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Monday, 13 August 2018

Mixed breeding season for Kerry Barn Owls

Nationally, it's been a strange season for Barn Owls, with average brood sizes good, but a lot of traditional sites, particularly in Kerry, apparently abandoned, or resulting in failed nesting. Sites in inland and midland sites seem later than western coastal sites, a reversal of the norm. A very chilly spring most likely accounts for the strange timings and failed nests, despite the subsequent good summer weather.

However, there has also been an encouraging uptake of new nest boxes, showing the real value in providing safe nest sites for this iconic bird.

Four Barn Owl chicks, near Castleisland (All photos: M.O'Clery, John Lusby - BirdWatch Ireland, under licence to NPWS).

One of the few broods of four this summer (above) was in a nest box near Castleisland, a site which has proven successful in each of the last three seasons it has been occupied, with three, three and, this year, four chicks.

Three young chicks were in a newly occupied nest box in this barn near Scartaglen, July 2018.

A nest box was installed in this barn (above) in 2014. With no sign of Barn Owls nearby or known of in the immediate area, the reasons for putting the box in place were based somewhat on blind optimism, though there was potentially good foraging areas nearby, and the barn was disused. Finally, in year five, the optimism was rewarded, Barn Owls moved in and three chicks were hatched. Unfortunatly only one of the three survived to fledging, but fantastic to have another nest site up and running.

Three Barn Owl chicks, near Tralee.

Where the brood size was accurately known, Kerry nest sites produced:
One chick - 1 site
Two chicks - 3 sites
Three chicks - 4 sites
Four chicks - 1 site

The average brood size from these sites was 2.55, a little above the national average (there were other sites which were successful but we can't be sure of the exact brood size). However, with several failed nests and quite a few empty traditional sites, it's not been a bumper season. Here's hoping this coming winter will be kind to the next generation of Barn Owls.

More on the Irish Raptor Blog HERE
and
the Duhallow Raptor Blog HERE

Sunday, 22 July 2018

White-winged Dove and a Curley

Near Boolteens there's a new way-marked trail at Caherfealane which takes you past the marsh of the same name, also known as Caher Marsh, a spot which has turned up Spoonbill, American Golden Plover and a few other goodies over the years. However there is, it seems, a first Western Palearctic species awaiting the visitor.

The sign.

The new interpretive panel has a nice map of the route and, on the reverse, highlights six species of birds to be seen along the trail, i.e., Pheasant, Cuckoo, Shel Duck (sic), Greater Black-backed Gull, Curlew and Whimbrel. The mis-use of "Shel Duck" grabbed my attention and I went for a closer look. It was with a deep sigh and a predictably testy appearance of my alter-ego, 'Grumpy-Old-Pedantic-Git' that I noticed not only is the text riddled with errors and typos, double spaces and missed hyphens, the choice of species somewhat odd (Whimbrel is not at all regular there and Black-headed Gull is by far the commonest Gull all year), but the photo of Cuckoo is actually of a White-winged Dove, a species of pigeon confined to the southern United States and Central America and never recorded in Europe.

White-winged non-Cuckoo Dove.

This sort of public information problem crops up regularly enough. I recall some years ago seeing a sign for boat trips along the Cliffs of Moher which advertised and illustrated with photos, the wildlife likely to be seen - whales, dolphins, Puffins, White Terns... What? White Terns? Maybe if you were on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic...

And at Caherfealane not only can you treat yourself to a first Western Palearctic bird, but you can then treat yourself to a Curley.

Curley Whimbrel.

The Whimbrel photo looks like it is actually of a Hudsonian Whimbrel.

The sign and the trail are truly commendable and are a tremendous asset to the area - really, they are - but for heavens sake, the information could so easily have been checked. You have willing volunteers right here. Just contact us. 

Grumpy-Old-Pedantic-Git signing off...

Little Tern flock

Little Terns, Rough Point, 22nd July 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Away from the only breeding colony, it's not often you get to see an actual flock of Little Terns in Kerry. And although this is indeed only 2km from the breeding colony, it's still a treat for the eyes. Ten Little Terns, three of them juveniles.

