Thursday, 30 September 2010

Bird News Thursday 30th September

At Slievenacloy, Co. Antrim there were 170 Goldfinch and a Kestrel.
In Co. Down 120 Kittwake were at the mouth of the Glen River, Newcastle with 480 offshore. At the high tide roost below Newcastle Police Station there were 126 Redshank, 118 Ringed Plover, 110 Turnstone, 93 Sanderling and 3 Dunlin. There were plenty of Little Egrets at Dundrum Inner Bay but who cares? I'll give you a break from them for an evening.

Here's a great picture of a Grey Heron from Craig Nash - check out his Flickr page here:

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Whats going on and weekly roundup 22nd-29th September

Flip me i go away for a week to live in a Rubbish Bin and its all rabbitts, chickens and Ferns. Don't worry folks ive given Andrew a yellow card and from now on he has promised that it will be only birds from now on! We live in hope anyway!

But the only show in town this week was a Bairds Sandpiper found by no other than Andrew! So well done to him. This was the second record for Co.Down and the best wader of the autumn so far.

The reappearance of the Glossy Ibis at Lough Neagh was also notable and the other main event was the Lapland Bunting invasion with 13 birds being seen in total. This included a flock of 9 at Portrush. Who is going to top that!

A White Tailed Eagle in Fermanagh was the best of the rest.

The only other American wader was a single Pectoral Sandpiper at Lough Beg while passage wader numbers were poor with singles of Green Sandpiper and Spotted Redshank and 3 Little Stint.

5 Black Terns were seen including birds inland in Armagh and 6 Pinkfooted Geese were down on last week. 2 Slavonian Grebes returned to Strangford Lough.

Finally another poor showing by Seagulls (come on boys!) with just one Ring Billed and Little Gulls and 7 Med Gulls.

Plenty of scope yet to find something this autumn!

Neanderthals in Belfast

For more read:

The Day After Tomorrow

Look what happens when rabbits get out, it'll start off as the odd hole........

and this'll be my house in about 6 months

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Bird News Wednesday 29th September

Thanks to Haidee Chamberlain for this sighting of a White-tailed Sea Eagle in Co. Fermanagh yesterday

"Yesterday (28/09/10), whilst out undertaking fieldwork in the Corraslough (GR 265 325) area of Co Fermanagh, very close to Upper Lough Erne, my colleague and I spotted a juvenile Sea Eagle at about 15.30. We had an excellent view of the bird, given that it was a murky day and it was flying very low over us for a good 10 mins or so. It was occasionally harassed by a pair of Hooded Crows. A heron took flight and it absolutely dwarfed it, in terms of size! We did not see any wing markers/ tags."

At Lough Beg a juvenile Spotted Redshank was seen (now a NI scarcity). 16 Ruff, 2 Pink-footed geese and a juvenile Arctic Tern was also seen.
The Bann Estuary, Co. Londonderry had 2 Little Stint (Matthew Tickner) and 500 Gannet went north at Torr Head, Co. Antrim over 2 hours (D. Clark)
Around Belfast 2 Guillemots and a Black guillemot were still around the lagan weir (Ronald Surgenor)

At St. John's Pt, Co. Down there were 9 Buzzard and a Little Auk was reported at Ardglass Harbour.

At Killard Point, Co. Down the leucistic Wheatear was seen again along with a Merlin (Craig Nash).

Other news included the usual stuff around Dundrum Inner Bay: 11 Little Egret, 65 Teal, 18 Dunlin and 6 Greenshank at the North Bay, 10 Little Egret at the south bay.

Thanks again to Nigel Snell for these photos of a Moorhen

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Great Juxtapositions

Not the title of an unpublished Dickens novel but one of those things that makes you look twice. Take a trip to Ballykinler and you'll see what I mean. Coincidentally the bin  in front of the shop is where Derek has been hiding since last Thursday

Not Marijauna (honest!!)

I wouldn't try smoking this stuff - Cowbane Cicuta virosa. Why do they call it Cowbane? - it kills cows and probably humans too. Which is why it's a rare plant where people keep cows!

Check out the flora of Northern Ireland website:

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Bird News Tuesday 28th September

In Co. Armagh 2 juvenile Black Tern were at Shaw's Lake (Joe Devlin).

