Tuesday, 31 August 2010

31st August News

Not a lot about today again so far - so here's the news everybody's really been waiting to hear.

At the top end of Dundrum Inner Bay there were 13 Little Egrets, 10 Greenshank, 4 Wigeon. Highlight there was a Common Buzzard being mobbed by over 50 Rooks!

Also, an Osprey was seen fishing on the River Bann near Ballymoney, Co. Antrim

Here's another couple from Ed O'Hara

'Two's company, three she'll sink'

Brent [aka :Blue Arrows Formation Flying Team]

Here's another shot from Nigel Snell - a weird one, a Robin with his / her cheeks puffed out!

Check out Nigel's websites here:

Email sightings to: nisightings@googlemail.com

Visit us at Facebook here

For the latest bird news: rarebirdsinbritain , birdguides , irishbirding
For everything else Surfbirds and Fatbirder

Blast From The Past, Green Winged Teal

This Green Winged Teal was one of three which entertained visitors to Belfast Lough RSPB Reserve over several winters. Now who is going to find the first female?

Weekly Highlights Round Up.23rd-30th August

Highlight of a quiet week was a Lapland Bunting fresh in from Lapland. Pity he didn't bring a Reindeer with him, that would cause a massive twitch. Seen on the 30th on Rathlin Island more of these little crackers wait to be found.

The Great White Egret just about clung on at the Qouile Pondage until 24th but it is surpriseing how such a great big white bird can hide so it could well be somewhere in Northern Ireland. Keep checking those Egrets as Cattle Egret is also a potential vagrant.

Two Black Necked Grebes appeared at Lough Beg on 25th and stayed throughout. Could they be birds that bred somewhere on the Lough Neagh basin? Must be a possibility as they have been regular visitors to the Beg during the last few autumns.

The first and maybe the last of the autumns American waders launched a full frontal assault on Sunday 29th with single juvenile Pectoral Sandpipers seen at Lough Foyle and Belfast Lough. Northern Ireland is due a very rare wader soon but just what will it be, if you do come across a Pectoral Sandpiper give it the full monty, you just never know.

Kenya and Tanzania Photos - the final chapter

Here's the final installment of Allen Gillespie's amazing run of shots from his trip to Africa earlier in the summer. As usual these are of the highest standard - they really blow me away, cheers Allen!

Secretary Bird

Superb Starling

White Pelican

Yellow-billed Kite

Yellow-billed Stork

Pec of the Week

Here's some shots of one of last week's star birds - the Pectoral Sandpiper found at Belfast Lough RSPB on Sunday by Ed O'Hara. A great find and hopefully the start of the silly season of rare waders in Northern Ireland - thanks again to Ed for these pics (I would have had them up earlier but I was away - not the end of the world but still slack on my part)


That title is one of the worst things I have ever posted. i sincerely apologise but I can't promise that it's not all downhill from here.
Here's a mystery dragonfly from Stephen Longster -
'this dragonfly larvae is found in South West Ireland as well as North West Scotland (a wee clue; it's not a Four Spotted Chaser, but it is a bog species)'

Gull Masterclass in Co.Down

I go away for the weekend and someone goes out and photographs gulls around Northern Ireland and sends them in with comments. I am sure Doncilla Hat-trick is not a made up name and this is not a wind up so we have decided to go ahead.(although at least one of the photos does appear to be mine!)
All comments are from Doncilla.

We photogrpahed this Lesser Black Backed Gull at Dundrum Bay on Saturday. It is easily identified by its dark back and from Great Black Backed by its smaller size.

This Thayers Gull was photograhed at Kilkeel on Sunday. It is easily identified by its salmon pink legs, pink to the base of the bill and because it is clearly not a Herring Gull

This is a winter plumaged Black Headed Gull and was photogrpahed at Annalong on Saturday. It winter they lose their black heads. This is the meditterean race "longsnoutius"

This as everyone knows is a Hugliens Gull or as people in the trade know a Huglieni. They are the common gull in Co.Down and this the most beautiful of all gulls was photographed in Lisburn on Saturday in the Tesco Car Park

This cute little article is a Ross's Gull and like nearly all previous Northern Ireland records of this and Ivory Gull was identified afterwards from photographs. The red legs and two white outer primaries clinch a rather easy id. This was photographed at Killough on Sunday.

