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Post Info TOPIC: Northern Ireland


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RE: Northern Ireland


Common Nighthawk, County Antrim, N.Ireland. 15/10/2019

   Many people know that I am a man of principles (dont laugh) but after a few mutterings at and on the way home from recent birding exploits the subject of the Common Nighthawk in Northern Ireland was raised. Dave W from Huddersfield seemed interested and along with Kevin C, who said, I can go on Tuesday my principles about not twitching any off islands seemed to be going out of the window! A look at the various logistics of getting to Northern Ireland were looked at and a drive up to Cairnryan near Stranraer, Scotland and catching the ferry to Belfast looked the best on paper. A call to John R (finder of the Red throated Pipit) was made and he said he would like to join us for the trip.

   We met at 1am in Castleton as the rain lashed down and after a final check on the weather in Belfast, which was cloudy but dry, we set off with myself at the wheel. A couple of stops on the way up the M6, A75 & A77 apart from a diversion (that would come into play later) had us at Cairnryan by 5-30am. A bit of shut-eye was required and at 7am we began to drive onto the ferry that sailed on time at 7-30am. The crossing was very smooth and a bit of sea watching didn`t reveal anything out of the ordinary, but it certainly woke us all up! We landed in Belfast harbour at 9-45am and managed to see the magnificent Titanic building from our ship. No time for tourism, off we went heading for the Ballymena area, then the news at 9-30am (pager signal delays etc) that the Common Nighthawk was still present pushed us along a bit! A further message at around 10-10am said the bird had flown off and was lost to view didn`t help. Upon arrival we were met with the news that the bird could not be seen roosting on its favoured stick in the horse field. We all donned our Wellington boots and had a good wallow in the ever thickening mud searching every known roost of the Nighthawk. A few of the local Irish birders really tried to help us find the bird without any joy. Could we be the only people to attempt to twitch the Nighthawk without success? More sleeping was required by myself as the other three searched in vain for the bird on the other side of the River Maine. The mood had turned from hope to near misery, then Dave W thought a good idea would be to change our ferry time to a later one to help us search at dusk for the bird, which we did, we didn`t know it at the time, but it turned into a really good idea!

    We left the site and visited a nearby café and enjoyed some local fish & chips, now as we finished our meal John decided to visit the toilet facilities to rest his laurels. Then the news we had been waiting for the Nighthawk was flying around!! A frantic knock on a Gentleman`s room soon had us all getting into the car and heading back to site. Now have you ever seen 4 people putting wellies on at the same time from a car boot? What fun, quickly heading back down into the muddy abyss but what followed was watching the Common Nighthawk hawking around for about 15 minutes, despair to joy again? The bird was then seen to go to roost over the river in a tree, we walked back over the bridge and after carefully wading across 2 streams were soon enjoying a 2 hour view of the bird. As the gloom descended we returned to the car and headed to Belfast to catch the ferry back to Cairnryan. More snoozing on the ferry and after we docked we headed back along the A77/A75. Now that diversion, as before, came into play with a car stopped on a clear road indicating right, why didn`t he turn before I charged up behind him, I narrowly missed the gormless sod (it could have been me being too tired to drive I guess) Dave W then had a drive. We all survived and reached Castleton by 2-30am. What a day!!

Dave O.



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None-birding coach trip to Carrickfergus last week.

Loch Ryan/Irish Sea:

Eiders
Gannets
Guillimots
Kittiwakes
Cormorants

Belfast Harbour:

Black Guillimots...7,4 and 4 on 3 separate visits.
Common Terns
Black-tailed Godwits
Curlews
Common Gulls
etc.

Giant's Causeway:

Wheatear 1
Fulmars
Rock Pipit 1
Oystercatchers
GBB Gull 1
Linnets
Whitethroats
Jackdaws
Meadow Pipits
Black Redstart 2 possibly but not 100% certain.
etc.

General:

Hooded Crows
etc.


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Phil Greenwood


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Ferry out of Belfast Lough early on 10 April gave 8 Black Guillemot, 3 Common Tern, 2 Common Scoter, 4 Eider, and 2 Gannet.

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A nice Dipper on The Burn river in Doagh this morning to end my Easter break.
Back at Christmas for more goodies, all being well.

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Cracking views of the Drake American Wigeon today at Portmore Lough RSPB, with a Pink Footed Goose and 1000+ Golden Plover. Swallow too
At Belfast Lough RSPB 2 Sandwich Terns, 8 Golden Plover, and 200+ Black Tailed Godwit.

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3 House Martins through Doagh village today, heading down the 6 Mile Water towards Lough Neagh. My first of the year

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Highlights of a trip around the A2 coast road, then Portstewart and Portrush:
Cushendun: Gannet close inshore, excellent views. Rock Pipit, Linnets.
Portstewart: (Cliff walk)Peregrine with prey, 22 Turnstone, 12 Redshank, 4 Eider, 8 Black Guillemots(mating pair), 4 Eider, 2 Shelduck, 8 Guillemot, 4 Oystercatcher, 8 Rock Pipit, Grey Heron.
(Dunes) Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, 5 Linnets, Meadow Pipit, Stonechat, Hooded Crow, Great Black Backed Gull
Portrush: (East Strand) Sandwich Tern, 14 Eider, 2 Razorbill, Fulmar, Shag, Kittiwake, 4 Black Guillemot, Redshank, Hooded Crow, Meadow Pipit, 2 Gannet.

-- Edited by Ian McKerchar on Friday 6th of April 2012 10:28:57 AM

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As the in-laws live over here and I'm a regular traveller, thought I'd start a little thead for those who visit, or those interested. Can I also point to a great website for the area nibirds.blogspot , which is great for the latest sightings and images.

2 April Belfast Lough from ferry: 17 Black Guillemots, 8 Guillemots, Red Throated Diver, 2 Common Scoter

Doagh area(near Ballyclare)-in laws house: Common Buzzard, 2 Raven, 15 Black Headed Gulls, 3 Lapwing, 2 Bullfinches

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This forum is dedicated to the memory of Eva Janice McKerchar.