Saturday, August 27, 2016

Curlew Sandpiper at Lough Donnell

I ventured up to Lough Donnell late yesterday evening 26th August 2016,  in search of a few waders.  The water levels had dropped and I was excited to see a small flock of 70 Dunlin in the mud at the south west corner when I arrived. My excited soon waned after 20 minutes as the only other interesting waders with the Dunlin were two Knot and this Curlew Sandpiper.  Today a Semipalmated Sandpiper was reported at the site by visiting Finish birders. What a P off but fair play to the Fins.

Curlew Sandpiper at Lough Donnell John N Murphy
Curlew Sandpiper and Dunlin John N Murphy
Dunlin at Lough Donnell John N Murphy
Dunlin and Knot at Lough Donnell John N Murphy
 Knot at Lough Donnell John N Murphy

Friday, August 26, 2016

Royal Tern from Kerry to Clare and back again

I came off Skellig Michael after my weeks work and headed direct to north Kerry and Beale Point in search of the Royal Tern that has been there since the middle of the week. After a few attempts I eventually caught up with the bird and was delighted to have a new Irish tick.  Shots are not great.

Royal Tern at Littor Strand, North Kerry John N Murphy

Monday, August 22, 2016

Dotterel at Loop

I was back to Loop Head again this afternoon in search of waders. I met up with Neal Warnock and we both walked the Fodry at Loop Head in search of North American vagrants.  On the small Lough there was a Spotted Redshank which is unusual in itself. We did manage to dig out this adult Dotterel which showed well in a field close to the Lighthouse. Hard to believe this is only a 7th county record.
Dotterel at Fodry Loop Head John N Murphy

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Solitary Sandpiper

Last Monday 15th August 2016, I made my way back to the Loop Head peninsula in search of a possible Least Sandpiper observed by Tony and Darragh Cully late Sunday evening at Cloghaun Lough outside Kilbaha.  On my way downto the loop, I took in Poulnasherry Bay to search for American waders and Kilcredaun Marsh also.  I got delayed at Poulnasherry with a very unusual looking plover that I was convinced was a Semipalmated Plover.  Next I went through the pools at Kilcredaun Marsh where there was one juvenile Ruff and very little else.  I arrived at Cloghaun Lough at around 15.15 and once the scope was set up the first bird I noticed in the mud was a Common Sandpiper feeding along the edge of the main stream in the middle of the Lough.  Then sitting behind a mound of mud to the left of the Common Sandpiper I noticed a slightly larger looking wader. 
On first impressions the hunched over bird looked  like a Wood Sandpiper.  I needed to get closer and better views with no heat haze distorting my views, so I made my way along the southern shore of the Lough. The bird moved out feeding just right of the mud mound and immediately I noticed the eye ring, long primary projection and dark overall colour similar to Green Sandpiper.  I got closer and took the camera out of the bag. I now had it in my head that it could be a Solitary Sandpiper but I could not see the rump.  As I approached closer the bird attempted to move away from me and as it did so it flew about 4 metres to the right. As it landed I could see that it had a dark rump and I then knew it was a Solitary Sandpiper.  One of the shots depicted this so I took a couple of pictures from the back of the camera with my phone and texted it off to a few friends to release the news.
The phone started ringing immediately and during conversations with the lads it was worked out that it was only the 7th Irish record and I knew it was a first for Clare. Of course I was delighted and I patiently watched the bird for over an hour while waiting for local birders to arrive and see this North American vagrant.  While waiting the Least Sandpiper appeared on the edge of a reeded fringe near the mouth of the river entering the Lough from the landward side. This was obviously the same bird as seen the evening before, so I contacted Tony Cully to let him know the good news. The Least Sandpiper was only a second county record.  The birds remained in the Lough till the end of the week and all got great views of these two brilliant birds.  A great start to the autumn.
Solitary Sandpiper at Cloghaun Lough, Loop Head John N Murphy

Friday, August 19, 2016

Least Sandpiper

The Least Sandpiper that appeared last weekend at Cloghaun Lough on the outskirts of Kilbaha, Loop Head is still lingering, even though water levels have risen in the Lough completely cover all the muddy fringes.  This afternoon the bird was very confiding allowing shots to be taken as it fed in rocks and vegetation on the southern shore.
Adult Least Sandpiper at Cloghaun Lough, Loop Head John N Murphy

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ringed Plover or Not?

I spent over two hours last Monday at Poulnasherry Bay, in west Clare chasing down this plover, as it showed strong characteristics of Semipalmated Plover.  Can anyone shed some light on this bird for me. It appeared slighter than the other Ringed Plovers on the mudflats and the bill, lores and structure were very close in my opinion to SP Plover. I did not see any webs on the feet due to the fact that it walked for the majority of it's time feeding in wet little puddles. The set of shots below were the best I could manage on the day and birds were eventually dispersed by a hunting Peregrine. Why is this not a SemiP Plover? Please leave your comments. Thanks. Murf.

Plover Poulasherry John N Murphy