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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Bonxie takes a shortcut

Seawatching at Brandon Point was quiet this afternoon, but Gannets diving very close inshore at nearby Brandon Pier provided a distraction. This Bonxie arrived in the small bay, circled high and started drifting south over fields and moorland. I followed it by car, just able to keep track of it, and last saw it about 3km south of Cloghane village, heading strongly high and direct towards the Conor pass.

Adult Bonxie, Brandon, 26th August 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Skuas will only rarely cross over land while on migration in Ireland, and there are only a handful of old records of it happening from, e.g., Killala Bay (see this old Major Ruttledge note from British Birds journal HERE), and a record of 60-70 Long-tailed Skuas migrating along the Shannon River in May 1860. 

This is the second time Bonxies have been observing heading inland from Brandon Bay toward the Conor Pass, following a record of five, in September 2004, also during strong westerly winds.

Route of the Bonxie, from Brandon Pier, to Cloghane and to the Conor Pass.

It's possible this is a regular route for a small percentage of Bonxies which find themselves in Brandon Bay. It might prove the easier option to head south over the mountains than to head back into the strong westerly wind along the north side of the peninsula.

Moment of impact: Gannet at Brandon, 26th August 2015 (M.O'Clery).