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Saturday, 17 July 2021

Roseate Tern and other bits on the Maharees

With the superb weather, it was time to dig out the kayaks and hit the Maharees in the company of bird ringer, Alan MacCarthy, to ring some gull chicks. Due to other bird work commitments, it was a bit late in the season, with most already fledged, but worth a shot for some of the later broods.

Anther reason was to check on the terns nesting on the islands, and glad to report, it looks like a reasonably good season. And among the nesting Arctic and Common Terns on one of the islets, was an adult Roseate Tern. Barely annual in Kerry, this marks a welcome return to the Maharees where it wasn't recorded in the tern colonies over the last few years. 

One pair bred on Illaunbarnagh in 2006, but since then, records at the Maharees have petered out. Numbers of breeding pairs in Ireland (mainly at Rockabill on the East Coast) have risen in recent years, so hopefully that will be reflected in more records and perhaps future breeding here in Kerry.

Adult Roseate Tern, Maharees, 17th July 2021 (M.O'Clery).

Adult Roseate Tern (top, left of centre) with Arctic Terns, Maharees, 17th July 2021 (M.O'Clery).


Adult Roseate Tern (left), Maharees, 17th July 2021 (M.O'Clery).

3 recently fledged juvenile Little Terns, Maharees, 17th July 2021 (M. O'Clery).
Little Terns have been barely hanging on as a breeding species in Kerry, and the Maharees are the only colony. For the past three years, this has been of only 1 to 3 pairs, and in summer 2020 they failed completely, along with all the other terns - a series of storms in early June wiped out the nesting season for the Kerry birds, and much of the rest of Ireland. This year was better, three recently fledged juveniles were flying around Illauntannig, still being fed by their parents, so the 2-3 pairs at least produced some young this year.
Fledgling Lesser Black-backed Gull, Maharees, 17th July 2021 (M. O'Clery).

Alan, with a fledgling Lesser Black-backed Gull, Maharees, 17th July 2021 (M. O'Clery).

Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls appear to have increased in numbers on the Maharees in recent years, and it is hoped to do a fuller survey of their numbers next summer, combined with a colour-ringing project. 

Though the Roseate Tern was the rarest bird on show today, there was another strange sight... A flock of over 100 Curlew flew over the islands and then continued out to sea, heading in a NNW direction, out into open ocean. Where on earth where they heading?

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Rose-coloured Starling on Skellig Michael

There's a large and ongoing influx of Rose-coloured Starlings into Ireland at the moment, and Co. Kerry has seen it's fair share, with a record-breaking 11 or possibly 12 individuals seen just in the past month. Here, some photos of an adult (actually, they have all been adults) on Skellig Michael on 28th and 29th June.

The site was pretty extraordinary - the beehive huts and monastery at the summit of this majestic island, 14km offshore.

Adult Rose-coloured Starling, Skellig Michael, June 2021 (Michael O'Clery).

  

Adult Rose-coloured Starling, Skellig Michael, June 2021 (Michael O'Clery).

I'm not sure that this is a photographic 'first' , but it is unusual... Adult Rose-coloured Starling with Atlantic Puffins in the background. That isn't something you'd see every day.

Adult Rose-coloured Starling, Skellig Michael, June 2021 (Michael O'Clery).

Adult Rose-coloured Starling, Skellig Michael, June 2021 (Michael O'Clery).
A Rose-coloured Starling suns itself, by a monk's grave, next to a beehive hut. That's not a sentence you get to hear very often.
 
Adult Rose-coloured Starling, Skellig Michael, June 2021 (Michael O'Clery).

Adult Rose-coloured Starling, Skellig Michael, June 2021 (Michael O'Clery).
 A beautiful bird in an extraordinary place.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Avocet near Kenmare

An Avocet was a pretty extraordinary find at Ormond's Island, Kenmare Bay on Sunday, still present today.

Avocet, Ormond's Island, Kenmare Bay, 15th June 2021 (David O'Connor).

Avocet, Ormond's Island, Kenmare Bay, 15th June 2021 (David O'Connor).

Marsh Harrier, Baile an Reannaigh, 15th June 2021 (David O'Connor).

