Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Co.Mayo Sept 2011

I was in the west of Ireland at the turn of the month for some serious seawatching from Annagh Head in Co Mayo.  I drove through a landscape of bog and moor, passing Belmullet and arrived at Annagh for first light on 4th.  Winds were SW force 5 and it was looking rather good.  By 07:30 6 Great Shearwaters had passed.  By 11:00 130 had passed and by 14:00 the total was 200+ and easily the best seawatching I’ve had in Ireland to date.  Other birds included 10 Storm Petrel, 10 Bonxi, 6 Arctic Skua and 3 Pom’. 

Overnight the wind dropped to force 4 and the Great Shears were not passing so close or in such numbers but still totalled 30+.  Leaving a seawatching site to patch beaches and bushes is always a risk but today it paid off as we found 2 Pectoral Sandpipers on Leam Lough however at around 14:00 96 Great Shearwater passed close off Annagh. 

By Sunday the wind switched to SE and offshore so we grabbed a breaky and patched the north of the island.  A Reed Warbler was apparently a scarce migrant find but we headed further north to Erris Head.  The place is absolutely text-book for Buff-breasted Sands or even a Baird’s with putting-green short grass on a promontory with next stop to the west being the USA.  A front had just passed through and the ground gushed with run-off which spouted out of the bog and down the sea cliffs.  A Lapland Bunting flew from close range and joined another.  Hidden amongst a patch of tussocks and stone pavement were 18 Golden Plover which were ‘grilled’ just to make sure.  On the western side of the headland a huge geo concealed a couple of Chough and another Lapland Bunting fed on the northern cliff edge.  40 Twite were also seen near the car park.  

The headland will no doubt become more popular and the thought of October and potential for a Yankee passerine makes your eyes water.  Anyone fancy going?

 Good to know.
 Downpatrick Head, Mayo and stack below
 Kilcummin from Downpatrick looking eastwards
 Great Shear- prints available!
Two Pecs, found seperately but they came together to roost.  Adult and juv bird at Leam Lough, Belmullet.
 Erris Head-approach on loop walk
 1 of 3 Lap Bunts found
 Erris Head
 Clifftop pools-good spot for incomming waders.
 Fragmented turf areas-must get a battering
 Geo on western side

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