Sunday, 7 October 2012

A tale of two kings

Shattered after one of those autumn pulse periods that won't be forgotten in a hurry. Hugh Delaney has blindly kept faith with Inishmore, County Galway, for years and years and having found a Myrtle Warbler a couple of years ago, he stepped it up to the max by finding the WP's first Eastern Kingbird on Friday. It doesn't get any bigger than that, so flights booked and ferry sorted, it was looking promising for the weekend... especially with some vague news of a Belted Kingfisher also in County Galway (I'd missed the 2005 bird as I was abroad).

So meeting up with Jerry, Dave, Bob and Lee G in the early hours at Stansted, and after a technical fault that delayed us for half an hour or so, we were on our way to Shannon... or so we thought. As we descended into Shannon, it was a complete pea souper and after an aborted landing and a fair amount of circling we were told we had to divert and land in Dublin! Not good, though news already filtered through whilst airborne that the Kingbird hadn't been seen so the pressure was off a little. However, for me and Lee G, the Belted K had firmed up, so there was still some urgency and a plan was hatched for our arrival in Dublin.

We legged it through the airport, and treating good old Ryanair's offer of a courtesy bus to Shannon with the contempt it deserved, hired a car and screamed across the country arriving in beautiful Connemara, Galway within three hours. With still no sign of the Kingbird (having obviously departed), focus on the BK was the target but we arrived at Lough Fee 20 minutes after it had flown off high south towards Kylemore. Josh, PAC and Peggers had then seen it from the road flying towards Kylemore Abbey so the chase was on for a nervous couple of hours until, bang, Jim L located it sitting unobtrusively in low branches on the small lake west of the abbey.

The staff here were absolutely blinding, waivering the 12.50 euro entrance fee for us so long as some photos get sent their way of this rare visitor. Anyway, I watched the bird for over an hour until just shy of 4pm when having had a couple of pops at fishing and calling a couple of times, it headed back east. And that was the last sighting of the bird, at least up until as I write this.
Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Galway - a fantastically scenic site made even better by the presence of the BK
We managed to get back to Shannon for a decent time, booking a hotel, have a decent Chinese washed down by a couple of pints of the black stuff whilst watching the video of the Long-toed Stint video too at Weirwood. A crying shame the Kingbird wasn't around, but for someone who has seen a fair few birds, getting a BOU/IRBC tick out of the weekend was unreal as I'd have gone for the BK alone of course. Every cloud has a silver lining.
No pot of gold at the end, but an impressive rainbow(s) with Connemara as the backdrop

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