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Galana's Fifth - The only way from here is UP!


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Well the high pressure ridge over the Azores has brought the sunshine back if not Azorean temperatures so with the encouragement of my Backyard Egret (if not a Shikra @Kitsafari) we ventured out.


This time to the Island's only City, Peel, which is even smaller than my village of Ramsey.

Whilst there are remains of an early Christian church on St. Patrick's Isle dating back to 550AD the current seat of the Bishop of Sodor and Man is St German's in the centre of 'town'. Built in 1884 and upgraded to Cathedral in 1980 thus making Peel a City.

Our trip today was to seek out Purple Sandpipers that lurk on the rocks on St. Patrick's Isle. The islet is said to be where St Patrick first set foot in the Isle of Man in 444 while returning from Liverpool to Ireland. Having established Christianity, he then appointed Germanus bishop.

The islet is a natural defence point and over the years a castle has been erected by various rulers including our Viking Ancestors.


It is not in bad condition and is a much loved part of Manx History.

To the birds....

Well I drew a blank with the Purple Sandpiper and their usual roost was occupied by sleepy Turnstones which I tried not to disturb.

1-DSCN1162.JPG.f68cae3dc0b874e4831ba15483307863.JPG.Also seen but not yet counted (but I will if I don't find better ones in the Hebrides this summer) was an almost pure looking Rock Dove. Black wing bars and white rump showing perfectly.



So that's the no scores. My good scores will follow after dinner.

Edited by Galana
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50 already! Congrats, well done!

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Dinner over and dishes done I can continue.....

Thanks @michael-ibk.

Well whilst seeking out the elusive Sandpipers a very brave Razorbill came cruising by. Still in winter plumage so I will have to wait until later to get full breeding dress. Either here on Isle of Man or the Hebrides.



A restive soul but I got the bill in focus.  Peel Castle.



Later during my trip off the north coast I got another one in profile. If two swallows don't make a summer I can only hope that two Razorbills close to land at least indicate the changing seasons.

052. Razorbill.


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As I returned the mainland I headed for the harbour to check on another spring regular and on the way saw this nice bird busily fishing.

Hard to time the shutter  with him surfacing but got a couple of passable attempts.




Crazy bird, crazy hairdo.

053.  European Shag. Peel outer harbour.



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And so to the inner harbour** to seek a bird I saw on the way in. ** @Soukousplease note.

Another harbinger of better days to come.

One of my favourites in the Auk family.



054. Black Guillimot  Already in breeding plumage.

These cute birds nest among the stone harbour walls and will often show no fear by perching on a boats rails or decking when in harbour. Sadly I could not get the usual shot of the red bill and gape. Later!

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Finally on the way home I had stopped to chat to a fellow birder when this chap popped up and started to sing for us.

"Why are you photoing a bloody Dunnock Fred" I was asked. He does not know of Big Year.




055. Dunnock. One more regular brought to book. Blue Point. IOM. Sorry about the Briar.



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Ramsay Harbour looks good enough for a dip, but guessing it wasn't. Congrats on 50. According to the media over here, things are looking up over your way, here's hoping.

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Most bathers in the harbour are what are referred to as 'involuntary'.:D

Things are going well here. A bit of a flap this last week when 'something went wrong' but it seems t have been nailed down. fingers crossed.

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Love the Shag - have never seen one.

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14 minutes ago, michael-ibk said:

Love the Shag - have never seen one.

Thanks. You need salt water for these. They very rarely even cross terra firma unlike their more common cousins.

I saw a few more today but they don't often pose well.


Today I went off to put right the wrong of no Purple Sandpiper yesterday.

And again those ruddy Turnstones were hogging the roosts.



A lone Black Guillimot in winter dress came by to provide the contrast with yesterday's spring plumage.


Having given me a lump in my throat when I first thought it to be a Long-tailed Duck.


And it's cousin the Razorbill did not wish to be left out.


But where the heck are those Sandpipers?

Edited by Galana
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I love that Black Guillemot in summer plumage!

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2 hours ago, PeterHG said:

I love that Black Guillemot in summer plumage!

Yes, they are nice. I always like to see them which in summer is guaranteed and close.

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Well I put the hunt for the Purple Sandpiper back on my 'to do' list.

They winter here and will soon be gone to their breeding grounds which will be inaccessible to me. No doubt they will be back in November but I felt I should strike while the Iron was hot.

I decided that I would try another regular spot right down south in Port St Mary. Tide times dictated a prompt start too.

Along the Alfred Pier outer harbour wall are some flat rocks that will be awash soon and this is a likely place.

Well I can see Gulls, Oystercatchers and lots of Dunlin roosting but no Purple Sandpipers.



The tide was pushing in and I was about to try elsewhere when I spotted movement not BY the water but actually IN it!





1-DSCN1214.JPG.82f8e47dec0001c1bbf988fa768cd7fd.JPGHey! These are WADERS not bloody swimmers.

