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2011 News

A Quiet Week

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Twite in the Rain
Wind, rain and cloud, combined with my son getting his tonsils out meant there was very little time with camera once again this week.

The rain stopped just long enough last Saturday afternoon to entice me out for a walk at White Park Bay. Staying off just long enough for me to get to the far end of the beach before coming on to soak me - again!
Wind, rain and cloud, combined with my son getting his tonsils out meant there was very little time with camera once again this week.

The rain stopped just long enough last Saturday afternoon to entice me out for a walk at White Park Bay. Staying off just long enough for me to get to the far end of the beach before coming on to soak me - again! It was an enjoyable walk though, on a site which I normally visit in the summer to photograph Orchids.

The weather meant that there were not too many other people on beach so it was nice explore the site with a little solitude. Unfortunately to begin with there was much to see. I had hoped that there have been a few Snow Buntings from the recent mini influx or some Twite seen there earlier in the week. In fact on the outbound walk the camera remained in the bag!

As the rain came on I walked back though the dunes towards the climb back to the car park. It was then the birds arrived. First a flock of 15 or so Twite flew over my head before landing nearby. With the rain heavier by then I decided not to stalk them but just watch from a distance.

Meadow Pipits and a few Stonechats then chaperoned me off the dunes, sitting atop the scrub and bracken calling until I was far enough away ensuring I was no threat.

Beginning the climb up to the car park I noticed a few small birds in the blackthorn scrub. They turned out just to be a couple of Robins and a Wren, but it reminded me to check some of the nearby scrub areas for migrants. Quickly I found two female Blackcaps (or Redcaps as they should be called) and two Goldcrests, possibly migrants. At least 8 Bullfinch were seen with beautiful red breasted males showing well. There was a supporting cast of Blue Tits, Great Tits and Dunnock.

All of a sudden the birds that surrounded me went quiet and dropped low into the vegetation. Instinctively I looked up to see the unmistakable silhouette of a harrier. In the drizzle and low grey cloud it was difficult to make out many details but appeared to be a female or juvenile Hen Harrier. Any other year I would said this with assurance, but this year there have multiple reports of the very similar Pallid and Northern Harrier (from North America) in Ireland.

Back to car I made my way to nearby Ballintoy in the hope of relocating this raptor, without success. I was though rewarded with the views of a first year Merlin hunting a Rock Pipit a few metres over my head. The falcon was relentless in it’s pursuit but the smaller pipit was agile and dropped into the busy car park to safety. I have seen this Merlin a few times over the past couple of weeks so hopefully it will stay in the area for the winter.

With the Merlin now out of sight, from the nearby cliffs came the distinctive call of Twite. Sixty or so birds dropped down onto to the shore and began to feed on the seed heads of the vegetation. I managed to get a few reasonable shots considering the rain and poor light.

It was an enjoyable walk though, on a site I normally visit in the summer to photograph Orchids.

The weather meant that there were not too many other people on beach so it was nice explore the site with a little solitude. Unfortunately to begin with there was much to see. I had hoped that there have been a few Snow Buntings from the recent mini influx or some Twite seen there earlier in the week. In fact on the outbound walk the camera remained in the bag!

As the rain came on I walked back though the dunes towards the climb back to the car park. It was then the birds arrived. First a flock of 15 or so Twite flew over my head before landing nearby. If the rain heavier by then I decided not to stalk them but just watch from a distance.

Meadow Pipits and a few Stonechats chaparoned me off the dunes.