Saturday, March 12, 2022

Otter Time

We have come to that time of the year when Eurasian Otters are starting to spring back to life.  Over the past month I have encountered Otters every other day actively searching for food along the Shannon River and many other small lakes and ponds. This dog Otter was on the river Shannon near Killimer, in west Clare.  He was not too worried about my presence as you can see. He caught many small fish along the shore on the dropping tide. Thankfully they have made a great comeback since the banning of hunting these incredible mammals.

Dog Otter on the Shannon River John N Murphy

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Velvet Scoter

I have not seen a Velvet Scoter in a couple of years so it was great to find this first-winter male at Poulnasherry Bay, west Clare during the week. Nice to see lots of Scandinavian wildfowl and seabirds so far south this winter.

Velvet Scoter John N Murphy

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Bonaparte's Gull 7th County Record

I made a quick trip after work yesterday to Seafield Point near Quilty where almost 1,000 gulls were feeding on the seaweed mass deposited by the recent rough seas along the shoreline.  I picked out this North American Bonaparte's Gull within the large mixed flock. This is the 7th County record of this rare vagrant. There was also one first-winter Ring-billed Gull and an Iceland Gull, my first for this winter.

Adult winter Bonaparte's Gull at Seafield, Quilty John N Murphy

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Clare Species List, What next?

Semi-palmated Plover, Florida  John N Murphy

As the year quickly draws to a close, I find myself sitting down trying to predict, what is the next new Species of bird that will arrive in Clare? Since I last did this prediction in November 2016, we have added three new species to the county list. Radde's Warbler at Loop Head, King Eider on the north Clare coast and Lesser Kestrel at Kilkee.  Only two of these appeared on the last predicted list, (Radde's Warbler N0.3 on that list and King Eider No.20). No one would have ever expected Lesser Kestrel, but as I always say "the birds don't read the books". Its still hard to believe that we have not recorded a Shrike in the county since the record of Great Grey in the Burren during the 1970's.

So here are my new top 20 predictions for Clare as we approach 2022.

1.   Red-backed Shrike

2.   Franklin's Gull

3.   American Coot

4.   Greenish Warbler

5.   Northern Harrier

6.   Semi-palmated Plover

7.   Night Heron

8.   Blyth's Reed Warbler

9.   Shorelark

10. Blackpoll Warbler

11. Black-capped Petrel

12. Ivory Gull

13. Brunnich's Guillemot

14. Dusky Warbler

15. Woodchat Shrike

16. Killdeer

17. Olive-backed Pipit

18. Red-flanked Bluetail

19. Stilt Sandpiper

20. Two-barred Crossbill

Monday, November 1, 2021

Yellow-browed Warblers

It has been another poor year for Yellow-browed Warblers from the east with only three at Loop Head this season and I managed to see another individual on Clare Island in Mayo. Here are a few shots from this autumn.

Yellow-browed Warblers John N Murphy

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Common Raven

Given that today is the ancient Irish Tradition of Halloween (Oiche Shamhna), I have decided to share some photos of my black corvid carrion friend "Robbie" who lives back at Castle Point in west Clare. When I was growing up (100 years ago), these beautiful birds were highly persecuted and poisoned to stop them eating lambs etc.. Nowadays such practices have thankfully been banned and are completely illegal. At Halloween Raven images pop up regularly on film posters and posters depicting the Halloween season. The Celts strongly associated the Raven with war on the battlefield and death. But nowadays they can live a fairly sedentary life, away from the close proximity of humans and get on with being masters of their own territories.

Robbie here is the main reason why I managed to find a Lesser Kestrel in west Clare last year, 130 years after the first Irish record. It was he I first noticed at the end of the car park near Castle Point, Kilkee.  I drove down to photograph him but found the LK instead. Now I have my lunch in that car park, whenever I am working back around the west Clare area. As you can see he has copped on to me throwing out my bread crust after my lunch and is taking full advantage of it. Such a fantastic and intelligent bird. Long Live the Raven.

Common Raven John N Murphy

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Arctic Warbler

During my recent visit to Clare Island (11th to 13th October 2021), I managed to find this rare Siberian Arctic Warbler, a first for the island and a 16th Irish record. The first one I seen in Ireland was a long way back on 6th September 1986 (only the 6th Irish record at that time), in Kilbaha, Loop Head.

Arctic Warbler, Clare Island John N Murphy