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Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Storm Petrel ringing recovery

One of the Storm Petrels ringed at the Magharees in the early hours of 11th July last was re-trapped and again released near Belmullet, Co. Mayo, on 24th July - last Sunday (see post below HERE).

Storm Petrel, Magharees, 11th July 2016 (M.O'Clery).

About one in a hundred ringed Storm Petrels are ever recorded again, often many years later, but this was a particularly quick return from the 90 or so birds ringed on the Magharees just two weeks ago. The bird is still out there, and might yet be re-trapped again.

Storm Petrel, Magharees, 11th July 2016 (M.O'Clery).

Monday, 18 July 2016

Barn Owl nests, created by Jackdaws

The blocked chimneys of derelict cottages, houses and castles form about a third of known Barn Owl nest sites in Kerry. The chimneys are often blocked as a result of Jackdaws adding sticks to the cavity for their own nests. Here's a couple of examples from recent weeks.

John Lusby from BirdWatch Ireland inspecting a nest in the chimney of a ruined house in SW Kerry. The pile of Jackdaw sticks reached some seven feet (2.5m) on top of which Barn Owls nested on a broad, flat platform inside the chimney, July 2016 (M.O'Clery, under licence from NPWS).

Blocked chimney of a derelict cottage with two Barn Owl chicks, north Kerry, July 2016 (M.O'Clery, under licence from NPWS).

Chimney nest with three Barn Owl chicks, SW Kerry, July 2016 (M.O'Clery, under licence from NPWS).

There is much more on this on the Irish Raptor Blog HERE

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Short-eared Owl, Farranfore

Cleared for take-off. Short-eared Owl, Kerry Airport, Farranfore, 16th July 2016 (Ed Carty).

Short-eared Owl, Kerry Airport, Farranfore, 16th July 2016 (Ed Carty).

The heavily moulting wings and tail makes this is an adult bird.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

How are Barn Owls doing in Kerry this summer?

There is a massive effort underway this summer by BirdWatch Ireland to monitor as many Barn Owl sites as possible and Co. Kerry, being one of the strongholds of the species in Ireland, is getting its fair share of the effort.

Male Barn Owl outside his nest box near Farranfore, Co. Kerry. There were two chicks ringed at this site in July (M.O'Clery, under licence from NPWS).

So far, observations of this years Barn Owls sites has shown that:

• Average egg-laying dates are one to three weeks later than average (probably due to a very chilly April).

• Brood sizes are low, with generally only one or two chicks per nest.

• Occupancy of sites is generally good, with most 'traditional' sites still active.

• At least six new sites have been discovered so far, meaning that the number of known Barn Owl sites in Kerry - around 50 - is now greater than ever.

• Male chicks are outnumbering females this summer by a ratio of about three to one (normally the sex of chicks is 50:50 male/female).

One of the few nests in Kerry this summer with three chicks, this one down a chimney shaft of an abandoned mansion, south Kerry, July 2016 (M.O'Clery, under licence from NPWS).

Barn Owl nest site, July 2016 (M.O'Clery, under licence from NPWS).

There is more work yet to be done, but the season seems to be generally a good one. No bumper crop of youngsters this summer after the bonanza of last years record nesting season, but the generally high level of occupancy of sites does bode well. Despite the lateness of the season, if the weather in August and September is reasonable, there is every chance that even the late fledging chicks will be in good shape to disperse away from the nest sites and survive the winter ahead.

One of the two chicks ringed at a nest box site on the Dingle Peninsula, July 2016 (M.O'Clery, under licence from NPWS).

More on this years breeding season on the Irish Raptor Blog HERE

Monday, 11 July 2016

Storm Petrel ringing on the Magharees

For Storm Petrel ringing on a mainland site you need a loud amplifier, a recording of Storm Petrel 'song' on constant loop, a mist net, and a qualified ringer, in this case, Declan Manley from Co. Offaly. In the course of full darkness on the night of 6th/7th July - barely 4 hours at this time of year - he caught and ringed 90 Storm Petrels from a small headland overlooking the Magharee Islands. The islands host about 1100 nests on several of the islands, with the main numbers nesting in burrows under turf clumps on Illaunammil and in stone walls on Illauntannig.

Storm Petrel, Magharees, 7th July 2016 (Michael O'Clery).

Storm Petrels only return to their nesting colonies on offshore islands in full darkness and will otherwise avoid land, even on nights with a bright moon. The reasons are simple. On land they are slow and vulnerable, and prone to being eaten by gulls. The gulls however, are not equipped to see in full darkness, so that is when the petrels make a run for it to feed chicks, or swap over for incubating duties on the nest.

Storm Petrel, Magharees, 7th July 2016 (Michael O'Clery).

Although the tape of Storm Petrel song was probably not audible (to humans) on the breeding colonies on the Magharee islands over a kilometre away, Storm Petrels will often fly close inshore on these dark, moonless night, as evidenced by several being caught in the mist net within a few seconds of the song being played. 

Storm Petrel, Magharees, 7th July 2016 (Michael O'Clery).

Younger birds wander throughout the Storm Petrel's range in the Atlantic seeking out their own colony. Most of these long-lived birds will not breed until their fourth or fifth year and spend much of their early years 'visiting' other colonies in summer, and it is mostly these younger, wandering birds, Declan believes, which were mist-netted and ringed. 

Sunday, 3 July 2016