Sunday, 29 January 2012

Spotted Redshank........eventually!

The weather had been typical January all weekend, wet, cold and dull. But was showing Sunday afternoon bright and dry for a few hours so I took my chances and headed out. Plan A was to head for Carrigrennan Point, Little Island but as I drove there I remembered that 6 Spotted Redshanks had been seen earlier in the week at Rossleague, Great Island, so I decided to give them another rattle, 4th time lucky maybe. When I reached Rossleague though the rain was persistant and there was no sign of any Spotted Reds. I walked to the end of the point but all I had were Redshanks, BT Godwits and Curlews. Remembering that we had seen a Peregrine on the telegraph poles here during the race, I scanned and found one perched distantly. It was sitting out in the rain giving its flight feathers a really good clean, it makes me think that they and probably other birds purposefully sit out fully in the rain and get totally sodden in order to wash and preen their feathers.....bit like a shower really!

Sodden Peregrine! - Rossleague, 29th January 2012
As I trudged back though the rain stopped and the light began to improve, was true to its word. I'd given up hope of a Spotted Red though and took one final scan through the scope before reaching the car. As I stared through the eyepiece a bird flew across my line of vision, I swung the scope left, got onto the bird and tracked it as it! Spotted Redshank at last. I dashed back to the car for camera and lens and while it was still very distant and a bit misty I took a few shots. To even call this a record shot would be stretching things a bit, more of a water-colour than a photograph but hopefully you get the picture.

Spotted Redshank, Rossleague, Great Island, 29th January 2012
When I think of it now I've seen very few of these in Ireland, maybe one or two other than this one. There are far rarer birds than this that I have seen more frequently, I'm not sure why I've seen so few but whatever is the reason it is a very nice bird indeed.
After a short while the bird took flight, I returned to the car and made my way slowly along the road that runs along the north channel, checking all the time for other closer Spotted Reds but there was only to be one bird today. This Curlew was much more obliging!

Curlew, Rossleague, Great Island, 29th January 2012
I thought Marloag would be worth stopping at in case any Great Northern Divers had come in close. The best there was a group of 8 Light-bellied Brent Geese. Like Chough and other birds with black heads I struggle to expose these correctly and even though they allow close approach the photos I took were really too bad to post...........I need to work on that.

Marloag, Great Island, 29th January 2012

Further along the shore I stopped again and could make out a distant Great Northern Diver and several Great Crested Grebe out in the harbour. The pine trees beside where I parked held several Coal Tits and Goldcrests and a single Chiffchaff was calling occassionally but I couldn't see it. During the autumn I think I mentioned that I was seeing Goldcrests almost every day on the headlands, the mild winter has helped them I hope and I'd like to think their numbers have crept back after the hammering they took in the really cold spells in the previous two years.
A quick check of my phone told me that a Slavonian Grebe was still present off Aghada Pier. I decided to drive over that direction in case it was in close enough for a nice picture. I parked up at the base of the pier and made my way towards the end to see if the grebe was there.

Aghada village from the pier, 29th January 2012

I scoped the whole area of the harbour in front of me for about 20 minutes but no grebe. Plenty of Wigeon over towards Rostellan, about 4 or 5 Black Guillemots starting to moult into their smart summer garb, several GNDs and Great Crested Grebe but that was it really. Briefly a Rock Pipit stepped up onto the pier wall and gave me the best photographic opportunity of the afternoon.

Ripit - Aghada Pier, 29th January 2012

I moved on towards Whitegate but the rain returned and put paid to any further birding for the day.

And on a completely different subject..............for the next 6 weeks my birding will have to compete with another passion of mine...........the 6 Nations rugby championship. With 3 Irish provinces in the quarter finals of the Heineken Cup Ireland look poised for a good championship, but France with a new coach in Philippe Saint-Andre are my favourites this year. By the time Ireland meet England in Twickers on St. Patrick's Day spring will be well on its way and the first Wheatears, Chiffers and Sand Martins will be just about to arrive. I can't wait!!!

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