Monday 27 April 2020

Suppressors Heaven

Thankfully dog walking and daily exercise are still allowed and I've been walking my dogs and taking my daily exercise on my patch almost every morning for the last six years and very isolated place it is to.

The good news is that in these new times it would be very irresponsible to put out any bird news from the patch, unfortunately though there hasn't been anything worth putting the news out for...  But I live in hope...

March and April have been fairly quiet the best of the bunch being a White-fronted goose, of the Greenland, variety in amongst the pinkies on the 12 April being only the second record of the patch (the first being in October 2016).  A trio of black-tailed godwits on the not so great pool the day before are always a good patch bird.

A scattering of summer migrants over the last week brings the total to 76 (67.50%), which is three species fewer than this time last year.  But the weather is looking sweet towards the end of this week so hopefully I'll soon be finding something which I won't be able to tell you about.

Happy days.


Monday 20 April 2020

more of it

The cold easterlies continued over the weekend, which kept the mig diversity largely limited to willow warblers, wheatears and a smattering of blackcaps.

However, saturday morning was livened up considerably with a cuckoo calling and flying around the gardens at Shite Lane! Checking back in the annals reveals that a whole 8 years have elapsed since my last cuckoo on patch, which was part of the big fall of 1st May 2012, which you can read about here!

Sunday morning was quieter, with no cuckoo, but Old Spoons usefully dug out a grasshopper warbler, which allowed me to stroll down and casually bag it for the year, easy enuff, bringing me over the 70% barrier for the year.

'ear we go! #blurredandonthehuh


Yes, for it is not just Tintin and Snowy who have recently had green woodpecker on patch. Yesterday morning we had one yaffling away too from the garden of our recording studio. It spoilt the recording too as we both stopped playing and singing as it called in amazement as this was a full fat patch tick for us. They sued to breed just at the edge of the patch back when we were kids, but this is the first since we started doing this (semi) seriously. Add to that a house martin seen whilst painting the studio at the weekend, and you'll find us on 90.02% for the year. I know Tintin will be right back out there with Snowy chasing us to re take top spot. He's like that

Saturday 18 April 2020


Philpstoun continues to chunter along surprisingly at the top of the chart with some of the usual migs arriving but also a few quality birds. A gadwall who thought he was a wigeon was a long awaited patch tick on the rapidly drying ponds in March where snipe also made a welcome reappearance. At the same time a coot popped up on the adjacent canal, a rare species in these parts though I think they once bred.

Another hard to get species was a song flighting linnet, a surprise to me as I didn't even know they made song flights (the shame of this ornithological ignorance was tempered by learning that The Proclaimers didn't know Isabelline wheatears made song flights which made Snowy feel better). Finally this morning, on a pre-breakfast dog walk, a green woodpecker was yaffling away. According to records I've not had them here since 2008 so a pleasing return.

Friday 17 April 2020

More Albifrons fun!

A good few common migs around Galley this am, with c. 30 willow warblers, 11 wheatears, 2 blackcaps, 2 whitethroats and a chiffchaff knocking around, but couldn't find anything more exotic.

A late breakfast proved productive when 3 (count 'em) black-tailed godwits flew past the window - more non-numenid wader action!

And then major excitement this afternoon, when positively confirming a suspected common tern, I accidentally found 2 little terns! On patch! Full Fat! I've missed at least one before on a seawatch but they are not easy anywhere in Cork these days, so to finally nail them on the patch was tremendous!

Thursday 16 April 2020


The year list tally continues to trundle slowly on at Galley - the stiff & cold NE breeze isn't really helping but did manage 3 (count 'em) whitethroats this am, which was new, along with 2 blackcaps, 3 willow warblers and at least 10 (!) wheatears, which weren't.

Strolling back to the office after lunch, I set up the scope to scan the lake, and as luck would have it, picked up a mixed numenid flock in the lakeside fields - imagine my surprise when I clocked that two of the birds werent numenids at all, but were in fact bar-tailed godwits! A scarce visitor to the patch, and one I didn't get last year!

Rattled off a quick proof-of-life phone-scope body of evidence shot and rushed to put the news out herewith!

Non-numenidic evidence
Onwards & upwards!

