Monday, 17 September 2012

The golden touch

That time of year again, with the weekend commute to Shannon. Keeping the faith with Achill Island, where I managed some success this time last year, it was with some anticipation and a Papa Johns that Josh J, John A and I headed off to the wild west of County Mayo on Friday night.

In the half light the next morning with a fresh westerly, a walk along the golf course at Keel provided nothing too unusual - just a couple of Whimbrel, a Golden Plover and a few Ringed Plovers. A check of a few other sites produced a massive Mayo find in the form of a juvenile Black-necked Grebe; not sure when the last one was in the county but it's a big Irish west coast bird. Back at the golf course, we pulled up on the seaward side looking across the machair. With a quick bins scan I locked onto two plovers, and after a second or so look, I rushed to the boot and grabbed the scope knowing what I was going to see - along with the earlier Euro Golden Plover, this smaller more attenuated bird was a proper fresh American Golden Plover. Result, and presumably thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Leslie.

from left to right: European Golden Plover, American Golden Plover and JJ
When first found, you could tell it was fresh in, probing around desperately and then looking really lethargic and hunched up getting a bit of shut eye after its transatlantic crossing. On the Sunday, it was much more spritely - sprinting around on the short turf and flying around a bit more with its lone European cousin. Anyway, this bird showed to within just a few metres and reinforced my view that juvenile yank waders up close and personal cannot be beaten.

Other highlights of the weekend included a fly over Pec Sand at Keel golf course yesterday morning, and a Jack Snipe at Corragaun. Otherwise, it was just decent scenery, good company and wading deep in the channels at Corragaun Lough with no reward. There's always next weekend.

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