Monday 19 September 2016


So there I was minding my own business in the garden last night, when what did I hear but a long-eared owl calling away in the middle distance. First one I've heard on patch all year... which is a bit late truth be told, but hey, I'll take anything I can get at this stage.

Aside from that small bit of late owl action the patch has been particularly lame over the last few weeks. Nothing but the usual suspects turning up time and again, and the lake under-delivering in spectacular fashion once again. I've even been forced to tramp over Seppy's way in an attempt to see something half decent.

Twitched his Bonelli's, which was nice... and then scooted over that way again yesterday in the drizzle for a soggy short-toed lark in a carrot field just beyond his Galley patch (thank f***). Exotic or what?

Seppy's Bonelli's: lovely bird, but traipsing all the way to Galley for anything half decent wears a bit thin!

Anyway... the upshot is that The Mall tally advances to a measly 84 species... which, thanks to its incredible low-listing pedigree, translates to 96.92% on the board.

You mean this short-toed lark?

A darker side to everybody's favourite "friend"

While some of the "Irish" contingent were busy scouring patches for ticks over the weekend, one of our "friends" was doing his utmost to suppress local birding activity. One Mr Ross Geller, who is no stranger to campaigning, took to social media to call for a moratorium on finding birds in Co. Cork.

The reason? He needed to concentrate on a weekend of carousing and canoodling in Clonakilty's many hostelries of dubious repute without the risk of dipping something tasty.

Mr Geller all over the Social Interwebs conspiring to suppress local birding. After the weekend he's had lets hope online is the only place he's got a bit of viral action!

Needless to say real birders simply ignored him and headed out regardless :-).

Thursday 15 September 2016

Not another one!

A good morning on Galley - first up was the new magic bush, which is a big patch of knotweed out on Galley. Today this contained (count 'em) one cracking male redstart, one reed warbler, one blackcap and several willows and chiffs. Nice! Whilst grilling it, a green sandpiper flew over calling - another year tick!

Duly fueled up on migs, I set off round the rest of Galley eager for more. However, there didn't seem to be that much more- a couple more blackcaps, several wheatears and a few phylloscs, when all of a sudden I heard an odd phyllosc call at Shite Lane, sounding like a nasal, high-pitched willow warbler. And then this appeared...

Western Bonelli's Warbler, Shite Lane, Sept 2016
This is obviously the same bird that I had here last year - it must have been here the whole time. Or else it popped back for another visit. Great to see it again!

Monday 12 September 2016


It has been a while since we last updated you on activities. In the intervening time we've spent time dotting around gigs in Sao Tome, Italy, Prague, and Shetland. But all this counts for nothing compared to birding our patch.
Two weeks signed off work with dizziness in mid July was timed to perfection for a decent spell of weather, but all it delivered bird wise was a flock of 75 tree sparrows (pretty impressive we'd say).
Other highlights include an osprey over the patch. A predicted bird, I have spent a lot of time scanning for one, but it was as i left the house to get a bus that Pandion-ia struck.
All this brings us to 72 species, or 75%.

Thursday 8 September 2016

The Story of the Little-Ringed Beauty and the Mutinous Tufties 

                                                Little-ringed Plover at White's Marsh

I hold my hands up, Its been far too long since my last post. Being one of the worlds leading experts in palaeontology doesn't lend itself to much time for blog entries. I also blame my friends who one after the other have fallen into the evil trap that is marriage. The fools! Stags and weddings are good fun though.

Anyhow, my patch has been awesome. Following on from Green-winged Teal and American wigeon, (which I have mentioned in previous posts) I managed to find a stunning male Garganey on the patch. A bird I have always wanted to run into in Clonakilty. I was in duck heaven. But it gets better, much much better. First of all Seppy failed miserably in his attempts to twitch my Garganey. This made me feel warm and cosy inside. Here is the icing on the cake however. In a feeble attempt to piss me off, Seppy sent me a text laced with bitterness saying something like " Pair of Tufties on Kilkeran Lake. beats your Garganey any day". Not wanting to stoop to his petty behaviour I didnt reply. That is until about 2 days later when I found these babies on my own patch.
Ducks betraying poor Seppy
Undoubtedly Seppy's Kilkeran ducks. They Jumped ship, made their way to Clogheen marsh and made this birder very happy indeed. Poetic Justice!

The highlight of the year was definitely the stunning ( but injured) Little-ringed Plover that I found in July. This was a life tick for me. I like to think that it somehow repaired its own wing and flew off to over winter somewhere exotic. I dont like to think about what actually happened to the bird.

Other noteworthy birds on the patch include a lovely Lesser Yellowlegs, Corey's Shearwater and a little gull that I initially thought was a pied wagtail. This leaves me at 116 species for the year.

On a side note I spotted Basil Faulty in Skibbereen last week twitching 2 Olympic silver medallists. The unfortunate O'Donovan brothers were lucky to get away from him. Weirdo!!

Saturday 3 September 2016


I finally managed to catch up with some large shear action over the last few days, as the winds picked up from the south-west.On Tues night a few of us (including infamous patch poacher Ross Geller) caught up with 282 cory's shearwaters, 127 great shearwaters, 10 sooty shearwaters, 4 bonxies and (count 'em) 4 arctic terns, which was almost a year tick, only I'd ticked one on the weekend.

On Thursday the wind picked up again so I took a long lunch break, sans lunch, and knocked in 388 greats, 310 cory's, 41 sooties and a complimentary bag of tayto cheese and onion crisps courtesy of the afore-mentioned mr geller. It was with much fear that I had to drag myself away in order to collect the pesky kids from school. However it worked out pretty well, as while waiting for additional parental cover to arrive back home, I took to scanning the bay for lost large shearwaters from the patio. This paid off rapidly in the form of a common tern feeding close in - year tick!

Returning for another couple of hours in the evening, I happened across a double oaty crunch health bar that had obviously been left as an offering to the seawatching gods by mr geller. You could nearly consider it a bribe I spose. I ate it anyway, and then promptly bagged another 70 greats, 62 cory's and 14 sooties.

Finally, skipping out of bed lightly at crack of dawn this am, despite Basil Faulty trying his best to cripple me with large amounts of soapy beer the previous evening, I made it back to Galley for a spectacular feast of large shearwaters. A bit of a slow start, but greats  and cory's were belting past good style by 1pm when I noticed that there was something smaller going by too, with very dark underwings and bright white underparts - finally, a fea's-type petrel for the year - brilliant! Called it quits after things dried up around half three, with a whopping 1,479 great shears, 824 cory's, 85 sooties, 10 bonxies and a fea's - fantastic!