6 Jan 2007

RSPB Portmore Lough

Peregrine's Birding FactThe Red Breasted Goose nests near those of Peregrines and Buzzards. This gives them protection and they don't seem to be harmed by the raptors.

82. Linnet
83. Kestrel
84. Ruddy Duck

It was a beautiful morning this morning. I went in slightly early to work and finished in good time. So I thought I would try and see a Male Smew that was wintering at Portmore Lough on the edge of Lough Neagh. I have never seen a Smew in the wild before so was looking forward to the experience. I drove on the motorway out of Belfast and it was alot quicker to get to than I had previously imagined, hence I will be visiting more often.

Next to the carpark there are some trees with feeders in which attract a large amount of Tree sparrows This is good as there has been a marked decline in population in recent years.

I had been told that it was advisable to take a pair of wellies if I wanted to go out to the hide overlooking the lough. Why dont I listen? At some points I was walking in mud that completely covered my shoes. Great!.

As I neared the hide a couple of birders were leaving and gave me the unwelcome news that they had been there for an hour and hadnt seen the Smew. In the hide were a few other birders that occasionally visit the hide up on Belfast, who had also seen nothing. There were however about fifteen Ruddy Duck with their very upright tails and pale blue bills.At least I had a tick. Then we could hear some Long Tailed Tits in the reeds to the right of the hide. They looked lovely especially as they were backlit by very bright sunshine. I took some photos.

Even though I didnt find the Smew it didnt detract from the day as the Long Tailed tits and the Sparrows more than made up for it. I guess thats why I love birding its the ordinary birds that can give you a real buzz just as much as the rarity.

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