Spurred on by my recent lack of bird finds in the city I decided to take a day trip down to Ballycotton. First time! Although it didn’t have quite as many species as it does on other months I was definitely not disappointed. I gave some thought about whether to show the good stuff first in this blog post or whether to leave it until the end. I decided on the latter!
So...loads of small songbirds around, especially large numbers of stonechat and goldfinch which could be seen pretty much everywhere. Alonside them where occasional linnet, pipit and pied wagtail. The town itself was stuffed to the gills with house sparrows chattering away. Particularly amusing was the sparrow attempting to drag a large piece of plastic into its nest, he succeeded after about ten minutes.
|House sparrow showing off|
|A male stonechat, they always seem more cautious then the females|
|An odd specimen, its throat implies stonechat whilst its eyebrow suggests whinchat. Stone seems more likely|
|A flock of Goldfinch flocking|
|A goldfinch sitting on the charred bushes that ruined my pants!|
|Was hoping for Reed but Sedge warbler is always nice to see too!|
|Finally got a barn swallow in good light|
I kept an eye on the sea and spotted a few gannets and a fulmar along with the usual great cormorants and shags. None of them came anywhere close to me so no good shots, ah well.
|Fulmar, he never did come back to be properly photographed|
|A fairly distant gannet|
To my delight I saw two new birds I had never seen before, perhaps I was unlucky before or perhaps I just wasn’t looking. Either way, I was happy.
|Not only is this Yellowhammer a great looking little bird but I also never realized how nice its song is.|
|Also, this Whitethroat, pity I didn't get a good shot.|
I was absolutely ecstatic to spot and photograph not just one but two species of falcon. Kestrels can of coarse be found in Cork city but are rarely approachable, they usually just fly past or perch high up on wires. I watched 8 of them in Ballycotton!
|Kestrel, surveying its kingdom!|
Last but most certainly not least two peregrine falcons on the cliffs gave me quite a show. The peregrine is one of the most widespread falcon species on the planet and with good reason, its aerial abilities are so impressive that it can outrun every other bird with ease. The two individuals I saw where chasing each other and doing some impressive manoeuvres such as turning upside down to accept food from the others talons, very cool.
It pays to be cautious if you’re a pigeon. Peregrines can strike a bird in mid air at 325 km/h causing near instant death. Just to put that in context Cheetahs have a maximum running speed of only 120 km/h.
All in all a great day, looking forward to returning during the migration season!