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Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Time for the truth - Littoralis vote

Rock Pipit with kinda 'Littoralis' credentials, Rough Point, 17th April 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Here, a pinkish Rock Pipit at Rough Point today (one of three, or perhaps four in the area) or, depending on the angle of light, the quality of your camera or your ability to manipulate saturation levels in PhotoShop, a buffish Rock Pipit. In any case, a bird that would mostly fit into the category of a 'Littoralis'  or 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit. Worthy of publication in the Irish Rare Bird Report for 2018 in the official end-of-year rarity list in Irish Birds. But is it really one? Or really, what is a 'Scandinavian Rock Pipit' after all? The difference in DNA between them and our own 'ordinary' Rock Pipits are minimal. So small you could fit a sliver of Holy Communion between the two.

I'm beginning to think they are a made-up sub-species, invented by Russian hackers, the doctored photos disseminated on social media to susceptible or suggestible birders all over the internet. Cambridge Analytica have been posting Facebook ads promoting Littoralis as a full species so, if you have any sense, you should be very alarmed.

Maybe it's time to lay to rest the myth of Littoralis once and for all.

Sorta, kinda pinky-ish Rock Pipit at Rough Point today, perhaps a Littoralis Rock Pipit, or maybe an evil construct of the hacker-manipulated social media onslaught on the truth, Rough Point, 17th April 2018 (M.O'Clery). 

Are you a believer?

Let's have  a vote.

Please note: Unlike other polls, you can refresh the page, and vote again. If you feel strongly about this issue, keep on voting as often as you wish. Have a vote, and then you get to see how everyone else has voted.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Spring races

Third year 'Argentatus' Herring Gull, TBWC, 5th April 2018 (David O'Connor).

'Psammadroma' Ringed Plover, Black Rock, 13th April 2018 (David O'Connor).

One of around six present.

'White Wagtail'Black Rock, 13th April 2018 (David O'Connor).

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Free talk at Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre and Killarney

Author Padraic Fogarty is giving two talks on his terrific new book, Whittled Away - Ireland's vanishing wildlife. The Tralee Talk is at the Tralee Bay Wetland Centre on Friday 13th April at 7.30pm, the Killarney talk is in the public library, Killarney, on Saturday 14th April at 2pm. All are welcome and the events are free.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Green-winged Teal, Blennerville

Green-winged Teal, Blennerville, 3rd April 2018 (David O'Connor).

Quite possibly the same bird that was at Blennerville in December and early January, though there were no sightings in recent weeks.

Green-winged Teal, Blennerville, 3rd April 2018 (David O'Connor).

Green-winged Teal, Blennerville, 3rd April 2018 (David O'Connor).

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Funny-looking Iceland Gull at Dingle

Ok, when I say, 'Funny-looking', I hope you haven't been sucked into click-bait territory, along with the classic YouTube clips of piano-playing cats, and dogs that have learned to 'go' properly on a loo AND flush after, while their simpering owners look on. I hope you haven't clicked on the the link in preparation for a - literally - funny looking Iceland Gull with, say, pierced nipples and a neck tattoo, or wearing a perfect little pair of wellington boots while dancing in the rain with an umbrella. No. By funny-looking, I mean, well, weird.

Here's the culprit, at Dingle last week.

Weird second winter (third calendar year) Iceland Gull, Dingle, 25th March 2018 (M.O'Clery).

What's so weird about it, I hear you saying? To clarify, of course I don't actually 'hear' you saying that, as such, more that, in a virtual sense, as in 'virtual reality', I imagine you saying... OK, let me re-phrase that first sentence.

What's so weird about it, I imagine you saying to yourself while looking at the image online?

Then again, you probably wouldn't say it out loud, probably just think it, to yourself... 

Let me try this one more time.

What's so weird about it, I imagine you thinking to yourself while viewing the image online, alone and in silence?

But then, how would I know if you were alone? And there might be background noise, like a telly on in the background. Or distant traffic...?

Oh, for feck sake, I'm over-analysing, let's move on...

What's so weird about it? Well, let me use a bit of PhotoShop magic on it to demonstrate...

So, in the same image below, with the entire outer wing removed, if you saw this bird you might immediately shout, "Classic Kumlien's Gull flying right!", or actually more likely,  "Severely injured classic Kumlien's Gull flying right!" Quite possibly followed by, "Wow... how the feck is that thing still flying?".

