8 Jan 2013

A Happy New Year and A Not So Happy New Year at RSPB Belfast Harbour

Happy New Year

I have been chastised by a number of people that I met over the christmas and new year period that I haven't been keeping up my blog. Guilty as charged. So I have decided I will do a blog post at least every month.

Every new years day I spend the day adding birds to my new years list and this year was no exception. I start in my living room and this is my view looking over Strangford Lough.

The first bird of the day was a Blackbird followed by a Buzzard sitting in the tree out of picture and within forty five minutes I had forty species of bird. My third bird of the day was a male Blackcap which much to my surprise starting feeding on sunflower hearts for a while before flying off and then returning to my apple feeder. The BTO are doing a Blackcap Survey at present in case any of you have Blackcaps coming to your feeders  http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/gbw/about/background/projects/garden_blackcap_survey

After Penny and I had breakfast we headed out to Killard and added a few more birds to the list including Skylark, Stonechat and Sandwich Tern. Then we headed to the Castle Island Hide, which has to be one of the coldest hides around. The water levels were very high but nevertheless there were quite a large amount of duck out on the water apart from the one I really wanted to see Pintail
We then headed to WWT Castle Espie for lunch, a walk around the grounds and to buy a copy of Anthony McGeehans book for a birthday present. If you didn't see it Michael Viney of the Irish Times gave it a great review  Castle Espie were running a contest to see how many wild birds you could see on the reserve. In the fairly short time we were there we saw 39 species with a nice pair of Pink-footed Geese flying overhead.

We then drove a friend to the airport and stopped off at the RSPB Belfast Harbour Reserve where the first thing we saw was a fox. Another person in the hide told me that a couple of weeks previously it had caught 6 moorhen on the ice. Seeing the fox within the predator proof fence made my blood boil. It is painfully obvious to me that the RSPB in Northern Ireland could not care less about what was once a fabulous reserve. This particular fox has fairly distinct facial markings as can be seen here
this photo was taken July 2006 and the most recent one was taken last November 2012

So this fox has been within the predator proof fence for the breeding season of 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 2010, 2011 and 2012 Is it any wonder why the Lapwings have not been successfully breeding or much else for that matter. In the summer of 2011 the fox was even spotted on one of the tern islands which had been allowed to get into a state of disrepair. One wonders why an organisation spends 30,000 pounds on a predator proof fence and during all the time that it has been there, there have been foxes within it. I think it is high time the reserves manager pulled his finger out and hires a pest controller to trap or shoot the foxes within the reserve.

Maybe now because the RSPB seems to be more interested in nature than birds they will just leave it there to ruin yet again the breeding chances of many of the birds that breed on the reserve.

There seems to be so little expertise left within RSPB headquarters in Northern Ireland that they are now paying for a management plan of the Belfast Harbour Reserve from an external environmental consultancy. Madness

After the rant My New Years Day total was 71 species

Update: My Apologies to Mr. Ronald Surgenor for linking his flickr photographs of the fox without his permission.

1 comment:

Timothy Belmont said...

Happy new year, Craig! Fine photos, as usual; is that Salt Island I see in the distance? Haven't been to Salt for over a year now, sadly.

We spent more time on Taggart, trying to control the gorse.

All best,