9 Apr 2006

The Dawn Chorus

115. Lesser Redpoll Carduelis cabaret
116. Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
117. House Martin Delichon urbica

For the second weekend running I have got up at 6.00am to go on a guided Dawn Chorus. Today I left to drive the twenty miles to the WWT's Castle Espie on the northwest end of Strangford Lough. It was 4 degrees on my car thermometer and there were hail showers on the way there. I had sensibly put a decent amount of warm clothes on. (This is april !!)

Anthony McGeehan ( The RSPB Belfast Harbour Reserve Warden) was waiting for us all to arrive. As we were standing around a couple of probably male peregrines flew overhead, followed by a sparrowhawk. Even as we were waiting to walk around the reserve there was quite alot of activity notably Goldcrests singing. I have to say I find it quite difficult to learn new species. I wish I had a form of recording instrument that i could bring home and compare to a song on itunes. We had reasonable success, robin, dunnock, goldcrest, blackcap, bluetit, great tit,coal tit, long tailed tit, greenfinch, jay, blackbird, peregrine,wren and redpoll.

A flock of redpoll flew over us and I looked up and I wondered what type of finch they were and Anthony said unmistakebly redpoll I had never knowingly heard one its a staccato 'chi chi chi'. Whether I will hear one and recognise it the next time lord alone knows.

By the end of the walk we were all pretty cold and went and had breakfast in the Castle espie Cafe. It was a typically Northern Ireland piece of fried soda bread with bacon in it; delicious and fattening. As we are eating it Anthony says "look a Willow Warbler" which disappeared out of sight almost immediately.

Later in the day I visited the Castle Island hide on the River Quoile and saw a House Martin and then another Willow Warbler singing.

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