Click on any of the main images for a closer view

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Black Brant, Barrow Harbour

Adult Black Brant, Barrow Harbour, 27th November 2014 (M.O'Clery).

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

American Coot and Lesser Scaup, Lough Gill

American Coot (right), Lough Gill, 18th November (M.O'Clery).
(Click on any of the images for a closer view)

American Coot (right), Lough Gill, 18th November (M.O'Clery).

American Coot (left), Lough Gill, 18th November (M.O'Clery).

Male Lesser Scaup (centre), Lough Gill, 18th November (M.O'Clery).

Male Lesser Scaup, Lough Gill, 18th November (M.O'Clery).

Male Lesser Scaup, Lough Gill, 18th November (M.O'Clery).

Thursday, 13 November 2014

American Coot & Black Redstart

 American Coot (second from left), Lough Gill, 11th November 2014 (Kilian Kelly).

This is about as good a  view that pretty much everyone who has gone to see this bird has managed since it was found. Often frustratingly distant, often in windy and/or rainy conditions, or sometimes seemingly absent, presumably feeding or roosting deep in the reed beds which fringe the lake. The small Coot flock of 8 to 10 individuals roams the lake, but is now being seen more often at the east end (from the jetty), but a calm day seems to be one of the requirements for at least some kind of decent view.

Black Redstart, Fahamore, 11th November 2014 (Kilian Kelly).

Black Redstart, Fahamore, 11th November 2014 (Kilian Kelly).

 Black Redstart, Fahamore, 11th November 2014 (Davey Farrar).

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Not a photo of the American Coot

Bonxies are easy to tell apart from American Coot. Note the large size, white wing flashes and lack of white undertail coverts. And it's flying 400m out to sea. Actually it might well eat an American Coot if it got the chance, though that may not be a diagnostic field characteristic.

Great Skua, Brandon Point, 7th November 2014 (Michael O'Clery).

We would love to be showing full-frame, HD quality photos and video of the American Coot here, but instead you'll have to make do with this. With driving rain, wind, distance and a rather annoying habit of feeding in the inaccessible areas of Lough Gill, the American Coot has only been giving the most distant and unsatisfying of views since its discovery. A calm day and a fair degree of luck will be needed to get decent views.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Black Brant, Barrow Harbour

Adult Black Brant, Barrow Harbour, 6th November 2014 (David O'Connor).

This adult was present at Barrow Harbour at the same time as another adult at Spa.

Another Siberian Chiffchaff

Siberian Chiffchaff, Finian's Bay, 5th November (Michael O'Clery).

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

American Coot, Lough Gill

American Coot (right), Lough Gill, 5th November 2014 (Davey Farrar).

(You can click on any of the images for a closer view)

The first record for Kerry, and only the fourth for Ireland, following one each for Cork, Mayo and Galway.

American Coot (centre bird), Lough Gill, 5th November 2014 (Davey Farrar).

American Coot (centre bird), Lough Gill, 5th November 2014 (Davey Farrar).

American Coot, Lough Gill, 5th November 2014 (Davey Farrar).

Monday, 3 November 2014

Yellow-browed Warbler, Tralee

Yellow-browed Warbler, Tralee, 3rd November 2014 (David O'Connor).

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Do they know it's tristris time at all... ?

There's been a rash of sightings of 'tristris', or Siberian Chiffchaffs in the country these past days, and Kerry has seen at least 5 of these, 4 on headlands, but one (see below) in a garden near Tralee in the company of a Yellow-browed Warbler.

A pale Chiffchaff with a wing bar in autumn is not always a 'Siberian', as there is a wide range of variation across Scandinavia and Russia, with a tendency towards paler birds the further east you go. A 'classic' Siberian Chiffchaff is always pale, and has a lack of yellow tones to the underparts, a lack of rich green on the mantle, and (usually) fairly bright green fringes to the wing and tail feathers. The pale wing bar is usually apparent though not prominent, but is sometimes very faint or absent in some.

The final box to be ticked, for anything but the most clear cut 'Sibe', is the call – a loud, piping call with just a hint of down-slurring at the end, very different from the more typical up-slurred, 'hoo-eet' Chiffchaff call.

Trouble is, there are other races of Chiffchaffs from eastern regions which have some or all of those suite of plumage characters. Of the 7-8 Chiffchaffs present in the Finian's Bay/Bolus Head area yesterday, there was much variation, from at least two showing all the above characters of Siberian Chiffchaff, to 3 others showing most, but not all characters. The borderline between classic Siberian Chiffchaff and an eastern pretender can be a slim one, especially if the bird doesn't call.

'Siberian' Chiffchaff, Bolus Head, 31st October 2014 (Michael O'Clery).
Very different to our own typical Chiffchaffs in autumn which are often suffused with rich yellow, buff and green tones. This individual did occasionally call, a piping, slightly down-slurred, 'hleeep'. Note the lack of yellow anywhere on the underparts (except the area around the 'bend' of the folded wing), 'frosty' edges to the tertials and greenish tinge to the edges of the secondaries.

Chiffchaff, Bolus Head, 13th October 2014 (Michael O'Clery).
Although showing a fairly obvious short wing bar, the yellow and green tones mean it is not a Siberian, but perhaps has at least some eastern genes.

Chiffchaff, Bolus Head, October 2014 (Michael O'Clery).
A typical autumn Chiffchaff, olive above and suffused throughout with yellow and buff.

'Siberian' Chiffchaff, Finian's Bay, 31st October 2014 (Michael O'Clery).
This bird seems to show all the pertinent features of Siberian Chiffchaff but, rather unhelpfully, didn't call for quite a while. Have a close look at the photo below of the same individual (you can click on the image for a close-up). There seems to be a little patch of yellow or buff in the centre of the breast and perhaps a hint of yellow in the supercilium?  Does this rule it out as a Siberian Chiffchaff? It might have, except it finally gave a Siberian Chiffchaff-type call.

'Siberian' Chiffchaff, Finian's Bay, 31st October 2014 (Michael O'Clery).

Interestingly, the eastern type Chiffchaffs, including the two Siberians, spent a lot of time feeding on the ground, in one case in an open grassy field, in another, hopping and flitting through sedge tussocks. Our more typical autumn Chiffchaffs are rarely seen away from bushes and trees, though of course, on migration, birds must occasionally feed wherever they can.

'Siberian' Chiffchaff, Kerries, Tralee, 31st October 2014 (David O'Connor).
This bird shared the garden with a Yellow-browed Warbler.

'Siberian' Chiffchaff, Kerries, Tralee, 31st October 2014 (David O'Connor).