Saturday, 9 April 2011

Yellow Hammer v`s Dipper v`s Sparrow Hawk.

I had 3 of my top ten most favourite irish birds today. The question is which one would I pick as my outright favourite for today. It isn`t easy I can tell you. I only ever got to see my first Yellowhammer 3 years ago in Co Clare and since then I have only ever seen them in one other county and that was Wiclow. They are no longer in Limerick due to farming changes from crop growing to now mainly dairy. So the lack of them makes them one of the top 10 irish birds. Dippers are another bird I love - the way they can dive under a fast flowing stream or river, to catch Caddis-fly and other larvae,fish,crustaceans and molluscs just blows me away. Plus the fact that it is so quiet while being so busy that you could easliy miss them. Last one of the day is mister Sparrow Hawk. I have to admit to been worried as he went missing a week and a half ago when I had a female Sprock visit the garden. But happily he is back and looking in super shape. He comes to the garden and sits quitely on a branch of the tree and preens away. I can open the patio door and it doesn`t bother him. 3 times today he chased birds in the garden and missed each time. So he`s not causing too much harm. But you can see him weighing up his options whenever a bird comes into the garden. I don`t know this is a toughie alrighty!!! But for today its the Yellowhammer.
Yellowhammer feeding on oats the horses spill out of their container.

A pair of Yellowhammers.

Yellowhammer busy looking for some food.

Dipper with a beak full of yummy larvae.

Getting ready to return to the nest.

What are you looking at!!

Oh I see, I need a preen!


A Willow Warbler claiming his territory.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Birding in Limerick

I took some friends around Limerick to show them the best spots to watch birds. Thankfully the birds didn`t dissapoint me. With some fantastic views of Hen Harrier, Stonechat, Raven and Skylark in the Hills; Jays,Tits, Thrushes, Finches and Treecreepers in the woods and Ducks, Gulls and Plovers in the river and ponds we had a great day with beautiful sunny weather. So here are some of the photo`s for you.
The woods are alive with tits at the moment.

A Jay busy checking for hidden goods!

Mistle Thrush looking for a easy meal!!

Gotch ya!

This Reed bunting was busy eating bread when I got this shot.

Male Hen Harrier hunting in the hills.

Skylark displaying and singing at the same time.

Now searching for food.

Male Stonechat in all his glory. Beautiful bird.

My first Limerick Wheatear of the year.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Bullfinch and Grey Heron

I took an evening walk out in Adare in Co Limerick yesterday evening to see if the Swallows were around there yet - and they were I had 5 in total. It's great to see these birds back for the summer months. I just love it when they sit on a chimney pot and sing their song. Unfortunately they weren`t singing but just busy feeding up after their long flight from Africa. As I walked along the river bank I heard 2 Chiffchaffs singing and a couple of Willow Warblers. I stood still while trying to get a snap of the Chiffchaff and noticed a pair of Bullfinchs quietly munching on the new buds on the trees. I also had a Long-tailed tit that evening. Today I took a trip out to Westfields for Sandmartins and I was happy to see 100+ flying low over the water picking off insects from the top of the water. I never knew how hard it was to photograph them; I may have got only 1 ok shot out of 200. But I did have a Grey Heron posing nicely on a rock. I also got a couple of shots of a juvenile BHG. So these will be my posts today.
Bullfinchs gorging on the new buds on the bushes.

Chiffchaffs were calling to each other.

A grey Heron putting on a pose for me.

ok you`ve had enough, I`m off.

Long-tailed Tit busy picking insects.

Sandmartins are back in big numbers.

Juvenile BHG doing a fly by...

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Great Grey Shrike and Oxford Island Nature Reserver Co Antrim

Seen as there was a lot of fuss on the Irish bird lines about a Great Grey Shrike I decided I had to see him. It had been a while since a bird like this had arrived in Ireland. So with a 3-4 Hour drive ahead of me I set out at 05:30 in the morning. Getting to the spot a little ahead of schedule. I was delighted to see the bird was very active but it was distant as you can see from the snaps I got. But still a lifer for my list. After that I headed for Oxford Island Nature Reserve for another bird I hadn`t seen; a Ruddy Duck. There was 4 in all, hiding in the reed bed of course. So it was a waiting game for 2 hours before one decided to come out. It was worth waiting for. I love these birds, also seen at OINR were great numbers of Pochard, Tufted Duck and little grebes. But the amount of Great Crested Grebes was fantastic; all displaying and in their breeding colours. Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs were in fine song in the Willows and trees around the lake and a Grey Squirrel made an appearance as I was leaving. So another great day had.
Great Grey Shrike.

Ruddy Duck, made me wait but it was worth it.

Great Crested Grebes were really in Spring mode.

Willow Warblers were in fine song.

Grey Squirrel, none down my side of the country. (Thank God)