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Saturday, 17 February 2018

Stock Dove bonanza

Stock Doves don't often appear on birder's radar, but they should. They are a fairly recent colonist to Kerry, arriving for the first time in the early 1950's and while it would be nice to say that, like Little Egret, they have gone from strength to strength, that's not the case. The Bird Atlas for 1968 to 1972 showed Stock Doves to be nesting in most Kerry 10km squares. But that was their best moment. Since then, it has been a slow, continuous decline.

They are now a scarce breeding birding the Kingdom. They are 'cavity nesters', needing a large enough hole in a tree or old building in which to nest. Unlike their close relative, the Rock Dove, they shun coastal cliff sites and urban areas, so are more limited in their choice of potential nest sites. Being Kerry, there are also few enough areas with suitable mature trees and, as I know from visiting so many derelict buildings, ruined castles and abandoned farms which might have Barn Owls, there are only a small handful of those in which Stock Doves chose to nest (see e.g., this post HERE). More often than not, Rock Doves (or feral doves) are in residence.

At best, there must be only about 20 to 40 pairs of Stock Dove nesting in Kerry. Terry Carruthers in his book, The Birds of Killarney National Park,  estimated 20 to 30 pairs there in the early 1990s, but from my own experience doing bird surveys there, and Bird Atlas findings since, that would now seem optimistic.

Flock of Stock Doves and Rock Doves, Carrahane, 12th February 2018 (Kilian Kelly).

So what are up to 150+ Stock Doves doing around Carrahane at the moment?
 Seems the 'setaside' fields there are providing plenty of feeding.

Flock of Stock Doves and Rock Doves hiding in the field, Carrahane, 17th February 2018 (M.O'Clery).

There must be an element of winter immigration going on here. But from where? Stock Doves are generally thought of as non-migratory but, no doubt, would disperse locally in winter to feed. Perhaps these are mainly Cork and Tipperary birds? Or from further afield? I'd love to know.

Flock of Stock Doves and Rock Doves, Carrahane, 17th February 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Flock of Stock Doves and Rock Doves, about half and half, with a couple of 'Feral'-type Rock Doves thrown in, Carrahane, 17th February 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Flock of Stock Doves and Rock Doves, Carrahane, 17th February 2018 (M.O'Clery).

There are several counts of 100 to 150 Stock Doves at a few sites on the east coast (e.g., see www.Irishbirding.com), but the estimated 300 at Carrahane in January 2013 is perhaps the largest gathering ever recorded in Ireland.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

American Herring Gull, The Cashen

First-winter American Herring Gull, The Cashen, 15th February 2018 (D.Farrar).

First-winter American Herring Gull, The Cashen, 15th February 2018 (D.Farrar).

First-winter American Herring Gull, The Cashen, 15th February 2018 (D.Farrar).

First-winter American Herring Gull, The Cashen, 15th February 2018 (D.Farrar).

First-winter American Herring Gull, The Cashen, 15th February 2018 (D.Farrar).

Ring-necked Duck

Male Ring-necked Duck with Tufted Duck, Lough Yganavan, near Cromane, 15th February 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Male Ring-necked Duck with Tufted Duck, Lough Yganavan, 15th February 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Male Ring-necked Duck with Tufted Duck, Lough Yganavan, 15th February 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Male Ring-necked Duck with Tufted Duck, Lough Yganavan, 15th February 2018 (M.O'Clery).

No sign of the reported female.

Glaucous Gull, Cromane, 15th February 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Plenty of 'White-wingers' around these days, with perhaps twenty or more reported in Kerry in just the past couple of days. Pretty much any spot were gulls gather has a good chance of having one and/or the other.

Iceland Gull, Inch beach, 15th February 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Of the mere 20 or so gulls on the 3km of strand at Inch, two were Iceland Gulls.

Iceland Gull, Fahamore, 15th February 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Another huge gathering of mostly Common Gulls around Fahamore and Rough Point today, but this was the only unusual bird of note. It'll do. Always good to see.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Surf Scoter and Black-necked Grebe

Black-necked Grebe, Reen Pier, Ballinskelligs, 9th February 2018 (Kilian Kelly).

With summer plumage fast approaching, this bird is looking more and more handsome each day.

Black-necked Grebe, Reen Pier, Ballinskelligs, 9th February 2018 (Kilian Kelly).

