30 Dec 2008

Birding for another Year comes to an End. What does 2009 have Instore? Have a Very Happy New Year!!

I have seen 281 birds in the World this year not quite the list that Alan Davies and Ruth Miller have put together in their "Biggest Twitch" They have seen 4,327 a New World Record!! I suppose something to aim for ;-)

The start of the year was helped by a visit to Namibia which was brilliant and I hope to get back there in the not too distant future.

It really is a wonderful country and I would recommend it to anyone. It is relatively easy to bird and with the help of SASOL Birds of South Africa I was able to identify all but a very small handful of birds. The only downside was a partner who was totally disinterested in Birding.

There are a few other things that stand out in the year. One was going to see The Little Tern Colony at Baltray just North of Dublin. Of which I was really impressed.
Here the Louth Nature Trust manage The Little Tern Conservation Project. They essentially set up a fence around the area of beach where the Little Terns breed and volunteers sit throughout the whole breeding season of May through to August in daylight hours and discourage people from walking their dogs too close to the area. They also disturb any vermin such as Hooded Crows from predating the eggs or Foxes getting too close.

I think the volunteers do a wonderful job and is a good example of people taking conservation into their own hands.

Talking of Terns I have seen 9 different species this year the majority of them in Namibia. Sandwich, Caspian, Common, Arctic, Black Tern, White Winged Tern, Little Tern, Foster's Tern and Damara Tern.

This Foster's Tern photographed flying into a Rainbow about a mile from my house. (Nice to have a rarity such as this so close to home.)

One of My favourite Images of the Year is this Arctic Tern at the Belfast Harbour Reserve.

The other event which I really enjoyed was going on my first pelagic with Anthony McGeehan off Inishbofin.
I am going on my next one in about six weeks time off Kaikoura in New Zealand. Hopefully my yearly list will again start of with a bang as I am spending the whole of February with my father in NZ.

Well all I can do now is wish everybody who visits this blog a Very Happy and Hopefully Prosperous New Year.

1 Dec 2008

An Afternoon at the RSPB Belfast Harbour Reserve and a Morning in the City of Lisburn and the Latest Northern Ireland Bird Report.

I was on duty yesterday afternoon at the RSPB Hide in Belfast as I am every other Sunday. It was a stunning day and very cold. Infact most of the water was frozen and quite alot of the Teal and Wigeon were standing on the edge of the only area that wasn't frozen. The beauty about this reserve is that they all feed right in front of the hide.

This is a Green Winged Teal it can be identified by its vertical white stripes.This is the American form of the Common Teal.It was considered conspecific with the Common Teal for some time, and the issue is still being reviewed by the American Ornithologists' Union ; based on this the IUCN and BirdLife International do not accept it as a separate species at present. However, nearly all other authorities consider it distinct nowadays, based on behavioral, morphological , and molecular evidence.The bird below is the Common Teal.

as is this one in flight.

The Black Tailed Godwit were having a really hard time on the ice similar to Jon Sargent dancing; basically all over the place!!!
There was one Black Tailed Godwit that had broken its leg and it looked as though it had healed because it was walking on it without too much trouble. You have to feel sorry for it. Sometimes birds can seem very stoical.

Every now and again a Sparrowhawk would fly over and all the waders and ducks flew out to the ice. They then returned to feed when they felt safe. This presented great opportunities to photograph the duck in flight. My favourite of the day was this Wigeon (Anas penelope)

A Water Rail made a brief appearance and there were about twenty Reed Bunting on the crop field but no sight of the female Brambling that had been around earlier in the week.

There were a number of regulars who came in Ian Graham and Ian Patience and a young lad Mark. Ian had brought the latest issue of the Northern Ireland Bird Report covering 2005 and 2006 which features one of my photographs on the front. So was pretty chuffed with that.They had just come back from seeing some Waxwings in Lisburn. After they left I had a very quiet afternoon visitor wise. I got a photo of this Magpie which I quite like.

I finished work and decided that before I was my son Jeremy's taxi service that I would go home via Lisburn and see if I could find the Waxwings.I have a small attachment to Lisburn as my Grandfather who died in WW11 has a memorial plaque at the front of Lisburn Cathedral. Finding the Waxwings was successful this was only the second time I have ever seen them. There were about a hundred and you can get very close to them. However getting a clean image of them was very difficult and these are the only ones that I was happy with.

I also got my first decent shot of a Redwing which seemed to be sharing the blackthorn berries along with some Blackbirds, a Song Thrush and the Waxwings. The Waxwings were chattering away and flying between the edge I was close to and another hedge across a field. They fly very similarly to a Starling.