Thursday, February 18, 2010

Birds (and other wildlife) of New Zealand

On Monday 1st March 2010 at 8pm at the Spirit Store, Dundalk Docks, Dundalk, Billy Clarke will give an illustrated talk on the wildlife ( mostly birds ) of New Zealand and it's subantarctic Islands. He will show photos taken on a cruise to these subantarctic islands and a subsequent tour around the mainland islands. These areas are a diversity hotspot for albatrosses ( thirteen species ), penguins ,cormorants and many other seabirds.
Many thousands of albatrosses were seen on this cruise. The mainland islands are largely devoid of native birds but the wildlife service of New Zealand has pioneered many innovative conservation techniques. Many critically endangered birds have been moved to offshore islands that have been cleared of introduced pests. It is possible to see such strange and fascinating birds as kiwi and takahe on these islands.

Billy is a laboratory technician in Biology in UCD doing research on Fallow Deer, Grey Squirrels and the extinct Giant Irish Deer. His hobby is wildlife photography and he also has painted plates for some bird and mammal guide books.
All are welcome and entry is free!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Carlingford Birding Weekend 2010

A few people arrived early on the Friday afternoon so we went on a walk along the Carlingford shore. The tide was rising so the birds were all packed together to roost on the small rocky islands along the shore. In these circumstances it is possible to study the birds are relatively close quarters and observe identification features. Species present were dunlin, turnstone, ringed plover, lapwing, redshank, greenshank, bar-tailed godwit, curlew, little egret and grey heron as well as mallard, widgeon and teal. Returning along Shilties Lough, a small sea inlet along the shore, we had four little grebes and a snipe just before the light fell. That evening we all met at the Four Seasons hotel for Eric's illustrated talk about the winter waterfowl we were to see the following day at Oxford Island.

The weather on Saturday proved to be perfect given the arctic conditions up until then. At Oxford Island all the regular ducks were seen, mallard, teal, widgeon, pochard, tufted, and goldeneye, as well as flocks of whooper and mute swans. Everyone was very impressed with the excellent facilities at Oxford Island.

That evening we had a group dinner at the hotel. It has to be said than the food was generally excellent, as was the chat with many people staying up til after 2am! Luckily the start on Sunday morning was late and given the state of the tide, we decided to head for Annagassan where a snow bunting had been found. As luck would have it the bird showed very well, this arctic species being particularly confiding. On the way back to Carlingford we stopped at Lurgangreen to view waders and geese and Giles Quay for diving birds. Finally after lunch we did a final swing around the sites near Carlingford and picked up a peregrine hunting the Carlingford shore and a buzzard quartering the Locra, near Greenore.

A big thank you to everyone for being such enthusiastic participants and to Eric for his professional and entertaining guidance. We are planning a follow-up weekend in June to look for breeding summer birds both on the shore an din the Cooley mountains.