Sunday 30 August 2009

Ireland, 22nd - 28th August

And so it was time for what has become an essential in my birding calender - the annual end-of-August pilgrimage to the west coast of Ireland with the primary focus being seawatching off the Bridges of Ross (Co. Clare). The first weekend of the trip was spent with my mother in Dublin and Cork, with very little birding done at all - best of the bunch were 8 Ruff on Swords Estuary on 22nd.

Mid-morning on the 24th saw me up at Shannon airport to meet the team, who had arrived on the morning flight from Stansted. The 2009 line-up consisted of old favourite Richard Bonser, Little Shear king John Archer, the ever-pleasant Marc Read and Bridges virgin Dan Pointon. The first notable bird of the drive west towards Loop Head was a Common Buzzard over the road c.4 kilometres east of Lisseycasey, an Irish tick for yours truly!
Eventually, we found ourselves at 'The Bridges' by mid-afternoon, and a seawatch until mid-evening yielded an adult Sabine's Gull, Balearic Shearwater and c.30 Sooty Shearwaters amongst others. Further seawatching sightings over the following four days will be listed below.

Other birds were quite difficult to come by during the week, though a 3CY Ring-billed Gull at Spanish Point regularly broke up the monotony when the seawatching got dire; plenty of juvenile waders about too but nothing particularly spectaclar with water levels still very high.

25th August; moderate SW wind with showers:
Wilson's Storm-petrel (1) west @ 07:35
Sabine's Gull (9) adults
Grey Phalarope (2)
Pomarine Skua (2)
Long-tailed Skua (1) adult
Sooty Shearwater (c.70)
Storm-petrel (8)
Arctic Skua (7)
Great Skua (3)
Arctic Tern (25)

26th August:
Sabine's Gull (3) adults
Leach's Storm-petrel (1)
Pomarine Skua (1)
Balearic Shearwater (1)
Storm-petrel (17)
Arctic Skua (11)
Great Skua (3)
Common Scoter (10)
Arctic Tern (7)
27th August, mid-afternoon to dusk, wind moderate WSW:
Sabine's Gull (5) adults
Leach's Storm-petrel (1)
Balearic Shearwater (5)
Sooty Shearwater (46)
Storm-petrel (9)
Great Skua (25)
Arctic Skua (6)
Arctic Tern (32)

28th August, 06:30-09:00, wind brisk WNW veering NW:
Sabine's Gull (23) one juvenile
Grey Phalarope (16)
Leach's Storm-petrel (8)
Long-tailed Skua (1) juv
Pomarine Skua (1)
Storm-petrel (75)
Sooty Shearwater (c.100)
+ good numbers of Arctic & Great Skuas

Arctic Skua, Bridges of Ross (Co. Clare)
Pomarine Skua, Bridges of Ross (Co. Clare)
2nd-summer to adult (3rd-)winter Ring-billed Gull, Spanish Point (Co. Clare)
Cow, Kilbaha (Co. Clare)

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