I asked a couple of 'moult gurus' about the moulting wing feathers on this bird, and ringer Sam Bayley commented that, although not 100%, he "...would say that a 5 [a bird born in the previous summer] is a good shout for this bird. I would have expected a full adult to have progressed further with moult at this stage and the wear on the flight feathers is far more than I would expect from adult feathers." Thanks, Sam! So, most likely a first-summer bird, and with no grey male feathers showing through, a female.

She was stick-collecting for a brief period in early June, but of course, we need a male to appear before any real ideas of nesting can be entertained. But that idea is not without merit... two pairs successfully bred in Ireland last summer, and the huge reedbed at Baile an Reannaigh (the largest intact reedbed in Kerry) is superb habitat for this species.

Marsh Harrier, Baile an Reannaigh, 15th June 2021 (David O'Connor).

Baile an Reannaigh, June 2021 (Michael O'Clery).
Anywhere else in Europe, Baile an Reannaigh would be a nationally important nature reserve, but in Kerry, it survives almost by accident. The largest intact reed bed in Kerry, an area full of Orchids and unusual insects and flowers and, of course, host to many rare breeding, passage and vagrant birds. In the near future, Marsh Harrier could be an addition to the breeding birds of this extraordinary habitat, if it survives.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Yellow Wagtail at Baile an Reannaigh

A male Yellow Wagtail was feeding on the seaweed on the high tide line at Baile an Reannaigh today, seen just four times for a total of just five and a half minutes over seven hours, but it looks like it could be a good candidate for Ireland's first record of the race Iberiae. Further updates soon, but in the meantime, here's the best of the photos from today (all photos: Michael O'Clery).


















Saturday, 29 May 2021

Intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gull

Intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gull, Blennerville, 27th May 2021 (David O'Connor).

Intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gull, Blennerville, 27th May 2021 (David O'Connor).

Intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gull, Blennerville, 27th May 2021 (David O'Connor).

Monday, 10 May 2021

'Winter' gulls still hanging around

Iceland Gull, Dingle, 26th April 2021 (Michael O'Clery).
 Iceland Gulls are still popping up around Kerry, but the most regular is this one at Dingle, believed to be present from last December, and still hanging around the Dingle Harbour area.

Glaucous Gull, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, 7th May 2021 (David O'Connor). 

Iceland Gull, The Cashen, 6th May 2021 (David O'Connor).

Yellow-legged Gull, Kilcummin, 28th April 2021 (David O'Connor).

Franklin's Gull at Black Rock


Franklins' Gull, Black Rock, 28th April 2021 (David O'Connor).
A second summer bird, and only the third record for Co. Kerry.

Franklins' Gull, Black Rock, 28th April 2021 (David O'Connor).

Franklins' Gull, Black Rock, 28th April 2021 (David O'Connor).

Franklins' Gull, Black Rock, 28th April 2021 (David O'Connor).

Franklins' Gull, Black Rock, 28th April 2021 (Ed Carty).

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Some regulars still present

Green-winged Teal, Blennerville, 8th April 2021 (Ed Carty).

Pink-footed Goose, Blennerville, 12th April 2021 (David O'Connor).

 
Littoralis-type Rock Pipit, Kilshannig, 12th April 2021 (David O'Connor).

Saturday, 9 January 2021

First-winter male King Eider, near Castlegregory

First-winter male King Eider, near Castlegregory, 9th January 2021 (Michael O'Clery).
The fourth record for Kerry, and the first male, following a female at Dingle in February 2001, a female at Ballinskelligs in December 2017 and a female at Castlegregory in February 2017, which also returned the following winter. Let's hope this one stays for people to enjoy and returns in full colourful male plumage next winter.

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Adult Kumlien's Gull at Blennerville

 

Adult Kumlien's Gull, Blennerville, 2nd January 2021 (Ed Carty).
This is the 55th record for Co. Kerry, and the 18th adult bird.

Adult Kumlien's Gull, Blennerville, 2nd January 2021 (Ed Carty).

Adult Kumlien's Gull, Blennerville, 2nd January 2021 (Ed Carty).