What better way to escape the post-Christmas depression and turkey sandwiches than a trip to Ireland? Ashley Howe any myself left Holyhead in the early hours of the 27th, arriving in Dublin that morning. Unfortunately for me, I was just starting with a heavy cold and a dripping nose which, combined with about an hour of sleep, resulted in a drive across to the west coast that dragged a little. A couple of hours and a full box of tissues later, we arrived in Galway. A wander along Nimmo's pier was quite good with 3 adult Ring-billed Gulls, a 1cy Iceland Gull and a couple of Sandwich Terns off shore. It was FREEZING though and I was feeling quite rough, so I soon headed back to the car for a warm and a doze.
A drive along the coast to the west of Galway provided little of note. The afternoon, back at Nimmo's, was much the same as the morning with the addition of a 1cy Glaucous Gull.
After failing to find a B&B that was open over Christmas, we spend a long cold night in the car.
Totals from Nimmo's on the morning of 28th were one 2cy Iceland Gull, two ad Ring-billed Gulls and two ringed Black-headed Gulls (both ringed as nestlings in June 07 in Co. Mayo, thanks to Chris Benson for the information).
We took a walk along the shore were we found a small flock of Pale-bellied Brent Geese and a host of passerines feeing in the seaweed along the strandline, including Chaffinches, Wrens and a horde of Rock Pipits (no Buff-bellied, despite checking every one!). A colour-ringed Bar-tailed Godwit was by the causeway to Mutton Island, all the way from Holland (thanks to Bernard Spaans for the data), and, on the way back, the Forster's Tern was on the beach with two Sandwich Terns.
The afternoon was spent along the coast to the west of Galway again, this time a little further along. A 1cy Glaucous Gull was on a small lough between Ballynahown and Rossaveel with a Little Egret on a stream just across the road, and in Rossaveel harbour there was a second 1cy Glaucous Gull and another Little Egret.
The stretch of water off An Bothar Bui held about seven Great Northern Divers, a Black Guillemot and a handful of Long-tailed Ducks.
That night we managed to find a B&B and, after a hot shower, headed off to bed... only to wake up the next morning to find water dripping on us from the ceiling! After a cooked breakfast we scraped the half an inch of frost off the car and headed back to Galway for one last stab at Nimmo's.
The 1cy Iceland Gull from day 1 was on the slipway, as were two ad Ring-billed Gulls.
And some non-larid action:
We decided to call it a day in Galway. Despite a couple of tries, we'd not managed to connect with the Surf Scoter and there was no of the Smithsonian Gull while we were there, at least not that we saw!
Up in Sligo, there was no sign of any Lesser Scaup at Lough Arrow (although we were beaten by the light and didn't have time to check every bay) and, the next day, no sign of the Buff-bellied Pipit around Lough Beg (on the off chance it was still there!).
Driving down the M2, a large flock of Waxwing were in trees by the side of the Motorway. We came off at the next junction about drove back to find the birds, about 200, feeding by a car park in Newtownabbey.
We had a brief stop in Belfast city centre before heading south to Dublin to catch the ferry back.