Thursday 20 July 2017

Acros Galore

John and I headed off to the western shore of Lough Neagh on Sunday 16th July following a kind invite from the local gun club who had recorded a number of singing male Reed Warblers, which, as I had mentioned in the previous post, have a restricted distribution in N Ireland.  The site is a former island which has reconnected to the shore after the draining of Lough Neagh decades ago and has since become a huge reedbed with surrounding ASSI Wet Woodland.  Access isn't the easiest and requires a mile+ plus walk to get to the 'island' but fantastic habitat the whole way down.

We didn't arrive at the ringing site until after 8am but we soon set about erecting two 18m nets in a likely spot close to lough shore.  It was clear that it was a going to be a good session as we had managed to capture 14 birds before we had actually opened the nets fully!  After 3 hours we packed up and headed for home but had caught a massive 83 Sedge Warbler, 13 Reed Warbler, 6 Reed Bunting and 2 Willow Warbler.  The catch 13 Reed Warblers is probably a record for a single day catch in NI and 83 Sedge Warblers is by far our biggest.  The vast majority were birds of the year including 79 of the Sedge Warblers.  A 6am start would have easily produced double the numbers.  We were surprised not to get a control amongst the big catch but there is a good chance of one or two being recovered on the way south.

Reed Warbler

The gun club have recorded up to 6 singing male Reed Warblers in the direct vicinity so there is probably a sizeable population across the greater area.  An estimate of 1000+ Sedge Warblers wouldn't be far off the mark for the same area. It was also a great spot for wildfowl watching with plenty of Tufted Duck, Pochard, Gadwall, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Mallard on the water and a Black-headed Gull breeding colony on the offshore island.

Reed Warbler

On Monday the 17th John, Ken, Nick and I had the second go at catching Storm Petrels this summer in good conditions.  We had the net open between 23.30 and 01.30 and managed a catch of 9 birds.  There didn't seem to be too many more Stormies about but we will hopefully hit better passage in the coming weeks.  An extra bit of interest was the capture of a Common Pipistrelle bat early on which is a fairly regular occurrence - potentially the same bats/family each time!

Storm Petrel
Myself, Ken and Nick

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