14 Aug 2007

Two Lifers in a Day one an Extreme Rarity for Northern Ireland. A Squacco Heron

188. Arctic Skua
189. Long Eared Owl
190. Wood Sandpiper
191. Squacco Heron
192. Great Skua

Peregrine's Birding Facts: The Northern Irish List contains 339 Birds

The Squacco Heron was found on the 21st July and was only the second record of this bird in Northern Ireland. The previous sighting was in 1881. It had birders from all over Ireland racing to see it where it gave very good views. I was in Italy when it arrived so it wasnt until I found time which ended being on the 10th of August(Thank Goodness for long staying rarities) that I got good directions and headed up to Lough Beg just North of Lough Neagh (Europes biggest freshwater Lough).

I had been in the bird hide at Belfast Harbour and when I said I was going upto see the Squacco nobody sadly suggested that I shouldnt wear shorts!! I arrived at the broken gate just south of the Lough and clamboured over it . You then continue down a track for a hundred yards before twisting down a narrow path overgrown with brambles and NETTLES. My desire to see the bird at this stage was greater so I got quite nastily stung round my legs. I then came out into a field and the lough was a few hundred yards in front of me. I walked to to the edge thinking where am I going to see this bird. I first saw a Little Egret flying of into the distance and was wondering whether that might have been it. Then I saw a small white looking bird along the shore which I wasnt sure about because it looked so small and it was semi hidden by seeding dock. I then got my scope onto it and sure enough it was the Squacco. I should have read up about it as I wasnt expecting it to be so small.

I then tried to inch my way towards it as it was very small in my camera even though I had the 500mm lens and a converter on. I got a reasonable distance of it before it flew off.

When it flew off it flew low over a Grey Heron which was good as it showed the size comparison.

Lough Beg has been pretty good for me as I saw the pair of Cranes there this time last year which was another first.

Previously in the day I had been at The Belfast Harbour Reserve and seen a very obliging Wood Sandpiper another first right in front of the hide.

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