Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Boxing day birding in Cobh

After a Christmas Day spent cooking, eating, drinking and changing flat tyres by the side of the road (long story!) I was ready again for a little birding.
St. Stephen's Day morning was very wet and very windy but by midday it had brightened up considerably so I decided to head out. No sign of any Waxwings at Little Island so I continued on towards Great Island to look for the Black Redstart that had been reported around the Sirius Arts Centre on Christmas Day. I checked from the train station, the arts centre, the promenade and as far as Kennedy Pier but no sign at all. The best was a couple of winter plumage Med Gulls hanging out with the Black-headed Gulls behind the Quays Bar.

Med Gulls with Black-headed Gulls, Cobh, 26th December 2012
I grabbed a sandwich and a coffee before heading over to the Holy Ground to see if the strong off-shore winds had brought any good Gulls in.
There were quite a few Gulls knocking around in the shelter of the small harbour. Mainly Black-headed and Common Gulls but a few large Gulls were present too as well as a single adult winter Med Gull. This winter plumage Black Guillemot was fishing around the pilot boats also.

Black Guillemot, Cobh, Cork - 26th December 2012

As I checked through the large gulls on the pier wall I came across this very smart adult winter Iceland Gull. Its been a while since I've seen an adult Iceland Gull so this was nice. I returned to the car for my camera and took a few shots as it moved along the pier wall.

Adult Iceland Gull, Cobh, Cork - 26th December 2012

Adult Iceland Gull, Cobh, Cork - 26th December 2012
I noticed that the primaries were a little grey and wondered if it might actually be an adult Kumliens's Gull. I had no field guide with me and at home all my bird books have been packed up and sent to the UK ahead of our move so I can't consult with Malling Olsen et al. I let Cobh birders Mark Carmody and Ronan McLaughlin know before heading back up the town to buy a loaf of bread.
I returned within fifteen minutes and there was no sign of the bird. Mark called to say he was on his way down. Just as I hung up I noticed a Black Redstart (female type) perched on a lobster pot on the beach. A male Stonechat though chased it away. The Black Redstart at the Sirius Arts Centre seems faithful to that particular area so I rather fancy this is a different bird. Sadly though I got no further views of it.
Mark and Ronan soon arrived but for the next hour the Iceland Gull failed to show. However it was good to just shoot the breeze for a while as we watched the other Gulls devour our bread. We spotted this Black-headed Gull with a white darvic ring.

Black-headed Gull with darvic ring, Cobh, Cork - 26th December 2012
I took a couple of shots and checking them at home this evening I can read the inscription ZJF which is in fact the same bird I found in the same location on New Years Day (see 'Great' island). This bird was ringed in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009. Good to know its still around, assuming it was ringed as a pullus, it is now over three years old.
With no further sign of the Iceland Gull we decided to move on. Mark and I headed back to look for the Black Redstart over at the Sirius Arts Centre while Ronan went to Cuskinny.
There was no sign however of the Black Red. It was getting late and it had possible it had gone to roost. Mark and I walked to the edge of the promenade and scanned through the gulls hoping to pick up the Sabine's (although this may have moved on at this stage). As we spoke a rather large stone bounced off the ground between us. I was wondering where it had come from but Mark had seen one of three kids in hoodies and tracksuits throw it. They can't have been more than ten years of age at the most. I moved my camera out of the line of fire but when a second missile landed Mark pointed his lens at them and took a few shots of their faces before they pulled their hoods up and legged it off. What 'scumbags' is all I can say. If you're already chucking rocks at strangers at that age then the outlook for you is likely to be bleak. Sad really.
Back to the birding, scanning the large gulls bobbing out on the water I picked up the Iceland Gull once more. We called Ronan to say we had it again, meanwhile though he already had a first winter Glaucous over at Cuskinny. Just then the Iceland took flight with the other large gulls heading towards the roost site at Haulbowline Island. I tried to get a couple of flight shots of the spread wing but the light was pants so nothing I could really take from them.
We had one last look for the Black Red (without success), I stopped off at Cuskinny on the way home but the Glaucous had moved away by then.

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