South Dublin Branch - Outing Report

Bluethroat - Ballycotton, Cork (photo: Paul & Andrea Kelly)

Wexford Coach Outing - 12th November 2023.

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South Dublin members that came on our November coach outing to south Wexford at the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve. Picture by Des Higgins.

South Dublin Members, Wexford Wildlife Reserve, 12th November 2023 (picture: Des Higgins)

The November branch outing was a coach trip to Wexford, led by Robert Busby and Des Higgins and attended by 25 South Dublin members. We departed Dun Laoghaire on a very wet morning but by the time we got to Wexford, the sun had come out and the rest of the day was mainly dry and settled. Our first birding stop was at the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve, where we split into smaller groups to visit the Tower Hide and walk around the reception area grounds.

Long-tailed Duck swaps the Irish Sea for a home on the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve's duck pond. Picture by Robin Pollard.

Long-tailed Duck, Wexford Wildfowl Reserve, 12th November 2023 (picture: Robin Pollard)

There had been a very obliging juvenile (or perhaps a female) Long-tailed Duck at the reserve's duck pond for several weeks and it was still there when we arrived. At this time of year, Long-tailed Ducks are normally found off the coast, so it is very surprising to see one on a duck pond, but it seemed very settled and spent most of its time underwater, fishing.

As depicted on the logo of BirdWatch Ireland, Greenland White-fronted Geese. Picture by Robin Pollard.

Greenland White-fronted Geese, North Slob, 12th November 2023 (picture: Robin Pollard)

From the Tower Hide, we had good views of some of wintering Greenland White-fronted Geese along with about 50 Brent Geese and 13 Barnacle Geese, including one very striking hybrid Barnacle that was found by Robert Busby. We also had excellent views of two Snipe that were found by Pauline Doyle and Pat Toomey picked up a very distant Slavonian Grebe on Wexford Harbour. Unfortunately, we were unlucky not to see the very striking leucistic Hen Harrier, as it was seen on a number of occasions that same day.

Red Squirrel acrobatics in the Raven Wood. Picture by Simon Robinson.

Red Squirrel, Raven Woods, 12th November 2023 (picture: Simon Robinson)

Our next stop was the Raven Woods, which marks the northern entrance to Wexford Harbour. We were hoping to see Crossbills there, unfortunately they didn’t oblige but we did get fantastic views of a Red Squirrel found by Rosaline Dunphy. That squirrel was our 'bird of the day', if you will pardon the joke, seeing as they are usually so hard to see.

After that we went to Our Lady’s Island Lake to take lunch and scan the lake for ducks, waders and egrets. The water levels were extremely high, so waders were very scarce and the only ducks of note were some Wigeon and Teal.

Purple Sandpipers, winter visitors from northeast Canada and Greenland. Picture by Robin Pollard.

Purple Sandpipers, Carne Harbour, 12th November 2023 (picture: Robin Pollard)

Our final stop was at Carne Harbour, where we heard Black Redstarts had been seen recently (BirdWatch Ireland's 2023 calendar November bird). The redstarts were a no-show, but Padraig McGvern did find four Purple Sandpipers at the tip of the pier. We returned to Our Lady's Island Lake for one final scan before we headed home, but it didn't produce anything new.

As is the custom, we called the log on the return journey, and our final tally was 70 species of bird seen, plus Brown Hare and Red Squirrel. Overall, it was a very enjoyable day out.

Des Higgins

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