Sunday, 8 July 2012

A tick at 'Tac'

It's early July and often a quiet time for birds and birders in Ireland. Ok, so there is always the possibility of a rare wader such as a Red-necked Stint or Marsh Sandpiper and now is a good time to look for Cory's Shearwaters from our headlands but otherwise not much else.

But then there is always Tacumshin, Co. Wexford. Right now all the best reports seem to be coming from there. 3 species of Harrier (Marsh, Hen and Montagu's), Hobby, Glossy Ibis, Bearded Reedling, Little Gulls and up to recently a Savi's Warbler.

I had 2 targets in mind. Montagu's Harrier (which I need for of those oddities on my list considering I have seen the rarer Pallid Harrier already) and Bearded Reedling which would be a lifer.
A 2nd cy female Montagu's had been reported regularily from Tac for several weeks now. The Reedlings had first been seen as far back as November 2010 and possibly every other birder in the country had seen them at least once except me so it was time to change that for once and for all.
So Saturday morning (7th July) I set off for Wexford. I left it a bit late and didn't arrive there until after 12 o'clock. I headed straight for White Hole where rumour had it that this was one of the best places to look for the Montagu's.

The White Hole, Tacumshin, Co. Wexford

I parked up, gathered my gear together and headed along the track towards the Lingstown direction. The plan being to find a suitable spot that would give me wide views of the reed-beds and therefore the best chance of seeing a Harrier. I found a suitable place, climbed up onto a bank and started scanning. After 20 minutes no sign of any Harriers. In fact no sign of anything, possibly that midday slump! Just then though I caught a small shape moving fast over the reeds behind me. It looked initially like a large swift but quickly swept upwards and began hawking insects...........Hobby. It remained quite distant and the strong sun was almost directly against me however it was nice to watch it for a while as it chased dragonflies, taking them and feeding on them in mid air. Record shots were all I got, I don't think it's an adult bird but possibly a 2nd cy.

Hobby, White Hole, Tacumshin, 7th July 2012
The bird headed away over towards Lingstown and out of sight. Not long after a Hobby was reported on Wexford Bird News from the east end carpark heading towards Sigginstown, presumably the same bird.
I took a little longer scanning the reeds but decided to re-locate to where the sun was behind me. This time I climbed up onto the dunes and stood with my back to the sea hoping that if any raptor came along the reeds I would have a better chance of a shot with the sun behind me.

Dunes above White Hole, 7th July 2012
A good strategy but there needs to be birds for it to work. With no sign of any raptors I decided to wrap up and head for Lingstown to see if any Bearded Reedlings were about.
I stopped at exactly the same spot as I had when twitching the Savi's 2 weeks ago. Today the light was far better but the reed beds were quiet. Mid afternoon and not even a Sedgie singing. I had heard that the Reedlings would be harder to see in summer than in winter and began to think that unless I had a big dollup of luck I wouldn't have any chance of seeing them. But just then I heard that distinctive twanging note call and picked up a single bird whizzing over the reeds about 10 meters in front of me. I had enough time to get the bins on it and see it was a male Bearded Reedling before it dropped down into the reeds and disappeared. Lifer!!! Another tick at 'Tac'.
I took a little while to scan the reeds for more Reedlings and could see two Harriers in the distance. One of them disppeared from view and may have been my Montagu's but even the record shots I took were inconclusive. The second bird came close enough for me to see that it was a male Marsh Harrier, possibly 3rd cy.
After that it was over towards the east end car park where apart from a few Common Terns and Little Gulls things were fairly quiet. But it was good to met Floss Gibson and John Murphy who were there with the Clare branch of Birdwatch Ireland on an outing. We chatted for 15 minutes or so before I decided to check the Forgotten Corner for the Glossy Ibis. I had hoped for a decent shot of the bird but the water levels were pretty high and the bird was quite a considerable distance away so no luck there. But at least I saw it, only my second ever Glossy Ibis in Ireland, my first being in Ennis, Co. Clare 4 years ago.
Before leaving I headed back over to Whitehole for one last look for the Montagu's. Plenty of House Martins, Sand Martins, Swallows and Swifts and nice also to see several Little Gulls but no raptors.
I headed for home. Pleased to have seen a Hobby, Marsh Harrier and to have ticked Bearded Reedling. A little disappointed that a lot of things were too distant for good shots. If only all birds would allow such close approach as this young Peregrine did last week. Then photographing birds would be a doddle..........but it'd be no fun, right??

Peregrine Falcon, Co. Cork  - July 2012 (with Friesian cow in background!!)

1 comment:

  1. Aye Graham was good to see you. I managed a few more ticks than you but only because I have a lot less ticks to start with! Glad to get Glossy Ibis as my other attempt to see them ended up with a blow out and some interesting "across the verge sideways action", followed by 45 minutes of fluent swearing as I changed the tyre in the rain. Weather was the big shocker for the day - scorchio! :-)