|Corncrake on Rathlin|
|Corncrake on Inishbofin|
The weather was fairly dreary and grey. Not good bird photography light. On the ferry trip over to Tory Island we saw Great Northern Diver in summer plumage, Shags, Cormorants, a fair few Manx Shearwater, a single Puffin, Gannets and a single Storm Petrel.
|Great Northern Diver|
We arrived and were welcomed by the "King of Tory" Patsy Dan Rogers and Rónán had a little chat to him in Irish of which I didn't understand a word apart from traon the gaelic for corncrake. No sooner than we had left him on the pier we heard a Corncrake in the fields behind the main street. Infact there were two or three birds calling. Now we had to find them. We walked up the street and came across another bird photographer who had seen them earlier. From his accent we guessed he came from Dublin. There was a bird calling only a few yards away behind a wall in a field of nettles but could we see it. No. So we decided to head out towards the lighthouse.
|Common Gull on the Attack|
After walking right round the lighthouse compound we decided to head towards a lake close to the Lighthouse to see if there were any Little Terns about. As we were doing so we walked through a stretch of boggy land and this bird got up and flew into the wind about forty metres before flopping down again. It was bigger than a snipe and flew low not much more than a metre of the ground in a much less frenetic way than a snipe. It also appeared to land rather suddenly as though it had just stalled and put its wings out at the last moment. Rónán commented afterwards that it was almost lazy in flight. We both said to each other almost simultaneously that it was a Great Snipe even though neither of us had seen one. Apart from the size difference it appeared to have far more white in the tail than a snipe. We decided we had to get photos and headed down towards where it had landed. As we were doing so a number of Dunlin flew around us. We also flushed two snipe both of which flew straight into the wind before heading skywards and over towards the east of the island. These were definitely not the same species in our minds to the bird we had just flushed. Rónán also commented that it was almost Woodcock in size. After searching in the area we thought it had landed we couldn't find it. Then a Dunlin presented us with a nice opportunity so we took a few shots.
I then said to Rónán that we had to go back over the ground we had just come and see if we could find it again. Fortunately for us the bird hadn't moved too far from where we reckoned it had landed and yet again it took off similarly to when we originally flushed it and I got the following poor shots. Yet again it flew only a few metres off the ground and headed away from us before flying to our right and behind a hillock. The tail was again noticeably white. I am positive it was a Great Snipe.
|Great Snipe?? 1st Shot|
|Great Snipe 2nd Shot and Crop|
I used to rough shoot and have seen hundreds of snipe over the years and this in my mind and Rónán's was definitely not a Gallinago gallinago. I have also taken photos of snipe in flight before and apart from the obvious difference in size I cannot for the life of me see how the tail feathers of the above bird is similar to the one below.
|Snipe in Flight|
It was a long day and even though the light was not in our favour and we did not get to see any Corncrakes but did hear 5-6 birds. It was an exciting one never the less with a possible sighting of a Great Snipe. We will be making a submission to the Irish Rare Bird Committee at some point. Thanks to Rόnán for a great day.