11 May 2009
On Saturday there was the BTO Garden Birdwatch Conference at Oxford Island and I unfortunately for the guests did the second talk showing my photographs and talking about my three patches of Belfast Harbour Reserve, Quoile pondage and Killard Nature Reserve. I had never spoken in public and I never will again. So feeling pretty shitty about the whole thing I took Pickle and headed out to Killard.
The weather over the last two days has been absolutely brilliant (for a change) and the first bird I saw on getting out of the car was a Whitethroat. As you walk out to Killard there is a Sand Martin Colony on the left , which over the last couple of years has only had a few birds nesting. This year I counted 70 on Sunday and similar today. They are everywhere! I tried to photograph them but its not easy.
Out at Ben Derg beach there were Sanderling feeding
in the surfline. They flew off and I caught up with them feeding with a Dunlin on the seaweed. It was nice to see the Sanderling and Dunlin in their summer plumage.
I always keep an eye out to sea and I saw an Arctic Skua mobbing a Sandwich Tern which dropped its food and the Skua dived down and sat on the water feeding on the degorged prey. Infact over the last two days I have seen large numbers of Brent Geese heading northwards, a few Red throated Divers heading southwards. Lots of Gannets and today my first Manx Shearwater of the year. When I am sea watching I wish I had 10x42 rather than 8x42, too expensive to change now!!!
There were also a number of Wheatear around as well. As I got further round the peninsula I came across some Dunlin.
They were fairly tame and even with a dog with me I could get close enough to the odd individual to get reasonable shots.
The other thing that surprised me was that there were three Purple Sandpiper and I had it in my mind that they had left on migration by now. Here is one of them.
As I was leaving Killard I got talking to an elderly gentleman and we were discussing birds for a while and then he showed me his interest which was Archaeology. He took me to an area where there was evidence of stoneage knapping of flints. We both found some flint shards. He also pointed out various things on the shoreline of archaeological interest. He was Jack Smith ex Professor of Computing at Queens. It was a pleasure to meet him.