Saturday, 13 October 2012

The luck of the draw

An improvement in the weather at last. A bit chilly but the sun was shining so I decided to head out. After a fruitless slog around the Old Head yesterday I decided to hit east Cork and do Knockadoon.....yet again.
Still a mixed flock of House Martins and Swallows hanging around near the campsite, surely they will be gone in a matter of days. Goldcrests were reasonably plentiful but just one Chiffer at the willows. As I started to check the local gardens away from the campsite a local beckoned me over and told me they had seen a 'funny bird' in their garden that morning. 'Like a Robin but slightly smaller and no red-breast..........just a little red here (pointing to the throat area)'..........I grabbed the Collins Guide from the car and showed them RB Fly, yes.......that looks like it! Interesting, I would have expected a 1st winter bird if anything but I suppose an adult is possible. But before I had a chance to start looking the heavens opened. I waited out the deluge in the car, there was even a few rolls of thunder but I could discern some blue skies off to the west and within the hour the sun was back out again. I searched the gardens around the area but to no avail, mind you RB Flys can be like that. I recall the one in early November last year being around the campsite for over a week but would often go in absentia for several days and then re-appear. This could be a 'red herring' but its worth keeping an eye. The person was a non-birder but the description was interesting and they knew it was something different. In the middle of it all a tweet from Cork Bird News said Greenish Warbler in the 'magic garden' on the Old Head. Bugger!!!! I had scrutinised that garden for 45 minutes yesterday and had only 2 Chiffers, a few Goldcrests and a flock of about 5 Coal Tits. Had I missed a Greenish or had I been out by one day and been unlucky?/ That's the luck of the draw I guess. I moved on to the Holy Ground where there were a couple of Blackcaps, probably the same male and female that have been there the last month. A single Chiffer in the willows and a couple of Goldcrests were the best there with no sign of the Firecrest at the Hume's Garden but to be honest I was distracted by this Greenish report. A bit peeved by my bad luck but still anxious to see a good bird I decided to drive the distance over to the Old Head to try and connect with the bird. I'd seen a few Greenish Warblers in Ireland before and pinned a few down on song and call in Latvia during the summer but hadn't got a decent shot. The light was still good and the 'magic garden' is small so I figured I'd have a great chance of a good photo.
I arrived at the Old Head at around 4.30pm. I reached the garden but it seemed very quiet. I stood in under the sycamores by the gate waiting and listening but not a sound. After about 20 minutes I had 2 Chiffers (same as yesterday), a Great Tit and a Robin but nowt else. I hadn't even heard the Greenish call. I dug out 'Calls of Eastern Vagrants' by Hannu Jannes on my Blackberry and played Greenish calls but was met with silence. In all I gave the garden a full hour but gave up in the end.  Either the bird was still there but remaining very quiet and still or it had moved on. Pity! The plantation too was dead, as was the garden by Ireland's smelliest farmyard (we need a proper name for that place).
So this remains my only Greenish shot ever, from Latvia during summer. I love their strong supercilium and subtle wing-bar. Nicee!

Greenish Warbler, Jurmala, Latvia - June 2012

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