IW 87 Midleton, Co. Cork by Paul Moore
IW 87 where the hell is that you might logically ask, which is precisely the reason I chose that name. From a birding perspective IW 87 is a largely featureless piece of mixed farmland just north of Midleton in east Cork and also as it happens where I’ve lived all my life and worked for a lot of it. The farm and a few surrounding bits cover a little over half a square kilometer not the largest of patches it must be said.
Midleton from my farm. Midleton distillery in the distance, you can get drunk by standing here in a strong south easterly.
It’s where I started birding in the early 1970’s aged five, had my first twitch aged 7 (running 300m to see a Chiffchaff), found my first rarity (Hoopoe) aged nine and have kept a tally ever since of what has and hasn’t been seen there.
The farm is mostly tillage with some grassland and has breeding Yellowhammers, Stock Dove, Reed Buntings and Sedge Warblers. Stonechats haven't bred since the big freezes and may be tricky. The Owenacurra river forms the eastern boundary and contributes easy Dipper, Kingfisher and Little Egret. Waterrock Golf course lies on the northern boundary and an industrial estate and the
– Midleton railway line forms the southern boundary each providing something different in the way of habitats. Cork
Spot the patch, between the golf course and the industrial estate.
I suppose if you put a birder anywhere in the country they’ll turn up some odd things and I have been lucky over the years with what has found it’s way here. Two Boneparte’s Gulls, Black Kite, Red Kites, Yellow-browed Warblers, Great White Egret, Hoopoes, Hobbys, 19 Cranes and a Spoonbill have all shown up though mostly as flyovers, so there are unlikely to be any second chances his year with rarities. Ten miles inland isn’t that far inland though it’s still too far for seawatching so there’s unlikely to be repeats of Fulmar, Great Northern Diver or Sandwich Tern either.
One of the reasons for doing the patch yearlist challenge is quantify the changes that have taken place over the years. It’s easy to know the species, Corncrakes long gone, Skylarks no longer breeding, Buzzards, Little Egrets and Med Gulls all regular now, but to arrive at the end of a year with a number gives a comparison for future reference.
So what’s the number likely to be? On a countback I think I got 83 sp in 2012 which may well have been a record as it included three farm ticks in Waxwing, Marsh Harrier and Jack Snipe so I may already be struggling for 2013. However most of the birds I come across in a year are found during the course of a normal working day so we’ll see what actually going out and looking for stuff does for the year list.