Thursday, 6 September 2012

5th September

I made my second trip of the autumn to Tory yesterday.With 3 Semipalmated Sandpipers in Western Scotland and a few Pectoral Sandpipers and Buff breasted Sandpipers in Ireland, I was mildly optimistic about my prospects of finding an american shorebird.

The weather looked good with a few days of strong westerlies prior to my visit. Under similar conditions last september I had a very successful day.

Strong westerlies just north of Ireland

Maybe in hindsight 200 miles too far north.....

Locally, north westerlies with the possibility of good seabird movement on the ferry to Tory
 The crossing over was rough and the ferry had been restricted the day previously. I was disappointed with the numbers of birds and trying to take a photograph proved to be a nightmare.

Juvenile Gannet

Great Skua

Despite some great views these were the best shots I could manage. The highlighs  were 3 Great Skuas, 5 Sooty Shearwaters and 4 Manx Shearwaters.

On arrival the waders in the harbour gave good views but numbers were low and there was nothing unusual amoung them.

Juvenile Ringed Plover
There were a few dapper juvenile Ringed Plovers feeding on the sand, including this bird showing palmations between the middle and outer toe.

West Town
Presumed Willow Warbler. Now a Chiffchaff!
First stop West Town to look for migrants. I managed two Willow Warblers (now one Willow Warbler, one Chiffchaff) including this bird with one tail feather and apparently growing some new primaries. The wet face looked initially looked like a dark mask. My pulse quickened considerably......

One of the road leading from west town.

Having checked the west and satisfied myself that no Common Yellowthroats or Hooded Warblers were lurking there, I checked some of the hillsides.
Painted Lady
I found a migrant butterfly which renewed my optimism. Near the lake I flushed a bird of prey from open ground.

Lanner type hybrid falcon? No-a normal Merlin!
The bird had a leather strap attached to its foot and was clearly an escaped falconers bird. The second in a month after a Gyr falcon hybrid on Tory in August.

(On second thoughts as was pointed out to me its more likely to be a wild Merlin with prey in its talon and it has picked up some grass stalks along with its prey.)

There were plenty of migrant Wheatears and White Wagtails about.


White Wagtail
White Wagtail
 Myxmatosis has had a big effect on the rabbit population down the west end of the island. Lots of dead bodies littered the roads. I found a few poor souls wandering around suffering.

Rabbit suffering from myxmatosis

I was running short of time and Anton kindly offered me a lift to the east end. It was very quiet, but on a better note his brothers small oat field held 21 of the 25 Tree Sparrows counted on the island. Its got to produce a rare bunting this autumn!

Anton Meenan

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