In Co. Antrim there were 2 Lapland Bunting at Ramore Head Co.Antrim (Colin Guy) and 4 Greenshank and a Mediterranean Gull were at Glynn Co.Antrim (Cameron.Moore)
Thanks to Joe Devlin for these great shots the Black Terns in Armagh today. Check out the middle shot - brilliant!

In Co. Down a Mediterranean Gull was reported from Strangford Narrows (per Birdguides)
14 Little Egret (one darvic ringed - yellow L, white D) were at Dundrum Inner Bay South. 197 Sanderling, 97 Ringed Plover, 63 Turnstone and 130 Redshank were between Newcastle Harbour and Blackrock (including 2 colour-ringed Sanderling - details when I get them).

Thanks to Jeroen Reneerkens for getting back so quickly about the ringed Sanderling at Newcastle today - both birds ringed in Iceland, one of them was seen at Leven Beach, Fife, Scotland on the 13th August and the other was seen on 19th August at Portnafrankagh, Mullet peninsula, Co. Mayo by Dave Suddaby.

A Green Sandpiper and a Common Guillemot were at the Blackstaff River, Dundrum Inner Bay North.

In Co. Tyrone 2 Kingfisher were on the Mourne River, Sion Mills (Brian Hegarty)

A wing-tagged Golden Eagle was seen at Malinmore village, Co. Donegal.

Check out the following link:

Get down to Dundrum Inner Bay South - there were over 100 of these 'rare gulls' there today! Cementing this site as the best place to birdwatch in Northern Ireland (unrelated to the fact that I live a mile and a half from the south bay).

Thanks again to Nigel Snell for these photos of Grey Heron. Last shot is a winner.

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Pterible Tales!

Sorry, bad joke again - the study of ferns is Pterology. So this is the beginning of loads of photos of ferns - can you deal with the excitement?

Wall Rue Asplenium ruta-muraria

Distribution: anywhere there's a wall really

Spot the Bird (Part 56)

This one's a bit more difficult.

Answer to Part 55: Red Kite

Monday, 27 September 2010

Bird News Monday 27th September

A report came in of a Glossy Ibis from Kiltagh Point Co. Tyrone on the west shore of Lough Neagh (probably the same bird seen at the Mullagh, Lough Beg, Co. Londonderry (C.Coney).
One of the Lapland Buntings was still at Ramore Head, Co. Antrim (Geoff Campbell), another Lapland Bunting (possibly 2) was reported from Fair Head along with a Hen Harrier and 8 Twite (Patrick Barton).

Thanks again to Geoff Campbell for these photos of the remaining Lapland Bunting at Ramore Head, Co. Antrim.

Not much about today round my way and I was stuck in Newcastle but did have time for a scoot around Dundrum Inner Bay - highlights:
40 Tree Sparrow at Murlough Farm Fields and a Red-throated Diver, 2050 Oystercatcher, a Grey Plover and 20 Knot at Ballykinler high tide roost. A Common Sandpiper and 15 Little Egret were at the North Bay and 14 Little Egret at Murlough Heronry.

In all 41 species but that's only if you include the racing pigeon, domestic duck (controversial - not 100% Mallard so potentially a tick) and a Rhode Island Red Hybrid (see picture below)

A Dipper was at the 3rd Bridge on the Glen River, Donard Forest, Co. Down (Patrick Lynch)

Tim is still away on his travels - he's went from Shetland to Fair Isle and then bounced down to Norfolk for the Empidomax ssp. Flycatcher at Blakeney Pt. in Norfolk!

Damn rabbits are back in the pen with the chooks - they must have some way of opening wormholes

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BTO Conference 2010

Dear all

The BTO NI’s annual conference will be held at Oxford Island on 6th November 2010.   Those of you who have been to previous conferences know that this is a really enjoyable day, and I know you will book quickly.  I recommend everyone else to get their skates on and book early if you want to attend!  Places are limited.

I look forward to hearing from you.



Shane Wolsey
BTO Ireland
25 Ballyholme Esplanade
Co Down BT20 5LZ

Unintentional Reintroduction Scheme 'A Roaring Success'

This is Rucksack

He used to be called Handbag - until his 'exercise regime' alluded to his masculinity. He was given to me by my mate Willy. His sister needed rid of him because he was biting her kids.