Classic Kumlien's Gull, Dingle, 25th March 2018 (M.O'Clery and PhotoShop).

Thing is, going back to the original image, it looks like this bird has moulted all it's outer wing, but not any of the inner wing. Weird. Then, the outer primaries that are there now not only look pale, as in Iceland Gull pale, but the inner primaries are darker than the outer ones. Double weird.

And then you see it sitting in the water (photo below). Ok, Almost pure white primaries, so, an Iceland Gull. But look at the contrast... Weird.

Scratch the classic Kumlien's Gull rubbish. It's an Iceland Gull. But a weird one. Dingle, 25th March 2018 (M.O'Clery).

At least there were other Kumlien's to look at in Dingle that day. Below, two far more plausible candidates are shown below.

Non-weird first-winter (second calendar-year) Kumlien's Gull, Dingle, 25th March 2018 (M.O'Clery).

First-winter (second calendar-year) Kumlien's Gull, Dingle, 25th March 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Different individual to the one above (note the missing inner primary on the first).

First winter (second calendar-year) Kumlien's Gull, Dingle, 25th March 2018 (M.O'Clery).

With thanks to Anthony McGeehan and Bruce Mactavish. Have a look at their respective blogs... Anthony's HERE and Bruce's HERE.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Black Brant at Ventry

 Adult Black Brant, Ventry, 25th March 2018 (Michael O'Clery).

 Quite how many Black Brants have been seen in Kerry over the years is a bit of a mystery, but at least on one occasion, two birds have been seen simultaneously, at Barrow Harbour and Spa on 6th November 2014. In early winter, by far the largest numbers of Brent are to be found at Barrow Harbour, but by December they usually disperse around Tralee Bay and become gradually more numerous on the coasts around the Magharees and Castlegregory. Black Brant occasionally turns up in these flocks if not at Barrow in the autumn then later in the winter at Sandy Bay or thereabouts. 

 Adult Black Brant, Ventry, 25th March 2018 (Michael O'Clery).

The bird seen yesterday at Ventry looks to be the same individual as seen at Sandy Bay in early mid-January, based on the similarity of the flank pattern, a distinctive dark  'double-band' towards the rear of the flank, especially on its right side.

Adult Black Brant, Ventry, 25th March 2018 (Michael O'Clery).

Comparison of photos of Black Brant at Sandy Bay and Ventry, this winter, showing a distinct pattern on the flank (M.O'Clery).

However, this flank pattern is very different to the bird present at Sandy Bay in January 2017. One of the photos of that bird is shown below, but for more photos of that bird see the posts HERE and HERE.

Adult Black Brant at Sandy Bay in January 2017 (M.O'Clery).

Based on the flank pattern you would have to think last winters' Brant was a different individual to the one seen at Sandy Bay and Ventry this winter. However, how the flank pattern might vary from year to year is a bit of an unknown. Would an individual still maintain a distinctive flank pattern after each annual moult?

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Kumlien's Gull, Dingle

First-year Kumlien's Gull, Dingle, 23rd March 2018 (Kilian Kelly).

Friday, 23 March 2018

Ring-billed Gull at Carrahane

Ring-billed Gull, Carrahane, 21st March 2018 (David O'Connor).

Wheatear, Black Rock, 21st March 2018 (David O'Connor).

Summer migrants are now slowly arriving, with a few Wheatears seen over the past few days, and two Sandwich Terns seen at Camp on Wednesday last.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Black and Surf Scoters, Rossbeigh

Male Black Scoter, Rossbeigh, 20th March 2018 (Michael O'Clery).

First-year male Surf Scoter, Rossbeigh, 20th March 2018 (Michael O'Clery).

First-year male Surf Scoter, Rossbeigh, 20th March 2018 (Michael O'Clery).

Although a female Surf Scoter has been seen at Rossbeigh over much of the winter, the bird appears to be a newcomer. The young male Surf Scoter which was at Ballinskelligs Bay in early February appears to be different, with more advanced plumage and bare parts coloration (see HERE)

Friday, 16 March 2018

Yellow-legged Gull, Black Rock

Adult Yellow-legged Gull (rear, second from left, with Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Common Gulls), Black Rock, 12th March 2018 (David O'Connor).

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Black Rock, 12th March 2018 (David O'Connor).