Saturday, January 28, 2012

Atlantic ringbill

This ring billed gull was one of several birds to appear at the Atlantic pond in the last few weeks. I was amazed to discover that this guy was more approachable even then the local common gulls. It practically sat on my lens! This of course meant that I could photograph him quite well despite some amazingly drab lighting. This guy looks a lot like a bird that spend much of last winter at the pond, could it be the same individual? I don’t see why not, these American gulls seem to return yearly in quite a lot of places around Ireland. Despite its status as a rare or scarce bird these gulls are actually seen quite often in Ireland during the winter months.

I named him Dell, after his latin name, Larus delawarensis. A very pleasant morning was had with this confiding bird!

On a different note, I have finalized and opened my splinter blog which will focus on smaller things such as insects, amphibians, reptiles, crustaceans, fish, mushrooms and flowers. It won’t be updated regularly until March but if your nature interests expand beyond birds then why not check it out.

Corkwildlife will remain active and serve as my base for birds and mammals. Click on the butterfly to visit :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Back to Basics

Since Cork city itself has once again become a more satisfying place for birding with the influx of Iceland and ring billed gulls I have been making an increased number of visits to the old haunts. Whilst hundreds of photos remain as yet unsorted I decided to throw up some photos of the ‘Old familiars’.

UCC is still a great place to photograph blackbirds since they often sit on the various railings which allows for better backgrounds. The two below made for quite an entertaining watch as they interacted with each other.

Here is my latest attempt at a Goldcrest shot, I say attempt as if it was planned but this tiny bird decided to land right next to my by Sunday’s well and obligingly posed, which added to my irritation when I found the other shots where ruined. Still I got this one and at least it shows the characteristic crest. Along with long tailed tits these guys are the smallest birds in Ireland.

Also got a not so picturesque shot of this robin. A correction on previous blog posts, I always assumed as a studious child that robins where members of the trush family like the above blackbird. Turns out that these guys along with wheatears and stonechats are probably more closely related to old world flycatchers like the spotted flycatcher. Must say I am finding it hard to get used to the reclassification, probably because I have been thinking of robins as trushes since I was 4! (There seem to still be people that consider them trushes. More research is undoubtedly required.)

Additionally I have been trying to get some good shots of Common gulls around the city. Mostly because it’s my favourite resident gull and because in summer it is quite challenging to find one in the city centre. Results where mixed, the detail is there, unfortunately the lighting is not, it’s been a somewhat grey January (on my days out anyway). The final shot really shows why this species is also often called a mew gull, it really does mew :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Kleine Burgemeester

On one of my recent outings I discovered yet another uncommon gull, by uncommon I mean not likely to be seen at any given pier, rubbish dump or car park unless your either very lucky or regularly keep an eye out for them. The Mediterranean gull from December fits into this bill considering its an unusual but by no means rare species (unless your me apparently). Anyway...the uncommon gull I found this time was an Iceland gull, my first Iceland gull in fact.Whats more I was lucky enough to encounter it in one of those semi social moods that meant it was somewhat approachable. It is not an adult bird but I would have to say that this is one of those rare cases where the non adult plumage is nicer! It looks entirely white from a distance. The white extends even to the tips of its wings which in all the everyday Irish species are black.

The Iceland gull winters here from its nesting ground in places like Canada and Greenland, but interestingly not Iceland. I must say I prefer the Dutch name kleine burgemeester, which translates to ‘little mayor’. The much bigger but similar Glaucous gull (which I have yet to find) is fittingly called ‘Big mayor’.

And look! Last week at the Lough back in Cork city I managed to spot another Iceland gull. Pretty crazy since I had never seen one that I would suddenly find 2 in the space of a week (I looked last winter too!). The Lough pics where not as good ;)

On another trip I took some pics of the two polar opposites in gull land, the delicate but stunning kittiwake (always a favourite), and the massive and imposing great black backed gull (also always a favourite). These guys are common of coarse, but always worth a shot!

And my favourite gull species (kidding), a Goldfinch in a tree, if only that one twig hadn’t been there. Still closest shot one of these finches has let me get, so I’m happy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Aghada & Rostellan lake

I realize it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post; indeed the subject of this one took place last year in late December. Still I think in my head I am going to count it as the first achievement of the year.

I decided to scout Rostellan lake and Aghada for birds. I had never been on that side of the bay before and the idea of a woodland and lake habitat seemed like it might be a good change. Indeed the area was quite nice with paths winding through deciduous woodland littered with the ruins of old buildings, definitely not an unpleasant area, having said that though there wasn’t much bird life around bar some large flocks of tits/finches, a number of little grebes in the lake & a group of wigeon feeding in someone’s garden. All in all fun to look at but not all that out of the ordinary.

I decided to scout the bay fringes and again came up with only a few birds, some brent geese, shoveller flyovers, one potential ring billed gull and the standard flocks of black headed gulls.

The weather took a turn for the worst with periodic rain showers and a steady and rather severe wind, all contributing factors to my waning mood. Aghada pier was next where I had hoped to wait out the 2 hours before the next bus home was to come. Along the way, a curlew was enjoying the weather about as much as I was.

Well...having been almost ready to write the day off as bad timing I suddenly spotted next to a common gull not just one but four adult Mediterranean gulls! What a rush, I had never seen one before despite repeated attempts to look for one. I even managed some fairly okay shots of one of them.

It wasn’t until two days later when I went to sort out my shots that this shot of 2 brent geese revealed to me that I had in fact missed a fifth med gull sitting right in front of me. Evidence that I still have much to learn about bird identification. And learn I will! :)