Sunday, July 19, 2015

Puffin'd Out

I have spent most of this summer working on Skellig Michael Island in Kerry surveying seabirds and encounter Puffins everyday. There are somewhere between 7-10,000 of these beautiful looking birds on the island, and very colourful they are, but at this stage I have encountered enough to last a lifetime.  Looking forward to finding something unusual on the island as we creep closer to autumn. 

 Puffins, Skellig Michael, County Kerry John N Murphy

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Black-winged Stilt

Black-winged Stilts are a very common breeding bird in the Algarve and throughout Portugal.  Always a very nice bird to see and photograph and can be very approachable in saltpans close to roadsides and embankment walkways.
 A selection of Black-winged Stilts from Portugal John N Murphy

Monday, May 11, 2015

Purple Swamphen

Purple Swamphen are easily seen from the hides at Quinta do Logo and Ludo, not far from Faro Airport in the middle of the Ria Formosa, the Algarve Portugal. This was not the case when I first birded in Portugal 27 years ago.  They were few and very elusive.

 Purple Swamphen at Ludo, Portugal John N Murphy

Collared Pratincole

These Collared Pratincoles were photographed near a nesting island on a small lake near Penilhos midway between Castro Verde and Mertoela in the Alentejo, Portugal.

 Collared Pratincoles in flight and defending their nests John N Murphy

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Great Spotted Cuckoo

Just back after a week in sunny Portugal, where for the second year running I managed to catch up with Great Spotted Cuckoo near Casevel , North of Castro Verde in the Alentejo.  Other good birds seen here were Rollers, Great and Little Bustards, Spanish Imperial Eagles, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Collared Pratincoles and Calandra Larks.  Here are a few shots of this years Great Spotted Cuckoo.

Great Spotted Cuckoo near Casevel, Portugal John N Murphy

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Clare Yellowhammer Survey 2015

The Yellowhammer is Red Listed in both the UK  and Ireland and is of ‘Birds of Conservation Concern’ on the grounds that there has been a decline greater than 50% in the last 25 years. Its European status is listed as ‘non-SPEC, status secure’.  It is not listed in the Annexes of the EU Birds Directive (79/409/EEC).  In Clare we have seen a dramatic drop in numbers since the late 1970's and during the breeding season of 2015, I am trying to get a handle on remaining numbers in the county both breeding and wintering populations.  We know that the central Burren and east-Burren areas still hold a small number of birds, but since the Atlas of Breeding Birds of the Burren (Lysaght) in the early 1990's, we are not sure of the true picture and totals remaining in this area and how they are fairing today.  So to try and fill in the gaps and clarify the situation, I am trying to cover the areas in this region during the remainder of this year to see if numbers are holding there own or dropping.  To complete this survey I will require as much help from other people as possible.  The Burren is a popular tourist and holiday destination. If you are visiting the Burren or Clare  this year or living in the Burren, I would like to receive any sightings of Yellowhammer that you come across if visiting this Geopark, whether on a bush, visiting your farm where livestock are being fed, or coming to your bird table to feed with the other common garden birds.  Please send in any sightings to me at ( or text 086-3208965 with you sightings.  Many Thanks.
Yellowhammers in the Burren John N Murphy

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Purple Sandpipers

I was back at Seafield, Quilty yesterday in west Clare.  There were 50 Purple Sandpipers on the rising tide picking amongst the rising seaweed with lots of other waders.  There was also on first-winter Ring-billed gull and a couple of Wheatears.
Purple Sandpipers at Seafield John N Murphy
 Turnstones John N Murphy
First-winter Ring-billed Gull John N Murphy