Tolka Branch Trip
Beach, Monaghan - 19th April 2014
by Frank Turpin
The day dawned bright and breezy promising good birding and so it proved
as we headed for Monaghan to track down Hen Harriers, Red Grouse and maybe
Cuckoo. Fourteen of us gathered at the first viewing spot after
finding the elusive left turn for the “Penal Cross” on the road from
Monaghan Town to Tydavnet. Almost immediately a fine male Hen
Harrier showed well off to our left. Shortly later two
ringtails, possibly a female and an immature, were on view to our
right. It was not long before a striking male Red Grouse was
sighted below the road. We had good views of the grouse flying.
Their strange whirring flight is surprisingly strong. There we heard and
saw, distantly, a Cuckoo.
As the day progressed we had several more sightings of the Hen Harriers
including nice views of a male perching prominently in a conifer. We
also had another Red Grouse who condescended to do a good imitation of the
one adorning the “Famous” Scotch Whiskey label. This was on the
north side of Slieve Beagh and actually in Tyrone. Here also, a Sparrowhawk
was spotted flying at pace along the tree line.
Other observations included several Swallows as we drove to the
site, many Willow Warblers seen and heard, Chiffchaffs
heard, Redpolls, Chaffinches, Blue Tit, Long-tailed
Tits, Song Thrush, Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Robin.
Our illustrious leader also spotted a male Blackcap.
Very interesting was a very tatty and faded Red Admiral seen
feeding. It had obviously been able to survive over the mild winter.
Other butterflies seen included Orange Tips, Tortoiseshells
and a Peacock.
Four cars headed for Lurgangreen in a futile search for the Avocets
reported that morning. This group did see and were impressed by the
new Oscar Merne hide. One other car driving home added a Common Buzzard
to our raptor count.
A good outing was enjoyed by all. The weather cooperated and the
target species were all spotted.