White-tailed Eagle, South Kerry, 21st June 2014 (Pat McDaid).
This female's first mate was found dead in 2007, and her second was also found dead after hitting a power line in January of this year. She has since paired with a third male, though they have not bred this summer.
Why is it that Whitethroats are so widespread in Ireland, yet stop just short of the Kerry border?
Take a look at the national picture on the map below... Whitethroats are breeding pretty much all over Ireland though, apart from small parts of Mayo, the stand-out blank area on the distribution map is pretty much the whole of Kerry.
Why would it be that at several spots in east Kerry (e.g., Ballydesmond and Brosna), there are none on the Kerry side of the border, yet just a few miles away in Cork, in seemingly identical habitat, they are present and reasonably common?
The Atlas map of Whitethroat, with an obvious gap in Kerry.
In summer 2013 there was a refreshing change to this distribution pattern when many more Whitethroats than usual were seen in Kerry. The map below shows just how many, and hopes were high that the species had finally 'colonised' the county once and for all.
Whitethroat records for summer 2014.
Not so, it seems... Despite visiting many of the sites where breeding birds were present in 2013, Whitethroats have been largely absent this summer, so far. It seems the colonisation of the county is not complete.
Whitethroat records this summer, by 12th June 2014.
If you see any Whitethroats in Kerry this summer, do let us know.
Despite the setback of 2013, with one of the coldest springs on record, Kestrels seem to be faring much better this summer. Although a few traditional sites have been lost, any that are breeding seem to be doing very well.
Accessing a new Kestrel nest (under licence from the NPWS), discovered in an old fireplace in a derelict castle near Killarney. See below (M.O'Clery).
The nest featured in the photo above. One of the later nests this season, still with a full clutch of five eggs, near Killarney, 28th May 2014 (M.O'Clery).
A female Kestrel delivers a Bank Vole to a nest site in an old church tower, on the Dingle Peninsula, 6th June 2014 (M.O'Clery).
Below, have a look at some footage from inside a nest box near Castlegregory. Three chicks are doing well, with regular food deliveries. In this clip, the female arrives with what looks like a young Bank Vole, and returns just two minutes later with another. It is unlikely she has caught two in such a short time, rather the male will have caught it and the female taken it from him to bring to the nest. Either way, these well-grown chicks have no problem bolting down their meal.
Two prey deliveries to young Kestrels, Castlegregory, 7th June 2014 (Video: Michael O'Clery).
Have you seen any Kestrel activity in Kerry this week? Please let us know... text Michael O'Clery at 087 9711519, or email firstname.lastname@example.org - thanks.