29 Apr 2007

First Photograph published in Birdwatch Magazine

130. Swift
131. Blackcap

Peregrine's Birding Facts The Corncrake migrates to Sub-Saharan Africa

Really pleased to find in Birdwatch magazine under the regional reports my photograph of the Albino Black Guillemot.

I am now away for two weeks and hopefully will have seen lots of new birds of which a full report in a couple of weeks time.

25 Apr 2007

Colour Ringed Birds

129. House Martin

Peregrine's Birding Facts The Hooded Pitohui is one of a small number of birds known to be poisonous. See link HERE at Birdforum's recently updated website.

I was on my own for the weekend as Jeremy my eldest son was off to a party with his girlfriend and Charlie my youngest was off with Penny in England at a recording studio in Hampshire as a session bassist. So there was little else for me to do other than head out to Killard to photograph some Brent Geese or rather any that had rings.

I usually send them to Graham McElwaine Resightings Coordinator who lives a few miles from me. He then sends me a report about each bird. For example his reply was as follows:

Hi Craig,

Details below of these three. What is not included yet is the fact that LBYY
turned up the next day at Loch Indaal on Islay! Apparently the weather
clamped down suddenly, and we have now received ring records from flocks
which stopped off at Islay, Tiree and even Rum!! Apparently at the latter
they were using the beach which was featured in the deer watch part that
Simon King did for Autumnwatch on BBC!

For the bottom photo the info would be
Light-bellied Brent Goose Ring Resightings Database: Band details Irish Brent Goose Research Group

Darvic FZYY Right Leg Letter/Colour: F Yellow Age Code 4 Father: Status:
Metal 18204 Left Leg Letter/Colour: Z Yellow Sex M Mother:
Date Ringed 20/05/02 Ringing Site Hausastadir, Álftanes, SW Iceland Bird Name: Siblings:
Sheet Date Obs Grid Site Subsite Flock Associates Comments
0 20-May-02 GG Skerjafjörður Alftanes ? Stayed until 01/06/02
3 13-Oct-02 GM J495360 Dundrum Bay Murphystown 14
0 13-Nov-02 AP J575675 Strangford Lough Greyabbey?
0 25-Nov-02 HT Strangford Lough ?
0 02-Mar-03 HT J540366 Killough Harbour 300
0 11-May-03 GG Skerjafjörður Alftanes ? Stayed until 13/05/03
20 26-Dec-03 GM J408367 Dundrum Bay Inner Bay/N of Harbour 100 39 17-Feb-04 GM J540366 Killough Harbour 250
84 15-Apr-04 GM J503360 Dundrum Bay Rossglass Beach36
0 02-May-04 GG Skerjafjörður Alftanes Stayed until 24/05/04
26 21-Oct-04 GM J573674 Strangford Lough Greyabbey Bay West
76 29-Nov-04 GM J540366 Killough Harbour 189
94 07-Dec-04 GM J540366 Killough Harbour
252 25-Mar-05 GM J540366 Killough Harbour 615
261 30-Mar-05 GM J503360 Dundrum Bay Rossglass Beach 107
294 15-Apr-05 GM J540366 Killough Harbour 430
295 17-Apr-05 SB J540366 Killough Harbour 1200
0 07-May-05 GG Skerjafjörður Alftanes/Bessastadir Last seen here 18/05/05
101 11-Oct-05 RI/KC J575675 Strangford Lough Greyabbey+ 2 Juveniles
47 18-Oct-05 GM/HT J573674 Strangford Lough Greyabbey Bay West
101 22-Oct-05 RI/SB J575675 Strangford Lough Greyabbey Unringed Mate + 3 Juveniles
168 11-Dec-05 HT J601442 Strangford Lough Millquarter Bay
185 24-Dec-05 GM J601442 Strangford Lough Millquarter Bay 40
352 25-Dec-05 EP J601442 Strangford Lough Millquarter Bay
329 05-Mar-06 GM J601442 Strangford Lough Millquarter Bay 69
363 21-Mar-06 GM J600461 Strangford Lough Lagnagoppoge 140
396 07-Apr-06 GM J600461 Strangford Lough Lagnagoppoge 80
417 13-Apr-06 GM J600461 Strangford Lough Lagnagoppoge 90
465 30-Apr-06 GM J601442 Strangford Lough Millquarter Bay 77 Unringed Mate + 2 Juveniles
468 30-Apr-06 IE J601442 Strangford Lough Millquarter Bay 70
30 04-Oct-06 KM J579673 Strangford Lough Greyabbey Bay East 790
58 30-Oct-06 AP J579673 Strangford Lough Greyabbey Bay East 750
73 30-Oct-06 KC/SB J579673 Strangford Lough Greyabbey Bay East
82 17-Nov-06 KC J579673 Strangford Lough Greyabbey Bay East
129 28-Nov-06 GM J579673 Strangford Lough Greyabbey Bay East 260
144 15-Dec-06 GM J539499 Strangford Lough Myra East 140
149 17-Dec-06 GM J532495 Strangford Lough Myra West 460
192 09-Jan-07 GM J532495 Strangford Lough Myra West 600
206 11-Jan-07 GM J532495 Strangford Lough Myra West 670
291 31-Jan-07 GM J540366 Killough Harbour 14
313 14-Feb-07 GM J537367 Killough Harbour Killough Side 150 Unringed Associate
320 27-Feb-07 GM J537367 Killough Harbour Killough Side 215
362 06-Mar-07 GM J532495 Strangford Lough Myra West 800
372 09-Mar-07 GM J537367 Killough Harbour Killough Side 190Unassociated
376 10-Mar-07 DN J540366 Killough Harbour ?PBBW
401 15-Mar-07 GM J540366 Killough Harbour 370 Unringed Associate
427 22-Mar-07 GM J503360 Dundrum Bay Rossglass Beach 43
469 30-Mar-07 GM J517348 Dundrum Bay Quay Port 17
516 14-Apr-07 GM J540366 Killough Harbour 450
517 15-Apr-07 GM J600461 Strangford Lough Lagnagoppoge 21
524 18-Apr-07 CN J601442 Strangford Lough Millquarter Bay 170 Photographed

