A rocket run in field herping parlance, is a short, action-packed trip to somewhere unusual, to catch up with some different species. In the USA its to a different state and in Europe its to a different county. This seems appropriate for my primarily work-focused 36 hours in County Cork, Ireland. As a large part of yesterday was working, I can neither tell you where I was, or what I was doing but suffice to say it was very pleasant. I will instead cover what I can say!
I haven't been to Ireland before. This is technically a lie but my only previous trips were about 12 metres into Irish waters when surveying off Islay back in 2010, so that doesn't count in my eyes. Due to this and my impending 40th birthday, my wife booked me a trip to Dublin, to go for the very first time. I was very much looking forward to this, and still am. Work however needed me to head to Ireland at short notice, so head I did and my trip to Dublin will no longer be my first time, much to my wife's chagrin. After reading about Manchester airport on the news a lot, I experienced this hellscape for what it is. I queued for two and a half hours to get through into departures, due to a lack of security staff, only to be delayed for a further two hours once I was through due to a lack of ground crew. Awesome. Eventually I got to Cork airport and the hotel there.
Yesterday morning was glorious and my first Irish bird species was Hooded Crow, as several went past in the early morning light, as I sipped my coffee. A Pied Wagtail danced on the car park and a Song Thrush dug at the hotel lawn. I ventured west and saw my first Buzzard and most of the generic countryside species. A day of mooching revealed plenty of finches including Siskin and Bullfinch and lots of Chiffchaffs. I rather fancied something else might be in but the hinterland seemed to be later than here in Yorkshire with no leaf on the trees and no Willow Warblers although my colleague thought he saw a Swallow.
|Room with a view. Of a car park.|
I checked a few lakes but came away with just a Sparrowhawk and the usual suspects sitting tight. After work, I thought I'd amble to the coast to see if I could turn up a decent duck (I couldn't) or go and see the Lesser Scaup and friends at Lough Clubir. Mute Swans are nesting all over it turns out but I didnt see anything of interest on the still water bodies but upon crossing a bridge south of Leap, saw a Black Guillemot paddling about. The bridge felt like it was over a freshwater body although on reviewing maps it is apparent it is an estuary. It was narrow and enclosed by leafy trees so seeing an auk when you expect a Goldeneye or Goosander was a shock. A large passage of gulls was also very much in evidence with Lesser Black-backed Gulls everywhere.
I got to Lough Clubir where there were a dozen Aythyas in evidence and sure enough, one was a female Lesser Scaup which was very definitely paired with a male Tufted Duck. There was no sign of the female Ring-necked Duck, although a couple of Shelduck were hunting for rabbit holes in which to raise the next generation. And that was it! I meandered back to airport and had my first proper pint of Guinness before falling asleep, exhausted and then catching the early bird back to Manchester, which proved relatively painless, aside from the hordes heading to Aintree for the weekend.