Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Ruff justice

Ok, it's been a while since I posted. Reasons are varied - busy with the start of work, but also Rotherhithe has been dead. West winds kill those nice patch scarces that come along when the east wind blows.

But, and a BIG but, the west wind has blown. Remnant hurricanes have produced the usual line up of yank wader 'freshers' that line our west shores. We've had loads of Buff-breasts and Pecs - 8 Buff-breasts today on St.Mary's could possibly be the prelude to proving Roker Martin wrong? Or will - as is often the case - autumn die on it's arse? So often I (and we, collectively) get worked up by these early low pressure systems that rip across The Atlantic in the first 2-3 weeks of September. And, essentially, all it's given me in terms of pure gold is Purple Martin (though the recent St.Kilda Blackburnian Warbler would have done too). But I do love September, as there's nothing quite like a bit of fresh yankage. Eye-balling those lost waifs that have made it from The Arctic just a few weeks after hatching. For me, there's nothing quite like it.

American Golden Plover & Buff-b Sand, Carrahane Sept 2008
 So I spent the weekend just gone in Kerry once again. This county has treated me well over the last few years, and I gave it a good bashing once again. Karen was extremely patient as always, but I wasn't able to disguise my disgust that I didn't produce much in some of the most favourable conditions I've had while I've been out there. Yes, a couple of Buff-breasted Sands would be classed as a good day back in England, but the stakes are raised out west. Carrahane Strand seems to be second only to Tacumshin for these beauties, and it was pretty predictable that I'd see a couple of them. This weekend's birds were rather elusive, favouring the masses of Dunlin so it wasn't quite as easy to get a close approach as in some years - when I've had half a dozen of them running around my feet.
Buff-breasted Sands at Carrahane... to be expected in September
Carrahane Strand

I stayed in Tralee, a decent base to explore either Dingle or The Iveragh, and a better base for Carrahane, Black Rock and Blennerville. All places I've had success at in the past. And I opted for Dingle on both days - keep the faith is something I've said a lot of times about the place. You'll go there and there'll be very few waders about but the quality always strikes. So I kept the faith and scoured Ferriter's Cove, Smerwick Harbour, Ventry, Burnham Lagoon and Trabeg at varying tidal states. 5 non-descript waders flying in off the bay at Ventry should have been Buff-b's but the blighters were Ruff; and a further 2 Ruff were found roosting on the beach at Smerwick - only to be replaced by a juv Semipalmated Sandpiper the day after (yesterday), presumably courtesy of Katia.
Semipalmated Sandpiper, Ventry - back in the day
Baird's Sandpiper, Black Rock Strand - back in the day
Bring on next weekend!

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