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Sunday, 19 December 2010

AMERICAN ROBIN in County Sligo (Ireland)

The story as I know it is:

Yesterday evening Mervyn Gawley opened a silage pit to feed sheep on the ground behind his farmyard, which adjoins the Warren Way. The Warren Way is a signed and paved public walkway which Mervyn has given a lot of his time to getting up & running some years back. He has run guided nature walks on the Warren Way. He said that there were quite a few earthworms or brandlings in the material he put out for the sheep, from the silage pit covering, and he attracted a lot of thrushes & starlings, as the whole area is carpeted with snow. It was 4pm (near dusk in these parts).

He saw the bird among the Redwings, and noticed it was considerably larger, and "red all the way round underneath". He also noticed that it had white spots around the eye, but no stripe or ring. He got a close view of the bird from the tractor, but had no optics. By the time he got to back to his house for binoculars and scope, and returned, it was too dark, and he hasn't seen it since. Mervyn identified the bird from a field guide and confirmed the ID with Google images.

Mervyn and I watched the area well today, but 4-5 visits from a male Sparrowhawk caused a fair bit of havoc. Nevertheless there were a lot of thrushes around (good numbers of Redwing and male Blackbirds, some Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush) and starlings, but no sign of anything close to what Mervyn saw. I have not been in contact with Stephen Meaney since he saw it today, but I gathered from Mervyn's text that Stephen was in the wood further along the walk when he re-found it. That is the sum total of all that I know.

Anyone travelling should be aware that the road between Ballina and Enniscrone (the 'coast road' or 'quay road') is terribly icy, packed white ice, no gritting, and I had a fairly scary return trip .

I put some sketch maps up on the BirdWatch Sligo website tonight, with apologies to Google and the Ordnance Survey...........I trust the laws of copyright are suspended in bad weather!

The maps are at http://www.sligobirding.com/WarrenWalkMapsEtc.html

(contributed by Mícheál Casey)