|Ring-billed Gull, Nimmo's Pier, 17/2/2018.|
I’ll split the blog posts into two. Thanks must go to Rich B (who’d completed a similar trip the week before me, finding a Bonaparte’s Gull at Killybegs) for detailed gen and pointers on a couple of gulls I had. The 2 days, when birding, was primarily a case of driving around and checking all suitable harbours/ports/beaches for gulls in County Mayo, Galway and Clare, as well as spending some time scanning suitable looking Snowy Owl/Gyr habitat.
|Juvenile Iceland and Glaucous Gulls, Connemara|
We took the long route down from Knock International (for anyone visiting this airport in the future note you have to pay a €10 development fee, per person, upon departure!), and snow was on the ground as we headed west at about 09:30.
From here we tracked the Mayo and Galway coast looping round to Galway city. This part of the world is remote, and subsequently very under-watched. Further south saw more gulls, and the first wingers were at the harbour at Clifden – a juvenile Glaucous and adult Iceland.
Several harbours and coastal towns were checked as the weather closed in – by mid-afternoon it was heavy rain and wind. This didn’t stop the gulls loving the bread throwing at Connemara Smokehouse, and a pretty repulsive looking juvenile Glaucous Gull and a juvenile Iceland were particularly showy here. This is likely a good spot, and the mixed flock was big, but we headed to Galway and our accommodation with the weather deteriorating.
|2nd-winter Iceland Gull, Barna, 17/2/2018.|
The sun was out first thing, and the famous Nimmo’s Pier was top of the agenda. The gull numbers here were a little disappointing to be honest (Ross’s and American Herring some of the species found here before), and I managed just a single Ring-billed Gull (adult) and Iceland Gull (juvenile). Nearby at Mutton Island, a juvenile Glaucous Gull flew over.
We then worked the south Galway coast, from Nimmo’s to Rossaveel. This produced 6 Iceland Gulls, including a particularly attractive second-winter bird at Barna, and a group of 5 at Rossaveel. At the latter site a gull with extensive head and breast streaking, and a striking black tail band, had me ever so slightly pondering smithsonianus. However, it seems likely it was just an advanced, second-winter argenteus Herring.
|Great Northern Diver, Mutton Island, 17/2/2018.|
We worked back, through Galway and down to County Clare, stopping off briefly at Kiltiernan Turlough where distant views of the drake Ring-necked Duck were obtained. We then worked the harbours and beaches between Kinvarra and Ballyvaughen, where just the single winger (adult Iceland) was found.
That was that for the first full day. Since arriving I’d managed 12 wingers, but hadn’t found anything rarer, and dipped the Forster’s Tern at Kinvarra which was reported after my visit. The plan for Sunday was a long drive south, to County Kerry.