Dirty brute has somehow escaped 8 times in the last 3 days and I've no idea how....unless he's learnt to climb.

He's a git. I even bought him a wife and he's legged it with her. Every now and then I catch a glimpse of them eating my brussel sprouts.

This is the most common view I get of the little bugger - if reports come in of giant mutant brown and white rabbits you know where it started.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Sunday Bird News Update

This is worth a post on it's own, so it shall be - thanks to Keith Bennett for these sightings from today on the Ards Peninsula. Baird's Sand is good but I saw nothing else worth talking about! Thanks Keith!!

Med gull: adult at N'ards yacht club
2 little egret and 2 greenshank: Mount Stewart bay
water rail calling and stock dove flew over: Ballyherly Lough
grey plover: 1 at Cloughey, 4 at Ballyquintin
horned (Slavonian) grebe: 2 at Greyabbey
whimbrel: 1 at each of Kearney and Ballyquintin
wheatear: Ballyquintin
yellowhammers: 2 at Ballyquintin, 1 at Marlfield (near Lough Cowey)
buzzard: 14 during day!
peregrine: Kirkistown
bar-tailed godwits: Cloughey
carrion crow: 2 along Strangford shore, north of Ballyhenry Island

79 species in all...and plenty (I think) I missed: guillemot, tree sparrow, lapwing, golden plover, shelduck, long-tailed tit, bullfinch

mute swan (Cygnus olor)
brent goose (Branta bernicla)
common eider (Somateria mollissima)
red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator)
tufted duck (Aythya fuligula)
Eurasian wigeon (Anas penelope)
Eurasian teal (Anas crecca)
mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
common pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
horned grebe (Podiceps auritus)
Eurasian collared dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
common wood pigeon (Columba palumbus)
stock dove (Columba oenas)
common pigeon (Columba livia)
water rail (Rallus aquaticus)
common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian coot (Fulica atra)
red-throated loon (Gavia stellata)
northern gannet (Morus bassanus)
European shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
grey heron (Ardea cinerea)
little egret (Egretta garzetta)
grey plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
Eurasian oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
common ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata)
bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica)
ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
dunlin (Ereunetes alpina)
common greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
common redshank (Tringa totanus)
black guillemot (Cepphus grylle)
razorbill (Alca torda)
Sandwich tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)
black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
common gull (Larus canus)
great black-backed gull (Larus marinus)
European herring gull (Larus argentatus)
lesser black-backed gull (Larus fuscus)
common buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian magpie (Pica pica)
western jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
rook (Corvus frugilegus)
carrion crow (Corvus corone)
hooded crow (Corvus cornix)
Eurasian blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)
great tit (Parus major)
coal tit (Periparus ater)
Eurasian skylark (Alauda arvensis)
barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)
goldcrest (Regulus regulus)
Eurasian wren (Nannus troglodytes)
common starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
mistle thrush (Turdus viscivorus)
common blackbird (Turdus merula)
European robin (Erithacus rubecula)
European stonechat (Saxicola torquatus)
northern wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
dunnock (Prunella modularis)
house sparrow (Passer domesticus)
pied wagtail (Motacilla alba)
meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Eurasian rock pipit (Anthus petrosus)
chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
European greenfinch (Chloris chloris)
common linnet (Linaria cannabina)
European goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
common reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)

.....and not just because I believe in trying not to post without any photos but because it's a great pic, here's a Coal Tit from Richar Hoy

Bird News Sunday 26th September

A juvenile Baird's Sandpiper was found this morning at Tullyhill Bay, Strangford Narrows, Co. Down (a 1st for Co. Down -get in there!).  Instantly my chances of being in the running for 'unluckiest birder in Ireland',
While I was standing there some bloke came up to me to ask was I looking at anything unusual, what else could I say but 'Yes...a Baird's Sandpiper'. He must have seen loads of them because he had no interest in looking at it but just had to tell me about a Red-breasted Flycatcher seen nearby just a couple of days previous. Where? I naturally enquired. "Couldn't possibly say, sworn to secrecy blah blah but it definitely was one blah, seen extremely well blah blah blah, positively idenitified blah, couldn't have been anything else blah blah, just thought I'd tell you that blah but I can't possibly tell you anything more about it but it was without doubt definitely one blah and I won't tell you where it was no matter what you say"...and then drove off.

