Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Way out west again

I haven't stopped blogging, though I did get a concerned call from my mother asking me whether I was ok as this site hadn't been updated for a while. Truth is all has been rather quiet and I've not really managed to take any decent photos of birds either. Weekends locally at Crossness and Rotherhithe have highlighted with the odd ringed gull, but little more. The weekend just gone was slightly better, and at least I had a change of scenery, but despite the hype surrounding the Atlantic charts it didn't deliver that much. But it was nice all the same.
Keem beach at the west end of Achill Island, County Mayo
So, here goes it. It started as usual with the Stansted to Shannon flight on my lonesome, and after a drive northwestwards, ended up in the car on a remote beach near Louisburgh. A lovely dawn sunrise and all that, but the birds weren't about at Corragaun early doors (though Pat Lonergan jammed in on an adult AGP later in the day) while Roonagh had plenty of smalls at the outflow but nothing more. Itching to get onto Achill Island, I did just that by late morning and in no time at all the first yank was under the belt in the form of a distant and rather elusive Pied-billed Grebe. Certainly my first ever in Ireland, and probably my first in Britain and Ireland this millenium, this prehistoric-like beast was good to see; still sporting a bit of a bill band as it headed out of summer plumaged. The nearby areas of Keel and Dooagh were checked, as was the machair at Doogort, but all to no avail.
Sruhilbeg Lough, home of the Pied-billed Grebe

It was by now Saturday evening, and the sun had gone in and the wind was starting to get up signalling the start of a deep low pressure system that was going to rip through overnight. After seeing the regular Black Duck (and a couple of hybrids), I walked along the grass to Sruhill Lough and near the monument, amongst a couple of hundred Starlings, flushed a Buff-breasted Sandpiper which then appeared to head onto the nearby beach. Result at last; however, armed with the DSLR at the ready, I tried hard to relocate this bird - by which time Nick Watmough had joined me - but it wasn't to be. In fact, I was hoping this would be the precursor to a good day on the Sunday what with the weather turning bad.

Sunday morning was grim and even by the time I'd turned in for the night the weather was ripping through the place. Fortunately, after a decent meal and a couple of pints, I'd seen sense and opted for the 'soft' option of a night in a hotel rather than getting blown about in the car. Waking the next morning, rather expectant, Nick and I headed out to do the golf course and the west end of the Achill. Wader numbers had built up, and with a fair few Ringed Plovers on the golf course and Sanderlings on the beach, there was a bit to scan through. However, a search of all of Achill's sites drew and blank and it wasn't to be. Having spent a few hours in the afternoon at sites near Louisburgh, it was time to head back to Shannon and onto the red eye flight back to London.
Doolough Valley and the potato famine monument
It's a re-run this coming weekend so let's see how it goes. At least I took some nice photos of the landscape!

1 comment:

  1. Nice bird......

    Lookin' forward to yr Azores stuff -

    Laurie -