Sunday, 1 April 2012

The first signs of spring

All week long the weather for the weekend of 24-25th March was looking promising. Light southerlies got fresher by friday and I felt that spring would finally break on Saturday 25th March. Sadly though the long hours in work continue for me and it was after 2.30pm on Saturday afternoon before I could get out. Too late to go for the Baillon's Crake unfortunately. Well done to Harry, Brian and Sean for getting it (an outstanding find, the 3rd for Ireland but the first since 1858!).
I had a few hours though so I headed east towards Knockadoon Head stopping first at Ballywilliam where I'd seen a Hoopoe 2 years previously on almost the same weekend. The best there was a Chiffchaff.
Knockadoon was a little better, no Black Redstarts at the pier but a single Sand Martin in off the sea near the tip of the head was a welcome sight after the winter. As I came back along the campsite I picked up a single chiffer in the pines, watching it for a few minutes I realised that a second phyllosc with it was a very early Willow Warbler! They were both a little too high up in the pines for a decent picture but a group of about 3-4 Goldcrests were much more obliging.

Goldcrest - Knockadoon campsite, 24th March 2012
I wonder are these migrants also or resident birds? I moved on towards the Holy Ground where there were 2 more Chiffers and a second Willow Warbler, this one was in song.
On Sunday I headed over to Ardmore Head, hoping rather than expecting to see the Woodchat Shrike, no joy though, these things never do stay long in the spring. A walk around the head didn't produce much but this smart male Reed Bunting posed nicely.

Reed Bunting, Ardmore Head, Co. Waterford, 25th March 2012   

Each time I go to Ardmore Head though I'm intrigued by the wreck of the crane that is washed up against the cliff face. The Samson was wrecked at Ardmore Head during a storm in 1987. The Samson was a floating crane which was under tow from Liverpool to Malta when the tow line broke. It's still an impressive if not eerie sight.

Samson crane, Ardmore Head, Co. Waterford - 25th March 2012

A little dejected having seen so few migrants I swung by Knockadoon Head on the way home and my spirits were lifted by a nice female sort Black Redstart in the campsite.

Black Redstart, Knockadoon Head - 25th March 2012 

At the tip of the headland a single Swallow came in off the sea and continued inland, a very welcome sight and something that continues to amaze and delight me, how do birds make the journey's they make?
Climbing into my car on Monday morning a Chiffchaff was busy singing behind the house.....

On Monday more amazing news broke. A female (or was it a male??) Red-flanked Bluetail had been found on Shite Lane by Ciaran Cronin. Staggering find and well done Ciaran!! I got out of work at 9pm on chance of getting to Galley Head. With several 'critical' meetings Tuesday morning making it to Galley was unlikely. I brought my gear into work and kept one eye on my mobile all morning. If it showed I was going to slip away at 3pm, pick P up in Cork and head to sign of the bird though. The 3rd Irish record, first spring record and like the previous 2, this one too was a one day wonder!!
Sunday I was off so P and I drove to Bunmahon for the Purple Heron but our luck was out. A quick check at Helvick Head on the way back, surprisingly no migrants whatsoever but 10 Sandwich Terns busy dive-bombing near the shore and calling loudly to each other was a welcome sight and sound.

Sandwich Tern - Helvick Head 1st April 2012
My luck has been out of late and busy days in work have meant I missed out on some good stuff. But the spring is here and there's a long weekend on the way so hopefully I'll get lucky soon!!

No comments:

Post a Comment