15 Sep 2006

A beautiful day Pectoral Sandpiper, Chiffchaff and Whinchat

154. Chiffchaff
155. Whinchat

I finished very promptly this morning and headed to the RSPB reserve on Belfast Harbour.It was a fantastic september day. Clear blue skies, quite crisp in temperature and very bright sun. There was a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper in beautiful plumage out in front of the roadside hide, which almost immediately flew off when the peregrine came for his morning visit. Anthony McGeehan suggested we go to the conservation area where there is ideal habitat for Pec Sandpipers; we looked unsuccessfully, however we put up at least fifty snipe. He was telling me this number can rise into the hundreds during the winter. I mentioned that I had heard chiffchaff but not seen any this year so we went to another area of unclaimed land nearby where Anthony started to phish the birds (Phishing a method used by birders to attract birds, it consists of making repetitious hissing type (also: psst psst psst, etc) sounds which seem to attract a bird's curiosity and also they sometimes call back) within seconds a wren was responding followed by a bullfinch and then up popped a chiffchaff
with its tail dipping downwards and very dark legs. Quite similar to a willow warbler but hopefully now I wont mistake them again.

We then had a look at Kinnegar Shore to see if we could see the pec but not too be. We did see a Mediterranean Gull quite a long way out into Belfast Harbour. I also saw my first returning Brent Goose which was on the shore line;Ive heard that a few thousand are already back at the top of Strangford Lough. Anthony then got a txt from his brother Gerard to say that the pec was back on the reserve so we headed back and went to take some photos my battery was flat so here is a very arti shot by A.M probably would have been better with a better beamer !!!

In the evening I took Pickle
out to Killard for my daily walk. It was a beautiful clear autumnal evening and the light was fantastic I walked along the shore and saw the Grey Plover that i think lives at this particular spot and then on the way back from the beach I came over the top and thought I saw a chat of some sort on the top of some brambles. I looked through the scope and it was my first Whinchat ,with its unmistakeable broad supercilium, in Northern Ireland and possibly in my life I think I may have seen them before in Dorset years ago.

So two nice new birds for my list.

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