Our birding weekend in Carlingford went down very well despite arctic conditions. We were fully booked for the weekend package with 20 participants mainly from the Dublin area with a few from elsewhere in the country. We started with dinner in the hotel on Friday evening, followed by a talk by Eric Dempsey on the winter waterfowl we were to see the
following day at Oxford Island. Although the Ferruginous Duck and Bewick's swans failed to make an appearance, the sight of thousands of ducks including Tufted, Pochard, Ruddy, Goldeneye, Mallard, Teal along with the Great Crested Grebes and others well made up for it. The high quality hides and walkways were welcome given the weather.
Great Crested Grebe
That evening Eric gave a second talk, this time covering the over-wintering waders we were to see on the Carlingford mudflats on the Sunday morning walk along the shore. We were joined by 15 or so local enthusiasts despite the now freezing esat wind. The usual array of waders showed, n many instances hiding behind rocks to get out of the wind: Brent geese, Curlews, Redshanks, Oystercatchers, Dunlin and a Grey Plover. On the lough we found a Great Northern Diver taking shelter from the stormy sea. By now our group had whittled down to a hardcore dozen and were about to call it a day when an unusual looking grebe was seen off Carlignford Harbour. Initially misidentified by myself, it turned out to be a Red-necked Grebe, a siberian species that I, like several others, had never seen before - so a great finish to the weekend!
Distant view of the Red-necked Grebe
Other than that the theme of the weekend was animal rescue, with a Lapwing being rescued from a Grey Crow and a fisherman being persuaded to return a pike he had caught to Lough Neigh, then in Carlingford a distressed juvenile Common Shag was taken into care and successfully released the following day.