Monday 17 September 2012

Achill Island 2012, round one

The weekend has passed, and I've just enjoyed another great couple of days in County Mayo with John Archer and Rich Bonser. As always, we concentrated on the magnificent Achill Island - a wild and spectacular outpost in westernmost Ireland that must be an imposing (though attractive!) sight for Nearctic birds arriving in off the Atlantic. Over the past couple of autumns, I've been fortunate to find nine individuals of five Nearctic species on the island. With one eye on the remnants of Hurricane Leslie tracking northwards towards Iceland and the north of Scotland, the aim was to try and add to that tally.

Add to it we did. Bird of the weekend was a fine juvenile American Golden Plover on the golf course at Keel, which had evidently just arrived mid-morning on Saturday 15th and kept close to a European Goldie that was already present. On our first walk of the golf course hadn't revealed this bird and, with the addition of a flyover Pec Sand on the Sunday morning, illustrates why checking and re-checking sites in the west is crucial to finding birds. The plover was so good that it deserved its own post...


The Pec was one of two heard-only individuals over the weekend; the other was a single observer record for yours truly at Corragaun Lough which I could hear flying around as I crossed over the the channel - hands full of shoes and optics and water over the knee didn't help in the bid to see it. A Jack Snipe at Corragaun Lough on Sunday was a welcome Irish tick.

Nearctic waders are obviously great, but the find of the weekend goes to the juvenile Black-necked Grebe we picked up at Lough Doo on Saturday morning. This is a real mega out west; who knows where it has come from. We didn't see it Sunday but it was apparently still there.

Lough Doo Monster

The brief summary above has painted something of a rosy picture of the weekend. Don't get me wrong, I loved it - particularly watching the AGP in the glorious light of Saturday. But, it was hard work this year. Wader-watching in County Mayo is not for the faint-hearted. Last year's trip was exceptional; this year was much more typical! Furthermore, wader numbers seem poor this year - we had Dunlin at just a handful of the sites (Corragaun/Achill Sound/Roonagh), when in normal years they are at most sites. Although you don't necessarily need Palearctic waders to bring in the rares, it does help to concentrate them.

Thanks to Rich and John for a great weekend of company, and it was great to meet Nick Watmough on the Saturday as well as Achill semi-resident Michael O'Brien. Cheers guys.

No comments:

Post a Comment