Monday 14 November 2011

The autumn continues!

Sunday 13th November was to be a lazy day with no plans for birding least of all twitching. However a tweet from Wexford Bird News that a male Desert Wheatear had been found near Bray Head Co. Wicklow changed all that. I read the tweet at 10.50am and was on the Cork-Dublin road at 11.30am. Not bad going, and there was now news of a second male Desert Wheatear at the same site. A quick 'bio-break' in Cashel and I had reached the base of Bray Head at 2.10pm. The walk to the site where the birds were was the hard part though, especially with a heavy lens and tripod on my back. It was more of a 'yomp' than a walk. Both birds were located in an area of burnt furze about 500 metres south of the cross on Bray Head. The area was pretty exposed facing right out into the Irish sea but the bird I saw seemed quite happy there.

Twitchers on Bray Head 13th November 2011
Being the sort of bird they are, it often sat up on small rocks or pieces of burnt gorze and posed for pics. This was much to the delight of birders who had come from Cork, Waterford, Wexford and Northern Ireland to see what were the 5th and 6th records of Desert Wheatear in Ireland. I guess with an Isabelline Wheatear across the water in Glamorgan and another Isabelline and a Pied Wheatear this autumn on Spurn, many of us were hoping for something similar in Ireland. This was a great find and goes to show you the potential some of these under-watched sites have.
Before the sun set behind the Wicklow Mountains I managed some shots of the more showy of the 2 males.

Male Desert Wheatear - Bray Head, Co. Wicklow 13th November 2011

Male Desert Wheatear - Bray Head, Co. Wicklow 13th November 2011

There's also this brief video clip of the bird too.

youtube movie of Desert Wheatear

With still a few days left before I return to work, I headed out to Power Head on Monday morning. The plan being to try and get some shots of the Pallas's Warbler that had been found the day before. The light was pretty crappy and the bird very mobile, calling only occassionally. However this "seven-striped sprite" (I think it was D.I.M. Wallace who coined that phrase) showed well enough to allow one decent enough shot.

Pallas's Warbler - Power Head 14th November 2011

Out of curiosity I wanted to find out a little more about the bird's namesake (Pallas himself). Here's a link for anyone who is interested.

Peter Simon Pallas
As we watched the Pallas's Warbler, a Yellow-browed Warbler called a couple of times and allowed brief views but no decent photos. 2 great birds in the one garden!
With 2 seperate flocks of Common Cranes, a Swift spp. over Cork City and a white phase Gyrfalcon in off the sea at Inch Beach this morning, this autumn isn't over just yet!

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