of blyth's reed warbler. A first for Donegal, and probably not many more than 10 Irish sightings before?
 Tree pipit. A bird on the 9th landed briefly on a wire before continuing east, appearing a lot yellower on the breast than this bird on the 10th. There are quite a few Tory records surprisingly considering there isn't a tree on the island!
Lesser legs. Checked Swords estuary this evening, 4 golden plover and an adult med gull hardly worth the effort. I stopped into twitch the legs at the causeway on the Bull. Great close views, shame about the light, and that I forgot my pencil case!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Aranmore or Tory....

Was up on Aranmore off the west coast of Donegal today for a bit of scouting. Wasn't particularly optimistic about the prospects before we set off, and rain all the way didn't do much to raise the hopes.
I have planned to head north for 5 days starting saturday and was torn between Tory and Aranmore so todays trip was a well timed excuse. After a short look for the snowy owl, we set off in search of migs and it couldn't have got off to a better start. I had barely stepped out of the car, raised my bins and there was a yellow browed warbler! Over the next hour or 2, I had it or another 2 as I worked my way down a valley to the shoreline. Peter and Ger had another in and around the harbour.
A distant flock of starlings circling over the fields caught my eye and I thought it would be great to find a rosy, so raised my bins and immediately found a milky tea shaped dot amongst the 2-300 black dots! After a few mins running around I found it sitting on some wires before it flew in and landed beside me with the main flock. Peter and Ger got lost on the way upto me and while searching for them, the whole flock somehow disappeared! We went back to the harbour and searched for some interesting redpolls Ger had found but failed to relocate most of the flock before trying again for the starlings. As we approached the area I had it in, a few starlings rose up onto the wires, soon enough, the whole flock were there and the rosy in the middle. A second new bird for Ger and only a second rosy for Peter.
We got back to searching the seemingly endless gardens, some fantastic habitat and no doubt we missed plenty. Only one question, Tory or Aranmore for next week....

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

College work

Its been a while since I have posted anything as I have been busy getting back into the swing of college. Am hoping to get back upto Tory Island for a few days this weekend and am going to Aranmore tomorrow in search of a few migs. For now just a few roughs from my first college project due to be handed up at the end of next month.

 The brief was to illustrate 5 pages from a book read over the summer. I picked out two I thought would be great, the jewel hunter and 100 birds to see before you die. I started by roughing out several ideas and species, starting with guerneys pitta.

 I tried out a few species from various previous trips, cock of the rock above.

 I finally decided to settle on illustrations of 5 Irish birds to see before you die. White tailed eagle was an obvious choice as I have sketched them many times in the last few years at falconry centres, and the success of the re-introdution in Kerry.
 Barn Owls are another favourite, although I have only seen one wild bird in the last few years despite a few stake outs.
 Bearded tits and waxwings were also high on the list. I have a rough list of 10 species, but nothing set in stone just yet. Have until the end of October to finish the project.