Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Lough Arrow

The next day, no sign of the Buff-bellied Pipit around Lough Beg (on the off chance it was still there!).Driving down the M2, a large flock of Waxwing were in trees by the side of the Motorway. We came off at the next junction about drove back to find the birds, about 300, feeding by a car park in Newtownabbey.

A small fraction of the Waxwings besides the road © Ashley Howe

We had a brief stop in Belfast city centre before heading south to Dublin to catch the ferry back.

A big thanks to Steve for all the driving over the last few days (even though he gave me his bastard cold!! argh!!)

Monday, 29 December 2008

Nimmo's Pier

After a cooked breakfast we scraped the half an inch of frost off the car and headed back to Galway for one last stab at Nimmo's.The 1cy Iceland Gull from day 1 was on the slipway, as were two ad Ring-billed Gulls.

Again from Nimmo's Pier © Ashley Howe

We decided to call it a day in Galway. Despite a couple of tries, we'd not managed to connect with the Surf Scoter and there was no of the Smithsonian Gull while we were there, at least not that we saw! Up in Sligo, there was no sign of any Lesser Scaup at Lough Arrow (although we were beaten by the light and didn't have time to check every bay).

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Nimmo's Pier

Totals from Nimmo's on the morning of 28th were one 2cy Iceland Gull, two ad Ring-billed Gulls and two ringed Black-headed Gulls (both ringed as nestlings in June 07 in Co. Mayo, thanks to Chris Benson for the information).

One of the two Ring-billed Gulls this morning © Ashley Howe

We took a walk along the shore were we found a small flock of Pale-bellied Brent Geese and a host of passerines feeing in the seaweed along the strandline, including Chaffinches, Wrens and a horde of Rock Pipits (no Buff-bellied, despite checking every one!). A colour-ringed Bar-tailed Godwit was by the causeway to Mutton Island, all the way from Holland (thanks to Bernard Spaans for the data), and, on the way back, the Forster's Tern was on the beach with two Sandwich Terns.

One of the Iceland Gulls at Low tide, and the returning Forster's Tern on the beach © Ashley Howe

The afternoon was spent along the coast to the west of Galway again, this time a little further along. A 1cy Glaucous Gull was on a small lough between Ballynahown and Rossaveel with a Little Egret on a stream just across the road, and in Rossaveel harbour there was a second 1cy Glaucous Gull and another Little Egret.The stretch of water off An Bothar Bui held about seven Great Northern Divers, a Black Guillemot and a handful of Long-tailed Ducks.

1st winter Glaucous Gull, looking for scraps in the harbour © Ashley Howe

That night we managed to find a B&B and, after a hot shower, headed off to bed... only to wake up the next morning to find water dripping on us from the ceiling!

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Nimmo's Pier

What better way to escape the post-Christmas depression and turkey sandwiches than a trip to Ireland? Steve Menzie any myself left Holyhead in the early hours of the 27th, arriving in Dublin that morning. Unfortunately, Steve was just starting a heavy cold with a constant dripping nose which, combined with about an hour of sleep, resulted in a drive across to the west coast that dragged a little. A couple of hours and a full box of tissues later, we arrived in Galway. A wander along Nimmo's pier was quite good with 3 adult Ring-billed Gulls, a 1cy Iceland Gull and a couple of Sandwich Terns off shore and an adult Iceland Gull. It was FREEZING though, Steve retired to the car soon, while i walked the beaches, with the addition of an adult Iceland Gull and a few other bits and bobs.

From top: Wren, Rook, Rock Pipit and Hooded Crow © Ashley Howe

A drive along the coast to the west of Galway provided little of note. The afternoon, back at Nimmo's, was much the same as the morning with the addition of a 1cy Glaucous Gull. After failing to find a B&B that was open over Christmas, we spend a long cold night in the car.

1st winter Glaucous Gull at low tide at Nimmo's Pier © Ashley Howe

Friday, 26 December 2008

Moore NR, Warrington

Meeting up with Steve Menzie in the morning after my Dad quickly drove me up there. Where we both kipped a couple of hours, before heading out to Moore NR, to see what white-winged Gulls we could get. As expected there weren't any masses of Gulls because the dumps were closed...being just after christmas and everything.

However the only really decent bird of note was a Willow Tit, a quality bird for, now they are becoming such a declining species back home. Amongst the other common bird feeder birds, which was nice. Tomorrow we're off to Ireland!

Male Great Spotted Woodpecker from the feeding station © Ashley Howe

Sunday, 21 December 2008


A few trips down to Pennington of late, to try and get the Red-breasted Goose have been fruitless. Mainly because I have waited till after work, and time is pushing on before i get down there and the main Dark-bellied Brent Goose flock has either dispersed or flown off to keyhaven etc.

However when ever I have gone down there, besides the few local goodies like Common Scoter and Slavonian Grebe. There have been some impressive sunsets:

Sunsets over Oxey Marsh © Ashley Howe

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Bordon, and Fareham

Convincing, both, work that I needed to finish work at midday, and then Emma (the gf) that we should go to Bordon followed by Fareham was the plan for this afternoon. Leaving an hour later than expected, because women can never get anywhere on time, meant that I was now in more of a rush against the light.

Immediately finding the 1st winter drake Ring-necked Duck at Passfield Pond, showing well under bad light, which meant I did not even attempt to photograph the bird. Leaving within 10 minutes, heading back South. I met up with Dan Houghton where the weather continued to worsen, the Firecrest which always seems to have its tongue out was soon picked out in a very limited tit flock of no more than 20 birds.

Time was pushing on further, and it was looking doubtful that the Yellow-browed Warbler was going to make an appearance. But on heading back to the car the bird appeared beside one of the lakes, showing well before continuing on its circuit of the two lakes there.

Thursday, 11 December 2008


Woooo, finally some Waxwings in Hampshire, and they couldn't get any closer if they tried. So friday i whipped out the bike, and road down to Botley from Hedge End with bins and my camera on my back. On arrival they were fairly distant, favouring the tops of the Oaks, but were also mobile.

Eventually, they made it down to the small Rowan Tree between the School and the first house....these birds do turn up in great places - 'honest miss, i was photographing the bird behind your son'. (c) Ashley Howe