Friday, July 26, 2013

Wicklow Mountains - 26th July

On my last full day I decided to explore the Wicklow mountains area, and it was gorgeous. I shall have to return here as the birds were great. The streams held fairly easy-to-see Dippers, there were Ravens all over the place, Stonechats in the valleys, and a pair of Merlins showing very well at a conifer plantation.

A pair of Merlins were perched on a dead tree as soon as I arrived at the plantation area.                                                      
Dipper on one of the streams
 Small Tortoiseshell

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Loch Garten - 13 July

A trip to Crieff in Scotland to see some old friends was an opportunity to pop up to a spot I've long had on my list of birding spots I'd like to visit, Loch Garten and Speyside. It's the wrong time of the year for the true stars of the Caledonian Forest to be found, so no Capercailie, but there's plenty other birds of interest. The principal target here for me was Scottish Crossbill, which sadly I dipped on, but the Crested Tit were much more obliging, and I found them in a couple of places. The rest of the day's birding was fairly standard, though it was nice to find a pair of Great Spotted Woodpecker in beech woods along the edge of Loch Insh.

Crested Tit at a bird feeder by the RSPB hut at Loch Garten. Having said good morning to 5 RSPB staff as they arrived, and received 2 smiles, a grunt and a grumpy instruction to stand outside the gate until they were open I'd give the staff here a D+ for politeness.
The Tits on the other hand performed marvellously!
This scruffy Coal Tit got very close. This was by far the commonest of the 4 Tit species at the feeder. (Blue, Great, Crested & Coal)

Male Siskin.
Juvenile male Great Spotted Woodpecker at Loch Insh.
Several Red Squirrels were also attracted to the feeder,and were very confiding.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Ireland 2013 - Co. Clare, 29 June to 5 July

Our second week in Ireland was spent in Co. Clare in the west. Based at Kilkee I was in a good location to investigate prime sea-birding spots such as The Bridges of Ross, Loop Head and the cliffs of Moher. Obviously the time of year was completely wrong to see any of the great passage seabirds these first two sites are famous for, but the breeding colonies were marvelous, and it was nice to visit locations I've only read about on other blogs (Loop Head Bird Observatory, Birdwatch Ireland).

The cliffs of Moher have the largest mainland breeding colony of Atlantic Puffins in Ireland, and one of the more easily accessible colonies anywhere. Not the easiest bird to photograph however!

Black Guillemot are one of the hardest Auks to see in the west curiously enough. There were small numbers near Doolin harbour, well away from the main seabird colonies.
Thousand of Kittiwake at every breeding site.
Lots of Manx Shearwaters, though also very hard to photograph from a pitching boat.

Northern Fulmar. Great birds...
A few Northern Gannets were always passing by every headland

Rock Pipit.
Meadow Pipit.
Chough. Small numbers at Loop Head and The Bridges of Ross.
Common Bottlenose Dolphin. We saw these on several occasions, particularly on the Shannon estuary, this was in Doolin Harbour.