Friday, December 27, 2013


I was working up in Limavady, Derry just on the run up to the Christmas break and on the way home I got an hour in Killybegs to look for the Thayer's Gull.  No sign of it but there were three Iceland Gulls (one first-winter, one second-winter and a sub adult), along with one first-winter Glaucous Gull.

A small selection of gulls from Killybegs © John N Murphy

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Albino Great Northern Diver

This albino Great Northern Diver was off Black Head yesterday.  There has been an albino bird in this area for over five winters now, but this was my first time seeing the bird. 

Albino Great Northern Diver off Black Head © John N Murphy

Friday, December 13, 2013

Iceland Gull

This first-winter Iceland Gull was with the flock of Black-headed, Commoms and Ring-billed Gull at Glin in Limerick today.

Iceland Gull at Glin, Limerick © John N Murphy

Ring-billed Gull

This adult Ring-billed Gull was in the middle of Glin village today in County Limerick on the rising tide.

Adult Ring-billed Gull with Common Gull at Glin © John N Murphy

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Glossy Ibis

I have been working in South Kerry for the last few days.  While traveling home this evening with my colleague Jon Kearney, we came across this Glossy Ibis,  feeding in the surf at St. Finian's Bay, a small beach near the Skellig Chocolate Factory, on the coast road half way between Portmagee and Ballinskellig.  The light and weather conditions were fairly rough due to strong southerly gales.  It is my first time seeing Glossy Ibis feed on a seashore beach within a flock of Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls.  A strange sight for the south west of Ireland, (if only it was a White-faced Ibis, wouldn't that be good).

 Glossy Ibis in County Kerry © John N Murphy

Canada Geese

I got a text from an old friend Chris Meehan last week to say that there were three Canada Geese with the flock of Barnacles at Killard near Doonbeg.  So last Saturday 7th December, Finbarr MacGabhainn and myself stopped off briefly at Doonbeg, on a whistle stop tour of west Clare to try and relocate these birds to see what race they belonged to.  There were two small birds that were certainly Cackling Geese (Branta h. hutchinsii).  The third bird was a little larger and we were not sure if it was of the race (Branta c. canadensis or Branta c. parvipes) found in central Canada and the North-west.  Phone conversations with Dermot Breen about the bird in the right of the picture below does point towards parvipes but I need to dig out additional photos to show the full size, structure and shape of this bird before we can be sure. (more photos to follow later).

Canada Geese at Doonbeg © John N Murphy

Monday, December 2, 2013

Common Eider

These two Common Eiders were feeding at the inner harbour of Liscannor Harbour last Sunday morning.  We only get three to four birds in Clare every winter and rarely do they come this close to shore.  This immature female and first winter drake seemed to be feeding on seaweed.

 Eiders at Liscannor Harbour © John N Murphy

Snow Goose

This Snow Goose at Barrow Bay in Kerry looks ike it will spend the winter there with the pale-bellied Brent Geese.  This is the second bird that I have seen in Ireland this year as late last winter I traveled to Sheskinmore in Donegal to see a bird that was hanging out with Greenland White-fronted Geese.  This bird I photographed in Kerry during early November.  It was on show again today at Carrahane Strand just North of Barrow Bay.

Snow Goose, Kerry © John N Murphy

Short-toed Lark

I have been out of circulation for the past three weeks, mainly dew to the fact that a local railway bridge upgrade had my land-line and internet disconnected for some time.  Added to the fact that I was busy in work prior to a holiday to the Cape Verde Islands off Senegal and west Africa.  During this period I made two visits to Cork and Ballycotton, where I caught up with the Short-toed Lark for my year list and managed to find a Red-breasted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Common Redstart,  juvenile American Golden Plover and saw a White-rumped Sandpiper, Yellow-browed Warbler and an adult Sabine's Gull at Cobh.  Below are a few shots of the Short-toed Lark from the beach at Ballycotton.
Short-toed Lark at Ballycotton beach © John N Murphy

Sabine's Gull

This adult Sabine's Gull has been visiting Cobh in County Cork for the past eight winters.  I visited it over a month ago on a trip to Ballycotton for the Short-toed Lark.  Always a great bird to see and one of my favorite gulls.

 Adult Sabine's Gull, Cobh © John N Murphy