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Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Curlew Sandpiper, Inny Estuary

Adult Curlew Sandpiper, Inny Estuary, 13th August 2018 (Pat McDaid).

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Ruff, Blennerville - Autumn is starting

Ruff, Blennerville, 17th August 2018 (David O'Connor).

  Ruff, Blennerville, 17th August 2018 (David O'Connor).

Friday, 17 August 2018


This is the best time of year to see a good variety of terns in Kerry, especially at the likes of Beale Strand, Rough Point and Cloghane Estuary. There's plenty of juveniles about too, presumably at least some from the local colonies, but also with others from elsewhere. Only one pair of Sandwich Terns bred on the Maharees this year, but there are upward of 100 in the general Rough Point/ Brandon Bay area at the moment.

Arctic, Sandwich and Common Terns, Rough Pt., 17th August 2018 (M.O'Clery).

The roosting flock at Rough Point numbered about 100 birds, a mix of mainly Arctic and Sandwich, with just a handful of Common Terns, and only one Little Tern.

Adult and juvenile Little Terns, Brandon Bay, 16th August 2018 (Kilian Kelly).

Little Terns are still about, though they must surely be thinking of heading south some time soon.

Adult Sandwich Tern, Brandon Bay, 16th August 2018 (Kilian Kelly).

Juvenile Arctic Tern, Rough Point, 16th August 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Fresh-plumaged juvenile Arctic Terns are really smart-looking birds. Hardy little things too, about to launch south of the Equator any moment now.

Arctic, Sandwich and Common Terns, Rough Point, 16th August 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Below, a useful comparison of juvenile Common and Arctic Terns. Nearly as useful as the stunning comparison photo of Cormorant and Robin which you can see on this page HERE

Top) Juvenile Common Tern; Bottom) Juvenile Arctic Tern, Rough Point, 16th August 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Monday, 13 August 2018

Mixed breeding season for Kerry Barn Owls

Nationally, it's been a strange season for Barn Owls, with average brood sizes good, but a lot of traditional sites, particularly in Kerry, apparently abandoned, or resulting in failed nesting. Sites in inland and midland sites seem later than western coastal sites, a reversal of the norm. A very chilly spring most likely accounts for the strange timings and failed nests, despite the subsequent good summer weather.

However, there has also been an encouraging uptake of new nest boxes, showing the real value in providing safe nest sites for this iconic bird.

Four Barn Owl chicks, near Castleisland (All photos: M.O'Clery, John Lusby - BirdWatch Ireland, under licence to NPWS).

One of the few broods of four this summer (above) was in a nest box near Castleisland, a site which has proven successful in each of the last three seasons it has been occupied, with three, three and, this year, four chicks.

Three young chicks were in a newly occupied nest box in this barn near Scartaglen, July 2018.

A nest box was installed in this barn (above) in 2014. With no sign of Barn Owls nearby or known of in the immediate area, the reasons for putting the box in place were based somewhat on blind optimism, though there was potentially good foraging areas nearby, and the barn was disused. Finally, in year five, the optimism was rewarded, Barn Owls moved in and three chicks were hatched. Unfortunatly only one of the three survived to fledging, but fantastic to have another nest site up and running.

Three Barn Owl chicks, near Tralee.

Where the brood size was accurately known, Kerry nest sites produced:
One chick - 1 site
Two chicks - 3 sites
Three chicks - 4 sites
Four chicks - 1 site

The average brood size from these sites was 2.55, a little above the national average (there were other sites which were successful but we can't be sure of the exact brood size). However, with several failed nests and quite a few empty traditional sites, it's not been a bumper season. Here's hoping this coming winter will be kind to the next generation of Barn Owls.

More on the Irish Raptor Blog HERE
the Duhallow Raptor Blog HERE