Report from our outing to Killala Bay on 8th November 2008, from Wendy Stringer.
One wet, windy and cold Saturday a small, but determined, group of birders arrived at Killala for the Mayo Branch of BirdWatch Ireland’s outing.
What were they doing? They could have been home in warm, dry and cosy homes or they could have been in the local bar having a whiskey. But no! There they were attempting to see birds that were far too clever to be out and about in a howling gale with rafts of rain, rather than birds, coming in off the sea!
But birds did appear in between the showers.
Red-throated and Great Northern Divers were seen off the pier – were they diving just to stay out of the weather? A Little Grebe stayed for a short time, before deciding to emigrate to better climes out near Bartragh Island. Cormorants stood sentinel-like on a small sandbar guarding the entrance to inner Killala Bay. It was as though they knew not to venture on to the sea to fish. Dunlin and Sanderling also sheltered in hunched groups on the sandbar, whilst Turnstone argued over the best post to rest on.
Gulls included Kittiwake, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gulls – all these were sheltering too. At this stage did we give up – well sort of! We went round towards Ross Strand. At the marshes just before Ross, we found the birds! Surprise, surprise, they were sheltering in the small inlets and rushes. What is that saying about ‘birdbrain’ – it should have applied to us that day, not the birds.
In the marshy area were Redshank, Lapwing and Light-bellied Brent Geese. Four Little Egrets were very close beside the road and, although they were flightly, they gave very good views. Later, as we headed home, hundreds of Brent arrived – some of which were ringed.
Feeding in the water in the sheltered bay were ducks such as Mallard, Wigeon and Teal. Waders included one Spotted Redshank and some Greenshank.
At Ross Strand the weather had slightly improved. There were Oystercatcher feeding on the sandy shore and Great Northern Diver offshore. We could even see Enniscrone across the bay. The day ended with increasing numbers of Brent being seen in the bay, with Lapwing and Golden Plover wheeling above Killala Bay in very large flocks.
Although the day was a bit of a washout, Killala is still one of the best sites from which to watch sea and shore birds, especially from October to April. Make sure you drive towards Ross Strand and look carefully in the marshy areas on the way.