Just when I thought I was out of the race - I remembered my mate Danny telling me he had one a Murlough Beach a few years ago. So I phoned him and here it is: the real 1st County Down record for Baird's Sandpiper:

Baird's Sandpiper - 1, (Juvenile) - 3rd October 2005 (c.13.30), Murlough Beach (near Murlough NNR /Royal County Down Golf Club boundary) Dan Bailie

So there you go, I am officially crap - up for the wooden spoon and needing Red-breasted Flycatcher.

Anyway, enough madness - bird news:
Also present at Tullyhill Bay were 2 Greenshank, 42 Ringed Plover, 49 Dunlin and 6 Bar-tailed Godwit. A Little Gull was seen nearby and a Kingfisher was seen later at Tullyhill Bay.
At Curraghard, Tollymore Forest Park, Co. Down a flock of at least 11 Jays were seen (Dan Bailie). Late
 news is of a Green Sandpiper there on Thursday (Dan Bailie). Another Bar-tailed Godwit was at Minerstown Beach and at Dundrum Inner Bay 13 Little Egret were at the north bay and 11 at the south. A Razorbill was also present on the Carrigs River at the very south end of the bay (Ronald Surgenor). 2 Whooper Swan were just east of the Quoile River bridge on the road to Killyleagh. In Strangford Lough 2 Grey Plover were at Salt Island (Jo Whatmough)
At Ramore Head, Co. Antrim there was only 1 Lapland Bunting today (Richard Hoy)
At Myroe Levels, Co. Londonderry, a Little Stint, a Merlin and 2 Kingfisher were present. At Ballykelly 3 Grey Plover and a Merlin were at Ballykelly and a Red-throated Diver offshore. (Garry Armstrong, Ian Graham, Ian Patience, Philip West)

Here's some shots of the Lapland Bunting at Ramore Head today by John Clarke

Check out this picture of a Sandwich Tern taken by Ronald Surgenor.

Check out more of Ronald's photos at his Flickr page here:

Despite Derek's best efforts he couldn't turn the Snowy Owl at Blacksod on the Mullet (Co. Mayo) into a seagull over the last couple of days - he did try calling it one of them Kumlien's things he's always harping on about but luckily he had some sensible people with him (Dave Allen, Dave Suddaby, Denis Weir). One of the Blue-winged Teal was still at Achill Island, Co. Mayo.

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Autumn Madness

You probably would go mad if you ate one of these - the Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria. Ok, so it's one of the most recognisable fungi you can get, the one you find gnomes using as fishing perches or fairies looking all coy and bashful on when they're really out to get ye.

.....on the other hand:

"effects can range from nausea and twitching to drowsiness, cholinergic crisis-like effects (low blood pressure, sweating and salivation), auditory and visual distortions, mood changes, euphoria, relaxation, ataxia, and loss of equilibrium. In cases of serious poisoning it causes a delirium, similar in effect to anticholinergic poisoning it is characterized by bouts of marked agitation with confusion, hallucinations, and irritability followed by periods of central nervous system depression. Seizures and coma may also occur in severe poisonings. Symptoms typically appear after around 30 to 90 minutes and peak within three hours, but certain effects can last for a number of days. In the majority of cases recovery is complete within 12 to 24 hours. The effect is highly variable between individuals with similar doses potentially causing quite different reactions.[52][57][81] Some cases of intoxication have exhibited headaches up to ten hours afterwards. Retrograde amnesia and somnolence frequently result following recovery" were warned.