This Great Black Headed Gull was identified at Rossglass on Saturday. It is an uncommon winter visitor but can be easily identified because its the size of an emu.

This brown speckly job is the rare and endangered Baltic Gull and appears when temperatures reach -20 celcius. This was photograped on Sunday at Newcastle Picky Pool and was the only photo we got before the camera packed in with the extreme cold

We saved the best to last, this is a scarce summer visitor to Co.Down. This is a juvenile Sabines Gull and its best id feature is its over exposed white underwing. This was photographed at Dundrum Bay where early autumn flocks can reach 250 birds.
So there you have it folks, thanks to Doncilla no one should be scared of gull identification and with a bit of care you can add at least eight gulls to your days total around Co.Down.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Monday 30th August

A Lapland Bunting was at Keeble, Rathlin Island, Co.Antrim in the afternoon (Brad Robson)
Lapland Bunting is a surpriseingly rare visitor to Northern Ireland considering the numbers that occur as close as Donegal. With the prolonged period of North West winds there has been as influx into Ireland and more must be in Northern Ireland waiting to be found.

The 2 Black Necked Grebe were still at Lough Beg as well as a female/immature Garganey.
A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen and heard near Downpatrick.

In Donegal 2 Curlew Sandpipers were at Blanket Nook. There has been an influx the last few days in Ireland so keep your eyes peeled!

Email sightings to:

Visit us at Facebook here

For the latest bird news: rarebirdsinbritain , birdguides , irishbirding
For everything else Surfbirds and Fatbirder

Juvenile Whiskered Tern at the Qouile!

Wait wait!! Don't jump in the car just yet, its not true, yet!! But it was true in April 2009 when Northern Irelands first Whiskered Tern an adult was seen for just the one day ay the Qouile Pondage.

So why the title? Simple now is the time of year when a juvenile Whiskered Tern could turn up here and these pictures taken by Tristan Reid of one recently in England might just help someone if they come across one (thats if they don't feint from the shock!)

So if you do find a juvenile Marsh Tern in the next 2 months don't write it off as a Black Tern look at it closely and you might just be ringing up friends and saying "juvenile Whiskered Tern at the Qouile, ring me an ambulance!"

Note the gingery tone on back. On Black Tern this is black/grey aand on White Winged Black it is black

Indistinct carpal bar and brodaer wings compared to the other likely Marsh Terns to occur.

Stronger bill than both White Winged and Black Terns

All pictures by Tristan Reid (thanks as always Tristan)

Butterfly Magic

Summers nearly over officially its Wednesday so to the best cure to forget the summer we never had is to treat you to more fantastic Butterfly photos. Im not telling you what these are you should already know! If you don't know its time to buy a butterfly book and get out there and find some for yourself!
These simply gorgeous photos were sent in by Dave, Don and Orcilla Hadrick (you're having a laugh!) Many thanks you three.

Wanted Dead or Alive

The lengths i have to go to!! Anyway Ballycastle PSNI have contacted us and have put out an appeal for the capture of Don Laughioni. He has gone on the run after a series of Chip Shop Robberies in County Antrim. So far his gang have gotten away with one tonne of Haddock, 2 tonne of Cod and five stone of Chips and they are having a postive effect on the health of residents in County Antrim. We don't want that, no no no!!
Police say he could be hideing in the Lisburn area with the "Gull Guru and Strong Cider gang" and and have warned people not to approach the Don or the Lisburn Mafia.

He looks innocent enough, looks can be decieveing!
Check the following BBC link of unrest in Ballycastle. This was caused when a load of hungry residents who were looking fish and chips ran into a number of the gang responcible for the chip shop robberies


I know this blog is known for its toilet humour and who seen the title rightly expect to see a picture of a lavatory but for once we have surprised you and have a picture of the hard to find Bog Orchid. Picture was taken by Geoff Campbell and he would tell people where it is only it was that hard to find he has forgotten where it was! Somewhere in the Antrim Hills! Special thanks to Geoff its a delight to see an Orchid that is very rarely seen never mind photographed!

These are enough to make you give up birding!

