Monday, January 23, 2017

Barnacle Geese Return

The mild storm free winter has allowed the 300 or more Barnacle Geese that traditionally over-winter in Clare, to feed on offshore islands thus far this winter, and has not forced them to graze on the mainland so far this season. Last week on a trip around west Clare we came across the flock on open fields near Doonbeg which was a delight to see and hear.
 Barnacle Geese near Doonbeg © John N Murphy

Iceland Gull

Iceland Gulls have arrived on the Irish west coast from the North over the last few weeks. This first-winter bird was recently seen at Kilkee in the south west corner of Clare.

Iceland Gull, Kilkee © John N Murphy

Friday, January 20, 2017

Eurasian Wigeon

These Wigeon were feeding in the seaweed shoreline at Finvarra Point in North Clare, Galway Bay.  The lovely low winter sunshine brings out there feather details and vibrant colours on the males.
Eurasian Wigeon in North Clare © John N Murphy

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Green-winged Teal

Passing through Kinvarra on my way north of Galway City today I stopped to see the drake Green-winged Teal that has been there since late last year.

Drake Green-winged Teal at Kinvarra © John N Murphy

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Waxwings for the New Year

Since the arrival of Waxwings in Dublin just before the Christmas of 2016, I have been checking Ennis every time I pass through. Yesterday on my way home from work in Galway I checked a few estates around the railway station near St. Michaels Villas.  There were lots of berries still on bushes near the Grotto at St. Michaels and as I drove by a few of these small gardens I noticed one Waxwing in a low tree with a flock of Starlings.  Eventually I tracked down the rest of the small flock of five and got the following series of photos in dull, fading light.

Waxwings in Ennis © John N Murphy

Black Redstart

I managed to add three new years species to my annual Tick List today. The first was the female Snowy Owl in Connemara, not easy to get close to for a few snaps. The second was this confiding Black Redstart in Barna, close to Galway City, that has been around for some time. I finished off with a small flock of Waxwings in Ennis, that had newly arrived. Here are a few shots of the Galway bird and the last shot is of a red bellied male which was in Ennis just at the end of last year.
 First-winter male Black Redstart at Barna © John N Murphy
Adult male Black Redstart Our Lady's Hospital Ennis on 30th December 2016 © John N Murphy
Note the red belly and flecking. Not sure of what race or the origins of such an odd looking bird?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Caspian Gull

I made it down to Limerick this morning to meet Dermot Breen where we got great views of the second winter Caspian Gull on the Shannon River at O'Callaghan's Strand and slipway.  Dull conditions but the bird was fairly confiding and easily entice to the slipway by the sliced pans of bread that Dermot provided.  This is a first Limerick record and a first for the mid west of Ireland.
Caspian Gull Limerick City John N Murphy
Adult Ring-billed Gull John N Murphy