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 we had the lake to ourselves. Time to bag a find!! After having a brief look around the 'east end' and 'sluice' we made tracks for the' patches' (The best site for rares here). Just as we crossed the small body of water to reach the 'patches'. We picked up a flock of around 12 'smalls', and low and behold the juvenile Buff breast was one! Happy days. After watching the bird for a short period and taking some record images. I received a phone call from Tom Kavanagh to say the adult American golden plover had flown and landed within our view. We got onto the bird, showing well. Then we bumped into Killian Mullarney who had been out with the American golden. After a short chat we headed on. After a few minutes Killian rang to say have a look at the ringtail harrier that was hunting behind us! Always interesting when Killian rings about a bird. We got onto the bird in question. WOW! This is dark and very orange on the underparts! Reminding us of a Northern (Marsh hawk) harrier. The North American hen harrier which has been recorded in Ireland on a couple of occasions now. The views were good but the light was extremely poor. Therefore we could not get any features bar it was very dark and orange on the underparts. Very frustrating to say the least! We had hoped to see the bird again at some stage during the evening as the harriers are hunting for their last meal of the day.

After walking down to the forgotten corner we had some better looks at the adult American golden plover and both an immature male and immature/female Marsh harriers showing rather nicely. On our way back from the forgotten corner the buff breast had dropped back in with the small wader flock. As they wader flock flew back towards the 'east end' the juvenile buff-breasted was happy enough by himself. After a while we just sat in the short grass and he just walked towards us! Coming very close at times. Magical! Some images in the evening light attached. Some nice white wagtails were also feeding in and around the buff breast making for good photography opportunities. 

When we were back in the house that evening Brian was in touch with Killian about the harrier. He had obtained some record images that he could work with. Leading him to learn towards a juvenile male European hen harrier. FECK! We both said. Well we will just have to find a Northern ourselves tomorrow.

(Juvenile Buff-breasted sandpiper (Calidris subruficollis)

(Juvenile Buff-breasted sandpiper (Calidris subruficollis)

(Juvenile Buff-breasted sandpiper (Calidris subruficollis)

(1st cal year White Wagtail Motacilla alba)

Anything from 200 plus white wagtails were present that evening seen going to roost somewhere near the 'east end'. As we got back to the 'High car park' at the 'east end' we hoped to pick up the interesting ringtail harrier to no aval. Though the immature male marsh harrier did make a brief appearance hunting over the 'east end pool' in the stunning evening light. As the light began to fad we called it a day and headed back the the house for a nice big take away pizza 😃. 

So, day two. up for first light which was 7am. Not to early. Fresh and ready for the long days birding ahead we set off to the 'east end' to look for a female type yellow wagtail that had been seen for the past couple of days. One of the first birds we picked up was it! Flying over our heads calling several times. Proving rather elusive. After about 15 minutes of scanning the wader flocks at the 'east end' the yellow wagtail flew over calling again and this time was kind enough to drop in with a flock of white wagtails which seemed to be just of the roost. We watched the yellow wagtail and took a couple of shots and moved on checking the large movement of white wags, meadow pipits and skylarks that were all feeding around the 'east end' We had hoped for something like a lapland bunting or maybe even something better such as a short-toed lark! No joy though! We then moved on towards the 'sluice' not having much bar 2 juvenile curlew sandpiper. Onto the 'patches' and the adult American golden plover was still showing in it's favorite feeding spot. We had a look around the 'patches' for the buff b but there was no sign. As we began to walk back, I decided to stop and scan back towards the 'forgotten corner'. As I did a flock of 4 small ducks got up from the corner. One being a immature/eclipes male garganey! Always a bird that is nice to pick up! We walked a bit closer as the birds landed, getting some distant scope views. So, we began to head back towards the 'east end' to go and grab a bit to eat back at the house. Just as we got to the crossing point I picked up an interesting wader flying from the crossing point into a small dunlin flock. As it landed it was a cracking juvenile Pectoral sandpiper! It soon flew off over the lake and broke off from the dunlin flock were it was joined by a second pectoral! They both flew over to the patches and landed. At the same time Sean Cronin was scanning the wader flocks at the 'east end' and he had a pec flying over his head calling. Flying in the opposite direction to our two! Boom, 3 birds present!! Now time for grub.

After the hours break we went back out onto the lake having the yellow wagtail and a grey wagtail! A bit of a site rare for here! Also a rock pipit was flying over calling. A good start! We covered the lake again in the afternoon. We really wanted to pick up theses pecs again. So we spent the evening on the 'patches' looking for them and hoping to relocate the buff breasted or find something. After a couple of hours the ringtail harrier had shown up again and Sean Cronin managed some very nice images of the bird. And put our minds at rest. That it was a very striking juvenile European hen harrier. Some of the features that suggest a European bird include; Lighter coloured head to northern, more heavily streaked on the underparts, 4 bars on the primaries. A great bird for learning from that's for sure! Some of my grainy images below. 

(Eye-catching juvenile Hen harrier Circus cyaneus)

(Eye-catching juvenile Hen harrier Circus cyaneus)

(Eye-catching juvenile Hen harrier Circus cyaneus)


After a few hours searching the large flocks of dunlin and ringed plover which had really grown through out the day. We finally picked up a pectoral sandpiper on call and then flying right by us as it joined the main wader flock and showed well for the evening. As did the American golden plover. The plover, often a very vocal species was very quiet. In fact we only heard it call twice in our 3 days on the lake! Some images of the Juvenile Pectoral and Adult American golden plover attached.

(Juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos)

 (Juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos)

(Moulting adult American golden plover Pluvialis dominica)

(Moulting adult American golden plover Pluvialis dominica)


 All in all a great trip and super craic.

Oh, and the best image of all is in the form of Mr. McCloskey with his "New invention". After his wellies had become filled with water on the inside. After changing into new socks he used the zip-lock bags to keep his feet dry! This lad is going to go far people I tell you. You heard it here first. 

Copyright of @BrianMcCloskey



#Birdingtrips #Wexford #Tacumshin #Vikingoptical #IDandAgeingSeries

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