Sunday, November 27, 2016

Little Grebe

I love how confiding Little Grebes are when taking shots of them, so any chance I get to photograph them I gladly do so and could spend hours watching them feed. Here are a few shots that I took locally last Saturday.
 Little Grebe adult and immature John N Murphy

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Ring-billed Gull II

Yet another Ring-billed Gull in Cork. As I was passing through Carrigaline south of Cork City during the week for work, I noticed this 3CY bird sitting on a roof top with Black-headed Gulls.  I pulled the car over and got a few shots of this bird. I'm sure it has been in this locality for some time just like the bird at the Lough in Cork City the day before.

A third-winter Ring-billed Gull at Carrigaline, Cork John N Murphy

Monday, November 21, 2016

Ring-billed Gull The Lough

I was in Cork City today for meetings and managed to make it to the Lough at lunchtime for a quick scan of the gulls. There was this one 3CY Ring-billed Gull and a couple of colour ringed Black-headed Gulls. 
Ring-billed Gull and colour ringed Black-headed Gulls at the Lough, Cork John N Murphy

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Clare Species List What Next!

Hard to believe that a common European wader the Kentish Plover has not yet been recorded in Clare John N Murphy

Another Autumn has gone and  three new bird species were added to the Clare county list. The three new species were Royal Tern, Solitary Sandpiper and Tawny Pipit.  It does not come as a surprise that it was at Loop Head where these birds were found. Loop has been the source for almost 80% of new records for Clare over the last 25 years. For the last five years, I have been predicting the 20 species listed below to turn up. It is amazing why we have not had any of the shrikes nor the warblers on this list. It is also hard to believe that the only shrike species recorded in the county was a Great Grey in the Burren during the early 1970's. To date there have been 328 bird species recorded in county Clare. Below are the next 20 species that I predict to turn up and hopefully in my lifetime and the not so distant future.

Red-backed Shrike
Woodchat Shrike
Radde's Warbler
Dusky Warbler
Blyth's Reed Warbler
Stilt Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Terek Sandpiper
Temmink's Stint
Hudsonian Whimbrel
Kentish Plover
Franklin's Gull
Ivory Gull
Olive-backed Pipit
American Coot
Blackpoll Warbler
King Eider
Night Heron

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Greater Hoopoe Lark

I came across these shots of Greater Hoopoe Lark from a trip to the Cape Verdes Island in November 2013, while searching for other shots not related to this trip.  A fantastic bird full of character that always sticks in my head from seeing them in other desert habitats of North Africa. This bird was giving chase to a Locust that nearly got away on more than one occasion, but failed and I watched the same bird catch at least three others after this poor devil was devoured. It's great to have these memories on digi shots that I can look back on with fondness and brings the trip back to my poor old fading memory.
 Greater Hoopoe Lark, Boa Vista, Cape Verdes John N Murphy

Saturday, November 5, 2016


A small flock of eight Twite arrived at the tip of Loop Head Lighthouse early this morning.  A true sign that Autumn has passed and winter has arrived.
Twite on the cliffs at the tip of Loop Head John N Murphy

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Tawny Pipit

Almost 21 years to the day and lightning strikes again at Loop Head in the form of a Tawny Pipit. To explain, yesterday morning I should have been back on the loop but due to a hectic week at work I decided to rest for the day. Big mistake. I got a phone call from Jeff Copner early in the morning asking me was I back on the Loop and wondering were there any birds about. As I was not there I did not know what birds were about. I received a call from Gracer who was on Dursey and we shared the latest bird findings around the country. Tony Mee's named popped up in conversation as I thought he was on Dursey, but then realised he was at Loop.  After speaking with Gracer I phoned Tony immediately to be informed he had a large pale pipit near the Lighthouse that he was unsure about and could not make his mind up on wheter it was a pale Richards or a Tawny.  By this stage Jeff was on the scene and had managed to get a few shots, three of which he forwarded to me.   I was now in the car on the outskirts of Ennis racing back to Loop.  The shots were fairly clear but I was worried that the bird might have been a Blyth's Pipit and why I will now explain.
On the 30th October 1995 at 14.10, 21 years ago, I was at the north west corner of Loop Head Lighthouse with my good friend Brian Finnegan. As we approached the corner of the wall a large pale pipit walked through the deep grass just off the path on the north side of the wall.  We watched it for about 5-6 minutes and were both happy it was a Tawny Pipit (a first for Clare). I ran back to the car to get my camera and when I got back the bird had walked out into the open flattened grassy path heading towards the tip of the headland. Just as I got back onto the bird and was about to shoot the pic, a jogger ran around the corner of the lighthouse wall and scared the bird off. Now 21 years ago at Loop Head tourist were rare at any time of the year but more so in October, but joggers, well they were even rarer. The guy was lucky that he was not thrown over the cliff as Brian and I were furious. We spent an hour rechecking the headland but had no luck re-locating the bird.
But the story does not end there.  Dave McAdams was on Loop and was staying with us in Sides Cottage, so I decided it was time to call in additional troops and no better man than Mac.  We re-searched the headland but still could not locate the bird. Dave did ask me at the time did I notice the loral stripe to which I honestly had to admit that I didn't. The following day Dave located a large pale pipit at Loop Head and he was positive that it was a Blyth's Pipit.  At the time we discussed the bird in much detail but nothing was ever done about it.  I had no experience with Blyth's and I still have not seen them, so nothing has changed on that front. Dave had seen many in India so was in a better position to recognise Blyth's  pipit than I. This would have been a first Irish record. I have however seen many Tawny's throughout Europe, and the bird at Loop Head yesterday was clearly this species and a great find by Tony. (1st Clare record ?) Interestingly this bird turned up in the exact same location on the side of the lighthouse as the pipit in October 1995.
Tawny Pipit at Loop Head Lighthouse John N Murphy

Monday, September 26, 2016

Monday 26th September 2016

This Pied Flycatcher was at Kilbaha, Loop Head since yesterday and I got a chance to get back there this evening and got these record shots of the bird in the trees at the bottom of Marty Lillis's garden.

First-winter male Pied Flycatcher at Kilbaha John N Murphy