After I had photographed them I went for a walk really with the idea of seeing whether the Whitethroats were back at Killard. Not to be. However there was three Wheatear in their winter/spring plumage. Only one let me close enough to take photos.

On my way back Pickle put up a flock of about twenty Ringed Plover and I photographed them coming back into the beach and I noticed that one was colour ringed.Which was most exciting as it was totally unexpected.

So when I got home and processed all my photos or should I say delete delete delete well to most anyway!! I blew up the photo of the plover and when I had determined the colour and positioning I went to this excellent site created and maintained by Dirk Raes, during his free time. CLICK on Highlighted Word to go to site. It gives details Worldwide of colour ringing schemes. I found that it was an Icelandic bird and sent photograph there to relevant co-ordinator. Here is his reply.

Thank you for the sighting and the picture. This bird is from me. I ringed
it (male) 31.05.2005 on a nest in Önundarfjörður. He got a least one chick
that summer. Saw him last year and found his nest but he lost it.

The first sighting of last year was 4th of may in Önundarfjörður (Western
part of Iceland).

The map shows Önundarfjörður but I live in Bolungarvík. I colour ringe
birds there to and few birds in Dýrafjörður.

The picture is from Önundarfjörður and the arrow point to the nest location.
There is about 60-70 pairs in that area

I let you when the bird will arrived (if he will). I have today 10 colour
ringed birds in Önundarfjörður and 19 with no ringes. Not seen birds in
other area. The first bird was seen 14th of april which is early.

Thanks again

Böðvar Þórisson (Bodvar Thorisson)

This is another reason why I like birding and I find it really gratifying when you get this sort of information. Most people would have just seen a flock of birds on the shoreline not even knowing what they were. Whereas I have found out where this bird is probably going to return to breed. I did tell it that it should remain in Northern Ireland and breed at Killard I wonder whether it heard me!!!

19 Apr 2007

To continue to Blog or not to continue to Blog that is the question?

128. Common Tern

Peregrine's Birding Facts I am very bad at identifying med gulls :-(

I got home after work at around One O'Clock having changed the menu (More of my photos on the menu) in the cafe I have found to my dismay that I reckon its going to add an extra hour to two hours a day to prepare which when taken over a week is a possible extra twelve hours or in other words an extra weeks work per month, which on top of doing six days a week is more than enough. So am fairly pissed off to put it mildly on top of which I asked the manager of the cafe I work out of to sort out a strip light in the office where I print my sandwich labels in the very early hours three days later absolutely b-all has been done about it so It takes me ages to print everything off in virtual total darkness. Tomorrow I will end up changing it myself. Which takes me to todays title there are times when I feel pressure to continue this blog or guilt when I have not posted in a number of days which increases the longer I leave it and has now come to a head. I have read most blogs fizzle out after a few months and I have wanted to better that. I have also come fairly disillusioned about volunteering at the hide in Belfast and am going to give it a break for a while. I think I will restart in June.

