11 Sep 2006

One Curlew Sandpiper less, An Arctic Skua or four and dipped on the Lesser Yellowlegs again

152. Arctic Skua

I do bakers hours starting at 3.30am so when I finished at 10.30am I headed off to the reserve to see if the Curlew Sandpipers were still there. It only takes me six minutes to get there from work pretty convenient really. The main hide is closed on a monday so I used the roadside hide sitting there with scope and cappucino which I had brought with me! There were three CS in the middle of the lagoon with a number of Redshank and Black Tailed Godwit. As I was watching them fairly intently through the scope BANG a peregrine picked one of them up and then shot up high in the sky before disappearing towards the airport. I found it quite shocking really as I hadnt been expecting it at all. This particular peregrine is being quite a nuisance at the lagoon at the moment and was the second time I had seen it take a small wader in the last few days.

After leaving the lagoon I heaaded about a mile round the corner to Kinnegar Shore (Click on Image for bigger view) a small shingle and shell beach with a small freshwater outlet that seems to attract hundreds of oystercatchers, gulls, terns and small waders. Derek Charles had spotted Arctic Skuas out across Belfast Lough the day before so I thought I would try and see if I could.I looked for ages without seeing much more than fifty or so eider sitting on the water and the odd gull. Then one of the seacats that go backwards and forwards between Belfast and Scotland was making its way towards the harbour and following it were quite a few terns. Then I noticed four Arctic Skuas chasing one unfortunate tern one of them was in pale phase and the others were in dark phase. They look like mini pterodactyls from a distance. Photo by Derek Charles from the same spot as I was. Another for the list.

After I left there I thought I would head down to Dundrum to look for the Lesser Yellowlegs but even though I searched for over an hour I failed to see it :-(

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