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Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Mergansers in Kerry in summer

First-summer male Red-breasted Merganser, south Kerry, 5th June 2016 (M.O'Clery).

Though the reddish head and neck are features of a female Red-breasted Merganser, this is actually a first-summer male, as confirmed by the black back and the two white flank spots - the beginnings of adult male plumage.

First-summer male Red-breasted Merganser, south Kerry, 5th June 2016 (M.O'Clery).

Though Red-breasted Mergansers are regular in small numbers in winter in Kerry at sites such as Dingle Harbour and Tralee Bay, they are decidedly rare in summer, and breeding has not been proven in the county for many years. This bird was at an inland lake in south Kerry, but there was no sign of a partner.

Adult male Red-breasted Meganser, south Kerry, 5th June 2016 (M.O'Clery).

Above is a different - fully adult - male Red-breasted Merganser, present at a coastal site just a few miles away from the first. Again, though they have occurred occasionally in summer at this site, breeding has not taken place in recent years. The 1969-72 Atlas shows 27 10km squares in Co. Kerry where this species bred, but unfortunately it seems that it can no longer be considered a breeding species here.

Adult male Red-breasted Meganser, south Kerry, 5th June 2016 (M.O'Clery).