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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

New N.E.W.S. news

From Helen Boland, BirdWatch Ireland

Hello Kerry Folks,
As you may know, the coastal Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey ‘NEWS’ is being carried out this winter and the survey period runs from 1st December through to 31st January. It involves walking a section of coast (usually between 2 and 4km) just once during the survey period within three hours either side of low-tide and recording all waterbird species along it on the sea, the intertidal and the land. We need some help in Kerry and I’m wondering if any of you like to take on a sector of coast to survey?

For your interest I’ve attached a screen grab of the current Kerry coverage situation to date to give you a sense of where current gaps are in Kerry. The blue dots are the sections of coast that have been assigned to a counter (thanks to Kilian and Richard), the red dots are the priority sectors of coast that we need to find coverage for e.g. the same sectors that were covered 9 years ago during the last NEWS. The yellow dots are lower priority so we’re trying to allocate the priority red dots first.

You’ll see the main areas where we need help are at Caherciveen/Valencia; Dingle Peninsula; and the north Kerry coast south of Ballybunion.

The last ‘NEWS’ took place 9 years ago. This time we have teamed up with the BTO and observers can select their sections of coast through an online system. It means you need to register for a username and password but it is very straightforward, but if you have ever used BirdTrack or Atlas before you can use the same log-in details.

We’re trying to get an idea of where the real gaps are (rather than ones that people will probably cover but just haven’t gotten around yet to officially signing up to) so we can target our own fieldwork. If you would like to take on a sector it would be great if you could log on through the BTO online system (details below) and request your sector/s that way. Much more detail of the sectors is available there. Or else drop me a line if you have any queries at all.

Thanks, and I hope all is well!

Tralee Gulls

First-winter Iceland Gull, Fels Point Hotel car park, Tralee, 21st November 2015 (Ed Carty).

First-winter Iceland Gull, Fels Point Hotel car park, Tralee, 21st November 2015 (Ed Carty).

Second winter Ring-billed Gull, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, 21st November 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Probable 'Viking' Gull, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, 21st November 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Probable 'Viking' Gull, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, 21st November 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Although superficially like Iceland Gull, this first-winter white-winged gull has a strangely large head, a coarsely marked mantle, and a rather 'snouty' look, with a small 'piggy' eye set high and back in the head, features more consistent with a Glaucous Gull rather than the dainty, round-headed appearance of typical Iceland Gulls. This would seem most likely to be a Glaucous x Herring Gull hybrid (a so-called 'Viking Gull'), though a smallish one, and not terribly obvious as such from any distance. Anyone prepared to offer an opinion on this one?

Friday, 20 November 2015

Continuing to thrill the GBT community

Gull-billed Tern, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, 20th November 2015 (Davey Farrar).

The A-list celebrity tern gave point-blank views at the Wetlands Centre today.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Gull-billed Tern, Tralee

Most of us thought the Gull-billed Tern had finally had enough and moved on - no reports for nearly a week - but no! 

There it was again at the Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre today, even roosting in the nearby gravel car park at Fels Hotel, site of the world famous Rose of Tralee Festival, held annually in a rather large marquee in, let's face it, a gravel car park. Though they do put a few nice potted plants about the place and a good bit of red carpet.

Yes, this out-of-season super-rarity was standing on the very ground where this remarkable event happened. The very spot where Lovely Lady, Edel Buckley from Cork, bragged it up, revealing "...I am treasurer of the Donoughmore Tug of War Club.", and
 Just-as-Lovely Lady, Orla Gately from Roscommon, betrayed her raw, naked ambition by telling us, "My main achievements include receiving June Employee of the Month in Hodson Bay Hotel in 2011 where I worked as a waitress." (More here)

There was some sort of sprat run in the nearby river, perhaps explaining the tern's interest upriver from Blennerville. It was too late for the Rose of Tralee in any case.

Gull-billed Tern, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, Tralee, 19th February 2015 (David O'Connor).

Great record for the Wetlands Centre. Only another ten days to beat the record for the longest staying Gull-billed Tern, and might it even grab the 'first for December' accolade? It survived the two ferocious recent storms, so both seem possible again.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Storm-blown birds

Winds of over 100km per hour were recorded on the Kerry coast yesterday, and many birds have been blown onto our shores, some of which were making their way back out to sea today. 6 Bonxies were seen heading west off Rough Point this morning, while a Leach's Petrel, 3 Pomarine Skuas and 2 Sooty Shearwaters flew west past Brandon Point.

