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Saturday, 27 June 2015

Bumper Barn Owl Bonanza

Things are looking good for the Kerry Barn Owl population so far this summer. Only a few sites have been lost from last year, several new sites have been found, and wherever breeding is taking place, brood sizes are good. 

The first recorded brood of 5 chicks in Kerry for at least 8 years was seen yesterday at a traditional site near Tralee. Many other nests have 4 chicks. Most should survive to fledging if the weather stays at least reasonably good.

A young Barn Owl chick at a nest box near Castlemaine, 26th June 2015 (M.O'Clery Under licence from NPWS).

Five Barn Owl chicks at a nest box near Tralee - the first of this size recorded in Kerry in many years, 26th June 2015 (M.O'Clery Under licence from NPWS).

For more on this, see the Irish Raptor Blog posting HERE

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Young Kestrels take to the skies

Young Kestrels around the country are either close to, or starting to, fledge from their nest sites. At this particular site in south Co. Kerry this morning, three young Kestrels were already mastering the fine art of flying, though with mixed results. They are not straying too far from the nest site - a quarry cliff - because the two adults are still bringing prey deliveries to the nest site. All three youngsters are already masters of the air, swooping, hovering and diving with youthful exuberance. Landings are a little more haphazard however, with several wavering attempts needed for landings on rocky outcrops, and on several occasions, an undignified crash-landing onto a patch of heather.

Juvenile Kestrel, South Kerry (All photos: M.O'Clery, under licence form NPWS).

Above, a young Kestrel, having only just fledged in the last week or so, is already mastering the air. The overall shape is subtly different from adult birds, with a shorter tail and blunter-looking wings. The main flight feathers still have a little more growing to do.

Juvenile Kestrel, South Kerry.

Above, a young Kestrel awaits food from the parents. The young are still making no attempt to hunt, though they must learn soon. Instead, they will rely on their parents for another few weeks, even once the family group moves away from the quarry nest site, though of course they will eventually have to learn to fend for themselves.

Juvenile Kestrel, South Kerry.

Above, a young male Kestrel makes a clumsy attempt to land on a post above the quarry.

Adult female Kestrel, South Kerry.

Above, the adult female Kestrel is looking a little ragged, after raising three hungry chicks. She will have another two or three weeks of hard work before the young start to disperse to find their own food.

Adult male Kestrel, South Kerry.

The adult male is also looking a little worn. Both adults will start to replace their worn feathers in the late summer and autumn, when food is plentiful and the young have gone.

If you see any Kestrel family groups in Kerry in the coming weeks, please do let us know - e-mail the details to this address HERE.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Ring-billed Gull, TBWC

First-summer Ring-billed Gull, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, 12th June 2015 (David O'Connor).

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Wildlife Photography Exhibition, TBWC, 22nd -29th May

You are invited to the Tralee Bay Wetland Centre, Tralee, for the opening of Anthony Dawson's Wildlife Photography Exhibition, on Friday 22nd May at 8pm. It runs until 29th, so be sure to pop in and have a look.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Seen a Curlew - inland?

If you've seen a Curlew inland anywhere in Kerry, we'd love to hear of it.

Curlew, Castlegregory (Michael O'Clery).

Breeding Curlews are down to probably less than 200 pairs in Ireland, and this years' national Curlew Survey is undertaking to find as many nesting pairs as possible. They still nest in Kerry, though there might be fewer than 20 pairs now and most, or all, are nesting on marginal, 'unimproved' grasslands, or raised bog, in hilly areas inland. If you see or hear a Curlew inland, anywhere in Kerry in May, June or July, please let us know. Coastal birds are either on passage or are non-breeding birds, but it is the inland, breeding birds we are trying to survey. Please contact Michael HERE if you come across any. Many thanks.

You can read more about the BirdWatch Ireland 2015 Curlew Survey on their website HERE.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Garganey, Reenroe

Male Garganey, Reenroe, Ballinskelligs Bay, 4th May 2015 (Pat McDaid).
One of two birds present.

Male Garganey, Reenroe, Ballinskelligs Bay, 4th May 2015 (Pat McDaid).

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Barn Owl nest boxes in Kerry showing their worth

Various Barn Owl sites in central Kerry were checked for occupancy today, and two new Barn Owl nest boxes have been taken up, showing the value of well-placed boxes to the species. At least a third of known nest sites in Kerry are now in nest boxes, and this figure rises each year. 

Early indications are good for the species so far this year, with most traditional sites occupied, and one or two abandoned ones re-occupied. Let's hope they have a good breeding season...

Barn Owl (probably a male) at a nest box not too far from the Tralee Bypass... there are still some owls left then! It'll be interesting to see if this bird is paired, as the casualties along the Bypass recently must have taken a toll on some of the nearby nest sites (Michael O'Clery, under licence from NPWS).

A female Barn Owl at a nest box site near Castleisland. This box was placed in a likely looking derelict house, even though there were no signs of owls before it was placed, or in the three years since. Suddenly, there is a pair of owls present at this secluded site (Michael O'Clery, under licence from NPWS).

Friday, 24 April 2015

Iceland Gull, Dingle

Iceland Gull, Dingle, 24th April 2015 (Michael O'Clery).

This bird has been around for, well, officially, ages...

Kilshannig goodies

Immature male Eider, Kilshannig, 23rd April 2015 (David O'Connor).

Whooper Swan, Kilshannig, 23rd April 2015 (David O'Connor).

White Wagtail, Kilshannig, 23rd April 2015 (David O'Connor).

Monday, 20 April 2015

Watching White Wag washing

White Wagtail, Kilshannig, 20th April 2015 (David O'Connor).

One of 6 birds present at this site.

White Wagtail, Kilshannig, 20th April 2015 (David O'Connor).

White Wagtail, Kilshannig, 20th April 2015 (David O'Connor).