Saturday, May 25, 2013

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

After a 4.00am start to help out on the dawn chorus at Mullaghmore in the Burren for the National Bioblitz, we headed to Wexford to see a White-winged Black Tern that was found two days earlier at Lady's Island.  Within 20 minutes of arriving at Lady's Island we picked up the adult summer WWBT flying around the colony with Roseate and Common Terns.  We then headed to Tacumschin where we saw Garganey and found a Buff-breasted Sandpiper on the way out to the patches.  This was my second Buff-breasted Sandpiper in a week. On Tuesday I was on the Inishkea Islands when one dropped in for a quick stay-over.  Also in Wexford we had five Reed Warblers, four Bearded Reedlings and a Short-eared Owl.  A great day in beautiful sunshine.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Wexford © John N Murphy

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

White-billed Diver

On my way back from working in North West Mayo, I got a generous offer that I could not refuse.  John Brittain (, the skipper of a small fishing vessel out of Cleggan in Galway, and the finder of this stunning almost full summer plumage adult White-billed Diver, offered myself and Anthony McGeehan, a trip out to see the bird. This bird first appeared last Saturday 17th May and thankfully it stuck around to get its portrait taken.  The bird was not too far off the south end of Inishbofin and three years ago a bird was seen off the Inishbofin Ferry on 13th May by Aonghus O' Donnell and Dermot Breen.  Probably the same bird returning to a favourite feeding site.  Thanks to all who made this trip and bird possible.

White-billed Diver, Inishbofin, © John N Murphy

Monday, May 13, 2013

Eagles to Terns

We did a whistle stop tour of the middle of Ireland on Saturday 11th May, to clock up a few new year ticks.  We began our day with an early morning stop at Mountshannon on Lough Derg to see the White-tailed Eagles.  Then it was on to Banagher in county Offaly for Whinchat and Boora Bog for Grey Partridge.  Next stop was across to Wicklow for Great Spotted Woodpecker, Red Kite and finally ending our day at Kilcoole and the east coast where we got Little Tern, Roseate Tern, Buzzards, Marsh Harrier and lots of other common species.  Not a bad day considering the weather.
Grey Partridge at Boora © John N Murphy
Little, Roseate & Sandwich Terns at Kilcoole © John N Murphy
Whinchat at Banagher © John N Murphy

Friday, May 10, 2013

Great Northern Diver

I got a chance to go back to Seafield, Quilty during the week.  I was searching for migrating seabirds like Skuas and petrels during a good North West blow.  Unfortunately there were few birds of interest on the sea bar 15 Great Northern Divers.  All in full summer coats awaiting to depart for breeding grounds in Iceland or Arctic Canada.  A couple came close to the pier at Seafield allowing the shots you see below. Magnificent birds in breeding plumage.

Great Northern Diver in summer plumage at Seafield, Quilty © John N Murphy

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

White-tailed Eagle

Third-year White-tailed Eagle  © John N Murphy

We were delighted today when the news finally broke to the public about the nesting White-tailed Sea Eagles in Clare and Kerry. The last couple of weeks were torture trying to keep the news under wraps ,that the White-tailed pair in Mountshannon on the shores of Lough Derg, had two chicks hatched out about 12 days ago, and that both birds were being well looked after by the parents.  After the disappointment of last years season when young hatched but did not make it through their first day, it was great to hear that birds successfully bred again in Ireland and here in Clare, for the first time in over 130 years. Better still, it was on our own back doorstep and a great privilege for the residence of east Clare and the rest of the county.

The emergence of young eagles in Kerry over the last few days also added to the good news. It now looks very positive for the future of White-tailed Eagles in Ireland.  All of this is of course down to the dedicated years of work carried out by Dr. Allan Mee, Lorcan O'Toole and Declan Clarke, along with members and supporters of the Golden Eagle Trust.  Eventually all their efforts came to a pinnacle with the emergence of birds in Clare and Kerry.  Our Congratulations to you all.

We ask all who plan to visit Mountshannon over coming weeks, to please respect the eagles as they go about raising their young on the island off Mountshannon. The birds are being monitored 24 hours a day and an exclusion zone is being place around the island where the birds are nesting.  If you want to see them in action, the best place to observe them from is the pier at Mountshannon.  Trained staff will be on hand to show you the birds through a telescope and will explain what stage the birds are at as the summer progresses. 


Monday, May 6, 2013

Spotted Redshank

I got a text from Tom Tarpey early this afternoon (Sunday 5th May), to say that he had found a pair of Garganey at Coonagh Settlement Ponds.  I arrived one hour afterwards and did not manage to find them after a two hour search.  I did however find an adult summer plumage Little Gull and this summer plumage Spotted Redshank in the shots below.  The bird was hanging out with a flock of 120 Black-tailed Godwits.

Spotted Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits at Coonagh © John N Murphy

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Woodchat Shrike

The Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator at Ring Marsh was showing well this afternoon.  The bird was feeding around bramble and Gorse bushes near Ring Marsh in the south east corner of Carnsore Point.  Other birds of note in this locality were Roseate Terns at Lady's Island and a summer plumaged Bonaparte's Gull at Tacumschin.

Woodchat Shrike, Ring Marsh, Wexford © John N Murphy

Lesser Black-backed Gull

I was back on the Great Saltee Island, in Wexford again today. The hope was that there night be some migration through the island, but unfortunately it was very quiet.  The only birds of note were; one Short-eared Owl, one Common Redstart that disappeared very quickly, glimpses of a Garden Warbler, two Blackcaps, two Willow Warblers, two Chiffchaff, one Peregrine, four Chough and a handful of Wheatears and Sedge Warblers.  So my camera got little use except for the Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus graellsii near the Ring that I spent a some time photographing.  Nice gulls though.

Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Great Saltee Island © John N Murphy