Outing Report

BirdWatch Ireland's East Coast Reserve, Blackditch, Newcastle, Co. Wicklow - 6th May 2012.

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South Dublin members outside one of the hides at Blackditch. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Blackditch outing participants outside one of the hides (picture: Colum Clarke)

There was a very good turnout of members, visitors, and some local residents, for the May branch outing to the East Coast Reserve at Blackditch, Newcastle, Co. Wicklow. Parking is restricted at the entrance to the reserve, so most participants chose to walk from Newcastle village or from the railway line at Six Mile Point. The sea road is still relatively unspoiled and presented excellent opportunities for bird watching with Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Goldcrest and Wren, proclaiming their territories. A pair of Bullfinches and a single Linnet were also seen along the road (below).

Some of the birds seen at the Blackditch on the outing, Linnet (left) and Bullfinch. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Linnet (left) and Bullfinch, Blackditch 6th May 2012 (picture: Colum Clarke)

When all were assembled, Niall Hatch led the group on a tour of the new boardwalks and hides and regaled us with some fascinating aspects of birdlore. Long-tailed Tits, Blackbirds, Goldfinches, Coal Tits, Robins, Song Thrushes and Chaffinches were calling from the hedgerows, and in the skies above there were Swallows, Wood Pigeons, Rooks, Hooded Crows, Jackdaws, and passing flocks of Cormorants and Herring Gulls.

A short stroll along the boardwalk brought us within range of a reeling Grasshopper Warbler (below). This notably shy bird confounded the book experts, and proceeded to give a command performance of its rather mechanical but fascinating song from the highest bramble available. All present had unbeatable views of a bird sometimes heard but seldom seen. In the background, the scratchy tones of another returned migrant, the Sedge Warbler (below), were accompanied by the simple repeated piping of a fine Reed Bunting.

Two warblers at Blackditch, a Locustella (left) and an Acrocephalus. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Two Warblers at Blackditch on 6th May 2012, Grasshopper (left) and Sedge (picture: Colum Clarke)

We visited two of the hides where there were good views of Shoveler, Mallard , Teal and Mute Swan. Meanwhile Moorhen called from the reeds and two Grey Herons flapped their way from pond to pond. The hides gave a welcome break from some wintry showers blowing over, although the weather generally was reasonably pleasant. Nearby a late Dunnock called out his squeaky rhythm and lively flocks of House Martins and Sand Martins busied themselves over the surfaces of the ponds and scrapes.

Butterflies and moths were scarce in the cool breezes but the occasional female Orange Tip was spotted visiting the abundant Lady's Smock/Cuckoo Flower. There was no sign of the resident Kerry ponies which tend to frequent the furthest reaches of the reserve. Likewise the waders, for whom so much has been done at Blackditch, were not on show, according to season, but the marvelous progress made in creating a haven of tranquility and restored habitat for resident, passage and summer/winter migrating birds was greatly in evidence.

A female Pheasant moves through the long grass at Blackditch. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Female Pheasant, Blackditch, 6th May 2012 (picture: Colum Clarke)

Most of the group were happy with the option of a short visit to the reserve but some hardier souls headed off to trace a full circuit of the walks and tracks which crisscross the whole of our Birdwatch property. What a grand place to spend a few hours where nature fulfills itself and the species count of flora and fauna has been enabled to increase so much in each of the passing years!

Pauline & Frank Doyle

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