Click on any of the main images for a closer view

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Yellow-legged Gull, Carrahane

Left) Yellow-legged Gull, with Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Carrahane, 2nd July 2017 (David O'Connor).

Yellow-legged Gull, possibly of the generally smaller and darker race lusitanius (northern Atlantic Iberian form), found by David on 2nd July. David adds, "I'm basing this on jizz, size, primary pattern, proportions [e.g. head shape and attenuated rear end], slightly darker mantle tone, state of moult, shorter tibiae, gonys spot bleeding on to upper mandible, etc." Nice one.

Right) Yellow-legged Gull, with Lesser Black-backed Gull, Carrahane, 2nd July 2017 (David O'Connor).

Right) Yellow-legged Gull, with Lesser Black-backed Gull, Carrahane, 2nd July 2017 (David O'Connor).

Right) Yellow-legged Gull, with Lesser Black-backed Gull, Carrahane, 2nd July 2017 (David O'Connor).

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Astonishing new ID criteria - Dipper

You see a plump, dark brown bird, feeding along a fast-flowing river in the west of Ireland. You glimpse a white breast, straightish bill and a shortish tail. What could it be? There are any number of species which it might be. A young Cormorant? A Dipper? A Ring Ouzel? Or a... well, ok, three species it might be. Ok, it's constantly diving in the whitewater, so probably not Ring Ouzel. Two species it might be then.

So, still perplexed, you have it narrowed down to (a) young Cormorant, or (b) Dipper.

We are happy to reveal here, exclusively, on the Kerry Birding Blog, a 100 percent foolproof, brand new identification feature, which can clinch this identification conundrum, one which has perplexed the finest minds of the finest birders for decades.

Dippers have pink thighs. Young Cormorants don't...

Simple as that.

See the photos below. Identification secured. Enough said. Boom! Back of the net.

Fast-flowing river, dark brown bird, white breast. What could it be? Well, in this case, a young Cormorant, until now, fiendishly difficult to separate from Dipper.

So what about this one? Hard to know. But WAIT!... is there a hint of pink there? Near the top of the legs? Location withheld, but not too far away (M.O'Clery).

Young Cormorant! I mean... Dipper!. No! Young Cormorant! No! Must be a Dipper... Wait, no... Ring Ouz... Oh, I don't know. Hang on... Let me have a closer look at the thighs... *  (M.O'Clery).

YES! PINK! 

It's a Dipper!

Thank you Kerry Birding Blog!

Welcome.

* Location withheld, but a different location from the above photo, which gives additional credibility to this whole ID criteria thing by now having a sample size of two.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Worst Hedgerow in Ireland? Kerry has a strong contender

"This is Kerry, west of Dingle. June 2016. Colaiste Íde, Lord Ventry's old estate, now a girls' school. There used to be  approximately 1 km of mature, tall,  dense Blackthorn hedge which divided  up the estate's farm pastures, adjacent  to the C19 arboretum (which  features a South American collection). A heritage landscape. This Blackthorn hedgerow was razed and grubbed up in June 2016 by the farmer, a relative of a member of the school management. He also dumped Tarmac (source was the Dingle car park?) in the field gateway. A year later the tarmac is still visible though the hedge is gone."

What was left of the hedgerow (J.Crosher).

"At the same time the school management felled trees (species not known of course) in the arboretum with no felling licences and razed an area of native Spindle. This is one of the few sites in Kerry where spindle is found and is the food plant of  Spindle Ermine Moth (the only recorded site for this species on the peninsula)."

"Some  residents alerted the four government departments responsible for dealing with these offences and Dingle  Gardai. Kerry County Council, (Biodiversity and Environment staff), NPWS (three staff) and  Forestry Service staff were all involved and at least five staff, maybe one or two more, completed site visits to the farmland and arboretum. Dingle Gardai also responded when one resident was threatened at her home by the farmer. There were no prosecutions and the damage is still evident a year on."

"Contextualised in its heritage landscape I think this (no longer with us so I hope it qualifies) hedgerow is a worthwhile candidate for not only ‘Worst Hedgerow in Ireland' category  but as part of (a) the most investigated simultaneous hedgerow /felling/ dumping offences (b) to the least effect."

"I hope it will go forward to the European Finals."

Best wishes, 
Jill Crosher

Monday, 26 June 2017

Adult Squacco Heron at Ross Castle

 
Adult Squacco Heron, Ross Castle, 25th June 2017 (Ed Carty).

Kerry birders enjoyed the first Squacco Heron in Kerry in over a century at Ventry (see HERE), back in April of this year, so a second within a few months was a real shocker. And a beautifully pristine adult bird too. The bird is frequenting the reed-fringed edges of the lake at Ross Castle, near the boathouse. The fourth county record.

Adult Squacco Heron, Ross Castle, 25th June 2017 (Ed Carty).

Adult Squacco Heron, Ross Castle, 25th June 2017 (Ed Carty).

Offshore seabirds from the RV Celtic Explorer

Gannets, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Storm Petrels and Fulmars, Porcupine Seabight, 24th June 2017 (Niall Keogh).

From Niall Keogh:
"While surveying the waters off the Blaskets and out to the eastern edge of the Porcupine Seabight today on RV Celtic Explorer we saw:


8 Cory's shearwaters, 17 sooty shearwater, 1750+ Manx shearwaters, 2 Leach's storm-petrels, 300+ European storm-petrels, 1 great skua

1 humpback whale, 2 Minke whales, several groups of common dolphins (including a melanistic individual, see photo, below) and 1 ocean sunfish

.

The Cory's, sooties, Manxies and Euro stormies were offshore from the Blaskets between 17nm (32km) southwest of Inishvickillane to 4.5nm (8.5km) northwest of Inishtooskert.
The Leach's were on the eastern edge of the Porcupine Seabight in 300m or so of water, approximately 45nm (85km) west of Inishvickillane.

