Over the past few days, we have been in Ireland. My parents were taking furniture over there for one of their customers but we managed to fit lots of birdwatching in as well. On the way over on the ferry, we saw gannets, lots of guillemots and a fulmar. Our first destination was Bettystown. After we had delivered the furniture, we had a look at what was on the coastline. We saw quite a few hooded crows, or ‘hoodies’ as we often call them. There were lots of curlew and oystercatchers, and also a few surprises as well, including a ringed plover, some dunlin, a flock of ruff and also some knot, which were flocking and swerving around in the same way as starlings do. We drove further down the coastline and saw some redshank, lapwings, a shelduck and a bar-tailed godwit. All the species listed were new for the year.
There were loads of lakes and loughs around where we were staying. We saw some goosanders on one of them. We went to Sheskinmoor Nature Reserve, as there are Greenland white-fronted geese that overwinter there. We saw some whooper swans on a lake and a pair of stonechat, and one of them was trying to eat a hairy caterpillar! We saw lots of meadow pipits, and also a skylark. It was a sand dune habitat and there were rabbits everywhere, and also a lot of fox poo. On the sign of dangers, it had actually said to beware of rabbit holes! We walked down to the beach, and we found some otter poo. Daddy said he saw it in the dune grass, but unfortunately me and Mummy didn’t. There were loads of otter prints as well on the beach. We saw a rock pipit scuttling around on the strand line, the first of the year as well as the meadow pipits and stonechats. There was also a ringed plover (we think). On the way back, we saw another stonechat, and found what we thought was the remains (only feathers were left) of a shoveler killed by a fox. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any of the geese and we think they might have returned to their breeding grounds.
The next day, we went to the Inch Levels. We stopped at a lough and saw a red-breasted merganser and a little grebe. We saw a group of whooper swans in a field and loads of fieldfares on the way there. In one of the hides we saw a lot of golden plover, more than I had ever seen before. There was loads of lapwings and also some wigeon and teal. In the next hide, we saw some more whoopers and a female sparrowhawk. We walked further round and saw the whoopers close up. We also saw a flock of redwings with some song thrushes. We stopped at a beach and saw a ringed plover in the pebbles. It was so well camouflaged and it scuttled away like a little clockwork toy if we got to close!
On the way back on the ferry, I got an email from the BTO saying I’d got a place at BTO Birdcamp at Thetford in May!