22 Feb 2007

Dipped on the Dowitcher but had a nice time taking photos this afternoon at home and Killard.

111. Little Egret
112. Water Rail

Peregrine's Birding Fact. Grebes have upto 20,000 feathers to keep their bodies warm and dry as they dive for food.

If you double click on an image it will appear larger in a different screen

I have done a bit of birding since last week. I went to WWT Castle Espie on the weekend to take some photos and no sooner had I got there but the light disappeared isnt it always the way. When you are into bird photography waking up to find its a grey day can really put a dampener on it. Before it went I did get to see a Little Egret out on the mudflats in front of the main hide.

On Sunday I was on duty at the hide in Belfast and it had to be my quietest day since I started volunteering last April. It wasnt helped when I turned up to find a youth in motorcycle helmet infront of the hide trying to take photos with his mobile phone. He got short sharp thrift from me. I am glad Anthony wasnt their otherwise he would probably be feeding the magpies ;-) Needless to say there wasn't a bird close by apart from an Iceland Gull that flew close by.

Yesterday I decided I was going to drive down to the Dundalk Docks in Co. Louth to see a Long Billed Dowitcher which had been hanging around since mid January. I got directions from Breffni Martin a Co. Louth birder here is a photo he took Here The journey took me about an hour from Belfast it would have been quicker if there weren't so many mobile speed cameras. (My pet hate. ) When I arrived at the docks the tide was 2/3rds of the way in and there was another birder from the North Jim Carroll( I hope I remembered that right) He hadnt seen it. In all I spent four hours looking. There were Black Tailed Godwit, 2 Grey plover,Brent geese, teal, mallard, Wigeon,hundreds of Redshank, Mute Swan,Curlew,Cormorant, Great Crested Grebe, Little Egret, Dunlin, a reasonable assortment of gulls but no Dowitcher. Fume!!! I will have to go back.The tides at the moment are the highest of the year and consequently the mudflats were completely covered and all the waders disappeared. I will be back as Arnie once said in one of his movies.

This morning I went to the hide in Belfast after work and thought I saw a wren like movement in the brambles adjacent to the hide. I looked through the bins and was pleasantly surprised to see it was an extremely well camouflaged Water Rail.I ran to the car to get my camera but again not too be. I could see it but only the merest of glimpses so no photos for my yearlist that I am doing on Birdforum Here

I went and home and slept til one and woke up to find the sun out and good conditions for bird photography. The feeder in front of the house gets really good light in the afternoon so I started to take photos of some garden birds. Coal Tit, Dunnock, Robin, Starling and a Greenfinch. On looking through the photos this evening I noticed the Greenfinch was ringed!!! See Below
Coal Tit



and a head shot of a Starling.

I then took Pickle our lovely Working Cocker Spaniel out to Killard for her daily exercise and to see if I could get some photos of Purple Sandpiper. Quite successful even if I did have to lie in one spot for an hour and a half.

Pickle spent most of the time hunting rabbits and them when she was worried racing back to me and then into the water scattering the waders as they were getting progressively closer to me. She isn't really conducive to Bird Photography!! There was one Redshank that would scream off every time she appeared.

Typically as the Sandpipers and Turnstones lost their fear of me my memory card filled up too quickly these are my two favourite images of the afternoon.

13 Feb 2007


A very sad morning the cat has killed and brought into the house the Grey Wagtail that has been attacking the mirrors of our cars since September last year. It has been doing it now on a daily basis for five months and I had grown very fond of it.I hate cats and hope we will be able to rehome it soon.

10 Feb 2007

A Few Days Birding in Scotland

107. Gannet
108. Fulmar
109. Great Spotted Woodpecker
110. Siskin

Peregrine's Birding Fact. Trials with ringed birds have shown that a Eurasian Swift that has only just left its nest can fly from London to Madrid in three days.

Well finally a few days off so I decided to go and visit my sister Tyrella in Scotland and hopefully find a Crested Tit. I took the ferry from Larne in Northern Ireland to Cairnryan in Scotland. The journey is about an hour and a half and I saw a Fulmer and a Gannet to add to the list on the way across. I took a few photos of Gulls and Guillemots on the way.

On arrival I had to head back to Stranraer to get some petrol and as I was driving into the town I noticed some ducks out on the water, hoping that they might be Long Tailed Ducks a bird that has eluded me so far: sadly not too be they were Scaup which was nice and not a bird i would see that often.

