Thursday, 29 November 2012

Two more for the year

I was visiting my folks in Dublin for a couple of days. Birding wasn't my priority but if I could see some Waxwings that'd be great. There seemed to be flocks all over Dublin with one flock being reported on and off over the last few days from a spot only half a mile from my folks house, so chances of seeing some I reckoned were pretty good.
In fact just after turning off the M50, I saw what looked like a single bird perched atop a tree along Wyattville Road. While I stopped at the traffic lights I whipped my bins out from the glove compartment and confirmed that it was indeed a Waxwing. I got some pretty strange looks from the guy in the car beside me though.
The next morning I took a drive along Upper Glenageary Road where a flock had been sighted the previous day. I drove from Glenageary towards Killiney before turning around and heading back down the Upper Glenageary Road in the opposite direction. And this time, about 50 meters, before the Killiney roundabout I caught sight of the flock perched up high in a tree.
Now, my mother has always said that she'd love to see a Waxwing. I promised her that if I found the flock, I'd return to the house, pick her up and bring her to see them. So without stopping I continued back home, collected my mother and we headed back to where I had first seen them. Typically though the birds had moved on. I drove around the corner into Glenageary Hall and found the flock about halfway up that road feeding on some cotoneaster bushes. I was able to draw alongside the flock quite easily and the birds gave great views at eye-level as they fed on berries. My mother didn't even need to leave the comfort of the car. We watched the flock for about twenty minutes before they moved away.

Juvenile Waxwing, Glenageary, Co. Dublin - 29th November 2012

Same bird now on the deck

Aside from eating berries the Waxwings were also enjoying a drink. The night before had been very cold, as the frost thawed off a nearby parked car, a small pool of water gathered beneath it and the birds would fly down and take a drink. Bet that water tasted very cool and fresh.

Waxwings take a morning drink
The birds weren't too bothered by our presence and it was great to be able to watch them so closely. I was particularily pleased to show my mother some Waxwings and to be able to enjoy them at such close quarters.

Here's a link to a short movie clip of them that I posted earlier on youtube.

Youtube clip of Waxwings

Once the flock had moved on I dropped my mother back home and continued on myself to check the east pier at Dun Laoghaire for Purple Sandpipers or Black Redstarts. There were none of either but it was a fine day for a walk down the pier.

Dun Laoghaire East Pier with Howth Head in the background.
East Pier looking back towards Dun Laoghaire itself
I headed back home for some lunch before getting packed up and ready to head back to Cork.
My mother has been busy keeping the back garden birds well fed and all morning the feeders had been busy with Coal Tits and Great Tits not to mention both male and female Blackcaps, Song Thrush, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Robin and several Blackbirds. Just as I was saying my goodbyes my mother said there's a nice Chaffinch on the back wall. She handed me her small pair of bins to look through and to my great surprise and delight it was in fact a female Brambling. A new bird for the back garden and a year tick. What a fantastic surprise. I unpacked all my gear and got a couple of record shots through the glass. I have advised my mother to keep putting niger seed down on the patio nearer to the kitchen to entice it and its Chaffinch buddies a little closer. Hopefully it'll stay up to Christmas when I'm next there and I can get some closer shots.

Female Brambling, Sandycove, Co. Dublin - 29th November 2012
All in all, a great visit to Dublin, lovely to see the family again (always good for the soul) and winter birding around Sandycove, Dalkey and Dun Laogaire always seems to have something good in store.

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