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Saturday, 5 November 2016

Singing like a Loon

After almost a month of predominantly easterly winds throughout October, there has been something of a mass arrival of birds from the NW Atlantic in recent days as the winds finally switched back to their more typical quarter from the west. In just the last few days, following brisk north and north-west winds, about 50 Barnacle Geese are now back on the Magharee Islands, while Greenland White-fronted Geese and Pinkfooted Geese have been popping up in unusual places around the country. The relatively small number of Redwings which had returned to Kerry in the past 2-3 weeks have been of the Continental race iliacus, but now flocks numbering up to 500 are descending on the wild Rowan, Hawthorn and Holly berries and are predominantly of the Icelandic race coburni.

Sandy Bay, near Castlegregory, has seen only up to five Great Northern Divers in recent weeks, but now hosts some 35-40. One of these (the individual photographed below) actually launched into a full song, a haunting wail, evocative of deep northern forests and remote mountain lakes in the high Arctic in summer. It is most unusual to hear one singing in Ireland, and most birders I quizzed on it had only had the experience at most a few times in Ireland in twenty or more years.

Adult Great Northern Diver, Sandy Bay, 4th November 2016 (M.O'Clery).

Below, a recording of the breeding calls of a territorial Great Northern Diver from Iceland, similar to the one at Sandy Bay yesterday. An unexpected delight while birding on an Irish coastline and a wonderful sound to hear anywhere. 

For added realism, close your eyes, waft the opened bottle of "Scent-Omatic' Pine-Needle-Fresh Bathroom Fragrance * ', and hit the play button. 

Actually, scratch that... First, open the bottle of "Scent-Omatic' Pine-Needle-Fresh Bathroom Fragrance', hit the play button, THEN close your eyes.

Guaranteed to whisk you 500 miles north, and 6 months back in time.

* Product does not actually exist, and can not be purchased at local retailers, so don't ask for it, unless you want to be embarrassed, but if you don't mind being embarrassed, ask away.