Click on any of the main images for a closer view

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Human disturbance causes failure of two White-tailed Eagle nests

Dreadful news, that two White-tailed Eagle nests, one near Killarney and one at Mountshannon (which has produced chicks in each of the last three years), have failed due to human disturbance. 

Adult White-tailed Eagle, Kerry (M.O'Clery).

Despite the vigilance of interested locals, it is believed kayakers and possibly a drone may have been responsible for the disturbance and abandonment of the nests. The story can be read on the Irish Times website HERE.

Adult White-tailed Eagle and Hooded Crow, Kerry (M.O'Clery).

Monday, 9 May 2016

Saturday, 7 May 2016

New shrew invader on its way to Kerry

A new species of mammal is on its way to Kerry and the implications for native raptors and small mammal species is likely to be profound.

Greater White-toothed Shrew (Rasback Wikimedia Commons).

Greater White-toothed Shrews were discovered in Tipperary in 2011 and are spreading at an average rate of 5.5km per year, more than twice that of the Bank Vole. The western edge of their range is now only about 30-35km from the Kerry border, which will mean they will arrive in the Kingdom in as little as six years. 

This is also assuming there isn't a 'jump' in the range. The map below shows two established outlying populations of the shrew, one in Monaghan and another to the NW of Cork City. These were most likely from small numbers of shrew transported accidentally from the core range in Tipperary. This could happen again anywhere in Ireland and in any case, it has been estimated that the invader will spread to the whole island of Ireland by 2050. Like it or not, it is here to stay.

Range expansion of Greater White-toothed Shrews in Ireland, to 2013. There are two outlying established populations in Monaghan and Cork city, though a third, to the west of Limerick, and only 15km from the Kerry border, died out shortly after its discovery in 2010  (McDavitt, et al, 2014)
You can click the map above for closer look.

Pygmy Shrews have been disappearing wherever the White-toothed Shrew invades, and numbers of Wood Mouse have been decreasing. Raptors are feeding voraciously on the new mammal and though it was thought that it might have a positive effect on raptors, offering an abundant new food source, there have been issues with e.g. sickly and underweight Barn Owl chicks which are fed on a diet of these new mammals. The full effects of the invader are as yet unknown, but it is on its way, and here to stay, whether for good or bad.

See more on this on the Irish Raptor blog HERE.

Citation: McDevitt AD, Montgomery WI, Tosh DG, Lusby J, Reid N, White TA, et al. (2014) Invading and Expanding: Range Dynamics and Ecological Consequences of the Greater White-Toothed Shrew (Crocidura russula) Invasion in Ireland.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

New Barn Owl takes over

There has been an interesting footnote to the story of the veteran male Barn Owl, found dead on the Tralee Bypass last November (you can read the story in this post HERE). A visit to the nest site near Tralee today found a new male Barn Owl has taken over the reins at this traditional nest site, perched on the same beam outside the nest box, in an old stone barn.

Male Barn Owl, near Tralee, 5th May 2016 (M.O'Clery)

You can read more on the Irish Raptor Blog HERE.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Compelling case for Kerry Ivory Gulls

How many Ivory Gulls have been seen in Kerry?

If you go by the 'official' record, there are only two Kerry records of three birds, including this one (below) at Cromane for a few days in January 2014. The first Kerry record concerns two birds seen at Blennerville in February 1847, one of which was shot and which constituted the first Irish record.

Immature Ivory Gull, Cromane, 31st January 2014 (M.O'Clery).

However, irked by the unceremonious deletion of a 1931 record of Ivory Gull in Bangor by the Northern Ireland Birdwatchers association Rarities Committee, Anthony McGeehen set about finding out what he could about that and other Irish records of this ultra-rare Arctic Gull. The results are surprising, and will have a significant bearing on the number of potential Kerry records.

Well worth a read! You can see the article on this page... HERE

Anthony's always entertaining and erudite Facebook articles are HERE