Thursday, 18 May 2017

Catch up at home

First post is a catch up of the local patches which have been a bit neglected of late. Illness and overseas travel have limited my walks but it was good to get back and smell the sea again. The North Down coastal path finally turned up a singing whitethroat as well as swift, swallow and unusually a kestrel. 

WOW had national excitement with two avocets dropping in for four days and then two days. We hoped they would stay and breed as they were observed mating but they seem to have decided against it. One of the birds was ringed in Germany in 2010. The last time I saw an avocet there was in 2002. Since then I have added a few migrants to the list – house martin, sand martin, common sandpiper, ring-billed gull and swift.  I still need to get an early morning visit for singing warblers, but unfortunately sunrise is around 0530 at present. 

Close as you like!

Looking for millet

Best I could do
 The common terns have arrived with over 100 present last week. They have joined the 1000 plus black-headed gulls and the 8 – 10 Mediterranean gulls and hopefully all will breed. There are 300 plus black-tailed godwits, non breeders and first year birds which will be around most of the summer. The winter ducks have gone but there are young mallard and shelduck present. The feeders are very quiet with a few scattered goldfinch and chaffinch around. We only managed 25 species last week and the swans seem to have deserted their nest. We have regular visits from swift, swallow and house martin and even had three sand martins around last week. So far no interest in the swift tower or the sand martin bank – fingers crossed. 

Solitary lapwing, some are hopefully breeding elsewhee on the reserve.

Common tern
 Today was quite unusual in that we had a ruff turn up and it started to display to the godwits, who were less than impressed. None of us had seen lekking ruff in Northern Ireland, but that is what it was doing. We also had among the 39 species on view, a sandwich tern, 2 arctic tern, 13 tufted duck,  shoveler, linnet and redpoll. Kinnegar had sedge warbler, willow warbler and 3 dark-bellied brent which have been around for a while. 


Ruff and godwit
I took a couple of short videos of the displaying ruff which can be seen here. Hopefully others have better photos and videos, if so you will get a link.

I am working at my Majorca post and photographs so I will update the 2017 list when that happens. In the meantime here are the patch totals to date.  

130: Avocet
131: House martin
132: Common sandpiper

Bangor West
59: Swift
60: Kestrel
61: Whitethroat
62: Swallow
Belfast WOW
76: Avocet
77: House martin
78: Common sandpiper
79: Ring-billed gull
80: Sand martin
81: Swift
82: Willow warbler
83: Sedge warbler
84: Song thrush
85: Arctic tern

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