Saturday, 14 January 2017

Winter Birding

After a long, unintentional hiatus of basically the whole Autumn, mostly due to a lack of time (and a small lack of determination) I've decided to get typing again and put together another blog post. With good intentions I could promise more in the next few weeks however with mock exams coming up I don't know how much spare time i'll have, but we'll see. 
    I may not have been blogging, but I have not stopped birding, or taking photos for that matter. School is admittedly an obstacle, this year being that of my leaving certificate, but if I could not get out I'd surely go insane.
   By far the best bird I've seen in recent weeks was a fantastic female Snowy Owl in the wild, wet and quite remote bog west of Spiddal. The bird was picked up by Paul Troake on the 10th of December (fair play Paul!) and so I was on site the following afternoon after a hellish bike ride out from Barna. No sooner had I clambered up the sodden hill and set up the scope, than I found myself looking at the distant white speck that was oh-so-certainly a Snowy Owl. In the effort to get to within at least a kilometre of the bird, I quickly made my way across the open bog, where I met up with Dermot Breen, who i'd been unsuccessfully trying to get on the bird from afar. After cresting an unseen ridge we both managed to get pretty good views of the bird. I was so enamoured with the Owl that I went back two weeks later for seconds, and the day after again for even more! I've now gone a whole 18 days without seeing a Snowy Owl and think I might be getting withdrawal symptoms, could be time for another trip out west sometime soon...
    Patchwise I had a good December, finding a nice first winter/female type Black Redstart at Barna Pier, the first site record. Later on in December I managed to pick up a Forsters Tern at Barna Pier too, on the rocks to the west of the Pier. Although there's every chance that it's the returning bird from Nimmo's I was nonetheless utterly taken aback to see it there, another site first. 
    The past two months have been productive for wildfowling too. While out with Dermot I got to see Lesser Scaup and Green-winged Teal, although these distant birds only allow for dodgy phone-scoped record shots. 

Moving Portrait of some sedentary Granite boulders. This is about equal to the best binocular view to be had at this distance 

if you use your imagination you can just about make out a snowy owl. Scope views were actually quite amazing from even this distance
The Black Redstart at Barna Pier, a bit of a rare treat so I spent a good while photographing it

The Forsters Tern at Barna Pier. Note ringed sandwich tern to its left

Turnstones rifling through sand

Garden birding ends up becoming the staple of an exam-preparing student like myself. Nothing better to bring oneself back to the present moment like the incessant flitter of a chiming Goldcrest. 


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