First-winter Glaucous Gull, near Sandy Bay, 18th November 2015 (M.O'Clery).

First-winter Glaucous Gull, near Sandy Bay, 18th November 2015 (M.O'Clery).

First-winter Iceland Gull, Blennerville, 18th November 2015 (D.Farrar).

First-winter Iceland Gull, Blennerville, 18th November 2015 (D.Farrar).

The eye position on this bird is unusual, set high and towards the rear, more like a Glaucous Gull. Might there be a hybrid element to this bird?

Pomarine Skua, off Scraggane, 18th November 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Grey Phalarope at the Cashen Estuary

Grey Phalarope, Cashen Estuary, 17th November 2015 (D.Farrar).

The faint streaks along the flanks and some remaining dark-centred coverts are the most obvious indicators that this is a first-winter bird, no doubt grounded by the ferocious gales this afternoon.

Grey Phalarope, Cashen Estuary, 17th November 2015 (D.Farrar).

Monday, 16 November 2015

Free talk, Thursday 19th Nov., Curlews and Barn Owls

You are invited to a talk at the Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, Tralee, at 7.30pm on Thursday 18th November, hosted by the Irish Wildlife Trust. Everybody welcome, admission free.

Curlew at Dingle Harbour.

Curlew numbers have been declining lately, but how are they faring at breeding sites in Kerry and beyond? Michael O'Clery, took part in the national Curlew Survey this summer, covering all potential Kerry nesting sites, and tells us what he found.

Barn Owl over the Tralee Bypass

Also, Barn Owls have been in the news in Kerry, due to collisions with vehicles on the Tralee Bypass. Why is this happening, and what might be done? Michael has also been working on a year-long project to answer these questions, and his findings will be presented at the talk for the first time.

Come along, and bring a friend.

The Kerry Irish Wildlife Trust Facebook page is HERE

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Killorglin leads the way on Swift nest boxes

Swifts are rapidly disappearing from towns and villages all over Kerry. The larger conurbations such as e.g.  Tralee, Killarney and Listowel still have perhaps tens of pairs, but numbers everywhere are dropping fast. Smaller towns such as Castlegregory and Caherciveen have precious few left, and at the rate of decline, might well have none in years to come.

A flock of Swifts ( User:Keta)

Thanks mainly to the hard work of James Daly and the Killorglin Tidy Towns, the town of Killorglin can boast 12 Swift nest boxes now in place, in theory capable of hosting up to 35 Swift nests. There are three sites around town and one outside town where the boxes have been located, each with built-in speakers to play the sounds of Swifts next spring, in order to draw in curious young Swifts to investigate and hopefully nest.

Three of the 12 Swegler Swift boxes in place in the centre of Killorglin. Ideally situated, and with room for expansion if, or hopefully when the Swifts move in. Each box can hold three nests.

There's a nice little free booklet on Swifts, available to download HERE. Well worth a read.

and a lot of good information on the national Swift Conservation Project HERE

A great project for Tidy Towns or interested individuals.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Tralee Barn Owl life story

Male Barn Owl, near Tralee, May 2014 (Photographed under licence from NPWS: Michael O'Clery).

The above male Barn Owl, photographed close to his nest near Tralee last spring, was recently found dead along the Tralee Bypass, one of many recent casualties along this road. But much was already known about this bird. Read his story on the Irish Raptor Blog HERE.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Gull-billed Tern still at Blennerville

The Gull-billed Tern continues its' stay at Blennerville, seen again this morning despite horrendous weather. If this blast of stormy weather doesn't persuade it to head on its way, it might well beat the record for the longest-staying Irish Gull-billed Tern. The longest stayer was one in Wexford which remained for 39 days, while the Blennerville bird as of 10th November, has stayed 24. 26th November is the date for our bird to beat...

Gull-billed Tern, Blennerville, 8th November 2015 (Ed Carty).

Gull-billed Tern, Blennerville, 8th November 2015 (Ed Carty).

Little Gull, Blennerville, 8th November 2015 (Ed Carty).

Little Gull, Blennerville, 8th November 2015 (Ed Carty).