Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cape Clear Photo Course

I'm just back after giving a week long beginners Course on Wildlife Photography at Cape Clear Island, County Cork.  The course was organised by Birdwatch Ireland and based in the Bird Observatory building in the harbour.  We were extremely lucky with the weather, considering the rest of the country was engulfed in high winds and heavy rain. We had clear sunny days, but the wind was high, keeping birds and insects low under cover.  Never-the-less we had a very enjoyable week and all the participants managed to get some excellent results. For those of you who missed the opportunity to attend this course you will have another chance, as we will be running a second course at the end of August this year.  For further details and booking forms please take a look at the following link;  Here are some of the photos taken during the last week.

 Fulmar on Bullig
 Grey Heron in the harbour
 Common Blue Butterfly
 Rose Chafer Beetle
 Grey Seal
 Grey Seal in foam near Blannan
 Cloaked Carpet Moth eyeballing us all
 Male Linnet
 Great Black-backed Gull on the nest
 Whitethroat checking me out
Male Wren singing his hearth out

Monday, May 16, 2011


This pair of Garganey turned up at Ballyallia Lake, Ennis yesterday.  The pair have been skulking around in vegetation near the mouth of the River Fergus on the town side of the lake.  In Clare we see few of these birds on an annual basis and when we do they normally tend to be juveniles in Autumn, normally in September.  This is the second time in the last two years that this species has appeared at this lake.  Hopefully a sign that it may be an annual occurrence. 

Iceland Gull

This second year Iceland Gull was the highlight from my trip to Loop Head today.  The bird arrived into the harbour and took a rest on the rocks just south of the harbour wall before flying back inland towards Cloghaun Lough.  At this time of the year Iceland Gulls should be back in Greenland and Arctic Canada, preparing to nest.  This bird will probably be another year or two older before he or she will begin breeding.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Turtle Dove

This Turtle Dove was feeding in a small farmyard with Collared Doves last Saturday 14th May at Kilbaha, Loop Head.  Turtle Doves are nowadays a scarce Spring migrant to the west of Ireland.  This is only the second ever summer record of one at Loop Head. Millions are still shot each year over Mediterranean Islands, as they migrate back from Africa after the winter to breed in Europe.

Sedge Warbler

While wondering around Loop Head on Saturday 14th May, I noted that there seemed a larger than usual amount of singing Sedge Warbler males throughout.  The bird below was very confiding and sand from within a hedge with me standing less than a foot away.  This male stayed deep in the undergrowth and popped up occasionally, giving me a chance to take his portrait.

Common Seal

In Kilbaha Harbour, on Loop Head last Saturday were two Common Seals who spent the afternoon basking on rocks in front of the Lighthouse Inn.  They often haul up on these rocks and can be very approachable for photographic opportunities.

Wall Brown Butterfly

Also seen along the same track at loop Head on Saturday were 42 Wall Brown Butterflies Lasiommata megera, with their prominent eye spots that distinguish this butterfly from similarly coloured fratillaries.  Loop Head is a good place to catch up with this species in early summer.

Small Copper Butterfly

I was at Loop Head on Saturday 14th May.  Despite the bad weather there was a huge hatch of Caterpillars, butterflies and insects.  During my search for birds in the lanes and fields, I came across two Small Copper Butterflies Lycaena phlaeas that were flitting low along a track, avoiding the winds from the North west and basking in the sunshine along a low growing hedge.  

Azure Damselfly

Also at the Lees Road Wood I saw my first blue damselfly of the year.  It was a common species the Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella, a species that hatches normally in May through to July and can be identified by the black U shaped marking which is separated by a small area of blue before another black mark at the base of segment two on its back.

Hover Fly (Leucozona Lucorum)

After visit a school in Ennis on Wednesday 11th May, I went to nearby Lees Road Wood on the outskirts of town to look for Red Squirrels and came across a great variety of bugs and insects, including this common hover fly Leucozona Lucorum.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ginger-tailed Carder Bee

This queen Ginger-tailed or Common Carder Bee Bombus pascourum was feeding on nectar of Red Clover this afternoon at the Shannon Airport Lagoon.  These are a fairly common bumblebee and they will be out and about until late October or sometimes early November of every year.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Clouded Brindle Moth

This Clouded Brindle Moth Apamea epomidion was in my Greenhouse for the past few days.  They normally do not come out till later in the year, June/July.  The heat in the Greenhouse probably helped this fellow emerge that bit early than normal.  It is also a species that is found further south and quiet scarce in this area.


Short-toed Lark

Early on Saturday morning 7th May 2011, a Short-toed Lark was found in a freshly turned field near Slade Harbour, Hook Head.  On my way back from the Saltee Islands and with the Great Reed Warbler in the bag, I decided to take in the Hook and add Short-toed Lark to the year List.  We got excellent views of this rare lark.

Great Reed Warbler

We arrived on the Great Saltee at about 3.00 pm to twitch Ireland's 4th Great reed Warbler.  Within 20 minutes of landing we had re-located the bird at the Severn end of the island to the east and I managed to snap off a few bad shots of the bird as seen below.

Spotted Flycatcher

On Saturday 7th May 2011, I had a 4.00 am start to my day leaving home for headlands in Waterford where I was hoping to get a few stray migrants that may have been blown in by the southerly winds.  just a s I arrived at Helvick Head, I dipped on a female Golden Oriole by about two minutes.  I spent all morning between Helvick, Mine and Ardmore Heads with little more than Whitethroats and a hoodwink large brown Warbler.  I got a phone call from a few friends on the Saltee Islands in nearby Wexford to say  Great Reed Warbler had just been found, so being so close I had to travel for the big twitch.  On Saltee there were nice numbers of common migrants including Spotted Flycatchers, (see below).