Sunday 30 September 2012

Yellow-browed breaks the monotony

I had booked into the bird observatory on Cape Clear Island for Friday night. The final weekend of September would be as good a time as any to visit but when Steve Wing met me with 'I hope you've brought your own' I figured I was in for a lean few days.
I arrived off the 10.30am ferry on Friday morning and after dropping my gear off I set about the usual places. Cotters had a single Chiffchaff and 2 Goldcrest but was otherwise quiet. On route to The Waist I met with Eamon O'Donnell, he was returning from Olly Gulley direction where apart from 3 Crossbills all was quiet there too. I decided to change my route and cover some of the east end of Cape. A female Blackcap appeared briefly at The Waist with a Chiffchaff there also. A Willow Warbler was in song below the tennis courts (subsong but still in song.........weird!!)
I followed the road along by south harbour, at the Priest's House there was a White Wagtail along with a Pied Wag catching flies on the lawn. I passed the National School just as the kids charged out to the playground for lunchtime and continued up the steep hill towards the former Post Office. With nothing but Wrens, Dunnocks and Robins there I moved on along the mass track before depression set in and I decided to head back to the Obs.
Denis Carty arrived on the 3pm ferry and with Steve and Mary we travelled up the lighthouse road checking the gardens on the east side before concluding that it too was dead.
That evening we all enjoyed tasty pizza in Siopa Beag and some fine pints in Cotter's Bar. Owen Foley and Dara Fitzpatrick had arrived on the late ferry and were optimistic about their chances of digging out something really good on Saturday.
The next morning it was more or less the same all over again. With my spirits somewhat dampened by the previous day I walked my own route towards Olly Gulley. A female Blackcap was again the best bird on show. At least Owen, Steve, Dara and Denis picked up Lapland Bunting near the Wheatear field, I wasn't even remotely tempted to follow the long path around and look for it myself. At around 11am I threw the towel in, headed back to the Obs, grabbed my gear and took the 12 noon ferry off Cape. I salvaged something from the weekend by travelling on to Knockadoon Head in east Cork where Paul Connaughton had found a Yellow-browed Warbler in the willows near the campsite. This was my first ever Knockadoon Head YBW, I've seen YBWs on Cape Clear, Mizen Head, Old Head of Kinsale, Power Head and Galley Head but never Knockadoon. And I always thought those willows looked good for a Yellow-browed or Pallas's. Tricky birds to photograph but this one moved into the open for one brief moment. It was like he knew that I needed a little cheering up. He sat in the open for about 3 or 4 seconds, enough to capture one or two images before popping off again.

Yellow-browed Warbler, Knockadoon Head, Cork - 29th September 2012
Lifted a little by this I decided to head out on Sunday afternoon and do the Old Head of Kinsale. It was a complete waste of time. One Chiffchaff in the plantation was the best, otherwise it was a pointless slog around the same old spots. When will I learn.
I can only hope the strong south-westerlies of late yesterday afternoon and last night will finally bring something worth the wait.

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