Sunday, September 27, 2009

Introduction to Birds and Birdwatching Talk in Carlingford

Breffni Martin will give a 60 minute illustrated talk from 8 - 9pm on Monday 28th September at the Heritage Centre in Carlingford. The talk is an introductory talk on birds and birdwatching. It will cover garden birds as well as the birds along the shore at Carlingford. Free entry and all are welcome!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Herring Gull Rescue

A big thanks to the Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda for a 100 Euro donation to the branch. The donation follows the rescue of a juvenile herring gull that had gotten caught in a cavity in the hospital building. The cavity was overlooked by the windows of the emergency ward so that the patients had to look at a terrified and screaming juvenile gull while getting their head stitched. Meanwhile the parent gulls were frantically calling and swooping from above freaking out the rest of the patients in the block. But the spectacle of myself trying to catch the bird, then transporting it through wards and corridors to the roof must have made up for it.

As herring gull populations recover they are increasing nesting on the high buildings of towns and cities causing a potential nuisance problem. However herring gulls are red listed in Ireland and enjoy the highest level of protection the law can provide. It is illegal to interefere with herring gulls or their nests once eggs have hatched, but it is possible to replace fertile eggs with infertile ones to control the population under license from the NPWS.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pelagic 2009

Our first branch pelagic yesterday (Sunday 13 September 09) made up in quality for what it lacked in quantity! Setting out at 2:30pm from Port Oriel at Clogherhead we immediately ran into several small rafts of manx shearwaters and guillemots. A few minutes later we crossed a few fulmars. The weather was fine with a gentle north-easterly breeze and a Beauford 3 sea (a few white tops on the waves).
We cruised straight out 23 km in an easterly direction and started chumming. This immediately attracted several gulls (kittiwakes, herring gulls, great black backed gulls and a few common gulls) and terns (a few common and one sandwich), which in turn attracted our first good bird, a bonzie (great skua). Observing that most of the manxies were to the north we headed towards Carlingford Louth for 10 or so kilometers until Eric picked out a distant great shearwater flying with a few manxies. Soon after that another bonxie arrived (possibly the same one), this time flying over the boat.

A few minutes later the star of the show made his appearance, a pomarine skua, who then sat on the water allowing the boat to approach to within 20 metres. Soon after that an arctic skua appeared in the distance, completing our quotient of skuas. We cruised home into a beautiful sunset, arriving after 7pm.

Thanks to Eric for spotting the birds and Oliver, our boatman, for bringing us out and home safely.

Final tally:

1000+ manx shearwaters
1000+ guillemots (many juveniles/1W)
50 gannets
7 razorbills (2 juvs)
500+ kittiwakes
3 fulmars
2 great skuas
1 pomarine skua
1 arctic skua
100+ herring gulls and assorted black-headed and great black backed gulls
6 common terns
1 sandwich tern
1 shag
12 cormorants

Friday, September 4, 2009

Blackrock Heritage Week

A introductory talk on birdwatching followed by an outing to Lurgangreen last week proved popular with the good people of Blackrock. it was particularly gratifying to see more than 30 people attending the talk, including several children. While its still a bit early for overwintering birds and wildfowl, there was still a good range on view at Lurgangreen, and the weather was thankfully dry and sunny! Species seen were mute swan, little egret, grey heron, black tailed godwit, bar tailed godwit, lapwing, redshank, mallard, great black-backed gull, common gull, black-headed gull and others...