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Eye opener in Ireland (1 Viewer)

McHeath

Well-known member
I thought that my experience on a three day visit to Ireland last week might be interesting to relatively new birders, so here it is...

I started birding about 4 years ago, and have been on an exponential enthusiasm curve ever since. It's basically been about collecting species, about the delight of discovering how many different beautiful and fascinating birds actually live and breed within a small radius of my chosen home town of Berlin. Last summer I acquired a pair of reasonable binoculars and this year a spotting scope, both of which increased my enjoyment and ambition considerably. Buying a bridge camera later this summer opened the lid on the possibilities, and since then I suppose I've been mildly fanatical. It's all been deeply absorbing and great fun. I'm not a twitcher; I'd rather go to a new location half an hour's drive away and hope to be pleasantly surprised than chase around the countryside looking for that rare sighting. Nevertheless, my yearly list is an important thing to me, and I'm prepared to spend long hours filling in fillable gaps.

So when I got the chance to spend three days in Co. Sligo, Ireland, I immediately saw the chance of adding double figures to this year's list: waders, sea birds, moorland birds; all the stuff which is normally hundreds of km away from home, and asked for tips here on the forum:


I received a lot of very helpful and detailed suggestions and recommendations, and boarded my plane confident of increasing my count substantially. The bottom line: I didn't get to add a single new bird to my 2021 list, but the birding experience was enriching beyond measure.

My sister lives in a cottage on a smallholding of two acres among marshy fields and small stands of trees, and I was blown away by the sheer volume of birdlife. I couldn't begin to count the number of Chaffinches around the house; more Greenfinches than I've seen in years. The small tree directly in front of the kitchen window housed at one time simultaneously a Robin, a Goldcrest, two Willow Warblers, a Dunnock, a Wren, two Blue Tits, two Great Tits and a Coal Tit. Time slowed down, and it was pure luxury just to sit for hours and observe the behaviour of very common birds in minute detail. I've never before seen and heard a Great Tit actually hissing like a cat at a Chaffinch to try to drive it away; I watched the daily fluctuations of the territories of the three male Robins (Christopher Robin, Robinson and Bob Bobbins) around the house; I learnt the preferred holes in the wattle fence through which the Dunnocks and the Blue Tits would emerge. It was absolutely fascinating, and I didn't for one moment regret not being on the sea shore some 20 miles away trying to increase my tally.

So my message to newbie birders (and I count myself among them) would be: there's not only the thrill of seeing a (for you) new species; the quiet sitting and observing of very common species can also bring an immeasurable degree of satisfaction, and one which will stay with you a long time. If (as I was) you are forced by lack of mobility to concentrate on one very small location, then just do so, you will be richly rewarded - the inward journey is equally stimulating, and the possibilities in this pastime really are infinite.

Happy birding! :)
 
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