Saturday, 31 December 2011

The final few days

I had to head into work on 28th December but used the opportunity while over Macroom way to check Dooniskey for the 5 Goosanders reported from there on 27th December. Sadly however no sign, although there were several small flocks of Wigeon and a few larger flocks of Eurasian Teal, despite searching I couldn't pick out any Green-winged Teal amongst them. A single Great-Crested Grebe bobbed about on the reservoir along with a few pairs of Tufted Duck. The squawly showers became too frequent so I called it a day after about 30 minutes.
The weather was a little better on 29th so we headed over towards Ballinclamper once again stopping at Ballinacourty Pier to see if we could get decent views of the Black-necked and Slavonian Grebes. However the wind was ferocious and it was impossible to keep the scope steady. I had brief views of a grebe about 200 metres off-shore but it was so difficult to hold a steady view that in the end I gave up without identifying the bird. At least things were a bit better at Ballinclamper. It was actually pretty sheltered just below the carpark and both the Bluethroat and a Black Redstart were giving very close views.

Black Redstart and Bluethroat - Ballinclamper, Co. Waterford, 28th December 2011
The Black Red was especially friendly and often came to within about 10 feet, too close at times to focus but I did manage another short movie clip.

Youtube Black Redstart

The area below the carpark at Ballinclamper is nicely sheltered and the both the Black Redstart and Bluethroat were busy flycatching and feeding all the time both P and I were watching them. Several times the Bluethroat chased the Black Red away which is not a sight you'll see too often in Ireland, especially in late December. As the mild weather continues for the moment I hope both birds continue to thrive and make it through to the spring.

Photographing Bluethroat and Black Redstart at Ballinclamper, Co. Waterford, 29th December 2011
The Choughs as always were still there and seem to be getting a little easier to approach, probably seen so many birders at this stage that they no longer are bothered. I think this is my best Chough shot so far, this time I increased the exposure compensation by one complete stop so I could capture the eye and subtle colour sheen of the Chough's plumage.

(Red-billed) Chough, Ballinclamper, Co. Waterford, 29th December 2011
Just in case we hadn't had enough of all these birds we were back again today in Ballinclamper. First of all though we checked Ballinacourty Pier and this time without the gale force wind both Slavonian and Black-necked Grebes were easy to pick out. The Slav Grebe was about 500 metres out and showing well in the scope but too distant for even a record shot. The Black-necked Grebe though came in to about 200-300 meters from the pier giving me a chance to take one crappy, heavily cropped record shot but a shot nonetheless.

Black-necked Grebe, Ballinacourty Pier, Co. Waterford, 31st December 2011.
We continued on to Ballinclamper where I decided to ignore the Bluethroat and Black Redstart (both of which were still present) and have a look at what else was around. A single Great Northern Diver was snorkling off-shore. There were good numbers of waders feeding on the shoreline, mainly Dunlin, Sanderling, Ringed Plover, a few Grey Plover (which I don't see too often) and Bar-tailed Godwit.

Bar-tailed Godwit, Ballinclamper, Co. Waterford, 31st December 2011
Michael Cowming and Colum Flynn mentioned that the Spoonbill had been showing close in to the channels over at Dungarvan earlier that morning so we decided to check there on the way home. Sadly however there was no sign when we checked at around 3pm. We stopped briefly at Lough Aderra where there were a few pairs of Gadwall, a small flock of about 8 Wigeon, a couple of Pochard and several Tufted Duck.

And so that is it for birding in 2011. I think I finished the year with 8 Irish ticks, not as much as other years but I tend to twitch a bit less than before and probably miss a lot by spending more time on the photography side of things. I already did a wrap-up of 2011 earlier in my blog, you can read Highs and lows of 2011 for the best and worst bits of my birding year. My next blog entry will be in 2012, until then Happy New Year to you all and good birding!!

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