I am sure that you have been waiting all weekend for these!! These will improve your Monday mornings no end. Special thanks to Ian Dickey who took these recently in Italy!
Swallowtail Butterfly by Ian Dickey

Scarce Swallowtail by Ian Dickey

Whats that Petrel?

It is seawatching season in Ireland, that time of year when seemingly sensible people take leave of their senses, head to the nearest headland and watch seabirds pass while getting soaked and half frozen to death.

So on Saturday morning i got up at 4.08 am and headed towards Melmore Head in Donegal. Now usually when the winds turn North West in August or September i head to Kilcummin Head in Mayo so why Melmore this time? Well its simple Melmore stalwart and friend Eric Randall had been on at me for several years to join him. Last week texts like "Big Salty" "Far reaching Atlantic Depressions" (no not Inishboffin!) "Mega conditions" finally persuaded me to go.

Now Eric is an Irish Seawatching Legend. He owns a Caravan on Melmore Head and for two weeks every August he encamps here. None of this two weekends on Galley and pretend your a seawatching expert on Birdforum, Eric is hardcore!!

Hardcore in more ways that one, the Caravan has NO running water, NO shower, NO toilet and electricity is used sparingly. Five miles to the nearest shop and 3 miles to the nearest pub! If you want a shower you go and bath in the Atlantic! Which him, his family, his relatives do every morning!

Eric has the telescope set up in the caravan and as soon as the Sooty Shearwaters start to pass family, relatives and visitors are left to fend for themselves. After 15 years of this it all seems pretty normal.

So i arrived at 7.15am ready for action, windy and the Atlantic looked at his best. Eric typically had been watching from the caravan while having breakfast! So of we set across the field (stopping to look at the dead whale "Floaty Blaoty!") and then i was met with a mountain!! No walking round this baby it was straight up. Hardcore would not describe this. Mountain Goat Randall set off, my heart, lungs, red blood cells were all screaming out. Wasn't made any easier by the fact that Eric says he walks the dog up here twice a day regardless of the weather! Half an hour later and covered in sweat we finally arrived.

But it was worth the pain, seawatching Nirvana watching birds track across the bay from Fanad and out past the headland. Simply amazing and i was a little jealous that Eric has had this to his own for 15 years. But like all seawatch's you never know what your going to get and it was clear early on that despite the weather being perfect the birds were just not in the area. We recorded moderate numbers of Sooty Shearwaters, Arctic Skuas, Pomarine Skuas etc until at 12.05 Eric found a Petrel headed west. He informed me and i would like to say that i got onto it straight away. But i was away answering a call of nature and never heard him! Luckily when i got back the Petrel was just off the headland and we had great views and watched almost in silence not really believing what we were watching. A "Wilson's Petrel!" the first land based record for Donegal.

We immediately contacted our friend Wilton Farrelly who was at his holiday home across the sound on Fanad to grip him off!! I also text friends who were seawatching at Kilcummin and elsewhere and they were all delighted for me in the traditional Irish Style with most replies just simply saying "you bastard!" Delightful and i must get some new friends!

We continued seawatching and went for dinner about 4pm which meant something i had been dreading since this morning, the return journey up Mount Errigal. While having dinner Eric got a text from Wilton, he had just had a close Corys Shearwater from Fanad. I looked into Mountain Goats big sad dark eyes and knew what that meant, another hike across K2! Corys is a Donegal mega!

As we arrived at the seawatching point, drenched once again in sweat Eric got another text from Wilton, he was watching another Wilsons Petrel!! Amazing stuff and all the more so as he was able to watch it for nearly an hour feeding off Fanad. We had no such luck but our totals for the day were as follows

Wilsons Storm Petrel 1
Sooty Shearwater 17
Pomarine Skuas 4
Arctic Skuas 13
Arctic Tern 9
plus one exhausted observer!!