Tuesday 14 April 2020

Patch reduction

Morning all. A brief report from Wanstead where my patch has reduced from 2 square miles to my garden. I am talking social distancing very seriously - other local birders insist that daily exercise means birding the patch from dawn 'til dusk, more fool them. As such my list is probably going to take a bit of a beating as I'm not going to get Ring Ouzels and Redstarts on my lawn am I now? However those lost birds can be replaced by noc-migging records can they not? As in ones where I'm awake listening, not ones where I'm asleep and the sound recorder is doing all the work. Although with the T2006 how would we know?

Anyhow, like the rest of the UK/Eire I added Common Scoter last weekend before I went to bed which was a full fat patch tick, and I've also recorded Oyc and Tawny Owl which had I not been snoring my head off indoors would have been new for the year....

Skywatching is also de rigeur these days, and so for my second full fat patch tick I've added Raven, all of which nonsense takes me to 75%.

Ouzely the best find on Boghall

We are well used to social distancing, as our legion of fans have been staying away from our gigs and indeed record shops for many, many years. The transition to working at home has been quite easy for us, especially as it means our daily exercise (separated by 2 m) is a walk around our patch. This has resulted in the standard flurry of seasonal migrants including chiffchaff and willow warbler, and the less usual such as osprey flying over the garden. Friday we had a very early silent whitethroat hopping around a hedge, and Sunday really delivered. First it was long overdue swallow, and then up the glen a bit wheatear, with another later away from breeding territory.
We had stopped a couple of times on the way up the glen to listen for ring ouzels, just on the off chance that one was singing on one of the heather and scree slopes. This was much more in hope than expectation as we’ve never seen ring ouzel on our patch, whether in 12 years watching since we adopted it, or in a multitude of birding trips into the area as kids. But further up we heard a rather familiar and exciting chack noise. Could it be? A quick scan indicated it was indeed a fine male ring ouzel hopping around. Patch tickeroooo. They are quality birds wherever and whenever they are, whether in Seppy’s garden or on the hill.
Much buoyed, we returned and in celebration have recorded an acoustic version of Isolation by Joy Division. Ring ouzel - at last.

Sunday 12 April 2020

Not many swallows about

There's been very little of note happening on patch recently. While the 19-CORVID lockdown means IN THEORY there's more time dossing about and plenty of opportunity to thrash the 2km radius around the house, Sybil is similarly restricted, so there's an inevitable list of  "The Jobs" to get through.

I spent Thursday and Friday of last week, for example, putting up a new greenhouse and building some rustic shelves out of old palletes to hold trays of seedlings.

I don't have any bird pictures to share, so here's the greenhouse

Couple that with a limited level of enthusiasm for traipsing around patch for hours seeing fuck all and there's not much to report. Still, Seppy has been bleating on about updating the blog, so here you go.

Despite things being as pedestrian as expected, the arrival of the first swallows and sand martins, blackcap, chiff, willow warbler, an early sedgie, finally nailing dipper for the year and a few "undeclared" bits and bobs nudges the tally up to 78.88%.

That's me (temporarily) back on the podium then. Happy days!

Thursday 9 April 2020

Bonus Y-fronts

Skiving around in the office yesterday pm with the door open letting in some spring air, when I heard a big honking and general commotion. Rushed out to see five (count 'em) goose-types pitching down into the grass a couple of fields away. Geese are reet scarce at Galley, so it was back into the office to hastily grab a pair of bins before they decided to do a bunk.

Happily they settled, and were still around today - 5 Greenland White-fronted Geese, only my third record for the patch, all in the last few years. Got some one better, closer shots today too - see exhibit A below...

One half of a pair of y-fronts, yesterday
Its still quiet on the mig front, although willow warbler and swallow have trickled through in the last couple of days - onwards and upwards!

Saturday 4 April 2020

You can't touch this

Been a bit slow on Galley of late, although I've still been getting a trickle of year ticks in the form of Collared dove, chiffchaff, blackcap, while a cracking male Ring Ouzel on the patio railings two weekends ago has been the migrant highlight of the spring so far.

A bonus encounter with a yellowhammer during the week was a stroke of luck, as they no longer breed on Galley and I failed to get one last year. Even managed a proof of life shot...

Hammer time
Aiming to keep up the daily stroll within 2km of the house for as long as I am allowed, so hopefully might even manage to get a few more migs in on these south-easterlies....