East Coast Nature Reserve - 6th February 2022.
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South Dublin Members at ECNR, 6th February 2022 (picture: Ronan Browne)
Our first outing since November 2021 took us to BirdWatch Ireland's East Coast Nature Reserve, near Newcastle. The reserve covers 92 hectares and was opened in 2009 by President Mary McAleese. Although a mild morning, the outing was somewhat spoiled by very strong westerly winds, which kept many birds well and truly hidden from view.
A group of 30 South Dublin member assembled at the entrance to the reserve on Sea Road, some were well known to us and some were new faces. They were greeted by committee member Niall Hatch who led the outing. We are so privileged to have Niall in the South Dublin ranks, he has an encyclopedic knowledge, not just of birds, but in all aspects of nature. So even when the birds are not obliging we can always rely on Niall to keep us entertained with his insights and stories of the natural world.
Chaffinch, ECNR , 6th February 2022 (picture: Bill Rea)
We took the path that follows around the reserve eventually leading to the main hide but before we departed we had great views of a Buzzard. On the way we had a selection of small birds especially at the feeding station with various tits and finches, including a single Greenfinch, House Sparrows, Robin etc. The Greenfinch was very welcome as they have become very scarce and it was a tick for Lucas, one of our youngest members at nine years old who had already seen 70 species since January 1st!. Others passers seen were Dunnock, Goldcrest, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Wren and Long-tailed Tit.
Wigeon, ECNR , 6th February 2022 (picture: Ronan Browne)
The reserve attracts big numbers of wildfowl and wading birds in winter, especially to flooded areas. We saw big numbers of Wigeon, the males easily picked out by their orange foreheads and red-brown head. Wigeon is our most numerous wintering duck arriving from Iceland, Scandinavia and Russia. A few are occasionally seen in summer months but these are presumed to be non-breeding individuals or incapable of migrating to the breeding grounds. Also seen were Teal and Shoveler and waders present included Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwits.
Some More Pictures
We left the reserve and headed for the beach and the old, no longer in use, Newcastle train station. Looking out on the Irish Sea we saw Cormorants and Shags, Red-throated Diver and a distant Gannet. We also noted a Stonechat on the hedge-row that runs alongside the railway line. Despite the blustery conditions we were all delighted to be out again after the restrictions of recent times and we look forward to resuming our usual schedule of indoor and outdoor events.