We stayed in Erics caravan and went seawatching again the next morning. Mountain Goat Randall must also qualify as the fittest seawatcher in Ireland (he regularly cycles 50 miles at a time, mostly up mountains!") and he was a fresh as a daisy! Despite the weather being perfect again seabirds were thin on the ground but at 7.55am Eric picked up another Wilsons Petrel heading west and we savoured the views a bit easier this time. We wonder could it have been the Fanad bird from yesterday evening heading back out of the bay. By early morning it was time to call it quits. Totals as follows

Wilsons Storm Petrel 1
Sooty Shearwater 1
Bonxie 24
Pomarine Skua 2 (inc one very close dark phase adult)
Arctic Skua 4
Arctic Tern 10

I said goodbye to the legend that is the Goat who was probably just about to go out for a 100 cycle and on the way home found a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper. A brilliant way to end a classic weekend.

Special thanks to Eric, i will be back. Im in mountain training already!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Bird News Sunday 29th August.

Is this American Independance Day? Certainly feels like it!! Two American waders were found today, yes Two!! I know many people won't believe this as this is Northern Ireland but a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper was found this morning by Ed O'Hara at the Belfast Lough RSPB Reserve. It was also seen near lunchtime by Keith Bennett. A Ruff and Green Sandpiper was also seen.

In the afternoon another juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper was found at the Myroe Levels Lough Foyle as well as a Wheatear, 10 White Wagtails, 250 Golden Plover and 40 Dunlin. It was also very windy and my hat blew off. So if anyone up there finds a lovely black baseball cap its mine!!

Best of the rest were a Balaeric Shearwater past Kearney Point Co.Down (J.Robinson) and 2 Curlew Sandpipers at Killaed (C.Nash)

The 2 Glossy Ibis were still in Dublin and were twitched by some NI Birders who hopefully passed on how great our marsh's are to them!! Still no sign of their freinds, could be in a field near you!!
Also more good seawatching in Donegal this morning, tune in tomorrow to find out what! That is if you don't subscribe to Birdguides or look at Irishbirding or NIBA Birds!!

Andrew having difficulty getting flights home and is currently living in a tent in the British Embassy grounds in Kabul.

Bird news 28th August and anon letter

In Northern Ireland the best birds of the day were the 2 Black Necked Grebe still present off Mullagh L.Beg (K.Bennett) A Ruff was also at the Beg at Church Island. The count of bulls at the Beg is now a whopping nine!
A Balaeric Shearwater and a Great Skua were off Burial Island Co.Down and the Med Gull was still on a beach near Portavogie. A Reed Warbler was at its usual haunt of Ballyherly Lake.(R.Weyl)

Seawatching kicked off big style in Donegal and a full report will be posted tomorrow thats if i wake up! Currently suffering from exhaustion and with Andrews travel company having gone bust Kazi Tours the blog may well go downhill rapidly!!

Anyway we have recieved this unsigned email. It has shocked me but ive decided to print it anyway. If anyone knows who these people are please report them immediately to the PSNI, RUC or Gardai or even the Ice Cream Man when he comes round. These animals must be stopped.

To whom it may concern or that eejit Derk, The Ballycastle Bomber has contacted us and asked to pass on the following:

1. He has not been abducted.

2. He is extremely unhappy with all the bad publicity which has damaged his image.

3. He was also unhappy with the rubbish food jimmy bird had been feeding him. Pan bread is for pigeons not thoroughbreds!

4. He is going to warn all his american friends to avoid jimmy bird and to keep away from Killybegs.

5. He is very happy in his new environment with good food and new friends.

We will send photos of him to prove that he is ok, aDerek has permission to post them.

Dave and Orcilla

Friday, 27 August 2010

27th August News

An early morning snipeing raid at the RSPB Reserve just produced the long staying Green Sandpiper and Ruff. Two Wigeon were at Kinnegar Shore as well as 8 Sandwich Tern. Dargan Bay had about a million birds, no a billion million, no one can count that high without their brain exploding! It had a bit of a winter feel with 4 female Scaup and a spanking newly moulted male Eider just off-shore

If you're in the south Co. Down area it's worth a look for the Red Kites, 3 of which were seen this afternoon (Dave and Orcilla Hadrick) on the B7, between Finnis and Lowtown

At Dundrum Inner Bay I continued with my quest to find a Little Egret-induced whiteout - there were 24 spread throughout the north and south bay. A Snipe, 8 Greenshank and 25 Black-tailed Godwit were at the north end.

