The weather has been so bad over the past week that I hardly took the camera out of the bag. Went back west on Saturday 24th to search for winter migrants and had a couple of eider at Kilcredaun Bay and a Jack Snipe, White-fronted and barnacle Geese and a few harriers in bog lands of West Clare. This Long-tailed Duck was riding the surf at the White Strand, Doonbeg. By the time we came across her it was nearly dark and the pleasant sunshine that we had earlier in the day had disappeared. Nevertheless I got a few distant shots as you can see below. We only get about 30 birds visiting the Clare Coast during winter , so it is always a pleasure to see these little sea ducks.
The first frosts have arrived here in the west of Ireland and with it the recently arrived flocks of winter thrushes, gorging themselves on the small crop of native berries available to them this season. But they can always turn to the Phyrracantha firethorns and the Catoneasters in peoples gardens. All these garden plants seem to be ladened with berries this year for some reason? My Ivy bushes and Blackthorns have a fairly OK crop but wont last long.
I had to go to Limerick City today to collect equipment for a job planned for next week. The premises I was visiting was right next to the Shannon River and near the old Salmon Weir across from King John's Island, so I got a chance to scan the gulls while passing that way. I noticed this third-winter Yellow-legged Gull standing on the weir with Lesser Black-backed Gulls. To be honest due to the paleness of the bare parts and dainty size, I had to contact Killian Mullarney for help and confirmation before coming to the conclusion that it was a Larus michahellis. This is only the third Limerick record and all previous two birds have been found at this exact location. The second record was a sub-adult found on the weir by Paul Troake on the 7th January 2011. I was lucky enough to find the first county record, an adult on this weir on 21st November 2008.
While back at Loop Head early last Sunday morning, I noticed there were thousands of seabirds wheeling about on the sea in feeding flocks off the tip of Loop Head. The Fulmars in particular caught my attention as many had returned to sit on old and traditional nest sites on Diarmuid & Grainnes Rock, to the north shore of the tip of Loop. During November our Fulmars normally disappear for a few months and go out to deep sea in the North Atlantic, returning in late December and early January. Maybe this year Hurricane Sandy caused some disturbance to birds that normally feed out on the edge of the continental shelf?
This poor wet Skylark was doing his best to feed on a patch of open saturated bog in west Limerick earlier today. I bet he is wishing he had migrated off to Iberia for the winter with the rest of the flock.
I was back at Loop early this morning still trying to pull a decent bird out of the bag. There were some migrants on the headland including a small flock of nine Twite near the tip of the headland along with fifteen Snow Bunting, a Merlin and one Peregrine.