Friday 7 June 2024

a May...zing

 May 2024 was quite a month.  A prolonged spell of easterlies brought in a flood of scarce migrants up and down the coast with most fenceposts adorned with a red-backed shrike or two and the bushes stuffed full of warblers.... well almost.

The month started well enough with along with the expected migrants a drake garganey floated around the Notsogreatpool and a cracking hooded crow did adorn a fencepost; only the third for the patch and easily the best one so far.  A wood warbler skulking around the Moat on the 4th May was only the 2nd for the patch.

More patch fillers during the month were supported by some fine patch birds including a green sand and osprey; also both seconds for the patch and a greenfinch was only the third ever for the patch.  The stunning male red-backed shrike was expected this spring and the third year running one has graced the patch.

A total of 20 species in May was the highest May total since records began and put me on a 102 species for the year and 83.38%.  Also the highest ever for this time of year.

Happy Days

Friday 24 May 2024

Nothing much to crow about

 And so the year trundles from spring into summer, with barely a tick to be found on patch *SIGH*.

Barely doesn't mean none though... and a fine Jay (less than annual over the few years I've been doing this patch... didn't get one last year... FFS!) and singing Reed Warbler were welcome additions for May.

That pushes me up above the 90% mark... but as Seppy seems all too fond of reminding me, essentially means I'm f****ed 'til Autumn (barring the poxy seawatching season, which I suppose I'll have to drag myself out for later in the summer if conditions are good... I mean bad... er... you know what I mean).

On the non-bird front, the patch was invaded by giant fish in May... I counted upwards of 60 Basking Sharks from just below the wee graveyard on Myross Island last weekend. So, in the absence of any interesting bird shots, here's a non-birdy fish clip to keep you all entertained.

Tuesday 14 May 2024

Quail hello there!

 Yes indeedy, I managed to bumble into a full-fat patch tick last thursday in the form of a quail that the Hound of Destiny kindly flushed. Which was nice. Sadly, Old Spoons also managed to verify/validate it later on cos I stupidly gave him too precise directions. Ah well. Karma and that eh?

No photos but here's a snap of a whitethroat and a sedge warbler from the patch last weekend instead...

A sedge warbler, yesterday

Er a whitethroat, yesterday also

Anyway, that along with a few other bits and bobs such as common sandpaper and whitethroat moves me on up (as it were) to a bang average 95 species for the year, which is pretty much exactly where I should be as the May doldrums settle over the patch for the "summer". Checking the percentage scores, I see I've dropped in just ahead of Bushveld in the league table - sweet!

See you back here on the 1st July for the start of the seawatching season....

Thursday 2 May 2024

Springing ahead... ish

May rolled around yesterday, and the welcome addition of Whitethroat elevated me to a healthy 88.56% on the leaderboard. Majik!

Spring brought with it a smattering of the usual migratory suspects, including the hirundines, the common warblers (here's looking at you Willow, Blackcap and Sedgie) and a couple of handy Groppers. Wheatears finally put in an appearance in late April, and a couple of Sarnie Turns off the wee headland at Tra an Oilean were most welcome.

Other notables included a couple of SEOs on patch in April, and a fine Yellow-legged Gull in amongst the large gulls at the Blind Harbour roost.

One of two (count 'em) SEOs on patch in April

Undisputed bird of the spring on patch... and one of the birds of spring for the whole of County Cork, according to our infamous local birding TD (the Irish version of an MP), was the fabuloud Red-rumped Swallow duly highlighted by Seppy in this post (thank you kindly sir). Seppy twitching birds on my patch is the ultimate form of validation, and is rapidly becoming something of a habit. Long may it last.

Here are a couple of shit record shots of it, just because...

Look at the red rump on that wee fecker!

Apart from the swallow, it's been a quiet spring on the rarities front, with nothing much out of the ordinary turning up anywhere. And it will be June soon... roll on the summer doldrums *sigh*.


Wednesday 1 May 2024

Playing catch up

 With such a slow start to the year and being well behind on my average by the end of March, things could only get better, as they say.

April is usually a frustrating month up here, with Spring not quite sprung and winter clinging on but not delivering.  This year winter did cling on as usual but April certainly did deliver, A total of 34 patch ticks over the course of the month; easily a record total for the month.  Obviously many were birds typically scored in March and 18 of them were 100% 'ers, i.e. get seen every year, so don't really count for much.  However a few nice extras included a scattering of migrants at the end of the month, with ring ouzel and redstart being the best of the picks.  The two goosander on the 8th were only the third records for the patch.

