Monday, 15 February 2010

Galway, Gulls and Guiness!

Hello all, I must first apologise to all of you for keeping you waiting on the trip report to Ireland. It has been a few weeks since I have had some time off. Having lectures all week and then either ringing, twitching or birding at the weekends, I just haven't had time update it. Anyway, enough of that.

Having always wanted to experience the Irish culture of County Galway, as well as County Dublin; myself and dear friend Kane Brides made the decision to venture out and see what all the fuss was about and boy, were we in a for a surprise.

Finishing lectures on Thursday morning and ending the day with a field trip to Aber valley. Back at university the excitement was starting to kick in. Late on Thursday evening, Kane arrived at Bangor train station, where we went onto catch the 00:15 train to Holyhead in the pouring rain. We were somewhat entertained on the train, with half a dozen or so drunken students making complete fools out of themselves! Shortly after, we arrived at Holyhead and it was absolutely tanking it down with rain at this point. 02:40am on Friday morning saw us sound asleep on the ferry. However, no sooner had we dozed off, a couple of kids came hurtling round the corner, shouting and screaming and woke us up - not best pleased to put it nicely!

Arrived in Dublin at 6am we found somewhere to have breakfast which turned out to be MacDonald's, crashed there for an hour or so and got the 'Citylink bus from Dublin Burgh Quay to Galway', arriving at 10:30am. Having had a few hours kip on the bus, we were feeling a lot less tired and so the birding began!! Thanks to Kane's quick and precise directions, we were stood on Nimmo's pier within the hour.

The area around Nimmo's pier was alive with gulls; Black-Headed, Common, Herring and a few each of Lesser and Greater-Black Backed gulls were seen. A closer look revealed 2 Ring-billed Gulls and at least 20 Hooded Crows scattered around the pier. A couple of Rock Pipits flew over and a flock of Turnstone fed among the rocky shoreline. Time was ticking to see this Forster's Tern and an even harder scan of the rocks revealed no terns at all. We then came to the decision to have a break, as the wind had picked up considerably and the weather had made a turn for the worse. However, I was soon stopped in my tracks when I saw a birder (the first one). A quick introduction revealed a cracking chap - Michael Davis, a local birder. We had a long conversation about ringing and birds etc: Michael was reading Black Headed Gull rings at the time and we later found out from his notebook that he kindly showed us, that he had read rings off Black Headed Gulls from {Finland, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, United Kingdom and Iceland} What an amazing bloke he was; (See more on Kane's blog).

Adult Ring-Billed Gull

Michael later went onto tell us where, when and what time was best to see the Forster's Tern and as soon as I knew that, I didn't hang around. Kane shortly followed. A brief scan along the shore revealed the tern to be in close vicinity of 6 Sandwich Terns and a Ring-Billed Gull!! Mega birding!


Now, I have just realised that this trip report is extremely long, so I will finish it off with a grand finale.

Best birds seen were:

2 Great-Northern Diver,
1 Red-Necked Grebe,
Pale-Bellied Brent Geese,
1 Common Sandpiper,
3 Ring-Billed Gull,
6 Sandwich Tern,
1 Forster's Tern,
Black Guillemot,
Hooded Crow,


In the evenings, we went out about 6pm and enjoyed ourselves very much. We spent most of our time walking around Galway and Dublin listening for Irish music and when we heard some; we were in there like a shot. 6 or so pints each/both nights. The first evening {Friday - Galway} we managed to find ourselves dancing til 2am in an irish pub and the second night {Saturday - Dublin} found ourselves being taken advantage of by 2 women around the age of 50! They had got it into their heads that we were polish? Anyway, I can truthfully say that, that night, myself and Kane were in stitches laughing at them as they made complete fools of themselves. Oh good times, good times eh kane.

To finish off, on Sunday morning when we left the Travel lodge in Dublin, we had a mooch around Phoenix Park and managed to find and read a Black-Headed Gull darvic. Fantastic!

Ringed on 02/06/09 in County Mayo at Lough Mask as a pullus. Darvic ring - Yellow 228G! A distance of 130km! Mega!

Anyway, I would just like to say that this trip was extremely well worth the money and we sure did have a fantastic time! Highly recommended if anyone wants to go over for a weekend. Very easy to do!

Thanks ever so much Kane.. When are we going over again? Cheers.

Oh! I almost forgot; Back at Holyhead ferry terminal myself and Kane were stopped by police as they wanted to check our passports, well mainly mine. Once recieving our passports back, I asked them why they stopped me and he said: ''You looked suspicios'' ? Probably down to the fact that someone had probably noticed me in Dublin ferry terminal, as I had my scope set up seawatching. Woops. I can see now, why people must have thought me to be suspicious.

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