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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Great White Egret on River Maine - 7th Kerry record

Great White Egret, Maine River, 20th September 2017 (all photos: Michael O'Clery).

This stupidly-lanky-yet-hypnotically-elegant heron was present at high tide along the Maine river bank just to the east of the pier at Caherfealane. At one point, harassed by a local Grey Heron it took an indecisive and leisurely flight upriver for about a kilometre before eventually circling back and landing once more in the original spot. Then the Hooded Crows started having a go, though they barely came up to its knee, and even I wouldn't fancy my chances against a swift stab from that long yellow dagger of a bill.

The seventh county record.

Great White Egret, Maine River, 20th September 2017.

Great White Egret, Maine River, 20th September 2017.

Here, with three of its smaller counterparts, Little Egrets. Next to this fella they do indeed look 'little'.

Great White Egret, Maine River, 20th September 2017.

Great White Egret, Maine River, 20th September 2017.

Numbers in Britain and Europe are on the increase and breeding has taken place annually in England since they first bred there, in Somerset in 2012. Surely we will be seeing more of this majestic bird in the Kingdom and, from the Kerry records (below) kept by Ed Carty, the pace of occurrences is quickening.

2009 (1) Ballyseedy, 30th Jan.
         (1) Akearagh Lough, 1st-13th Oct. 
2012 (1) Castlemaine, 21st-29th Oct.
2015 (1) Smerwick-Ventry, 31st Oct.-12th Nov., presumed same at Ventry, 14th Nov.
2016 (1) near Portmagee, 27th-30th Sept.
2017 (1) near Kenmare, 12th April.
2017 (1) Caherfealane, 20th Sept.
(with thanks to Ed Carty).

Monday, 18 September 2017

Little Stint trio, Derrymore

Three juvenile Little Stints, Derrymore, 18th September 2017 (Michael O'Clery).

Three juvenile Little Stints, Derrymore, 18th September 2017 (Michael O'Clery).

Buff-b. Sand. at unpronounceable spot on Valentia Island.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Valentia Island, 17th September (Pat McDaid).

This bird has been present for several days now and is frequenting the wild, open grassy areas at the tip of Beenakryrakka Head.

You know the spot... just north of Coosnaraka and Coosnalarabaunia... No? ah, for goodness sake. Right by the bay at Coosheennagruhage and the fields at Knockaunadagrean!

Ok then, how about. "NW tip of Valentia Island, near the weather station"?

'Benna... what? 
Ok then, "1km west of Coosgorm Rocks". See HERE for info on that spot.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Valentia Island, 17th September (Pat McDaid).

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

White-rumped Sandpiper, Carrahane

White-rumped Sandpiper, Carrahane, 13th September 2017 (David O'Connor).

White-rumped Sandpiper, Carrahane, 13th September 2017 (David O'Connor).

White-rumped Sandpiper, Carrahane, 13th September 2017 (David O'Connor).

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Sabine's Gulls at Rough Point

Juvenile Sabine's Gull, Rough Point, 12th September 2017 (M.O'Clery).

During a violent gale force wind, there were upwards of 400 Arctic Terns taking shelter in the lee of the headland. This juvenile Sabine's Gull made a brief appearance among them for just five minutes or so, before heading south into Sandy Bay. A second bird - also a juvenile - rounded the headland a short time later and headed west into the ferocious headwind.

Juvenile Sabine's Gull, Rough Point, 12th September 2017 (M.O'Clery).

Juvenile Sabine's Gull, Rough Point, 12th September 2017 (M.O'Clery).

Arctic Terns, Rough Point, 12th September 2017 (M.O'Clery).

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Lesser Yellowlegs, tame but elusive

The Lesser Yellowlegs has been absent for long periods from the usual spot on Cappagh Beach, but showed there today in the morning and again in the late evening. Despite much searching, it's not known where it goes when it's not at the tiny patch of beach at Cappagh.

Lesser Yellowlegs, Cappagh Beach, 10th September 2017 (M.O'Clery).

Lesser Yellowlegs, Cappagh Beach, 10th September 2017 (M.O'Clery).

Lesser Yellowlegs, Cappagh Beach, 10th September 2017 (M.O'Clery).

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Lesser Yellowlegs and Sabine's Gull



Lesser Yellowlegs, Cappagh Beach, 9th September 2017 (Ian Jones).

A great find by Ian Jones today (though strictly speaking, it was his mum that pointed it out initially), on a beach that rarely warrants much attention from birders. The most you can expect there normally is very distant views of scoter in the winter and occasional distant views of skuas in the autumn. 

