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Friday, 30 November 2012

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Hen Harrier shot

Hen Harrier (Photo: Shay Connolly).

From Barry O'Donoghue, Wildlife Ranger for North Kerry...

"This evening I was informed of a Hen Harrier shot at a winter roost. While it may or may not be related, as at the outset of every year and for every person that joins the Hen Harrier Roost survey, I urge you not to disclose roost locations to anyone, no matter how well meaning they are, because one person tells another and so on. In an ideal world, all the public would all be able to go and watch a harrier roost (providing the watching itself did not disturb the birds) but when roost sites are occupied by the birds for 99% of evenings, there is always the chance of persecution incidents if a place becomes known as a harrier roost.

Please always bear in mind the need for utmost confidentiality with regard to the roosting place of a threatened Annex I species... this goes for publishing details on websites also. If you are inclined to do so, please keep it general (e.g. the nearest town).

Enjoy your roost watches this week/weekend,

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Dark-bellied Brent, Black Rock

Adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Black Rock, 27th November 2012 (David O'Connor).

Iceland Gull, Reenard pier

Adult Iceland Gull, Reenard pier, 27th November 2012 (Pat McDaid).

Monday, 26 November 2012

Colour-ringed Sanderlings in Co. Kerry

A number of colour-ringed Sanderlings have been appearing in Kerry over the past two winters. They originate from a ringing scheme run by the International Wader Study Group and carried out by the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. The birds are being caught and ringed at various sites in Svalbard, Greenland, Scotland, France, Russia, the Netherlands and Kenya.

1949 sanderlings have been colour-ringed so far, of which 1405 (72%) have been resighted in the field at least once.

Four colour-ringed birds were first seen at Scraggane and Fahamore north of Castlegregory, last winter, and several more are present there again this winter. The details reported to the Group showed they had been ringed in Greenland the previous summer. Full details can be seen on this website HERE. If you see one of the ringed birds, do report it to them. You can do that on this page HERE.

Colour-ringed adult Sanderling, Greenland, 6th June 2008 (Photo: Jeroen Reneerkens).

Winter-plumaged Sanderling with a combination of two colour rings on each leg, as well as a coloured flag on the left tarsus (note, the two similar-coloured rings on the same leg can, as in this case two yellow rings, look like one larger ring). All the ringed birds have this combination of colour markings (Photo: Jeroen Reneerkens).

Close-up of the colour markings. Each leg bears two combinations of two coloured plastic rings, and the left leg carries a coloured 'flag'. These are lightweight plastic and don't harm the bird, but are highly visible, even at some range. The silver ring on the upper right leg contains the standard ringing information of a normal ring (Photo: Jeroen Reneerkens).

Monday, 19 November 2012

Video and pics of Canada Goose

Canada Goose, Cashen Estuary, 18th November 2012 (Video and photos by Michael O'Keefe).

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Probable Ring-necked Duck, Lough Gill

Probable first-winter male (or perhaps a late eclipse adult male) Ring-necked Duck, Lough Gill, 18th November 2012 (Michael O'Keeffe).

Due to distance and poor weather a possible hybrid element to this bird has not yet been ruled out.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Wood Sandpiper, Cashen Estuary

(Click on the image for a closer view)
Wood Sandpiper (just visible behind the Lapwing in the front/centre of the image), Cashen Estuary, 16th November 2012. Present since 14th November (D. Farrar).

Although there are around 80 records of Wood Sandpiper for Co. Kerry, the great majority fall in the months August and September, with just a few for June and July, and four for October. Previously the latest record was 16th October, at Akeragh Lough in 1966. This is the first for November for Kerry, and one of the few winter records for the whole of Ireland. Hutchinson's book, Birds in Ireland, lists only three winter records, one in November, one in December, and a bird which wintered at Clonakilty for two winters in 1966/67 and 1967/68.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Common Crane, Ballinskelligs

Common Crane, Barry's Cross, near Ballinskelligs, 8th November 2012 (© Stephen Kelleghan).

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Friday, 9 November 2012

Canada Goose, Cashen Estuary

Canada Goose, Cashen Estuary, 30th October (bottom) and 2nd November (top two photos) 2012 (D. Farrar).

Although Canada Geese are commonly kept in wildfowl collections throughout Britain, and they are a relatively common semi-domesticated or feral bird in parts of Ireland, it is still - wild or feral - a rare bird in Co. Kerry. Wild Canada Geese from North America have undoubtedly been recorded in Ireland, though only two have been accepted by the IRBC for Co. Kerry, both at Lough Gill, 2 birds in November and December 1995 and 1 there in January 2005. The species was recently 'split' into generally large, pale 'Canada Goose', and smaller, darker 'Cackling Goose', with several races and intergrades of both (see image below).

The only known source of feral birds in Co. Kerry was the former 'Freshwater Experience' Sanctuary (now the 'Seal Sanctuary') at Trabeg, near Dingle, which kept exotic wildfowl in the early 2000s. 4 individuals which escaped from the Sanctuary in the early 2000s became 18 by 2011 and this flock now roams between Trabeg and Reenard on the Ivearagh Peninsula. Despite their captive origins they are now both elusive and wary in the wild.

The bird above at the Cashen Estuary was found with Whooper Swans in late October, and was wary and 'wild'-looking. It looks a little smaller and perhaps shorter-necked than the classic large, pale-breasted race of most of the feral birds in the British Isles, and perhaps the race 'Interior' is the best guess for the moment, though its true genetics and origins are still unknown.

Have a look at this illustration from the Irish Rare Birds Committee website by Michael O'Keefe (you can click on the illustration for a closer view). It shows roughly the geographical origins of the different races of Cackling and Canada Geese.

There is also an excellent summary of the current difficulties associated with the species on the IRBC page HERE. The final words from that summary are, "Unfortunately, even with the best notes and photos in the world, it is likely some if not many birds will remain unassigned for some time to come."

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Ring-billed Gull, Carrahane

Adult Ring-billed Gull, Carrahane, 8th November (David O'Connor).

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Monday, 5 November 2012

Black Brant & Merlin

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Adult Black Brant, Sandy Bay (near Castlegregory), 5th November 2012 (David O'Connor).

The first Black Brant for Kerry was at Sandy Bay in 2001 and there have been many reports since both there and at Barrow Harbour, Black Rock, Dingle, Ventry and Castlemaine Harbour. In many cases, these records undoubtedly refer to the same individual and the Sandy Bay records have been treated as such by the IRBC in recent years. However, local observers believed there might be more than one individual involved, and this belief has now been reinforced by the presence of two birds at Sandy Bay today.

Merlin, near Castlegregory, 5th November 2012 (David O'Connor).

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Crossbills, Ballinskelligs

Crossbills, Ballinskelligs Beach carpark, 3rd November 2012 (Pat McDaid).
6 birds were present.