On the North Coast a seawatch off Ramore Head Co.Antrim produced a black and white rabbit sitting on the Skerries (honest!) and no seabirds! Hope tomorrow is better. At Myroe a Ruff with a dodgy right leg, 65 Golden Plover and 30 Dunlin were on the Turf Lawn Fields. At Ballykelly an adult Meditterean Gull was following a tractor ploughing a field.

At Ballycastle the miracle of the "Five pan loaves and 2 Fish Suppers" did not produce the Laughing Gull. Most likely he has been arrested or Orcilla and Dave now have him on their garden pond, kidnapping a Laughing Gull is a serious offence but its the Mafia i would be more worried about if i was those two. On the other hand if i was the Mafia i wouldn't mess with Orcilla, if you went after her you would be hit repeatedly with copys of the gull book.
Orcilla was seen stocking up on Oven Chips yesterday at Tesco in Lisburn

Here's another shot from Tony Dodds - this time of a Pied Wagtail looking rather funky

Below is a picture sent by Richard Bonser and was taken on the Mullet this week. Can you guess what it is (this is not an official competition) and there is even a picture off a pooh type thing to keep Andrew happy. Thanks to Richard.

Richard Bonser

Email sightings to: nisightings@googlemail.com

Visit us at Facebook here

For the latest bird news: rarebirdsinbritain , birdguides , irishbirding
For everything else Surfbirds and Fatbirder

All animals do is attack!!

Thanks to Dave and Orcilla Hadrick for sending in photos of these monsters - Large White butterflies Pieris brassicae. They are currently invading their turnip patch and, as we speak, munching their way through my brussel sprouts. It's an absolute disgrace that these fiends are allowed to act like such louts and cause grievous bodily harm to defenceless brassicas. I am absolutely incensed by this and am drafting a letter to my MP to raise the matter in Westminster and if that fails I will be mounting a legal campaign to get the law changed in....Brussels, surely if they love sprouts so much they named a town after them they'll have some sympathy and do something about it.

Did you know that the brassica family includes turnips, swedes, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, mustard and rapeseed?

I think I might have to get my camera out - that's what this blog needs, some nice photos of a couple of brassicas!

Happy Anniversary

Its a well known Chicken Lovers, Blogger extraordinaire, Lesser Yellowlegs finder and exponent of booze bottle with birds on them Wedding Anniversary this weekend. With his wife Jemima Puddleduck he is heading to Kazakhstan for the weekend. Hope they both have a great time and best wish's to them both from everyone!!
To celebrate a special photo of a Little Egret his favourite bird!! Thanks to Geoff Campbell for a cracking photo!

Geoff Campbell

Now we are talking

We will publish photos of most birds sent to us but i have to say these are probably among the best photos ever sent to us. They were taken by Richard Bonser on his recent trip to Ireland. Richards website can be viewed here and is one of the best resources for people taking birding Holidays in Europe and abroad http://www.freewebs.com/richbonser/. Special thanks to Richard.

But back to the goodys below. The first one is a real looker, a crowd pleaser if you want! I amd sure that you all recognise it as a first summer American Herring Gull and its currently on holiday at Blennerville in Kerry.

Richard Bonser
The next raving beauty is a real mean machine. An adult Glaucous Gull is currently at large in Ireland and feeding on babies up to six months old! I can't believe i haven't seen one in Ireland all year! Time yet however.

Richard Bonser
I won't have to tell what the gull on the left is, a Lesser Black Backed. But the other gull although it probably looks like another Lesser Black Backed or a Herring Gull is indeed a Yellow Legged Gull. I could go on for hours about what race it could be but as its Friday and i am getting off at Lunchtime i won't! Photograph also taken in Kerry.

Richard Bonser

Hawk and Hummingbird Photograph

A Ha!! Got you again. Its not a photograpah of a Goshawk or a Sparrowhawk or even a Hummingbird but an amazing photo of a Hummingbird Hawkmoth taken by Ian Dickey on a recent trip to Italy. Tune in at start of the week for a couple of fantastic Butterfly Photographs from Ian, they are that good i have to keep them all to myself all weekend, im not even sending them to Andrew to look at. My Auntys will probably be round with their slippers tonight, sorry Auntys but its nearly a bird!

Ian Dickey