Tuesday 2 July 2013

Back in the Garden County

On the weekend of the 21st June I was back over in Ireland for a short family visit. I traveled light (thanks to Mr. O'Leary.......£50 for one bag?!!), so brought only my bins and left my camera gear behind. Anyway, it was a family visit so I wasn't expecting to do much birding. Nonetheless I had a little time to kill on Sunday afternoon so I took off towards the garden county of Wicklow.
First stop was Glendalough, I try to visit here every year. Its one of the very few places in Ireland where breeding Wood Warbler may be found and a very outside chance of Common Redstart and or Pied Flycatcher. I've seen Wood Warbler there twice including great views two years ago of a singing male.

Singing Wood Warbler - Glendalough, June 2011
This year however there had been no reports so I visited in hope rather than any expectation. I checked the usual spots above the second lake and wandered up amongst the woods above Poulanass waterfall without any joy. Nonetheless, two Spotted Flycatchers were nice and a few Jays which look noticeably darker compared to their UK cousins which I have been seeing for the last few months around Norfolk.
From Glendalough I drove towards the Sally Gap and down into the Coronation Plantation. This is a good spot for Whinchat, Crossbill and Spotted Flycatcher. A walk around the bracken at the back of the Scot's Pines provided a pair of Whinchat, I was sorry I didn't have my camera as the male was reasonably close at one stage. However they were carrying food in their bills so assuming they were feeding young somewhere I left them to their business. In the Scot's Pines I had a single Spotted Flycatcher and a Common Whitethroat further up towards the main entrance. The Coronation Plantation is a very picturesque place to visit and is always part of my agenda during trips down to Wicklow in the late spring or early summer.

River Liffey at the Coronation Plantation, Co.Wicklow, June 2013
At this stage I should have gone home but reports of a singing Lesser Whitethroat at Kilcoole were too tempting. A good spring bird for Ireland and even better if in song.
I speed walked all the way along the path to the Sea Buckthorn at Kilcoole. I located the bird easily enough even though I don't believe I've ever one in song before. Not the most remarkable of tunes but interesting if you've never heard it before. The wind was quite strong so the bird remained hidden as it sang. It popped up several times for brief views after which I turned on my heels and headed back to the car. I was too short of time to call over to the wardens at the Little Tern colony, sorry Niall if you're reading this, next time I'll say hello.

Sea Buckthorn, Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow - June 2013
So a short visit to Ireland but Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher, Little Tern and singing Lesser Whitethroat was good going in a single afternoon!

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