Anyway, the silhouette was short-legged and decurved bill so I had found my quarry.


I hung around a while to pick up some hopefully closer shots with moderate success above the EBC threshold.





056. Purple Sandpiper. Alfred Pier rocks. Port St. Mary. IOM.


I then went off on a wild goose chase as I had heard there were some Barnacles mixing with our 'local' Brents but sadly I could not even find the Brents. If my planned visit to Galloway in November happens this year I will see around 25,000 of them but I would like to get one for IOM if I can. Time will tell.



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But my day was not yet done and due to get better. Much better.

As searching for the Brents was not looking good I wandered to a place I rarely have much luck with to inspect more waders. Dunlin, Turnstones etc., but what are those larger waders on that rock? Not Knot.:oAlthough they would be nice.

Binoculars into action. Plovers so let's have a closer look.


Oooh! Grey Plover. That is very special. Not a lifer as I do see flocks passing through on migration but I have never succeeded in getting decent image on the island.

Let's see what we can get.


Well that first bird did permit a closer look but I saw another one that looked even better.




057. Grey Plover. Fort Island. IOM. A simple point for Big Year but a real Red letter bird for me in any year.

Apologies for the quality of these but in my excitement  I totally forgot to set the camera to EBC correctly.

Edited by Galana
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Lovely shots of the plover.

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Beautiful weather and beautiful birds, Fred! Dunnock and Grey Plover are of DSLR quality. Well done!

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42 minutes ago, xelas said:

Beautiful weather and beautiful birds, Fred! Dunnock and Grey Plover are of DSLR quality. Well done!


Yes, be careful Fred, reputations have been lost for less.

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7 hours ago, Soukous said:

Yes, be careful Fred, reputations have been lost for less.

A Chef is only as good as his last meal and so it must be that a photographer's reputation can be equally volatile. The difference between acclaim and disaster is nobbut a few f stops apart.:P


I will try harder.

Today I went after a peaceful sea watch but got nothing of record even worthy of an EBC attempt. On the way home I stopped by my local Wigeon pool to see if there were any strangers. There was a Pintail, which persisted in sitting in harsh reflecting sunlight and a pair of Shoveller that were equally playing hard to get. I did not  mind as I already had ticked Shoveller. Surely.

Again I thought to call round to bid our Whoopers farewell and godspeed as they won't be around for much longer.

So in the interests of 'product improvement' on this humble grab as ~14


I rattled off a few shots.


A herd of 47 this year. (there are a few off to the left out of shot.) Our northern hills in the background with North Barrule (Boundary) the tallest. Just off shot to the right is our only Mountain SnaeFjell and I have often walked the ridge that you can see between them.



But we talked of Product improvement so here are some some close ups. It was very muddy so no way I was going any closer. This is close enough for the birds anyway.

And having done that lunch called.

Filing the results I checked and shock horror I don't appear to have recorded Shoveller this year.

So rather than mark time here is my humble offering.


058. European Shoveller (no relation to EU Finance Ministers:P:P) Glascoe Dubh.

I even remembered  to press that EBC button.


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+1 on the Grey Plover and lovely shots of the Whoopers, too!

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8 hours ago, PeterHG said:

+1 on the Grey Plover and lovely shots of the Whoopers, too!



x2 the above. 

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Some fabulous additions, especially that good looking guillemot 

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Very nice Grey Plover!

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March came in like a lamb today so I was soon on my travels in the close area to home.


First I found a very cooperative male Eider who was keen to show off his spring outfit that I thought I should share with you after a few EBCs.


They are a truly beautiful bird even in the sharp black and white but in spring he gets that lovely Apple Green nape and neck as well as a blush of Dog rose pink on his breast. I find even the dove like cooing call quite evocative.

What do you think?

And then I set off as the tide started to ebb for our only Saltings up river from Ramsey. A nice 9 metre tide will have washed them today so best to wait if I want to keep my feet dry.:P

I was looking for Goosander but settled for a known regular so may as well count them now.


You can see the speed of the Ebb tide behind them. Where they are stood wuld have been under water an hour ago.



I got a reasonable approach although the Gander kept an eye on me as his flock swam off.

059. Canada Goose. Sulby river. Ramsey. (Sulby- Sol's farm and Rhaamsay-Bay of Wild Garlic showing our Norse origins.) Even today Wild Garlic is called Ramson. Good in recipes, makes  a great Pesto. I like it in Omelette or with a shoulder of pork.


Whilst the Goosanders were not at home I did find a very nice Little Grebe (Dabchick) rootling around in the overhanging bushes.





060. Little Grebe (Dabchick) Sulby River.

In the Poyll Dooey Nature Reserve. Poyll Dooey (Black Pool) reflecting the smooth river) A former piece of waste land that has been transformed into a nice secluded wildlife area over the last 30 years or so.



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