Thursday, April 28, 2011


I payed a visit one evening this week to the Cormorant tree nesting colony at Bunlickey, in Limerick City.  There were over 100 nests and this interesting looking Cormorant, showing characteristics of the race "sinensis".


Cuckoo's have been here for over two weeks but two males appeared and have been calling around my home over the past few days.  Early morning and late evening are the normal times to see and hear these birds.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pallid Harrier

I departed the Woodchat Shrike at Helvick Head to see could I get views of this Pallid Harrier at Ballyvergan Marsh, just outside Youghal in Cork.  In the late afternoon this young male bird made a brief appearance to four of us who were standing in an open area of the marsh to the south of the site.  I managed to snap off a few frames and got the following of Ireland's first Pallid Harrier.

Woodchat Shrike

I was heading to Wexford for a trip to the Saltee Island on Friday 22nd April.  En-route I decided to take in Helvick Head, in Waterford to see could I see and photo one of the many Woodchat Shrikes in the country at the moment.  I had just got out of the car, snapped off a few shots of the bird when the phone range and news came in that there was a Pallid Harrier at nearby Ballyvergan Marsh, just 20 minutes away.  Needless to say I departed the head immediately for Ballyvergan and the harrier.


I was doing survey work all last week in the west Limerick Hills.  This male Wheatear was found on top of one of the mountains where it was returning to a pile of pallets, which are used for staking turf on. The bird looked like it was making a nest within the pallets.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Green-veined White Butterfly

This pair of Green-veined White Butterflies Pieris napi, were found mating on the apple trees in my orchard.  The fine weather is bringing out a lot of Butterflies and I currently have 7 different species in the garden.  

Sunday, April 17, 2011

House Fly

There are many different types of House Flies with 180 different types estimated to be in Ireland and Britain.  When we think of House Fly the first thing that comes to mind is the Bluebottle Calliphora vomitoria, but not all of these flies live around human dwellings and animals.  The House Fly Mesembrina meridiana below lives in hedgerows and on the trunks of trees, where they regularly are seen basking in sunshine.  As you can see, it is distinctive, with its black body and orange yellow wing bases.  The trees in my small wood up the back were covered in these flies over the weekend.


This weekend the garden came alive with Hover-flies, Bees and thousands of other flying creatures. With a massive explosion of Dandelions everywhere this year, bees and Hover-flies like the one below Syrphus Ribesii , one of the commonest Hover-flies we have, are attracted to the bright yellow flowers of the Dandelion.  These small creatures mimic Bees and Wasps and they too fed on nectar.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Great Northern Diver

Visited Clahane and Liscannor after Quilty today.  No sign of the Water pipit at Clahane but there was a large flock of mixed gulls, nine Purple Sandpipers and a small few Great Northern Divers.  This one was almost in full summer plumage.

Glaucous Gull

There were about 80 Herring Gulls at Seafield today.  With them was this second-year Glaucous Gull that had been found at this site the day before.  It fed on the decaying seaweed and popped back and forth between the rising tide and high end of the beach.  This bird should be making its way back North to breeding grounds, but it might over-summer?


While watching the White Wagtails feeding at Seafield, I spotted a large group of baby Rabbits emerging from burrows in the sand dunes.  prior to 1990 there were no Rabbits in this area.  During that year a hunter dropped loads of Rabbits into this region for shooting purposes.  They are slow to take off but when they do I'm sure these cute little bunnies will be a menace.

White Wagtail

Back west today I went to Seafield in Quilty where there were about 30 White Wagtails feeding on the beach and the sand dunes.  These birds are probably migrating north to breeding grounds in Iceland and have stopped here on their migration from Africa to fatten up on flies and hoppers.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lesser Scaup

I was informed by local birders that this immature female Lesser Scaup arrived at Slimbridge just after Christmas 2010.  The bird has remained on the outer side of the reserve in pools close to the Severn Estuary.  Birders biggest worries are that this rare Trans-Atlantic vagrant from North American might decide to hop into one of the collection pens and interbreed with the pinioned drake Lesser Scaup at the Centre.  Looks to me that it might fancy its chances with a drake tufted Duck.


I was in Oxford, the UK over the weekend visiting family.  On the way back I detoured to visit the Wetlands and Wildlife Trust Centre at Slimbridge in Gloucester.  A fantastic facility and Nature Reserve and this was at the end of the winter season with nearly all the ducks, swans and geese already departed for the summer breeding grounds in the Arctic.  Did mange to see the free flying immature first-winter female Lesser Scaup, one drake Garganey, three Little Ringed Plovers, one Green Sandpiper, a few Sedge and Reed warblers.  This male Garganey was feeding on the Severn side of the reserve with other ducks.


This male Wheatear was the only one I came across on a four hour walk around the south coast of Wexford last week.

Red Admiral

Thursday 7th April 2011, I had to travel to County Wexford. While there I took a look in the afternoon around Churchtown and Carnesore Point in search of freshly arrived migrants.  There were hundreds of Willow Warblers, smaller numbers of Chiffchaff, one male Blackcap and one Wheatear but nothing else of note on the birding front.  I did manage to see my first Red Admiral Butterflies for the year near Churchtown, along with Speckled Woods, loads of Orange-Tips and lots of 7 Spot Ladybirds also.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Willow Warbler

I went birding at the Shannon Airport Lagoon early this morning in search of Garganey or some rare vagrant but to no avail. At the Lagoon (SAL) there was one Peregrine Falcon mobbing a large flock of over 3,000 Black-tailed Godwits.  With the godwits on the mudflats, were a flock of over 1,000 Golden Plover, five Little Egrets were in the lagoon itself, along with five Water Rails and a half dozen Willow Warblers singing from the willows.