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Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Bumper year for Kerry Whitethroats

Female Whitethroat, near Gneeveguilla, July 2013 (Fred O'Sullivan).

Map showing distribution of Whitethroat records this summer (M.O'Clery).

The upcoming Bird Atlas project, after five years of fieldwork from 2008-11, shows a fairly common species across Ireland, but with a seemingly inexplicable blank area on the map in the SW which includes most of Co. Kerry. This is also apparent in the 1988-91 breeding atlas (see that map HERE). Birders have noted over recent summers that Whitethroats have generally been absent as a breeding species in Kerry, but appear in apparently similar breeding habitat just a few miles across the border into Cork. What was it about Kerry that the Whitethroats didn't like?

This summer however there has been a small surge in breeding records detected. The ten red dots above, representing singing or territorial birds this summer, better than the combined number of breeding records for the past decade. 

Many Whitethroats are still singing - a scratchy, fast warble, a bit like a Blackcap in a hurry. Have you see one in the Kingdom this year? Please let us know.