First-year male Surf Scoter, Reen Pier, Ballinskelligs, 9th February 2018 (Kilian Kelly).

A mix of winter regulars

Kumlien's Gull, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, 7th February 2018 (Ed Carty).

Glaucous Gull double-take.

Two clips here, the first of a Glaucous Gull feeding on a sheep carcass at Black Rock a couple of days ago, the second, a Glaucous Gull feeding on a sheep carcass at Inch beach a couple of days ago. Spot the difference... (First clip David O'Connor, second clip, Michael O'Clery)

Adult Spoonbill, Cromane, 7th February 2018 (Ed Carty).

Adult Spoonbill, Cromane, 7th February 2018 (Ed Carty).

Adult Black Brant, Sandy Bay, 5th February 2018 (M.O'Clery).

Video of Black Brant at Sandy Bay, 5th February 208 (M.O'Clery).

First-winter Iceland Gull TBWC, 7th February 208 (Ed Carty).

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Argentatus Herring Gull

Two 'argentatus' Herring Gulls were at Sandy Bay today.

This is the slightly larger Scandinavian race and a scarce to rare winter visitor to the Kingdom, with generally darker grey upperparts and a slightly different wingtip pattern. Probably under-recorded in Kerry, though this would be one of the better times of year to see one. Adults are reasonably straightforward, given good light, decent views and other local Herring Gulls with which to compare. Younger birds, well that's a different matter... Those birds could send a person crazy. And there's a whole zone of intergrades between this race and our own argenteus race, just to heap misery on the unsuspecting gull watcher.

'Argentatus' Herring Gull, Sandy Bay, 4th February 2018 (David O'Connor).

On these two birds, David writes, "...these photos from Sandy Bay today are somewhat overexposed so they don't show the dark mantle very well but they do show a primary pattern that is more typical of 'argentatus' Herring Gull, perhaps from southern Scandinavia. All-white tips to p10 (apart from a small dark mark on inner web of right p10), combined with very little black on p5 (just a small dark mark on outer webs), large mirrors on p9 and long grey tongues on p7 - p8). At least two such adults were present."

'Argentatus' Herring Gull, Sandy Bay, 4th February 2018 (David O'Connor).

'Argentatus' Herring Gull, Sandy Bay, 4th February 2018 (David O'Connor).

'Argentatus' Herring Gull, Sandy Bay, 4th February 2018 (David O'Connor).

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Kerry's first 'Sheep Egret'

More photos of the Kenmare 'Sheep Egret'.

Cattle Egret, Tubbrid, near Kenmare, 2nd February 2018 (Fionn Moore).

Cattle Egret, Tubbrid, near Kenmare, 2nd February 2018 (Fionn Moore).

Cattle Egret, Tubbrid, near Kenmare, 2nd February 2018 (Fionn Moore).

Cattle Egret, Tubbrid, near Kenmare, 2nd February 2018 (Fionn Moore).

Friday, 2 February 2018

Red-necked Grebe still present

Red-necked Grebe, Ventry, 2nd February 2018 (Ed Carty).

Red-necked Grebe, Ventry, 2nd February 2018 (Ed Carty).

Red-necked Grebe, Ventry, 2nd February 2018 (Ed Carty).

Cattle Egret, near Kenmare

Cattle Egret, near Kenmare, 2nd February 2018 (Clare Heardman).

Ranger Clare Heardman was contacted by landowners on Wednesday last to alert her to what they thought was a Cattle Egret and, sure enough, Clare saw and photographed the bird this morning.

It is frequenting the townland of Tubbrid. Leaving Kenmare town centre north, take the N70 to Sneem and, after one km, take the L7556 left towards the sea (just after the boundary wall of Irish Rent a Cottage, signposted 'Tubbrid' and, as the photo suggests, the bird has been favouring fields with sheep in them about half way down the road on the right hand side. (Please don't enter fields without permission!)

The 22nd record for Kerry, involving 26 birds.

(with thanks to Clare Heardman).

Cattle Egret, near Kenmare, 2nd February 2018 (Clare Heardman).

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Ring-billed Gull and Brambling at Carrahane


Adult Ring-billed Gull, Carrahane, 30th January 2018 (David O'Connor).

Brambling, Carrahane, 30th January 2018 (David O'Connor).

One of around ten present today.