Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ballycotton in December

Nother week, nother visit to Ballycotton. This time things where on the quiet side (I think I miss the butterflies). Luckily though I did find a considerable number of  brent geese and managed to get some halfway decent flight shots. A lot more around this time then a couple of weeks ago (30 or so)    

My first grey plover ground shot (I think). Not great but still nice to see one that’s not a mile away.   
A group of dunlin awaiting low tide, one ringed plover with them (not in shot)
Amongst other things I photographed my first sanderlings, living up to its name, ringed in Iceland apparently, very interesting!
Facebook thread
Couple of other things in the neighbourhood too, such as about 30 choughs feeding in the seaweed. Characteristically hard to photograph despite my almost lying flat on the sand to get an eye level shot, it didn't quite work out as planned but that’s life I suppose.

Some teal showed themselves reasonably well, its not the shot I want but you can see the detail on their heads which is an improvement over my past teal shots!   

Finches, sparrows and starlings galore as is always the case in Ballycotton! This should have been a great greenfinch shot but alas my automatic settings made them too dark!


House sparrow

Starling, rather like this shot

Ballycotton pier had a steady group of about 40 large gulls all day, a number which swelled to well over a hundred when a fishing vessel came in. No rarities (that I have the skill to pick out of a crowd). 

Amongst the herrings, lesser black backeds and great black backeds where a small number of kittiwakes. I love these gulls! I’m not used to seeing them in the city, so a pleasant surprise!

 Oh! and an otter by the pier too!Always nice to see

Monday, December 19, 2011

Whooper did doo

On Saturday I decided to head down to Macroom to check out the Gearagh forest near the town. I had never been there and wasn’t really too aware of its existence till some recent research into Odontates highlighted this as an area of interest. Obviously its winter now so the dragonflies are missing but water birds a plenty are also known to live here. 
Being on foot though all my ventures means that I often go to a place primarily to explore/scout and see what the best areas to focus on next time are. This was one of those days and I covered something in the area of 13 miles. Needless to say I was a tad tired afterwards. Anyway, the Gearagh is a lovely area! It is apparently the only post glacial alluvial forest in west Europe which means it is pretty unique. Truth be told I’m not sure what that means exactly but it effectively translates to giant wetland with canals and paths running across it, quite stunning!   
There where a lot of trushes and bullfinch in the trees feeding on berries and seeds. Saw plenty of redwings (trushes), though as usual they are just too damn skittish to successfully photograph. Is it me or has there been a serious decline in redwings? I remember Clonakilty last Christmas had thousands; maybe Clonakilty is just a hotspot. I haven’t seen any in the city suburbs yet either.
A chiffchaff I think, not so common this time of year.
One of several reed buntings.
Could have been a great shot but this goldcrest just had to look away.

Not so many bird photo ops around. As with most of these large scale habitats everything was very far away! Thousands of lapwings, wigeon and teal where sitting on the small islands joined by the occasional grey heron and little egret. I did at one point look at a landscape shot and discover that the distant sheep where in fact grazing whooper swans! The next few hours where spend trying to figure out exactly where said field was. The results where mixed. I got some distant shots and some flyover shots!   
A mute swan for comparison.
There they are! whooper swans at last
The yellow bill makes them easy to distinguish.
All in all an enjoyable day, if not for the bird variety then at least for this unusual and beautiful landscape!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kinsale part 2, KinSeal

As with the previous post this one is set in Kinsale. Aside from the gull frenzies I also managed to catch the end of the low tide and spot some of the regular waders. Calidris sandpipers, turnstones, curlews, lapwing, wigeon, teal and shellduck where all present. Naturally I managed to photograph very few of the above. The curlew shot is one I am less then pleased with but it is still the closest shot I have gotten to date.
Highlight of the day I think was the discovery of this seal, which like the gulls seems to hang around and feed on discarded fish. It was clearly used to humans as it was only moderately cautious and stayed within several meters of the waters edge at all times. Being in the city most of the time I often see seals in the river but they’re never willing to stick around. This made for a nice change!
Some roadside mushrooms made for a nice distraction too, no idea what they are, i'll get to identifying them eventually!

Kinsale part I, Scavengers

Ever have a batch of pictures so large that you put off the laborious job of going through them all and picking out the viable shots? Well...that’s why I am only now ready to show my pictures from a recent trip to Kinsale.  Kinsale is a small fishing town in west Cork complete with Oceanside scenery, marina, various piers and even a spar or two.  It also sports some of the most obese gulls I have ever seen. The bay (or inlet, whatever it is) was covered with the usual screaming crowds of black headed gulls but also had a couple of common gulls and a group of about twenty herring gulls. Only 2 of those where in full adult plumage but that didn’t matter as they where both perfectly willing to be fed. 

This one I call 'Alpha' since he was more then willing to push off his competitors. A giant herring gull with attitude it seems! Is it me or do these guys have far more confidence then their cousins the lesser black backs?
One of the youngling herring gulls chancing his luck.   
One of the thousand or so hovering black headed gulls eager for an easy meal. Hard to imagine that these guys are so hard to find in summer.
A common gull
Also spotted this unusually aproachable great black backed gull, truly a massive bird, specially compared to the pigeon sized black heads.

A jackdaw and a rook or two joined the party too showing glimmers of colour in their plumage. Always nice to see!