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Thursday, 31 December 2015

(live) Little Auk and Slavonian Grebe at Reen Pier

Some further goodies to add to the Black-necked Grebe and Glaucous Gull seen off Reen Pier today.

Little Auk, Reen Pier, Ballinskelligs Bay, 31st December 2015 (Pat McDaid).

Slavonian Grebe, Reen Pier, Ballinskelligs Bay, 31st December 2015 (Pat McDaid).

Happy New Year to all birders in Kerry, and here's to some great birds in 2016.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Day-flying Barn Owl near Caherciveen

Although you will see documentaries with footage of Barn Owls gliding around meadows in sunlight, these will not have been filmed in Ireland. Rather, this is most likely to be in Britain where hunting in daylight is much more frequent.

In Ireland, a day-flying Barn Owl is a much rarer sight and often a sign of a bird in trouble. This bird below hunted for at least an hour over rough fields and bog, in mid-afternoon today, near Caherciveen. Chances are that, with the recent incessant heavy rain and strong winds, this bird was close to starving, and was forced to try and take advantage of a rare lull in the weather to hunt.

(with thanks to Annette O'Leary and Pat McDaid).

Barn Owl, near Caherciveen, 30th December 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Often, it is not long before a day-flying Barn Owl will attract the unwanted attention of mobbing crows. In the photo below, the owl is not in flight, but adopting a 'threat posture' by drooping both wings and holding its' head bowed in order to look larger and intimidate the nearby Hooded Crows.

Barn Owl with a nearby mobbing Hooded Crow (M.O'Clery).

See this video clip for more...

Day-flying Barn Owl, in flight, and threat posture (M.O'Clery).

The risk of this bird venturing out during daylight might well have paid off, as it was seen diving into tall grass after prey. Hopefully it caught something tasty.

Barn Owl diving into long grass for prey (M.O'Clery).

Little Auk in early December

Unlike the recent Little Auk rescue (see post below) this one was less fortunate. It was found dead by Chris Nelms on 8th December at 5pm, in sand dunes behind Reenroe beach, Ballinskelligs Bay.

Dead Little Auk, Reenroe, 8th December 2015 (Chris Nelms, with thanks to Pat McDaid).

Ringed Common Gull

Adult Common Gull, Baile an Reannaigh, 15th November 2015 (Michael O'Clery). Fledged from Lough Mask in Co. Mayo in 2007 and now over eight years of age.

Adult Common Gull, Baile an Reannaigh, 15th November 2015 (Michael O'Clery).

From Eoin McGreal, National Parks and Wildlife Service:

"Many thanks for this re-sighting record and photographs of COMGU 294V. This individual was colour-ringed as a chick on Lough Mask on 24/06/2007 and was originaly resighted in Galway that August as a dispersing juvenile. It has subsequently been resighted, probably as a breeding adult, back on Lough Mask but not at its natal colony. The islet where it has been resighted is primarily a breeding Black-headed Gull colony so it is quite possible that it has also returned in subsequent years but has not been resighted as this site is difficult to scan for colour-ringed birds; 

Most of our resightings of colour-ringed Common Gulls have been in counties Galway and Clare so it is good to know that at least some of them are crossing the Shannon Estuary."

If you see any similarly ringed Common, or Black-headed Gulls, please do let Eoin know.
More info on the ringing project, in PDF format HERE

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

American Wigeon and Black-necked Grebe

Male American Wigeon, Inny Estuary 16th December 2015 (Chris Nelms, via Pat McDaid).

This bird was seen briefly at the Inny Estuary on 13th December last, but unfortunately the observer, Pat McDaid, had no camera to hand and was unable to return in subsequent days. Fortunately Pat had tipped off Chris Nelms, who managed photos of the Wigeon flock on 16th December, and the results showed this fine male American Wigeon.

American Wigeon occurrences have declined in Ireland over the past decade, and this is the first in Kerry since an adult male was seen with the large Wigeon flock at Inch, on 15th October 2009.

Black-necked Grebe, Reen Pier, Ballinskelligs Bay, 28th December 2015 (Pat McDaid).