Lesser Yellowlegs, Cappagh Beach, 9th September 2017 (Ian Jones).

Lesser Yellowlegs, Cappagh Beach, 9th September 2017 (Ian Jones).

Cappagh Beach, 9th September 2017.

The small rainwater rivulet on Cappagh Beach where the Yellowlegs chose to visit. Not only the first rarity to be found on this beach but one of the few actual birds to ever have landed on it.

Sabine's Gull, Brandon Pier, 9th September 2017 (Ian Jones).

Meanwhile, on another nearby beach, a juvenile Sabine's Gull made an appearance.

Sabine's Gull, Brandon Pier, 9th September 2017 (Ian Jones).

Sabine's Gull, Kilcummin, Brandon Bay, 9th September 2017 (David O'Connor).

Another (or possibly the same? Head and side-of-breast markings look very similar) Sabine's Gull was found by David O'Connor on nearby Kilcummin Beach, a few km to the east.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Semipalmated Sandpiper at Smerwick Harbour

Juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper, Smerwick Harbour, 7th September 2017 (Ian Jones).

Another of these pint-sized Nearctic wonders to gladden the eye...

Westerlies are going to dominate the weather in the coming week. There may well be more of these and other Nearctic goodies to be found.

Juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper, Smerwick Harbour, 7th September 2017 (Ian Jones).

Juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper with Sanderling, Smerwick Harbour, 7th September 2017 (Ian Jones).

A wandering Med. Gull

This ringed Mediterranean Gull was seen at Ventry by David O'Connor last Monday, and David has been able to find out more information about its travels. Makes for interesting reading...

Colour-ringed second winter Mediterranean Gull, Ventry 4th September 2017 (David O'Connor).

David writes, "Ringed as a pullus at Lady's Island Lake in Wexford last year, it was down in Portugal in February, paid a visit to Cornwall at the end of May, then hit the Kingdom by September...I wonder where to next! Details below:"

BTO Ring 2X1N, ringed as a chick 08/06/2016 at Inish Island, Lady's Island, Lake, Wexford, Ireland.

Seen, 11/02/17, Carlos Pacheco, Vila Nova de Milfontes (Odemira), Beja, Portugal.

Seen again 31/04/2017 in Cornwall, at the Hayle Estuary, Cornwall, United Kingdom.

And most recently on 04/09/2017 at Ventry, Kerry, Ireland.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

A feisty Semipalmated Sandpiper at Derrymore

Feisty: "Full of animation, energy, or courage; spirited; plucky." Dictionary.com

Juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper, Derrymore, 6th September 2017 (M.O'Clery).

As ever with Derrymore, you roll the dice. At stake is three hours of your life, mostly taken up with trudging along calf-busting soft sand and gravel to get to the main birding area, the high tide roost of hundreds of waders - or at least that's the theory. Sometimes there can be little or nothing. Most times there is something to warrant the effort.

There were about 700-800 Dunlin present there this evening and among them, this little frosty-looking beaut. The encounter was made all the more enjoyable when after carefully approaching the main flock on the beach, the assembled throng of waders got used to my presence and I was eventually approached and then surrounded by hundreds of small, busy waders and, in the case of this SemiP, at distances down to 20 feet. 

The return walk is made easy after encountering such a feisty and characterful little bird, and one that has just crossed the Atlantic at barely two months of age.

Juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper, Derrymore, 6th September 2017 (M.O'Clery).

The SemiP regularly returned to and tried to defend a few square feet of small tideline pool, despite being dwarfed by the occasional intruding Sanderling or Dunlin. Each time one of its competitors came near it adopted this posture, tail high. It didn't always seem to work and the Sanderling in particular seemed unimpressed but the Dunlin would occasionally give it a wide berth after this apparent show of aggression. Perhaps it gives the bird just enough time and space to snatch its fair share of food despite being the smallest bird on the beach.

Juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper, Derrymore, 6th September 2017 (M.O'Clery).

Juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper, Derrymore, 6th September 2017 (M.O'Clery).

A photo illustrating the reason for the name - the small webbing between the outer and middle toe, the 'palmation'. Or a semi palmation. Its not much of a web, really.

Juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper, Derrymore, 6th September 2017 (M.O'Clery).

And here's 'titch' in his temporary territory, giving it large to any intruders. Two feet of pool edge to defend and everyone knows it.