Friday, 4 October 2013

This is the right island, inish?

For once I was in the elite squad. On the plane, just behind the bandana boys. Slightly fortuitous it has to be said. I booked the flights to Ireland a couple of months back, little knowing an Eastern Kingbird would appear the day before the flight. Anyway I was there. A quick hop over the water, off the plane, pick up the hire car and away in a screech of wheels.  And still just behind the bandana.

But they must have caught an earlier ferry as they were nowhere to be seen as we boarded the Happy Hooker, complete with Bottle-nosed Dolphin riding the bow. After an hour we were on Inishmore. “Arrh, birders” said the bike man, adding “It was me that hired the bike to the guy that found the Kingbird”.  Perfect. A sign.  A quick check on Birdguides before we peddled off  (other equally expensive info services are available); no sign of the Eastern Kingbird on Inishbofin.  Inish-where?

Birding on Inishmore is easy. There are basically 3 types of birds there; those with red breasts, those that are black/grey and go "Karrr", and rares. Anything that doesn't have a red breast or go “Karrr” is worth a look. But they are hard to find. My first day’s tally was encouraging: red breasts 2017, Karrrs 234, rares 0.  By the end of the trip the results were only a little better: a couple of Chiffchaffs, a few Wheatears, two Lapland Bunts, a Yellow-browed Warbler, a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, a Little Stint, a Med Gull and two Ring-billed Gulls.  One evening, after a few pints of Guinness, I had a thought; if you want to find yanks in a foreign country then the best bet is probably America.