Wednesday 4 May 2016

April into May

The weather was pretty dismal over the weekend and despite having four days off, I only managed one shortened visit to Portstewart Strand.
On Sunday morning I led a Dawn Chorus walk with work on the east coast in Cregagh Wood, Cushendun and despite the heavy rain and breezy conditions, 20 people made an appearance at 5am!  The weather conditions dampened the birds performance and we didn't connect with the Great Spotted Woodpecker I had heard there on Thursday afternoon (only my second in Ireland).   The walk finished off around 7am and I headed for home in improving conditions.  At around 8am I made the decision to head down to the dunes at Portstewart Strand and chuck a few nets up. 

Over the long weekend I managed a bit of birding around the estuary, in between the showers, and managed to get the patch list for the year up to 100 species.  On Friday I picked up Fulmar and Grasshopper Warbler, Saturday I got a new species for me - a Spotted Redshank (in summer plumage) plus Knot, House Martin, Sedge Warbler and on Sunday, while ringing, I heard a number of Blackcaps plus a calling male Cuckoo.  I am nine species a head of this time last year and very hopeful of topping the 112 species I managed last year. 
I also picked another two colour ringed Black-tailed Godwits and will post the details once I receive them.


By the time I had opened the limited nets it was around 9am and I wasn't overly expecting a great catch.  The wind really picked up around 11am, so I closed up.  There were certainly lots of birds around but I only managed five new birds and a retrap.  The quality of birds was decent with the first two Blackcaps of the year at the site, plus two new Willow Warbler, a Goldfinch and a retrap Willow Warbler from last April. 

Over the weekend I also spent a bit of time trying to catch up with a possible Belted Kingfisher reported from the previous Friday, which took six days for the news to be released.  The bird had been reported in the local area in between the patch and my house, so I was very keen to catch up with it.  I made 3/4 visits and even kayaked a few miles along the river but could produce nothing more than three Common Kingfishers.  The bird hasn't been relocated after the initial possible sighting. 

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