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Sunday, 22 March 2015

Friday, 20 March 2015

A pink Littoralis, Carrig Island

Littoralis Rock Pipit, Carrig Island, 20th March 2015 (Davey Farrar).

One of two present at this site, and a nicely 'pinked up' one.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Volunteers sought for 2015 national Hen Harrier Survey

BirdWatch Ireland, The Golden Eagle Trust and the Irish Raptor Study Group have formed an exciting conservation partnership and collectively are co-ordinating the 2015 Irish Hen Harrier Survey on behalf of the National Parks & Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht.

Female Hen Harrier (Shay Connolly).

This is your chance to get involved in a vital nationwide survey, and to see and spend time watching and looking for this enigmatic raptor. 

You are invited to attend the up-coming survey training workshops which will cover Hen Harrier ecology, survey methods, reporting and other research opportunities during the course of the survey. These workshops will also allow people to meet other fieldworkers and discuss the methods and survey requirements.

Full information is on the Irish Raptor Blog, HERE.

Female Hen Harrier (Shay Connolly).

Even if you can’t take on a survey square you can assist the survey by reporting information and sightings of Hen Harriers in Kerry and elsewhere, which will add a valuable insight to the distribution and abundance of the population. You can submit your sightings through the dedicated survey website HERE.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Littoralis Rock pipit, Rough Point

'Littoralis' Rock Pipit, Rough Point, 18th March 2015 (David O'Connor).

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

'Sibe' Chiffers and Ring-billed still at Ross Castle

Siberian Chiffchaff, Ross Castle, 16th March 2015 (Aiden Kelly).

Three 'Sibes' were still present at Ross Castle, though numbers of Chiffchaffs generally have been falling.

Siberian Chiffchaff, Ross Castle, 16th March 2015 (Aiden Kelly).

Siberian Chiffchaff, Ross Castle, 16th March 2015 (Aiden Kelly).

Siberian Chiffchaff, Ross Castle, 16th March 2015 (Aiden Kelly).

Siberian Chiffchaff, Ross Castle, 16th March 2015 (Aiden Kelly).

Second winter Ring-billed Gull, Ross Castle, 16th March 2015 (Aiden Kelly).

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Brant, Littt and Ice... What?

Adult Black Brant, Ventry, 10th March 2015 (Michael O'Clery).

Adult Black Brant, Ventry, 10th March 2015 (Michael O'Clery).

Scandinavian (Littoralis) Rock Pipit, Fahamore, 10th March 2015 (Davey Farrar).

First-winter Iceland Gull, Dingle, 10th March 2015 (Michael O'Clery).

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Slavonian Grebe, Reen Pier

Slavonian Grebe, Reen Pier, Ballinskelligs Bay, 7th March 2015 (Pat McDaid).

Slavonian Grebe, Reen Pier, Ballinskelligs Bay, 7th March 2015 (Pat McDaid).

Away from Tralee Bay (where double figure counts have been regular in recent winters), this is now a pretty rare bird in Kerry. There are only a handful of recent records from Ballinskelligs Bay, but it used to be much more regular there, with a peak of 10 on two occasions in March 1993 and in February 1992, but very few since.

It's Littoralis O'Clock

Scandinavian (Littoralis) Rock Pipit, Black Rock, 7th March 2015 (David O'Connor).
(you can click the image for a closer view)

Early March is the time that the dowdy winter plumage of Scandinavian Rock Pipits start to be replaced to reveal the subtle pinkish hue to the throat and upper breast, and grey-blue feathers around the head and mantle. This one at Black Rock was one of three seen in Kerry yesterday, with another two seen at Kilshannig that morning. Question is, are these birds present in Kerry all winter, unrecognised (and unrecognisable), anonymous amongst our local resident Rock Pipits? There's currently no way to tell them apart here in winter, but by the second week of March, a dash of pink and blue will give  the game away.

Distribution of Rock Pipit (Yellow = summer, Green = all year, Blue = winter). The Scandinavian Rock Pipits will winter from southern Norway, west and south into Europe. How many winter in Ireland is unknown (

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Unusual scoter at Castlegregory

(Click the image for a closer view)

A male scoter at Sandy Bay, near Castlegregory, caused a stir yesterday with thoughts that it might be a Black Scoter (see original photos HERE. The bird was again present this morning, just off the beach car park near the school - the only scoter in the bay at the moment. Initially it did seem to have a particularly striking yellow bill.

However, further views showed it to be a Common Scoter with an unusual amount of yellow, particularly, it seems, on its' left side. The photos here are all of the same bird, but the angle, distance and light all change the visibility of the yellow, at times seeming bright and large, at others, like the series below, much more subdued.

Male Common Scoter, Sandy Bay, Castlegregory, 3rd March (all photos: Michael O'Clery)

Monday, 2 March 2015

Bypass owl deaths continue

Yet another Barn Owl casualty on the Tralee Bypass, 2nd March 2015 (Michael O'Clery).

Casualty number eight (that we know about) on or near the Tralee Bypass since it opened in October 2013. Four have been found during weekly survey visits since August 2014 including two on the same day (see this post HERE), while the remaining four (including this one) have been reported by members of the public. Close links with interested people who travel the route frequently has been most important in determining the extent of the road deaths.

The almost pure white tail shows it to be a male (Michael O'Clery).

Black-necked Grebe, Reen Pier

Black-necked Grebe, Reen Pier, Ballinskelligs Bay, 1st March 2015 (Pat McDaid).

This bird has been present at this site for just over two months, though the longest-stayer in Kerry was one at Baile an Reannaigh from October 2012 to January 2013, at 87 days 
(with thanks to Ed Carty).

Black-necked Grebe, Reen Pier, Ballinskelligs Bay, 1st March 2015 (Pat McDaid).