Adventures in the birding paradise that is Co. Offaly, Ireland...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mid-January birding blues

Its been quite a subdued week's birding, perhaps reflecting a fairly subdued (or should that be cataclysmic?) week on Offaly's political front. A visit to the Shannon Callows at Shannon Harbour only added Black-headed Gull and Dunlin to the year list (although the flock of 40 Dunlin was a notable county record) - water levels are high but, apart from a pair of Mute Swan and a handful of Lapwing also hanging around, the place was disappointingly quiet. Birding highlight of the week was probably a fly-over Little Egret near Birr. Although this white heron has become an increasingly familiar site in the winter (no breeding records for the county yet...), the recent freezing conditions have made them quite scarce over the past two winters.
(two males - note black cap; females are typically dull by comparison...)

With so little else around, the birding focus was once again on the garden, where the finches continue to impress. The female Brambling is still around (we caught and ringed her last week), and Siskin numbers have built up to at least eight birds (five of which have now been ringed, suggesting that there are probably a few more around). It is interesting to speculate how many birds actually are coming into the garden. The peak count for Chaffinches this winter in the Garden Bird Survey cuurently stands at 62. However, we have ringed 68 already this month, and there are still many more unringed in the garden. Similarly, we've seen a maximum of four Blue Tits in the garden at any one time, yet ten have been adorned with the finest aluminium jewellery. On the flip side, 23 Blackbirds were feeding more or less together in the garden this week, yet only 13 have been caught. To quote a (now defunct?) political party: "a lot done, more to do".

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