There's every chance this is a returning bird, as one frequented this very spot for several months last winter - see e.g., this post HERE

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Winter number 10 for Spoonbill

10 winters, and going strong. The adult Spoonbill at Cromane is surviving the storms well, occasionally commuting across the bay to Inch.

Adult Spoonbill, Cromane, 27th December 2015 (Michael O'Clery).

See some information about long-staying Spoonbills HERE

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Azorean Gull

Adult Azorean Gull, Cashen, 22nd December 2015 (D.Farrar).

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Siberian Chiffchaff, Ross Castle

Siberian Chiffchaff, Ross castle, 16th December 2015, one of two birds present.(D.Farrar).

Friday, 11 December 2015

Little Auk video

Some video of the Little Auk released near Camp yesterday

Little Auk, near Camp, 10th December 2015 (D.Farrar).

Click the 'four arrows' symbol on bottom right to see the full size video.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Little Auk release

This Little Auk was picked up yesterday evening in the brightly lit yard of a poultry farm near Knocknagoshel, at least 30km from the nearest coast. The owner Edwin Stryker took the bird into care and kept it overnight. This morning it was taken to the coast near Camp for release, in a sheltered bay, with plenty of potential feeding nearby and access to open ocean.

Little Auk, at the release site near Camp, 10th December 2015 (D.Farrar).

The Little Auk had perked up during the night, and by morning it was obviously ready to release.

Little Auk, near Camp, 10th December 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Ageing and sexing Little Auks is very difficult, even in the hand. Characteristics of bill depth and wing measurement can be used, though only with an accuracy of 83%, according to a 2005 paper on the subject from the Seabird Group. Just to add another layer of detail, "White or white-tipped feathers in the lesser primary coverts (LPC) occurred more frequently in juveniles than in adults, while the reverse was true for the greater secondary coverts (GPC). Only 74% of the Little Auks were properly aged on [this] basis." 

If you want to explore this vexed and complex issue, make yourself a stiff drink, keep the Hedex tablets to hand, then download and read the article (in PDF format) from HERE, or alternatively, shrug your shoulders and say, "Ok then, but it's still definitely a Little Auk..."

Little Auk, Camp, 10th December 2015 (D.Farrar).

Little Auk, Camp, 10th December 2015 (M.O'Clery).

The bird was placed on a rock with a gentle slope onto the water, and after a few minutes it stretched a little, then shuffled into the incoming tide and started to make its' way out to sea.

Little Auk, Camp, 10th December 2015 (M.O'Clery).

We last saw it heading strongly away from the coast, occasionally flapping, and diving. A happy ending to this bird's (mis)adventures. Let's hope this male/female/ youngster/veteran made it.

Big shout out to Edwin for taking this bird into care - a lot of people wouldn't have bothered. Good man.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Little Auk & Glaucous Gull

Adult Glaucous Gull, Dingle, 8th December 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Adult Glaucous Gull, Dingle, 8th December 2015 (M.O'Clery).

 A big, beefy adult Glaucous Gull, the Tony Soprano of gulls. Don't mess with this one.

Little Auk, near Castlegregory, 8th December 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Little Auk (same as above), near Castlegregory, 8th December 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Little Auk (same as above), near Castlegregory, 8th December 2015 (M.O'Clery).

And at the opposite end of the size spectrum, one of two Little Auks seen at Sandy Bay this afternoon, both alighting briefly on the sea before heading N and out of the Sandy Bay area. Before something altogether more enormous appeared.

Friday, 4 December 2015

White-winged gulls, near the Cashen

The brown-washed primaries and tail band on this bird are characters of a Kumlien's Gull, this bird seen in fields near the Cashen Estuary, 30th November 2015 (D.Farrar). 

A more typical first-winter Iceland Gull, one of two present, also in fields near the Cashen Estuary, 30th November 2015 (D.Farrar). 

Regulars at TBWC

First-winter Iceland Gull, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, 4th December 2015 (Ed Carty).

Second winter Ring-billed Gull, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, 4th December 2015 (M.O'Clery).

A couple of 'the regulars' at the TBWC.