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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Golden Plovers, near summit of Beenoskee

This flock of eleven birds in breeding plumage, at 750m near the summit of Beenoskee on the Dingle Peninsula, are most likely migrants. Even though they are in suitable tundra-like breeding habitat, there have been no confirmed breeding records in Kerry for many years. The nearest breeding Golden Plovers to Kerry are now in Connemara. Overgrazing, the increase in generalist predators such as crows, and global warming have all been suggested as possible causes of the retreat away from more southerly breeding areas in Ireland and Britain.

Part of the flock of 11 Golden Plovers on Beenoskee, 28th April 2014 (M.O'Clery).

Summer-plumaged Golden Plover on Beenoskee, 28th April 2014 (M.O'Clery).

The Arctic tundra-like habitat of rock and mosses near the summit of Beenoskee, 28th April 2014 (M.O'Clery).

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Hoopoe, Reenroe

Hoopoe, near Reenroe beach seen 22nd until 24th April 2014 (Ruth Oliver).

Friday, 25 April 2014

Often heard, seldom seen - Grasshopper Warbler

In the past two to three days, the first Grasshopper Warblers have been heard singing in Kerry. Although a common summer visitor to the county they are rarely seen, preferring to remain hidden in damp thickets, bramble covered fields and wetland margins. They are for much of the time more mouse-like than bird-like, creeping furtively through thick vegetation near to or on the ground. 

This is a good time to try and see one however, as newly arrived birds are initially unpaired and will sing for extended periods day and night. The song is a distinctive reeling, sounding quite mechanical, and often lasting several minutes. It is then that the bird will perch higher up the vegetation and offer a rare glimpse.

Grasshopper Warbler, near Scartaglen, 25th April 2014 (Michael O'Clery).

Grasshopper Warbler, near Scartaglen, 25th April 2014 (Michael O'Clery).

A more typical view of a Grasshopper Warbler, in dense vegetation. Near Scartaglen, 25th April 2014 (Michael O'Clery).

This individual was often perching in the open while singing. Near Scartaglen, 25th April 2014 (Michael O'Clery).

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Open invitation to a free seabirds talk

Free talk: The future of our seabirds

Free and open to all, at the Diseart, Green Street, Dingle.
2.30pm, Sunday, 27th April 2014.
Followed by barbecue and music, 6pm, at O'Sullivan's Courthouse Pub, The Mall, Dingle.

The talks
Dr. Stephen Newton, Senior Conservation Officer for BirdWatch Ireland, will give a talk on FAME, the Future of the Atlantic Marine Environment. What has this got to do with Seabird conservation? A lot! Seabirds are just about the easiest to monitor and most accessible indicators of the health of the marine environment. Factors affecting the distribution of seabirds will be highlighted and other issues such as offshore wind farms and mink on islands will be discussed.

Michael O'Clery, wildlife artist and author, will give a short talk on the upcoming Dingle Peninsula Bird Report 2011-13. 15 years of bird recording in the area has revealed some significant changes to our local bird populations and Michael will highlight some of the most interesting and dramatic changes during the time the Report has been compiled.

For further information contact:
Díseart Institute of Irish Spirituality and Culture
Green Street, Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland.
T: 353 66 9152476
F: 353 66 9152481

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Request for sightings: Whitethroat

The first Whitethroat of the year has been seen in Kerry, on 20th April (see below). Following record numbers last year, we are hoping that this colourful warbler will become a regular feature of the Kerry landscape, so if you hear a fast, scratchy warble anywhere in the Kingdom this spring and summer, check for Whitethroat. The only other similar song is that of the Blackcap which, though similar in tone, is a good deal slower, and Blackcaps favour more wooded terrain whereas the Whitethroat is more of an 'open country' species, usually seen in and around open scrub and young woodland or well-developed hedgerow.

The final map of Whitethroat distribution for 2013. In most recent years there have been fewer than 5 records annually. There were 28 in 2013.

Whitethroat, near Brosna, 20th April 2014 (Davey Farrar).

Please let us know if you see or hear one this summer and we will map them, as we did last year. See a post on the 2013 occurrences Whitethroat on this page HERE.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

White Wagtails and more at Black Rock

White Wagtail, Black Rock, 17th April 2014 (David O'Connor).

Littoralis Rock Pipit, Black Rock, 17th April 2014 (David O'Connor).

psammodroma Ringed Plover, Black Rock, 17th April 2014 (David O'Connor).

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Friday, 11 April 2014

Monday, 7 April 2014

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Plumes and plumage

Little Egrets, Castlemaine Harbour, 4th April 2014 (MIchael O'Clery)

Little Egrets are worth a second look at this time of year as their plumage is now at its most impressive. The fine 'aigrettes', or plumes, on the breast and mantle can be seen well here (click on the photos for a closer look), and they have two elongated feathers extending from the crown.You can also see here the lores are pink instead of the usual grey, this area flushed with colour for just a few weeks each year when courtship is at its height.

Friday, 4 April 2014

'psammodroma' Ringed Plovers

Small, dark Ringed Plovers, possibly of the Arctic race psammodroma, Black Rock, 3rd April 2014 (David O'Connor). There were two individuals present.

The race psammodroma is somewhat contentious. According to HBW, the populations of the race range from from Canada to the Faeroe Islands but have been based on extremely minor differences in average size, and are generally not accepted nowadays.

These darker birds, whatever subspecies they might be, are certainly distinctive in the field.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Spring is springing

Little Egret colony, Castlemaine Harbour, 1st April 2014 (Michael O'Clery).

The Grey Herons at this colony are already nesting, probably with eggs not far off hatching. The egrets nest in the same clump of trees but nest much later. They are now just at the nest building and renovating stage.