Click on any of the main images for a closer view

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Magharees Tern numbers recover a little

A quick trip to the Magharee Islands on 1st June saw something of an improvement in tern numbers on last year, when almost no terns were present on four of the more accessible islands where normally 100 to 150 pairs of three species might be present.

This year, about 45 pairs of Arctic Terns and 8 pairs of Common Tern were on two islands, though several outlying islands weren't visited, so hopefully more terns will be nesting elsewhere in the island group.

Little Terns, Magharees, 1st June 2018 (Michael O'Clery).

Perhaps star of the show on the Magharees are the only nesting Little Terns in Co. Kerry. 7-8 pairs were present, up from the 2-3 last year, but far from the heyday of around 20 pairs about five years ago.

Arctic Tern, Magharees, 1st June 2018 (Michael O'Clery).

Arctic Terns, Magharees, 1st June 2018 (Michael O'Clery).

Arctic Tern, Magharees, 1st June 2018 (Michael O'Clery).

Dunlin, Magharees, 1st June 2018 (Michael O'Clery).

Although individuals can often be seen in full summer plumage in Kerry in May and June, Dunlin unfortunately don't breed in Kerry any more. The nearest breeding birds are in Galway and Mayo, though these particular birds may yet be headed much further to the north to nest. About 10 were present on 1st June.

Oystercatcher, Magharees, 1st June 2018 (Michael O'Clery).

Nesting Oystercatchers seem to be particularly numerous on the islands this year, with at least 30 potential pairs on just two islands.

Sanderling, Magharees, 1st June 2018 (Michael O'Clery).

The Rough Point area generally and the Magharee islands in particular are excellent sites to see 'northern' waders in summer. Whether they are first-summer birds which are not going to migrate, or are yet to make the migration to the Arctic is hard to know, but along with 30 or so summer-plumaged Sanderling, there were 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 8 Turnstone, a Knot and a Grey Plover, all in summer plumage. All those species nest well north of the Arctic Circle.