|Early morning on Kennedy Pier, Cobh, - the race just beginning!|
We scanned the sea for gulls and auks while the resident House Crow made a racket behind us. No sign of any white winged gulls or Ring-billed Gulls so we decided to head to the Holy Ground for Black Reds and Stonechats. While there were no Black Reds there we picked up Stonechat, Grey Wagtail, Blackcap, Collared Dove and Turnstone amongst others. Paul picked up some distant Brent Geese over towards Haulbowline Island, good to get those out of the way early. The feeling was that Black Reds were going to be tricky, a pre-bird race report of one around the cathedral was worth checking but to no avail.
|Harry and Sean gaze towards the heavens for Black Reds at Cobh cathedral|
There are probably one or two around the town of Cobh but getting one may be just a matter of luck. Anyway, we were seeing a steady stream of birds and our race list was slowly ticking over. The weather was dry and not too windy, a little bit chilly but otherwise excellent conditions. Next stop was Cuskinny for Ring-billed Gull, Kingfisher and Gadwall, that was the plan but none of those were there. Nonetheless, we did manage Water Rail and Snipe and in the woods beside Cuskinny we got Treecreeper, Chiffchaff, Siskin and Redpoll. Back in the car the next stop was the Potteries for Tufted Duck and Coot, better luck this time as we got both species there along with a nice flock of Yellowhammer.
|Paul, Harry and Sean scan for Tufties at The Potteries.|
|Organised Meadow Pipit flush - note the perfect alignment!|
We kept plugging away and eventually broke our duck with Buzzard, excellently spotted soaring in the distance by Harry. Jay followed next, seen briefly and heard a lot! Spirits picked up and we also added Pintail, Shoveller and Knot to the list from our vantage point atop of Great Island.
|Sean lets Harry do the work.|
|Harry points out the finer details to me!|
|Thank God for scopes - Pintail and Knot in the mudflats below!|
Not long after we had the regular Whimbrel at Glenmore, where Sean also picked up Common Scoter - well done Sean! We returned to Cuskinny and this time succeeded with Ring-billed Gull. Lifted by this we decided to give the harbour a thorough check for Gannet and Fulmar. We scanned carefully out as far as Roches Point, the sea was pretty calm and the evening sun was starting to sink. Nice view but no Gannets or Fulmars.
|Cork Harbour - looking out towards Roches Point - no Gannets sadly but nice view!|
|Spike Island from Cobh around 4pm.|
|Paul, Sean and Harry check Cuskinny Bay for grebes, divers and seaduck|
We checked a spot of waste-ground above Rushebrooke and finally got our Meadow Pipit - couldn't have shown our faces afterwards without that species. All teams finally came together at a regular spot for Long-eared Owl. It was a our last bird of the day but all 4 of us got it as it hunted in the semi-darkness at about 5.20pm. A quick dash back to the town and we were in Kelly's bang on 5.30pm.
|Well earned pints - Paul Rowe, Harry Hussey, Sean Ronayne and me (Graham Clarke)|
The scores were added up and winners announced. I think we were all mildly surprised and pleased to have come in second with 95 species.
|Our list - 2nd place on 95 species|
Well done indeed to the team of Owen Foley, Ronan McLaughlin, Jez Simms and Eddie Ronayne for winning with an impressive 100 species. They added Water Pipit and Spotted Redshank to the bird race list in the process.
|The winning team - Owen Foley, Eddie Ronayne, Jez Simms and Ronan McLaughlin|
|Micky Sull, Tony Nagle, John Lynch and Seanie Bourke|
|Jez shows Mark how a camera works - (joking of course Mark!)|
|Jim Wilson and Michael John O'Mahony share a joke.|
|Mark Shorten, Paul Moore and Dennis O'Sullivan|
Now to try and get up to Wicklow for that Rough-legged Buzzard.