Winter Birding: Finding Icelandic redwing this winter

The Identification of  Redwing Turdus iliacus and Icelandic Redwing Turdus coburni
Icelandic ' coburni ' redwing - Vittorio Cashera

Over the past couple of winters I have become very intrigued by wintering flocks of redwing. Many may say why bother scanning through a flock of 300 plus redwing! For me it's the task of trying to dig out the Icelandic race of the species known as 'coburni ' which mixes in with the large winter flocks of ' iliacus '  each year. Icelandic birds are extremely under recorded throughout both Britain and Ireland. Mainly due to the lack of interest in sub-species and up until the past couple of years there had been little publish identification work on them. So, over the past few years I have looked closely at many redwing in the field and have decided to have a bash at writing an identification article. It has been a dream of mine to write identification books with sub-species such as redwing included. Watch this space! My love for lo…

Autumn Birding: American waders and more

3 Day break to Tacumshin Lake in county Wexford

Myself and my good friend Brian McCloskey had been talking about a trip to the famous Tacusmhin lake located in County Wexford for some time. One afternoon Brian texted me while I was in work and said will we just book a house for a few days. So I said "Ah feck it why not". Some of the birds that had been recorded at the site over the days leading up to our trip included; An adult American golden plover, juvenile Buff-breasted, 2 juvenile pectorals, lots of white wagtails, a few yellow wagtails and some nice raptors such as marsh harrier and hen. All birds that are a treat to see! 

(Juvenile Buff-Breasted Sandpiper)
We got the train to Rosslare strand and then a taxi to the house at the Forgotten Corner of Tacumshin. The house was overlooking the lake! Super cool. After dropping off our bags to the house we headed for the lake to spend the afternoon and evening birding. We met two birders in the early afternoon and from then on…

Review: Peregrine ed 10x42 Viking optical Binoculars

Viking Optical Rewiews

Over the past couple of weeks I have enjoyed field testing Viking opticals new range of Peregrine ed 10x42 Binoculars. Testing them in a range of circumstances including, watching gulls, passerines to raptors to fully test their range. I really enjoyed sifting through hundreds of gulls in my local harbour in all weather conditions while testing these binoculars. Makes life easier to pick up interesting gulls when you are using quality optics!
Some details about the Peregrine ed 10x42 Binoculars from Viking optical;
Description KEY FEATURES • Extra Low Dispersion glass objective lenses • Fully multicoated optics • Dielectric coated, phase corrected BAK 4 Prisms • Smooth rubber armour & fully waterproof • Twist down eyecups for spectacle wearers • Supplied with rainguard, case and strap • Weight: 8×42 600g; 10×42 610g • 10 year guarantee

There are several features of these binoculars that I found very impressive, they include;
The extra low dispersion glass, making them…

Greater Scaup: Ageing females

For the past week or so now the Wirral peninsular (Cheshire, Britain) has been experiencing an influx of Greater Scaup (Aythya marila), which has included a flock of seven on the marine lake at West Kirby. The flock, which consists of four drakes and three females have been showing well to say the least, enabling those who've made the visit all that worth while with the flock coming down to know more than a meter at times. 

The experience also gave the rare opportunity to enable this comparison shot (below) of a 1st winter female and adult female Greater Scaup side-by-side.

1st winter female:
Iris - Amber.White front - Small and tatty.Adult female:
Iris - YellowWhite front - Board and tidy. 

Review: Viking Kestrel ED 10x42

The Kestrel is in the latest range of binoculars recently released by Viking Optics. This model comes in three focal ranges: 8×32 • 8×42 • 10×42 (this review is in respect of the 10×42 model) – and has been designed to be a mid-price pair in their latest ED (Extra low Depression) glass range, which includes the Kestrels cousins: Peregrine ED & Merlin ED. The Peregrine ED is currently under review by my partner in crime Cian Cardiff, his review will be uploaded to the ID Series blog on a later date. For starters the Kestrel feels sturdy and solid, the 674g body is covered in a durable and reasonably-grippy rubber armoring  – the body its self being fully water proof – it emits excellence, making you appreciate it’s well executed design and manufacturing, making one feel pretty proud to have them as part of their birding arsenal.

As well as looking and feeling fancy, the Kestrel can also put up with a variety of conditions as I found out; from being battered by wind and…

Winter Chapter: Gulls; My Local gulling hot spot

Hi again folks,

I hope you enjoyed are last post on the first winter Yellow-legged gull. And we thought you might like some more work on gulls! Just to get the brain working. All in all this piece is just to show how gulls can be useful for identification and other birding purposes. It's nice to look at your work and findings in time and see how your birding skills develop and which areas need some work! I hope you enjoy.

(Adult Ring-billed Gull and 3cy type Common Gull By Cian Cardiff)
Just a few brief comment to tell you folks about the place were I became fascinated by gulls and gulling. It all began in a tiny harbour located on the East Coast of Ireland, called Bray Harbour. This area has the river Dargle flowing into it, which seems to be a attraction for most gull species. What I like most about this site, is when the tide drops there is an exposed area of sand and silt that has been build up by the river. This in turn leaves a fantastic area for gulls to wash, feed and re…