27 Jul 2009

Stormy Conditions at Killard NR bring in the Arctic Skuas

In the past few days there has been a strong southerly wind coming up the Irish Sea. This is when it is great to go out to Killard as the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks is awesome. It is conditions like these that you can on occasion get to see Storm Petrels feeding in the outer surf and Manx Shearwaters can come in quite close. There is also the chance of seeing Arctic Skua mobbing the Terns to get their catches.

On Saturday I was out there and unfortunately was texting a friend when an Arctic Skua flew directly over my head and out towards Kearney on the side of the entrance into Strangford Lough. I didnt notice it until it was flying away so only got a distant shot. I then watched it for about 20 minutes mobbing both Terns and Gannets.This was an Adult pale morph bird.(I stand to be corrected though)

This is the view on a calmer day from Killard towards Kearney on the Ards Peninsula taking in the Tower on the Angus Rocks at the entrance to Strangford Lough.

On Sunday I was out again and there were quite a few Gannets here is one with the Isle of Man in the background.

There are also quite a few Sandwich Terns that fly south of Killard to collect fish to take back to their chicks in Strangford Lough. This is one heading South

and this one is heading back North after a successful catch.

On this occasion I didnt go onto the beach as the waves were pretty big and my dog just runs straight into the sea so walked behind the beach where I saw a couple of Wheatear. I couldn't get that close to them. I then headed to a little sheltered spot where I have a makeshift seat from driftwood from which to scan the sea. It was from here that I saw over a period of an hour hundreds of Manx Shearwater flying by and two Storm Petrels. They are quite hard to get onto and as the waves were fairly big one minute you see them and the next they are in the trough.They are the same size as a Wheatear only about 15cms long.

This has to be one of my favourite spots in Northern Ireland.

21 Jul 2009

Storm Petrel

The BBC have used one of my images of Storm Petrels on their Out of the Wild website

17 Jul 2009

The Gannet and the Dog

On Monday I went down to Baltray to see the Little Terns. The noise of them in the air as you approached the breeding area was brilliant. They have had a very succesful breeding season this year.

This was my best image of the day I had far better success last year. There was also this very confiding Pied Wagtail.
There were also quite a few Ringed Plover.

On my way back I saw what I thought were two Gannets on the water and on looking closer saw it was this dog and the Gannet. The Gannet escaped. I wouldnt have liked the dogs chances anyway having once found a Gannet grounded out at Killard. When I went to pick it up it stabbed me in the arm!! I took it to one of the National Trust Wardens at Castleward. Kit fed it on a diet of sardines.Unfortunately it died about three days later.

5 Jul 2009

A Lesson Learnt!!!!! in Misidentification

On Birdguides yesterday there was a report of a Ist year Sabine's gull at Blanket Nook. I thought I would go to Blanket Nook on the way from Altnagelvin hospital to my parents home in Donegal. As I was visiting my mother at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry, who had had surgery to remove bowel cancer a few days before.

When I got there there was one other birder, who I hadnt come across before and he asked me if I wanted to look at the Sabine's Gull. I have only seen an adult before so wasnt sure about the id and took the birder's advice and then I took a few photos.

I then sent them off to a couple of sites. I then decided to look up Sabine's Gull in "Gulls of Europe, Asia and North America" by Klaus Malling Olsen and realised that the photos I had sent were not a Sabine's Gull :-(

Joe Doolan of Irishbirding.comthen put me right.It was a juvenile Black Headed Gull. Thank you Joe.

I then went out to Killard NR and photographed this Ringed Plover (I hope)

There was also this Tiger Moth