It is 168 miles to my sisters house from Stranraer and it takes about three and a half hours. The journey isnt nearly as pleasant as it used to be as the roads have tons of average speed cameras on them and you lose track as to when they start and when they finish. They are also poorly signed as to what speed you are meant to be going. Fine if you come upon a tractor for a few minutes as you are sure to be under the speed limit but if the road is traffic clear which they quite often are I personally find it difficult to be within the law. I am hoping there is not going to be a nice envelope waiting for me on my return!!!!

I decided to stop off at a RSPB reserve just south of Glasgow called Lochwinnoch I had just missed a Green Woodpecker that had been at the feeders just in front of the hide/shop very frustrating as I would have liked to get a close photo of one. Instead all I got shots of were chaffinches Out on the Loch itself there were Teal, Widgeon, Mallard and Cormorants, Great Crested Grebe and Little Grebe. In the reeds there were Stonechats and Reed Buntings.

Anyway as I wanted to arrive in daylight I continued on upto Milton Cottage my sisters house which she runs as a Bed and Breakfast. She had prepared a delicious supper and after a nice whiskey I disappeared to bed.

After a very good nights sleep I woke upto an absolutely stunning morning. My sisters first comment was did you hear the owls. I hadn't. She then told me she hears them most mornings and then told me that a Gt. Spotted Woodpecker regularly comes to her feeders. I had my eyes glued but not for me. As my sister had things to do I decided to go upto Abernethy to Loch Garten as I had heard that I might find Crested Tit there. Abernethy is nearly a hundred miles North of Tyrella near to the Aviemore Skiing area. When I left there wasnt any snow to be seen but it soon appeared.On the journey I passed various Whiskey Distilleries. Dalwhinnie for example. On this occasion birds were the things I was after so no detours. By the time I got to RSPB Loch Garten (which is well known for the Ospreys that breed up there) The RSPB hut was closed and I was quite surprised to find that there were no feeders at all nearby. On the other hand it was beautiful there had been a reasonably heavy fall of snow the night before and the sunlight was coming through the trees. No Crested Tit though!! I looked for over an hour. It wasnt easy to bird as the snow was falling off the trees all the time and every time you thought there was bird movement it turned out to be snow. The Loch itself was semi frozen The only bird I got to photograph was a Robin and they were about the only birds that I saw in the area. I could hear Tits up in the tops of the trees but apart from Coal and Great Tit I couldnt have told whether any of them were Crested Tit.

Having had no success I decided to drive even further to RSPB Corrimony which is a reserve near to Loch Ness. I had been told I might find the elusive tits there. So I drove on upto Inverness over the Corinthian Canal, where I saw a pair of Goosander, the male was displaying or certainly his neck was stretching right up then down and the female looked totally unconcerned,and down the side of Loch Ness (a place I had never seen before). I arrived at Corrimony expecting a centre to find it was just land with a trail!! So I went for a few miles walk and no tits apart from one Coal Tit and a Buzzard and some Carrion Crows. Still its a beautiful place and would probably be great in late spring. it was also about -4C so I was quite glad to head home to a very nice cassoulet. I had driven over 260 miles in the day.

Yet again I woke up and hadnt heard the owls again. But I did finally see the woodpecker on the feeder but everytime I saw it the camera was at the other end of the house :-( Right next to my sister's house there is a small hill on which there are some very old pine , beech and oak trees and I caught up with one of her resident Red Squirrels in an old oak. Annoyingly not in the sun!

I then went to the Loch of Lowes near Dunkeld about ten minutes from my sister to see what was on the Loch. Before I got to the hide I noticed the centre had a great feeding station and there were two Gt Spotted woodpeckers, loads of tits, chaffinches, Greenfinches and then a first for the year for me a Siskin.

The Loch which has an Osprey nest on it had some Goldeneye, Mallard, Great Crested Grebes and Little Grebes on it.

So all in all the trip was enjoyable even if I didnt see the Crested Tit or any Crossbills. I did see the Woodpeckers and got to photograph them which was an unexpected bonus.

5 Feb 2007

I am away for week.

No New Birds.

Peregrine's Bird Facts Although the Hawfinch weighs 50gms, it's beak can exert a pressure of 45kg.

I am away for the next week in Scotland and will be unable to blog :-( but will be looking to see some birds I have never seen before. I am looking forward to the break as I have worked 6 days a week since July 1st without a day off.

I was up at the hide in Belfast on Sunday and took some photos here is a Robin and a Reed Bunting.