I also feel guilty if I do not give the dog a good walk most days and I havent for the last four because I am so tired. However I decided to take her out to Killard my favourite local spot. It was very still and threatening to rain when I got there. I had taken my camera and no sooner had I gone five hundred yards it started to spit with rain. Do I go back or carry on? I carried on and I am glad I did. I came over the hill and down on to the beach and there were three Red Throated Diver (Gavia Stellata) in the Bay. The tide was almost out as far as I have ever seen it. So Pickle and I went down to the waters edge and I was looking through my binoculars at two of the divers which were in summer plumage and looking great. Then the third diver popped up ten yards from me and Pickle decided to swim out to it. It wasnt that concerned and just kept swimming out of her reach. I'm not sure whether its a 2nd-cal spring bird or an adult still in winter plumage.

As Pickle and I walked along the waters edge the Razor Shells were spitting water whenever she ran over them You can see an out of focus one in top left of photo. She then went absolutely beserk trying to catch the squirted water which went on for a good ten minutes. It made my day. The flowers are also coming out at Killard and in some areas there is a light blue look to the ground which when you get closer is masses and masses of violets.

I am supposed to have 22 days holiday between now and the end of May as I have only taken four in the last eleven months and frustratingly I wont be able to take them. I think I will be able to manage twelve at most. So as Penny cannot take the same time as me I am probably going to go do a round trip of The UK. Scotland-Northumberland-Norfolk-Suffolk-Berkshire-Dorset-Wales and then home and hope to catch up with at least ten to fifteen species of bird that I have never seen.Target birds are Crested Tit*, Capercaillie*, Black Grouse*, Cettis Warbler*, Little Ringed Plover*Little Tern
Hen Harrier, Stone Curlew*, Dartford Warbler*, Nightjar* Hobby* Bittern* Bearded Tit* Woodlark* Avocet*.

And finally back to the title I am going to continue but probably not quite as regularly as I have been.

11 Apr 2007

Easter in Co. Donegal and lots more migrants.

120. Swallow ( 5th April)
121. Wheatear (6th April)
122. Sanderling
123. Barnacle Goose
124. Chiffchaff (7th April) Drumaboden, Donegal
125. Willow Warbler (8th April) Drumaboden , Donegal
126. Red Grouse (Glenveagh, Donegal)

Peregrine's Birding Facts There are 80 species of Swallows and Martins in the world.
Remember to see a bigger photo click on image.

Finally three days on the trot off. I headed upto Donegal to meet my wife Penny and the children (Sorry young adults) and her brother Tom and three of his children. Penny and I were staying in my parents house, with three boys sleeping in a flat on the farm and the rest were staying in my mother's holiday cottage on another farm.Shamrock Cottages Click on Donegal and it is cottage 301. Sorry I have to do a bit to promote it!!

On the way up as I was on the motorway just coming out of Belfast I saw my first Swallow of summer followed by another an hour later as I was coming into Derry. Arrived at about quarter to eight in time for a very good supper provided by my father.
I also met the nephew and nieces for the first time.

On friday I decided to take them out to the beach at Magheraroarty on the Bloody Foreland.(This is the North West Corner of Donegal) I had been there for the first time last september. We took a picnic and headed for the beach.As we passed the little harbour I saw a Wheatear my first for the year, not alot of interest in the car from anybody else. I was in my ageing VW passat and Tom had hired a Landrover Discovery which was probably a better choice than mine after we had travelled a mile down a very bumpy sandy trail to the back of the dunes. Penny was decidedely unamused at me taking the car down the track as we grounded out a few times. From where we parked there was still a 500 yard walk to the beach climbing up and down the dunes. But wow what a beach totally deserted except for ourselves.This view is looking towards Horn Head.

The children all played cricket and Bulldog and I sat up high in the dunes watching the Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. I also saw great flocks of Brent Geese which were heading off on their way to Iceland and from there to the high Canadian Arctic.
I reckoned there were over a thousand in all.

We then had lunch and afterwards I noticed along the shoreline loads of Sanderling so I headed off with my camera. Annoyingly I didnt have my groundpod and had to photograph them handheld which makes it difficult to get really sharp images. Plus Pickle kept running at them which made it quite difficult to get close to them.
In the first picture it has caught a sandeel. I will have to go back another time with groundpod and waterproofs so I can lie in soaking wet sand.