Bird of the month though was the 1st winter Glauc sat in a field on the 4th April, being only the second record for the patch.

Which puts me nicely on 82 species and a much improved 66.31%.

Happy days


Tuesday 30 April 2024

Reid it and weep

 For we are back! We had a mechanical with the server that runs the recording studio in 2023 that meant we lost our lists and our next couple of albums. The latter was a shame as they were by far and away our best work (think OK Computer meets Bizarro with elements of 4AD releases). Anyway, we are back and up and running. This weekend topped up the list nicely with northern wheatear, ring ouzel and Eurasian curlew all added to the list. These gems brought us to a whopping 68 for the year. As we are chasing 86, this translates into 79.07%. Come on.

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Big Up Basil

 Yes indeedy, there's still not much happening at Galley. A trickle of common migs in the last few days, with sedge warbler, house martin, sandwich tern and blackcap all gleaned, but not a lot else.

Things got so bad that I was forced to go and validate Basil's red-rumped swallow that he found at Squinse, and has steadfastly refused to document here so far. This is fine though, as I get to showcase my amazeballs pics thusly:

A red-rumped swallow yester, er last week, er ages ago

Proof of life, as Basil has a bit of a history with wild swallow claims....

Friday 5 April 2024

Slow spring

 Yes indeedy, the spring has been that slow so far that even the Golden Mallard has shown no signs of migrating! Oops!

I have gleaned the odd year tick here and there tho, including a few common migs such as chiffchaff, willow warbler and wheatear, which was nice. A tystie down dirk brought a certain Stevie G to mind, while an adult iceland gull in the next door field was seasonally expected. More recently, I just happened to be lookin oot the window at a fortuitous moment to catch a fine shelduck go by, thusly...

A shelduck yesterday

Things finally picked up a bit this am when I stumbled across a load of slightly out of date but still perfectly edible cans of beans and a tasty pasta sause which had obviously all just come in on these freshening southerlies....

Just fresh in, by the looks of it

So there you have it - thats me up to date till the next biggie shows up...

Sunday 24 March 2024

Oh, so, so slow

 Nearly the end of March and my first posting of the year and it really isn't worth it.  With a tally of 47 species and at 38.01%, 2024 has been my slowest start to a year ever, with all previous years having scored in excess of 50 species by this time. Little grebe in February is the only notable species being the third year for this species and the first time they've not been in the autumn.  All other species are pretty much 100% ers.

The first summer mig of the year appeared today in the form of a rather nice chiffy flitting around a hedge and brought hope of better birding days ahead.

Happy Days 


Monday 11 March 2024

Ooooo Migrants

 Yes indeedy, the long wait for spring is finally over. It started on thursday pm when I bumped into 2 fresh-in chiffchaffs bouncing around the gorse bushes on the top lane. By friday, numbers had increased to at least 9 birds although I'm sure there were way more than that, as birds weren't being very showy in the stiff easterly breeze.

Managed to get out again on sunday, when in addition to 4 more chiffs, I banged into a very smart male black redstart briefly, before it booted off. Always good to get a black red nice and early in the year.

Another quick look in the wheatear-less fields this lunchtime and sadly, while they were still ear-less, I did glean a sparrowhawk for the year and another chiff.

Any day now for the ears, hopefully!

Tuesday 27 February 2024

Distant dodgy ducks

 Yes, indeedy, on a weekend tip-off, I had a go at scanning for a pair of long-tailed ducks yesterday evening, as it had become sunny and calm. They had been seen from Cloghna Head at the other end of the beach, which is about 2ish km away....

Took a while, but I picked them up in the end. Hardly giving themselves up but they looked the part, honest guv! The ID was clinched when they upped and flew miles out to sea as it got closer to dusk, to roost in deeper water, as previously documented by Hope-Jones (1979). #ScienceInaction

In other news the gull-billed tern is still alternating between sitting on its humph in a field beside kilkeran lake or else pouncing on eart-worms up in the ploughed field. Here's the best pic that I've managed of it.

A gull-billed tern yesterday

Onwards and upwards - the dugbirds will be back soon!

Wednesday 21 February 2024

Mystery solved

Yes indeedy, although the patch has been largely dead for the first couple of months of 2024, the lake finally turned up the goods!

The weekend before last I was checking the lake and briefly glimpsed a bird in flight that I couldn't nail. The nearest I got was possible ross's gull. But thats the sort of bird news that you really don't want to be putting out so I convinced myself it must have been a funny med gull.

