Sunday, April 28, 2013

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

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