4 Jan 2010

A Visit to Killough and St. John's Point Co.Down with Black Redstart and Merlin the Highlights

Yesterday I thought I would see if I could get some better photos of the Black Redstart out at Killough Harbour. The light was fabulous a bird photographer's dream. Killough is about 12 miles from my house. I turned up and got out of the car and within five minutes had these shots.

The bird seems to have a routine of feeding on the high tide line and then heading over towards the pier and feeding on insects attached to the harbour wall. It then returns and disappears round the corner and into a garden. Having watched this happen a couple of times I decided to head out to St. John's Point. As I was nearing the cattlegrid I noticed a Snipe walking down the road. I came to within a cars length and surprisingly followed it for about two hundred metres . Here is a shot through the car windscreen as it finally heads off the road.

It then crouched down as I came alongside before exploding away. This shot is a large crop of it flying.

It was really beautiful down at the point and the fields were full of Redwings, Fieldfares, Golden Plover, Lapwing and I counted eleven snipe feeding. There were also quite large flocks of Linnet and smaller ones of Skylark and Reed Bunting. The Reed Buntings would feed and as soon as they were alarmed they flew into the hedges.

along with the Linnets and some of the Redwings. This Redwing came almost too close. I dont have photoshop so am unable to clone out the twigs which I find quite distracting.

As I was trying to get into position to photograph a Linnet there was a sudden explosion of birds from the field next to me and I looked up and watched an aerial dogfight of a Linnet and a Merlin. I must have been watching it for about a minute when the bird headed literally right over my head.

The merlin was unsuccessful. This was the fifth time I have watched a Merlin chasing a small bird. They are quite acrobatic to say the least. The most entertaining was an unsuccessful chase against a Pied Wagtail at Killard a few years ago.

On the way back home I was driving round the bay in Killough and the tide was high and there were a few Golden Plover right in close and I got this shot from the car.

All in all a wonderful afternoon. I was reading today that a walk in the country and just observing the things around you and appreciating nature is one of the best stress busters there is. I tend to carry a camera with me all the time and just driving around I am always looking for the next photographic opportunity whether it be birds or landscape. The sun comes out from behind a cloud and you are alert to the effect it is having on the countryside around you. It certainly takes your mind off the drudgery of life.


Neil said...

great photos, the last one of the plover especially!

Anonymous said...

God they're great photos! What a morning for you. Great set of photos. I'm suprised the Merlin didn't catch a pied wagtail? Although those wagtails are nifty on their feet aren't they.
I agree with the last bit of this post - we're very lucky to find the beauty in nature - some don't see it at all.