With lots of free time in early January, it was nice to head down to the Wicklow coast to view the hordes of wildfowl enjoying the watery, mild winter.
Not just willdfowl, the birds of prey are not slow to pick up and patrol the ranks of fowl: Hen harriers, Buzzards and Sparrowhawks all in evidence.
|Female Kes, 6 mile point (OOS)|
A particularly engaging Kestrel chose the statuesque wooden skeleton of the Windsock at Six Mile Point as its lookout.. The airfield itself was a bit surreal: it had a swimming Kittiwake and Mediterranean Gull on its flooded apron.. no sign of Michael O'Leary offering cheap flights to Dublin ( Newcastle ), just yet!
On up along the railway line to look for Snow Buntings,: it was No Buntings for us!
A lovely Stonechat was the standout bird, offering great views in the still, bright winter conditions: its a real pleasure to be out observing wildlife in this weather. The birds too seemed to be relaxing in the benign conditions, I've never seen so many sleeping ducks! The action was provided by an Otter, pretending to be a dolphin, in on the coastal marshes.
|Back on the coast: female Stonechat (c. OOS)|
The Stonechats are definitely enjoying the mild winter: they made great increases in the period since the last Atlas, only to fall over the exceptionally hard winters of 2009/10, 2010/11. Just as well they have a sure fire recovery mechanism with multi broods in good summers: they were actually absent from regular coastal haunts in County Wicklow in the last few winters, but have recovered since: I have only once seen one here in Rathdrrum, perhaps a migrant in autumn, on its way to an Irish coast or one further south..