Thursday, 13 December 2012

Wild goose chase

I was up in the north-west for a couple of days specifically Co. Sligo. Not for the purposes of birding but I threw my gear into the car all the same..........y'know......just in case!
Anyway, with about two hours to spare I drove out of Sligo town towards Raghly with two targets in mind. One was Twite and the other was Cackling Goose.
Local knowledge told me that they weren't any Twite present so far this year at Raghly Pier and that turned out to be correct. I checked briefly, apart from a single Rock Pipit and a small flock of Brent Geese, Raghly was birdless.
I got good 'gen' from Birdwatch Sligo on the where to find the Barnacle Geese. I drove the back roads behind Yellow Strand and soon located a small flock of Barnacles in one of the fields. I parked up and got the scope out. It was only as I scanned the fields I realised just how many geese there actually were. Evidently the flock is four thousand strong at this stage! A really impressive sight and sound........proper winter birding! However, picking out the Cackling Geese from that lot proved far more difficult than I expected. I was facing into the wind first of all, so my eyes were streaming as I peered through the scope. Plus, the birds  move around a lot, disappearing behind tussocks and ditches and many had their heads tucked in as they slept. I'm making excuses but the upshot of it all is that I didn't see any Cackling Geese sadly. Time ran out and I needed to make tracks, Lissadell to Cork City is a long drive. was worth it just to see all those Barnacles, a wonderful sight for any nature lover. I would have loved to have spent longer, the fields were full of Northern Lapwing, Fieldfares and Chaffinches.......must be a few Bramleys in there also.
On the road back to Cork I stopped between Tobercurry and Curry village to check out this small flock of Whoopers in a field. Three juveniles and four adults. They eyed me carefully as I pointed my camoflage covered lens at them!

Three juvenile Whooper Swans and one adult, Co. Sligo - 13th December 2012

Adult Whooper Swans, Co. Sligo - 13th December 2012
My thanks again to Birdwatch Sligo for the 'gen' on both Twite and Cackling Geese. I dipped on both but enjoyed my brief taste of Sligo birding.                                                                                            

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