Fast forward a week, and I was checking the lake again and saw a bird on the shore that again I couldn't identify. This time, I was leaning more towards forster's tern but it didn't really add up. So I drove down the road for a closer look. It wasn't there. Went back home and scanned again from the Majik Patio (tm). There it was again, with a handful of black-headed gulls, with which it was a comparable size, though different jizz. Back down the road but it wasn't there. Again.

Then I saw it flying around - it was a tern and looked all light grey above - the wings, mantle, rump and tail were all the same shade of light grey, with white around the sides of the neck and a slight mask behind the eye. It landed, and I could see the legs were dark and the bill was chunky and dagger-shaped and all-black. By the process of elimination based on its size and features, it gradually dawned on me that it had to be an adult winter gull-billed tern. Result! Although, sadly not a patch tick, having had one in the same place back in July 2023.

The bird flew up to a nearby ploughed field and hawked around a bit before returning to the lake, always remaining pretty distant and I wasn't able to get anything better than piss-poor record shots. Luckily Old Spoons jammed into it nice and close flying from the ploughed field back to the lake the following day....


the gull-billed tern yesterday

My first contender for New Old Snowy for 2024 too - all good! 

Friday 2 February 2024

Every Little Helps

 So, that's January out of the way... and February kicked off with yet another year-tick (#YAY). A distant but nonetheless fine example of a first winter Little Gull sitting amidst the Herring Gull roost on Rabbit Island yesterday elicited a satisfying "Fux sake. Jammy c**t" out of Seppy, which is always a good sign.

Crap phone-to-scope photo... cracking early year-tick

The patch flew along in January, in fairness, fuelled by some very handy lingering birds from December (here's looking at you, Ring-necked Duck, Scaup, Goldeney, Cattle Egret and... drumroll... Slavonian Grebe). A Coot on the lake towards the end of the month was another welcome addition, and a full-fat patch tick in the form of a superb redhead Goosander on Squince Lagoon was pure gold.

Is this Seppy's bird from Kilkeran a few weeks back?

All of which January japery takes me to a healthy 89 species for the year, or 71.01% in real currency. Which is great... but leaves very little scope for tickage until the migs start rolling in (I hope). Onwards!

Friday 19 January 2024

Full Fat Ahoy!

 Yes indeedy - there I was, carefully scoping the gull flock on the lake for anything decent at all, when all of a sudden I noticed a big, cigar-shaped duck type thing flying around - Goosander ya bas! Amayzing! Lost it behind the annoying pine tree and couldn't pick it up again, but a quick scoot down the road to check more closely didn't reveal any further sign. Total jam - just happened to be in the right place at the right time! That plus the pair of wigeon this am moves me up to 73 or 52.02% for the year - first full fat patch tick since the pink-footed goose last October - now on 226 for the Galley list, which is the most important list of the lot!

Saturday 13 January 2024

The Return of Reg

 Yes indeedy - everyone's favourite showbiz policeman Reg Hollis has stepped out of retirement, indeed at the same time as stepping into retirement! Confused? Don't worry, the net result will be Reg out front at the end of the year, most likely with New Old Snowy also in the bag. Still, hopefully a bit of additional competion will lead to all the other competitors giving it 110% to try and upset his dastardly plans!

Reg eagerly puts out the news of his Green-winged Teal that he's found already on patch this year....

Best get back out there lads!

Tuesday 2 January 2024

All Hail Lord Bushveld

 Yes indeedy, the 2023 patch challenge has finally drawn to a close, even though its been sewn (stitched?) up since about mid-July. Lord Bushveld has somehow managed to join Sepp Blatter in the exclusive Three-time Winners club, with a fine final score of 112.22%. Congratulations, and look out for the Golden Mallard (worth at least £50 on ebay) arriving in the post sometime around June 2024!

Herewith are the 2023 final scores, in order to allow eternal reviewing and scrutiny....

Some scores, yesterday

Top marks to Basil Faulty for being "best of the Irish", even though he's Welsh and fair play (if thats not a step too far) to Sepp Blatter for managing to make the podium yet again, despite everything. Last and indeed the least said the better, commiserations to the Proclaimers who were forced into a DNF* due to mid-year laptop failure in combination with general ineptness. Hopefully they'll be able to get it together again for 2024.

Happy New Year to all contenders and faithful blog followers (if there even are any?) - the 2024 competition is now open! Worth a moment of contemplation to consider that this is the 20th year of the original patch challenge competition! How cool is that?

*Did Not Finish