20 Aug 2006

Three new birds to my List. Two of them lifers. Crane, Osprey and Pectoral Sandpiper.

147. Pectoral Sandpiper
148. Osprey
149. Crane

WOW what a day. It was a nice morning and I went down to the Blackstaff River which runs into Dundrum Bay as a Lesser Yellowlegs had been seen earlier in the week. (I went down twice earlier in the week to no avail) The tide was pretty high and the only birds around were about nine roosting Greenshank and a few Redshank. I walked up the river and suddenly sighted a Kingfisher flying away from me. I edged closer and got it in my scope only to notice there was another just behind it. They do have to be one of the UK's prettiest birds. This is the second time in the last ten days that I have seen a Kingfisher the other I watched for about fifteen minutes fishing up in Belfast on the Whitehouse Lagoon.

I then went home and had lunch ( Very little lunch as I am on a diet for about the first time in my life. I got on the scales a few weeks ago and was just shy of eighteen stone. I am already down to sixteen and a half. I hope to get down to about fifteen over the next few months. I find dieting very similar to giving up cigarettes which I did about nine years ago. I have had sugar in my coffee and tea all my life and for the last three weeks none at all amazingly I dont really miss it. It seems to be habit more than anything else. No cheese, No chocolate, No Snacks between meals unless its fruit are my other rules. I hope it works.

My phone beeped and there was a text to say there was a Juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper had been seen at the reserve in Belfast. an American wader. Into the car I got and headed the thirty miles to Belfast, my nails being chewed in anticipation. (My next task after the diet stop chewing my fingernails!) The last two occasions I have gone specifically to see a bird I had dipped so this time was pleased that it was not far from the front of the hide. Derek Charles pointed it out to me it was a wee bit bigger than a Dunlin and had a certain resemblance to me off a ruff. ( Infact while my camera is at the menders all the photos that I post have been taken by him unless otherwise mentioned).
There was also a Green Sandpiper along the shoreline of the lagoon. I then went and saw Anthony McGeehan who was photographing with Ivan at another hide on the lagoon.Anthony told me how the pec's migrate and that some come down through Uk and on to South Africa whereas they would normally migrate to South America.

I had arranged for Derek Charles to show me how to get toLough Beg where he had seen a pair of Cranes and a pair of Ospreys over the summer. I met him at a gas station outside Toome and then we drove the five miles to a spot where we could observe the lough. We set up our scopes and there sat on a post was an Osprey. Absolutely brilliant I have seen them in Scotland and also on Marthas Vineyard where I lived for about five years in the eighties. It then lifted off the post and started ot fly over the lough hovering very similarly to a Kestrel before diving down attempting to catch fish. This happenned three times before he caught one which he then flew back to his post and proceeded to eat. It was a real case of being eaten alive as the fish was wriggling for a long time.

Then Anthony's brother and friend turned up. Suddenly they shouted the Cranes are coming in and they were; very majestic birds they are too. What a day.

Now my only downer for the day is that September 1st is approaching. Its the start of the duck shooting season and this lough is renown for the duck shooting. Only in Northern Ireland would they allow shooting on a Lough where two very rare birds live. I am sure both the cranes and the ospreys will leave as soon as the shooting season starts. :-( Why our very ineffective Dept of Environment wont do anything I do not know.


GB Hoyt said...

Thanks for posting your spots! I appreciate your pictures too. Being an American, I remember my first Pectoral too, at the E. L. Huie Water Treatment plant in Atlanta. It was common enough that it became one of the first shorebirds that wasn't a Ruddy Turnstone or a sanderling that I felt comfortable iding on my own.
Good Luck!

Hornet said...

What a brilliant day - three genuinely thrilling birds, and not just because they were lifers. Share your sorry about shooting season though - that is shocking in such a wonderful location.