Little Terns, Rough Point, 22nd July 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Little Terns, Rough Point, 22nd July 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Little Terns, Rough Point, 22nd July 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Little Terns, Rough Point, 22nd July 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Little Terns, Rough Point, 22nd July 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Water Rail

Water Rail, Beal, north Kerry, 12th July 2018 (Geoff Hunt).

A fantastic photo of a scarce and secretive breeding species.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Summering Glaucous Gull

Adult Glaucous Gull, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, 15th July 2018 (Ed Carty).

This bird has been present in the Blennerville area all summer.

Adult Glaucous Gull, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, 15th July 2018 (Ed Carty).

Adult Glaucous Gull, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, 15th July 2018 (Ed Carty).

Friday, 13 July 2018

Maharees Little Terns fledge

Juvenile Little Tern, Maharees, 13th July 2018 (M.O'Clery).

The extraordinary run of good weather this summer in Kerry has meant greater than usual numbers of human visitors to the Maharee islands. Fortunately, this does not seem to have deterred the nesting terns. 6 to 7 pairs of Little Tern were seen to be nesting back in May and early June and today it was a relief to see at least 5-6 fledged juveniles flying about the island, harassing their parents for food.

Juvenile Little Tern, Maharees, 13th July 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Tern chicks, immediately after leaving the nest and for their first few months of life, are smaller than their parents. Not that they are literally smaller in a body sense, rather the tail feathers and particularly the primary feathers don't quite match the true length of adult birds. Short-tailed and blunt-winged. So while adult Little Terns do indeed seem little, their offspring, after fledging, seem tiny.

Arctic Tern, Maharees, 13th July 2018 (M.O'Clery).

The main two Arctic Tern colonies are still at chick stage, with no chicks yet fully fledged. Small numbers of adult Common Terns were also still attending their near-grown chicks. Another week or so and most chicks should be flying.

First-summer Arctic Tern, Maharees, 13th July 2018 (M.O'Clery).

This young bird is not a fledgling from this year, rather this immature bird was hatched last summer, has been to the Southern Hemisphere and back, and is hopefully checking out a new nest site for when it is ready to breed next summer. After going down south and back again.

Black Guillemot, Maharees, 13th July 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Juvenile Common Gull, Maharees, 13th July 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Photos of Skelligs Black-browed Albatross

Adult Black-browed Albatross, off Skellig Michael, 30th May 2018 (John Murphy).

No.

Words.

Necessary.

Adult Black-browed Albatross, off Skellig Michael, 30th May 2018 (John Murphy).

Adult Black-browed Albatross, off Skellig Michael, 30th May 2018 (John Murphy).

Adult Black-browed Albatross, off Skellig Michael, 30th May 2018 (John Murphy).


Adult Black-browed Albatross, off Skellig Michael, 30th May 2018 (John Murphy).

Adult Black-browed Albatross, off Skellig Michael, 30th May 2018 (John Murphy).

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Glenderry Rose-coloured Starling

Adult Rose-coloured Starling, Glenderry, Kerry, 11th June 2018 (Geoff Hunt).

Another gorgeous Rose-coloured Starling, this one found on the playing grounds of Glenderry National School in North Kerry a few week ago. You'd have to wonder how many more are in the country awaiting discovery?

Monday, 18 June 2018

Tralee goodies

Adult Rose-coloured Starling, Tralee, 18th June 2018 (Ed Carty).

Adult Rose-coloured Starling, Tralee, 18th June 2018 (Ed Carty).

Adult Glaucous Gull, Tralee, 18th June 2018 (Ed Carty).

Hybrid Glaucous x Herring Gull, Tralee, 18th June 2018 (Ed Carty).

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

More Rosey

Rose-coloured Starling, Tralee, 12th June 2018 (Ed Carty).

Rose-coloured Starling, Tralee, 12th June 2018 (Ed Carty).