Thursday, 30 October 2014

Red-flanked Bluetail

This was one good twitch.  Dave Suddaby's  Red-flanked Bluetail at Tarmon,  Belmullet, Co. Mayo on Tuesday last (28/10/14) was the 4th record for Ireland and the first to stick around for more than a day.  I had a late start on Wednesday and got to Tarmon  in the early afternoon. At this stage the day had become dull and wind had switched around from easterly to southerly and the bird had disappeared from view. Fortunately it emerged again about an hour later, but this time on the shady north side of the Pine tree shelter belt that had been its main hangout. Murf was first to spot it again and so I got a lifer that I had been anticipating for about 30 years, well worth the eight hour round trip!

The bird showed very well at close quarters in the sunshine on the south side of the shelter belt in the morning.  By the time it reappeared on the north side of the shelter belt in the afternoon the light had deteriorated and the bird was less accessible so it was only possible to get a few distant record shots.

Solitary Sandpiper

I made the trip down to Rathangan in south Co. Wexford on 12/10/14 to look for the Solitary Sandpiper (an life tick) that had been found in the area five days earlier.  I spent the morning checking all the sites that it had been frequenting in previous days without any success.  I was beginning to suspect that I might have been a day late on the scene as it had not been seen by any of the birders in the area that day so I decided to take a break for a few hours and headed over to Tacumshin.  I was delighted to get a call from Graham Mitchell in the middle of the afternoon to say that he had found the bird at The Cull and that it had taken flight in the general direction of Rathangan.  That was the end of Tacumshin for me as I raced back to Rathangan.  As anticipated the bird returned to the marshy field west of Lambert's farm.

It was great to get the bird even if the lighting conditions were not the best by the time it showed up. Many thanks to Graham for the timely call, to the local landowners who were very helpful and accommodating and to Killian Mullarney for the excellent map that he produced showing all the favoured haunts and for arranging access to them.

Thursday, 9 October 2014


I got a report last week of a Hoopoe in a private garden near Askeaton, Co. Limerick. Geoff Hunt made contact with the owner and paid a visit there on Saturday but the bird didn't show.  When the call came on Tuesday evening that the bird was back I was lucky enough to be nearby and got a chance to get some shots.  Many thanks to Linda O'Brien who was very helpful and kindly allowed us to view the bird from her house.

The bird first appeared on Monday, September 29th and was seen on most days to up to Oct 9th.  It is the fourth record of the species for Co. Limerick, the previous ones being in 13 January 2010,  April 1965 and one pre-1900.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014


I took a trip to Loop Head, Co. Clare last Saturday (4/10/14) along with Tony Mee and Gerry Butler to look for migrants.  It turned out to be a good day as we found a Dotterel.  We first picked up the bird with a flock of about 40 Golden Plover just after they took off from a re-seeded field about 1.2km east of the lighthouse, on the south side of the peninsula.  At that point we were looking at a small unidentified wader that looked about half the size of the Goldies in flight.  The flock split up and all eventually headed westwards towards the lighthouse.  Later in the morning we came across what looked like a small party of Goldies on the heather just east of the lighthouse.  Having worked our way around to the south of the group to get a better view it became clear that there was a lot more birds in the group including one brightly coloured first winter Dotterel.  

The Goldie flock took to the air again and headed back eastwards. We relocated them again on the 'Plover' field just to the north of the lighthouse road.  This Dotterel was keen to stick with the Goldies who in turn were more flightly than normal, probably because of the Peregrine Falcon, Sparrowhawks, Kestrels, Merlin and Ravens that were hanging around the area. As a result photo opportunities were reduced to distant records shots.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Yellow-browed Warbler

I made the long trip down to Mizen Head in west Cork last Sunday (Sept. 28th) in the hope of seeing the Ovenbird that was found there the previous evening.  Unsurprisingly the bird did not show, however this Yellow-browed Warbler that was found nearby provided some measure of reward for the long trip.  It was a very bright and well marked individual, a fine bird on a nice day!  The bird was in the last garden on the road to the lighthouse. I also came across some fine butterflies on the stretch between the garden and the lighthouse, including a Clouded Yellow, a Small Copper and a fed Red Admirals.

Yellow-browed Warbler