 All the best,

Niall Keogh (Seabird Observer for MFRC GMIT/BirdWatch Ireland)
William Hunt (Marine Mammal Observer for UCC/MaREI)
Larry Manning (Marine Mammal Observer for NPWS)"

Storm Petrel, Porcupine Seabight, 24th June 2017 (Niall Keogh).

Cory's Shearwater, Porcupine Seabight, 24th June 2017 (Niall Keogh).

Sooty and Manx Shearwater, Porcupine Seabight, 24th June 2017 (Niall Keogh).

Melanistic Common Dolphin, Porcupine Seabight, 24th June 2017 (Niall Keogh).

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Danny Sheehy, Guardal Wilson

Dingle man Danny Sheehy who, among many things, was a poet and boat-builder, passed away today after his boat capsized off the coast of Spain (news stories on RTE News HERE and the Irish Times HERE.

Danny Sheehy at the helm (with thanks to Ed Carty).

Danny has a special place in Kerry birding folklore as, though not a birder himself, his interest was such that he took a small band of eager birders in his boat from Dunquin out into the Atlantic, on one of the first trips from Kerry to search for Wilson's Petrel, on 7th August 2002. My memory of that trip is one of great excitement and anticipation, along with the good nature of Danny and, when we started to see Wilson's Petrels appearing out of the thick fog off the Blaskets, he was every bit as excited as we were. So much so that Danny later penned a poem about Wilson's Petrel and the connection with that bird, Ireland and the Antarctic.

Here it is reproduced in full, in Irish, and again with an English translation. I suspect if you are fluent in Irish you will enjoy the full subtlety of the poem. Forgive me if I have deciphered the exact spelling of his handwriting incorrectly.

Guardal Wilson
Thóinig sé chugainn
ináir dtreo thíos fé'n (féin?)
giuílt chesigh ós cionu an uisce
ag síor-eitilt go híseal
ar chuina (chuma?) aingil bhig
ag beannú dúinn
ag fáiltiú romhainn
isteach san aoibhneas
gan radharc ar charraig né (ná?) ar thír
siar ó thuaidh ó Inis Tuaisceart

Éan farraige gan tuirse
tagaithe na milte míle slí
ón Antarctic Theas
mar ar thug Wilson i bhfochair
Shackleton fé udeara
aeireaball bán glégeal
dorcha féna sciatháin
go raibh sé difriúil (clifriúil?)
ó ghardail eile.

Spioraid é seo
i bhfuirm éin
ar chuma an aingil
tagaithe i lohfad ó bhaile
ag lorg Crean a charad
curtha sa chré gairid
do'n áit a chonacsa
an spréach i gclabhar ceoigh

Wilson's Petrel
He came towards us
downed himself in our direction
a fume of mist above the water
forever flying low
like a little angel
blessing us
welcoming us
into enchantment
without sight of rock or land
northwest of Inish Tuaisceart.

Tireless seabird
journeyed the thousands of miles
from southern Antarctica
as Wilson, in Shakleton's wake
bore witness
a brilliant white tail
darkness underwing
bearing his difference
from the other petrels.

This is a spirit
in a birds form
in the guise of an angel
tracking far from home
Crean, his friend
buried in the shallow clay
of the place where I beheld
the spark in the mire of fog.

Danny Sheehy, August 2002

Sketches of Wilson's Petrels from that day with Danny (M.O'Clery).

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Glaucous Gull, TBWC

Adult Glaucous Gull, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, 5th June 2017 (Ed Carty).

Only the sixth record for June in Co. Kerry, and undoubtedly the same bird as seen nearby on the outskirts of Tralee on 27th May.

Adult Glaucous Gull, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, 5th June 2017 (Ed Carty).

Adult Glaucous Gull, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, 5th June 2017 (Ed Carty).

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Whitethroat, Black Rock

Whitethroat, Black Rock, 30th May 2017 (David O'Connor).

Whitethroat, Black Rock, 30th May 2017 (David O'Connor).

Still a scarce bird 'out west'.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Dotterel, Mount Brandon

Kilian Kelly climbed Mount Brandon today with a few friends, and was puzzled by a strange call coming distantly from the ridge between Brandon summit and Brandon Peak. Although it was windy and the bird was some way off, the recording was enough to later identify it as a Dotterel call, or more accurately, a disjointed song phrase. The full song of Dotterel is a persistent "Pwit", Pwit, Pwit" quicker than one a second and often lasting 20 seconds or more. The recording of the song on Mt. Brandon is of a brief phase of three calls, a short gap, and three more.



If the player doesn't work in your browser, you can download it from HERE.
Dotterel call, Mount Brandon, 20th May 2017 (Kilian Kelly).

The cadence and tone is similar to eg., that of a Dotterel recorded in Sweden. Hit the play button below to hear it...

Dotterel call, Sweden, Rob van Bemmelen, XC322091. 
Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/322091.

There are lots more example of Dotterel calls and song on the excellent xeno-canto website HERE.

There were five Dotterel seen on the summit of Mount Brandon on 23rd April last, almost a month ago, so it is possible they are still present. You can see photos of them HERE. One is shown below.

Five Dotterel, Brandon summit, 23rd April 2017 (Michael Connaughton, See more on the Irish Birding website HERE).

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Kestrel chicks update

A short clip of the young Kestrels in a nest box on the Dingle Peninsula. They're growing fast!

Kestrel nestlings - junior takes a tumble, Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry (M.O'Clery, under licence from NPWS).
You can click on the 'four arrows' symbol to see it full size.

More from this nest site today on the Irish Raptor Blog HERE.