On the way home on the lakes outside Dunfanaghy I saw some Barnacle Geese at the New Lakes. Another Tick

The following day I am up at the holiday cottage when I hear that lovely sound of the Chiff Chaff so I headed over to the hedgerow of Willow, Alder Ash and Birch Trees and spent ages trying to see the warbler. Finally it flew right in front of me. The views from the cottage are great and this is the one looking down the drive.

We decided that we were going to climb the mountain in the above photo. So with much teenage whining we drove to our starting point.I hoped to possibly see Grouse and maybe a Golden Eagle. I have yet to see one of the Donegal Golden Eagles. Its quite an easy climb and my eldest Jeremy virtually ran to the top. Well I didnt see any birds at all apart from a distant Hooded Crow. This is us at the topFrom front left Penny my wife, Niece Florence, Son Charlie, Lizzie Toms partner,Oliver Tom's son. Back row from Left Jeremy, my son, Hermione Tom's youngest daughter and then Tom. After our descent we went to the pub for a pint of guinness. I then went on my own to Horn Head to see if I could catch up with a Chough. I didn't. The cliffs were home to tons of breeding Kittiwakes and Fulmers. The Fulmer has to be one of my favourite birds. It is such a graceful flyer and soars up the cliff face. I semi enjoyed myself as there was a party of five french people and the female in the party always stood so close to the edge that I had to move away from them as there was probably a three hundred foot drop if she had slipped! Whereas scaredy cat me is at least ten feet from the edge and then generally sitting down!!!

The following day Easter Day I go up to Drumaboden the holiday cottage and I listen out for the Chiff Chaff when I hear the unmistakeable sound of its closest looking bird the Willow Warbler. Infact I reckoned there were two or three of them even though I only saw one of them. After Brunch of mainly chocolate we went for a walk out at Glenveagh. Well it was just outside the estates deer fence along a track that was traditionally used for transporting the turf from the bogs. At the end of the track Pickle put up a pair of Red Grouse which made my easter as I wasnt sure whether I would see them this year.

5 Apr 2007

The First of the Migrants have arrived. Sand Martin

116. Little Gull
117. Canada Goose
118. White Fronted Goose
119. Sand Martin

Peregrine's Birding Facts The Great Tit lays 8-13 eggs, each of which is about 10% of her weight.

This evening I saw the first of the new year's migrants. A Sand Martin( Riparia Riparia) was flying over the Quoile in front of Castle Island Hide.

Sand martins are the smallest European hirundines (martins and swallows), with dark brown upper parts and dark under wings contrasting with otherwise pale under parts divided by a distinctive dark chest bar. Agile fliers, feeding mainly over water, they will perch on overhead wires or branches. They are gregarious in the breeding season and winter. Over the past 50 years the European population has crashed on two occasions as a result of drought in the birds' African wintering grounds.Both males and females make a horizontal tunnel 45-90 cm long with a chamber at the end. Suitable sites may be used for years. New tunnels will be dug as the cliff collapses, or as old holes become too big (when they may be taken over by sparrows or starlings).

The white eggs, usually four or five, sometimes three to seven, are generally laid in late May or early June in a nest of feathers, grass and leaves. Incubation is by both parents once the last egg is laid, and lasts for about 14 days. All eggs hatch at the same time. The young are helpless and remain in the nest. They are bed by both parents and fledge when 19-24 days old. After fledging, they are dependent on the parents for about one week. Usually two broods are raised each summer.

The birds depart British Isles from late July to September. Most are thought to winter in the Sahel, the zone south of Sahara, where they feed in damp places that offer plentiful supplies of flying insects.

Eggs: 4-5
Incubation: 14-15 days
Fledging: 22 days
Maximum lifespan: 9 years
Length: 12cm
Wingspan: 26-29cm
Weight: 11-14g
UK breeding: 160,000 pairs

My favourite walking area Killard has a sandy bank where they nest each year and it is my intention to get some decent
photos of them this year.

Also in front of the hide was a Little Gull Which was picking insects off the water and the next moment catching flies up in the sky it was all over the place. They are a very pretty gull.

There are some birders who I am always am impressed with. A few days ago I was in the Castle Island Hide and Walter Veale was there and he had seen a flock of feral Greylag Geese on a hill some distance off. Nothing surprising about that but then he says there is one that looks slightly smaller and darker and within a minute they had flown down to the pondage and there was a White Fronted Goose amongst them. Now I am sure my untrained eye would not have picked it out unless it had been a couple of hundred yards away rather than three quarters of a mile.