Thursday, 16 July 2015

Summer and Seawatching

Summer is generally recognised as being one of the quieter periods for birders. That said, since my exams have finished up I have been busy birding almost non stop. Most of the focus is on breeding birds at this time of the year. Some highlights have been finding my first long-eared owl, complete with nest and chicks, many hours Seawatching at Barna Pier, and some Hen harrier surveys as well. On patch it has been pretty quiet with some exceptions. During the second week of my exams, I was scrambled early at news of a Franklins Gull, a rare American vagrant, at Rusheen bay, only about twenty minutes away by bike! Alas, the bird was gone by the time I had even left the house! 
    Two weeks back I had a particularly good sea watching session at the pier with sightings including around fifteen Storm Petrel, Some Manx Shearwater and a Balearic Shearwater, a lifer for me. Apart from that the only other scarcities in the past while were a pair of little gull. 
    As it is summer, and there is very little else around, nearly all of my time birding is spent sea watching. For me this involves a few hours on the local pier scanning and searching for distant sea birds. Some days watching can be exceptional, others can be poor. With a bit of fair weather, the sea state becomes very calm, and some smaller species like storm petrel become much easier to pick up. Along with birds, calm seas make seeing everything else easier. I commonly see Harbour Porpoise and Bottlenose Dolphin on days like these. I have seen pods of Dolphin with young, and a porpoise with a calf just last week. These Cetacean encounters keep things interesting when it is quiet on the avian front.
    I haven't found many photographic subjects in the last while, but here are a couple of the few pictures that I have taken recently. 

Great Northern diver - Still a few of these Arctic breeders summering off our shores

The Bee Orchid. I was delighted to find some of these amazing little flowers while out and about, my first ever!

Bee Orchid Close-up. Note the "bee" in the centre of the flower. This cunning flower achieves pollination via pseudocopulation with bees
A wide angle view - Shows why we shouldn't mow roadside verges, Since the county council has left these areas by a main road to grow, the diversity has greatly increased!
Ring-Billed Gull from a few months back, never got a chance to post it
Also from a while ago, An Iceland gull

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