Sunday, March 25, 2012

Here comes summer! 24.3.2012.

A great day in many respects , although haze throughout spoilt some of the potential!  Despite it being mild the SE wind took away much of the warmth.

An early morning Chiffchaff near home was feeding  continuously on the ground, much in the same way as I've seen them in wintering sites in Portugal. A couple of Northern Wheatear on the Rinns was the only other evidence of any arrival. Whilst seawatching almost 15 Meadow Pipit  came in off the sea near Portnahaven, presumably making a landfall after being confused by the mist ?

A period of seawatching produced little due to the bank of mist /haze which was present offshore and which persisted throughout the couple of hours I was there. Other than adult Gannets plying back and forth there was precious little else in evidence other than the resident birds along the coast ( Common Gull, Herring Gull, Fulmar, Oystercatcher, Shag and a few Eider "sitting out ").

An examination of Outer Loch Indaal , which was a bit impaired by the haze, showed a few small groups of Razorbill, a Guillemot, odd Kittiwake, a couple of Common Scoter and Red-throated Diver, and 7 Great Northern Diver, although I suspect the numbers of birds seen were affected  by the visibility. As I moved up the Rinns groups and pairs of Grey lag Geese seemed to be everywhere and larger numbers of Barnacle Geese were around , including a leucistic bird south of Port Charlotte. Given it's the end of the winter goose flocks are beginning to exploit all sorts of marginal areas as well as the more regular feeding sites. A chat with a local farmer dealt with the same situation, namely that little appears to be growing and the quality of grass is poor, that the ground is still saturated in many places after a long wet winter and that the cold easterly winds we now seem to get in spring aren't helping either.

Loch Gorm held a variety of waterfowl ( Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye and a Red-throated Diver )  plus numbers of gulls loafing around or bathing. Similarly nearby lochans held small assemblages of the same species. A flock of around 90 Golden Plover at Ballinaby had only one bird whose summer  plumage  was near complete, the others carrying a variety of dark blotches and patches as they too assumed their summer garb. Running out of time I headed down to Loch Gruinart for a quick look after picking up two separate female Hen Harriers. The pools held a good variety of birds in absolutely fabulous plumage, the male Pintails of which must surely take the award for the best of the day! A flock of Linnet off the Flats held promise but carried no other species!

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