19 Nov 2007

Hen Harriers, Red Squirrels and the International Wildbird Photographer Awards

198. Kingfisher
199. Hen Harrier

Peregrine's Bird Facts A CORRECTION. Last time I said there were 6 races of Dunlin. Well a Gentleman emailed me to say that current thinking was there were 10 sub-species/races (Waterbird Population Estimates: Delany & Scott; Wetlands International 2006): the most recent to be formerly recognised being C a centralis (Wennerberg et al. 1999)

Namely they are:

Calidris alpina alpina Breeds N Europe/NW Siberia
C a centralis - North central Siberia
C a schinzii - Iceland, Baltic & GBI
C a arctica - NE Greenland
C a sakhalina - Kolyma river to Chukotsky
C a actites - N Sakhalin
C a kistchinskii - N Sea of Okhotsk amchatka and Kurils
C a arcticola - N Alaska & NW Canada
C a pacifica - SW Alaska
C a hudsonia - Central Canada

Well I haven,t blogged in a while. However I have been out with the camera a fair amount of the time. Yesterday I was very relieved that I had it with me because as I was driving out to Killard to walk the dog this bird of prey crossed my path. My very first thought was its not a buzzard or peregrine then I thought Osprey and then as it was flying away from me I realised it was a harrier. I stopped the car as soon as humanly possible and fired off some shots at a rapidly disappearing bird. It had black wing tips was grey on its topsides and had a white rump. I had seen Northern Irelands first Montague Harrier last year and realised it couldn't be that as I didnt notice any bars on its wings and it didn't look as though it had as long or for that matter narrow wings.So I was unsure whether it was a male Hen Harrier or a Marsh Harrier. So when I eventually got home I sent off the heavily cropped images to Anthony McGeehan for an expert appraisal.

He first of all came back with the idea it might have been dirt on my sensor, which made me giggle, but on further looking thought it was a Hen Harrier. A lifer for me. Anthony a couple of weeks ago found Ireland's First Mourning Dove on Inishboffin of the Co. Galway coast. Here is his account on Eric Dempsey's Birds Ireland website.

I find it strange with birding in that sometimes you dont see a bird all year and then two come along within a matter of days. I was beginning to wonder whether I would see a Kingfisher this year. Well I was in Dundrum making my way back home and I stopped off at a little inland tidal lagoon at Ardilea when I watched this Jackdaw mobbing this Kingfisher that was sitting on a fallen branch in the stream . It then flew towards me and disappeared. Two days later I am watching the gulls on the Kinnegar shore and another one flies past me towards the Belfast Harbour Lagoon. Now that is a bird that I would like a close up shot off. As I was leaving the beach I saw a Red Breasted Merganser on the other side of the road which allowed me to photograph it quite unconcerned.

I have been recently told where I might get close up photographs of Jays which is in Belvoir Forest Park (Right across from the RSPB Northern Ireland Headquarters) at a Red Squirrel feeding station. Well I have been up there a couple of times and no Jays I have heard them but not seen any. I have however seen a couple of Red Squirrels and lots of Grey Squirrels and a very inquisitive Robin. I will have to spend more time at this site.

I am presently in a state of indecision as I have about twelve days to enter some photos into the International Wildbird Photographer Awards and I cannot make up my mind which photos for which category. I am hoping that this photo of a Redshank "Walking on Water" which I took last week will do well.

Any suggestions are welcome. Visit my Bird Photography Site HERE
and leave a post on the site .I am entering five categories
1.Birds in Britain
2. Birds in Flight
3. Bird Behaviour
4. Birds in Landscape
5. Best Portfolio (For this I am going to do a collection of Godwit images)