Sunday, April 28, 2013


I visit a known Raven nest site yesterday while back in west Clare to see how the chicks were developing.  As you can see from the photos below the five birds in this nest are just ready to leave and it is amazing that this old pair have produced and managed to successful raise four to five hatchlings every year no matter what the elements throw at them.

Raven Nest with chicks and male escorting me off his territory © John N Murphy

Bottle-nosed Dolphins

I was back in Loop Head on the most southerly point of Clare yesterday for a short visit.  There were few birds about, mainly large flocks of Manx Shearwaters in the mouth of the Shannon Estuary where I calculated up to 4,000 birds in all.  On the land there were 30 plus Wheatears, some breeding Ringed Plovers, a flock of 600 Golden Plover, six Chough and one female Merlin chasing pipits about the headland. 

Just North of Loop Head Lighthouse a small pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins Tursiops trincatus came close by the cliff edge and gave a great display during a feeding frenzy.  Within the pod there was one Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena and its calf, along with a few Common Dolphins Delphinus delphis.  For better views of Dolphins the MV Driocht based in Carrigaholt, runs daily excursions out the mouth of the Shannon River and off Loop Head to get you close up views of all marine life especially Bottle-nosed Dolphins.

Also the local Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), have regular outings to the tip of Loop Head to show the general public the different cetaceans in the Atlantic during peak migration times . A great pocket sized book for identifying cetaceans off the Irish coastline is available from the IWDG "A Guide to the Indentification of the WHALES & DOLPHINS of Ireland, by Jim Wilson with Simon Berrow. Worth getting a copy of this superb and concise publication.
 Bottle-nosed Dolphins off Loop Head © John N Murphy
Harbour Porpoise with calf off Loop Head © John N Murphy

Friday, April 26, 2013

Waders & Wagtails

 Turnstones on the high tide at Seafield,some changing into full summer plumage © John N Murphy
 Purple Sandpiper © John N Murphy
 Dunlin at Seafield also changing into its breeding plumage © John N Murphy
Twenty-five White Wagtails were at Seafield this evening heading back to breeding grounds in Iceland © John N Murphy


It is that time of the year again when Whimbrels or Maybirds are making their way back from South Africa to nesting sites in Iceland.  I was in Kilrush this evening and got down to the shore to Aylevaroo near Cappagh Pier where there were 36 Whimbrel gathered on the shoreline.
Whimbrel on the shore near Kilrush © John N Murphy

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I darted down to Reenore, Ballinskellig, County Kerry after work this evening to catch up with the four Dotterels found there yesterday evening.  Directions from local birder Ed Carty brought me straight to the spot where the birds were in a small field adjacent to the beach.  Within minutes of arriving I had the birds. They were feeding in short grass close to a small herd of cattle. Delighted they stayed long enough for me to tick them off my year list.  This time last year three birds turned up in Connemara and I was also lucky on that occasion to be not too far away and I got to see them.

 Dotterels, County Kerry © John N Murphy

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


I was at Creadan Point in Waterford this morning at 7.00am to see the Hoopoe that has been there for the last week or so.  As soon as I arrived I found the bird in the exact spot in a little garden where it has been regularly turning up.  Afterwards I headed to Brownstown Head where there was a female Blackcap three Chiffchaffs and four Willow Warblers.  On my way through Dunmore East I got a few snaps of the Kittiwakes in the harbour before heading home for work.

Kittiwakes feeding in the surf © John N Murphy

Monday, April 22, 2013

Green Woodpecker

I spent a few days in Chesterfield, Derbyshire the UK on business and got a couple of hours birding in the general location of the town and along the canal banks.  Had a fantastic Green Woodpecker on the grounds of Springwell Community College.  I also managed to see Great Spotted Woodpecker, lots of Buzzards and a couple of Red Kites.

 Green Woodpecker © John N Murphy

Great Spotted Woodpecker © John N Murphy

Grey Dagger Moth

This Grey Dagger Moth Acronicta psi was on the windowsill of my glasshouse this morning. Every Spring various moth species occur in my glasshouse and this is not the first time Grey Daggers have turned up.

 Grey Dagger Moth © John N Murphy
 House Fly © John N Murphy

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Common Tern

Six Common and two Arctic terns were feeding along the beach front at Quilty this evening.  These were my first for this year of both these species and they fed actively on small fish in the shallows along the seashore.

Common Terns © John N Murphy