Dundalk, Belfast WOW & Lough Neagh Coach Outing - 10th November 2019.
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South Dublin Members at Dundalk Docks, 10th November 2019 (picture: Ronan Browne)
A fine morning and clear skies always means a good start to a bird outing. At Dun Laoghaire, a Goldcrest was spotted and a little flock of Linnets alighted on the road. Further on, at Booterstown Marsh, two flying Little Egrets, a pair of Mute Swans, and some Pale-bellied Brent Geese caught the eye, while the East Link Bridge gave a good sighting of Cormorant on the River Liffey. The road trip as far as Dundalk yielded a good count of Buzzards warming up in the early sunshine. Keen spotting by Lucy added to the total.
Waders and gulls, Dundalk, 10th November 2019 (picture: Ronan Browne)
A brief stop at Dundalk harbour had Snipe, Golden Plover, Greenshank, Lapwing, Redshank and Grey Heron. That was followed by a quickie visit to the Navvy Bank along the Castletown River in search of the missing ‘Yank’ i.e. a Short-billed Dowitcher straying from its normal migration route down the coast of North America, which is just the fourth Irish record.
That bird proved elusive but Red-breasted Merganser, Great Crested Grebe and both godwits were well represented, while Pat Twomey registered a Spotted Redshank in the distance. There was even a passing Swallow!.
Goldfinch, RSPB WOW Centre, Belfast, 10th November 2019 (picture: Bill Rea)
Onwards then towards Belfast, with more Buzzards spotted along the motorway. Staff at the Window on Wildlife Centre were as welcoming as usual to their fine RSPB facility in Belfast Harbour. The feeders outside the main hide provided great close-ups of Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, House Sparrow, and Blue, Coal, and Great Tits. Robin and Wren were in close attendance. Inside, there were fine views of Shoveler, Teal, Little Grebe, Moorhen and Greylag Geese, in particular; but no sign of Reed Bunting or Water Rail, often seen close to the viewing window.
Tufted Duck and Little Grebe, Oxford Island, 10th November 2019 (picture: Bill Rea)
A quick trip in fading light, down the M1 to Oxford Island, was a reminder of shorter winter days. Some chose to enjoy a nice cuppa in the restaurant, while the hardier souls had a pleasant walk to the hides by Lough Neagh.
This vast but shallow lake holds many diving and dabbling ducks in season. There were rafts of Pochard, Tufted Duck, Wigeon and Coot, with some Gadwall and Teal, but a notable scarcity of Goldeneye. Water Rail made noises in the reeds. Gerard picked out a solitary Ruddy Duck, a remnant of an invasive bird family at Kinnego Bay. The woodland walks were enlivened by a marvelous flock of lively Jays, calling Treecreepers, and glimpses of Bullfinch and Long-tailed Tits. Pat’s powerful scope managed a distant view of a Whooper Swan, with no sign of the large flock usually present in wintertime on the nearby farmland.
Oxford Island Visitor Centre, 10th November 2019 (picture: Bill Rea)
A total of 68 bird species was noted during the outing. Non-avian species encountered during the day included a Harbour Seal near Soldier’s Point, a Brown Rat, an Otter at Oxford Island and some Grey Squirrels on the woodland walk.
Some More Pictures
Scenery and Birders
As the coach headed on the homeward journey, through Lurgan and on towards Banbridge a heavy downpour developed and lasted all the way back. Fortunately, we had enjoyed good weather while we were birding. Many thanks to Eleanor Keane and Niall Hatch leading a very enjoyable birding trip and to our Hon. Secretary, Mary Daly for organising the trip so expertly.