Monday, August 19, 2013

Snowy Owls and seawatching

 I travelled upto Aranmore Island off Donegal over the weekend for the snowy owl and was hoping for some seawatching. The weather looked good for seawatching Saturday and clearing up to enjoy on the snowy on the sunday.
 Saturday was a slow day, a few sooty shearwaters, artics and bonxies were the best. Myself and a friend spent a few hours searching for the snowy owl in the afternoon with no luck. Later in the evening, we sat out on a hill top hoping to pick it up, just before 9pm it appeared and for the next 40 minutes we enjoyed some incredible views. The bird initially sat in the last rays of evening sun preening before flying to few prominent lookouts in between bouts of hovering upto 100 metres high. It stooped disappearing into heather, re-emerging a few minutes later and feeding on a small mound. It was a little distant and dark to make out what it was feeding on.

 The following day the bird was sitting in a hollow created by turf cutters. Similar hollows all over the same hill side held dozens of feathers and a few pellets.

 I worked up a few sketches today hoping to work on a larger painting when I get some more time.
 This ring-necked duck was on a small lake near Finntown on the way to Aranmore, I saw it on the same lake last October and assumed it would have left for the summer. On the way up it was with a female tufty, no sign of any offspring though.

 This was one of 4 Pomarine skuas seen over the weekend from Aranmore. 3 of which held full 'spoons' and showed immaculate plumage, all skuas seen appeared to be to adults.
Sooty Shearwater, this was one of almost 300 seen on Sunday, along with 6 Great and a single balearic shearwater. The Lighthouse was a fantastic seawatching spot, plenty of walls to shelter no matter what direction the wind is coming from and a great panoramic view. The birds could be followed for long periods and we enjoyed most of the great shears and skuas for almost 3 minutes. Great, pro-longed and often close views of everything that passed.