Spot the Bird (Part 55)

Answer to Part 54: Lesser Black-backed Gull (juvenile)

Thanks again to Shelagh Henry for this image.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Bird News Saturday 25th September

 The 2 Pink-footed Geese were still at the Ecos Centre, Ballymena (Geoff Campbell - see pic below)

At Ramore Head, Co. Antrim the count of Lapland Buntings rose to 9 with at least 4 hanging around until the afternoon (Matthew Tickner), a Wheatear was also present. Nearby at Portrush East Strand car park the Ring-billed Gull was still present (Geoff Campbell). 2 Black-throated Diver were also noted going south (Jim Whitla/ Bangor RSPB group). A pale Arctic Skua was seen on the way over to Rathlin Island (Ian Enlander).
Still in Co. Antrim 6 Twite were on the beach at Ballintoy Harbour (Neville and Pat McKee)

Check out Geoff's pictures of today's Lapland Buntings at Ramore Head and don't forget to visit his website:

A Ruff, a Mediterranean Gull and 2 Peregrine Falcon were at Myroe Levels, Co. Londonderry. Another Mediterranean Gull was at Ballykelly (Keith Bennett)
In Belfast 2 Common Guillemots were at the Lagan Weir and a Black guillemot has appeared back to the summer breeding site around Queens Bridge in its winter plumage  (Ronald Surgenor)

Another 2 Lapland Bunting (elusive) were with 100 Skylark and 150 Linnet in a stubble field at Kearney Point, Co. Down and an adult Mediterranean Gull was at Cloghy Bay (Richard Weyl)
In south Co. Down 2 Reed Bunting and 2 Raven were at Lackan Bog, c.150 Skylark were still at St. John's Pt. (J. Carpenter). Breaking news is of 10 Greenshank, 15 Little Egret and 85 Black-tailed Godwit at Dundrum Inner Bay South (Little Egret capital of the North). 6 Little Egret and 3 Greenshank were at Dundrum Inner Bay North.

In Co. Donegal 7 Pink-footed Geese and a Black Tern were at Blanket Nook (Keith Bennett)

Above: One of the Guillemots on the River Lagan, Belfast by Ronald Surgenor - check out is his Flickr page

Craig Nash was lucky enough to get this great photo of a Sparrowhawk near his bird feeders - adding to mounting evidence that all spawks are on drugs, they should just stick to the Buckfast like Jackdaws do.

Several people have emailed asking what type of pie was featured in the Mourne Observer story mentioned yesterday - it was chicken and mushroom.

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Spot the Bird (Part 54)

Answer to Part 53: Little Egret

Friday, 24 September 2010

Bird News Friday 24th September

Lough Beg, Co. Londonderry, remains the place to be with a flyover Pectoral Sandpiper at Mullagh and 6 Pink-Footed Geese, 2 Little Egret and 4 Ruff. A juvenile Black Tern was at the Beg (David Steele).
Another 2 Pink-footed Geese, a Ruff, 23 Golden Plover, 2 Tree Sparrow and 3 White Wagtail were at the south end as well (Gerard McGeehan). At Magilligan Pt., Lough Foyle, there was a dark Arctic Skua and 7 Red-throated Diver at Magilligan (C. Stewart).
A Red Kite was seen at Loughislandreavy, Co. Down, and a Whimbrel was near the summit of Pigeon Rock Mt. in the Mournes (Ed McGuiggan)

Bob Shaw seems to have had the usual around Dundrum Bay, though still some nice sightings:
150 Skylark and a Sparrowhawk were at St. John's Pt. and 3 Bar-tailed Godwit were at Ballykinler, 100 Common Scoter were offshore. At Dundrum Inner Bay 74 Black-tailed Godwit was a half decent count for there, 11 Little Egret and 10 Greenshank were at the south (as usual) while 30 Wigeon and 3 Little Egret were at the north (sounds like your average day out down there to me, though knowing Bob he won't mind me saying so!)

Want to know what a Curlew Sandpiper looks like? too late you do now. This brilliant photo was taken by Ronan McLoughlin.

Check out Ronan's photostream on Flickr here:

No word from Derek today so it seems he's gone to ground until the seagull allegations blow over. Little does he know there is a crack squad of News of the World photographers closing in on his position to try and catch him in a compromising position (any position, it does matter what it is as long as it's compromising). An unknown source (yours truly) has tipped them off - best place to look is actually behind the Eastern Pearl chinese restaurant in Ballykinler Co. Down. The dirty secret is.....he actually eats seagulls. Check the sunday papers, they never lie.
There is an alternative theory, however, but that'll come out in next weeks copy of the Mourne Observer. Best newspaper in the world - 'Man accused of stealing £0.49 pie"

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