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!

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