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Friday, 26 August 2016

Semipalmated Sandpiper, Ferriter's Cove

Juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper, Ferriter's Cove, 26th August 2016 (Michael O'Clery).

Juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper, Ferriter's Cove, 26th August 2016 (Michael O'Clery).

Juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper, Ferriter's Cove, 26th August 2016 (Michael O'Clery).

Juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper, Ferriter's Cove, 26th August 2016 (Michael O'Clery).

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Royal Tern... a first for Kerry

Davey Farrar experienced a mind-numbing, adrenaline inducing moment when a roosting tern on Beale Strand in north Kerry lifted it's head, revealing a big orange bill. A Royal Tern, and the first record for Kerry! In fact, it is only the second record of a live bird in Ireland. 

Royal Tern, Beale Strand, 23rd August 2016 (Davey Farrar).

Royal Tern, Beale Strand, 23rd August 2016 (Davey Farrar).
Although adult-like when perched, the open wing shows a dark secondary bar and moulting primaries. Royal Terns take three years to reach maturity, so this would be a second summer, or third calendar year bird, rather than adult.

The first record for Ireland was a tideline corpse found at the North Bull Island, Co. Dublin, on 24th March 1954, while the second was seen for just a couple of hours off Inchdoney, Co. Cork, on 9th June 2009, so the third, at Roonagh Lough, Co. Mayo, six days ago, was a welcome opportunity for twitchers who missed the Cork bird to have another go at this mega-rare tern. Those that travelled to Mayo that evening saw the bird but, while it stayed the night at the Lough, it flew out to sea shortly after dawn, to the despair of a few late-arriving birders. There's a good write-up of the Mayo occurrence on Dermot Breen's blog HERE

The bird found by Davey this morning is the same as the Mayo bird. The distinctive plumage and particularly the damaged right leg are identical, the almost all-dark cap of the Mayo bird now slightly flecked with a little more white as it progresses into winter plumage.

Mass twitch, Kerry style (M.O'Clery).

The sighting triggered what amounts to a mass twitch by Kerry standards, and by 6pm about 30 birders had seen it, including a couple of carloads from Dublin and a group of nearly a dozen or so mostly British birders who had been having a slow seawatching day on Loop Head but, on hearing the news, jumped into an assortment of cars and dashed for the Tarbert Ferry. All who travelled so far have seen the bird.

Royal Tern, Beale Strand, 23rd August 2016 (M.O'Clery).

Royal Tern, Beale Strand, 23rd August 2016. A little more white flecking on the left side of the otherwise black crown than when it was seen in Mayo six days previously (M.O'Clery).

Royal Tern, Beale Strand, 23rd August 2016 (M.O'Clery).

And finally, Davey owns a painting which I did for The Complete Field Guide to Ireland's Birds, which illustrates Gull-billed, Elegant and Caspian Tern, all of which he has seen or found (mostly found) in Co. Kerry. It hangs in pride of place in his hallway, next to his almost equally prized collection of Daniel O'Donnell memorabilia. As of this morning, Royal Tern didn't feature on this painting but this has now been corrected. Davey has thus not only found a first Kerry record, but also trebled the value of his painting with a quick flourish of a biro and a Post-it note. Nice one Davey.

Tern painting, previously valuable, now priceless.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Holy s*%@... Brown Booby off Kerry coast

A photo posted on Facebook today is causing a massive stir among birders as it appears to show the first live record of a Brown Booby in Irish waters, apparently perched on a trawler a few miles off the Kerry coast in the last day or two.

Immature Brown Booby, "off the Kerry coast", date and time uncertain, but believed to be very recent (per Tim Squire's Facebook page).

This follows hot on the heels of the first Irish record, unfortunately of a tideline corpse, found by Ciaran Cronin on 2nd January this year at Owenahincha, Co. Cork (see post on Birdguides HERE.

Tideline corpse of an adult Brown Booby, Owenahincha, Co. Cork, 2nd January 2016 (from birdguides)

More on this as we get it.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Semipalmated Sandpiper again at Reenroe

Semipalmated Sandpiper, Reenroe beach, Waterville, 20th August 2016 (Pat McDaid).

Semipalmated Sandpiper, Reenroe beach, Waterville, 20th August 2016 (Pat McDaid).

Semipalmated Sandpiper, Reenroe beach, Waterville, 20th August 2016 (Pat McDaid).

From photos,this is the same individual as was present at this site from 6th to 8th August. See below, for example, the identical white-edged upper scapular (A), the two adjacent brown-washed lower scapulars (B) as well as identical bill length and shape, facial pattern, etc.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Lesser Yellowlegs and more at Black Rock

Lesser Yellowlegs, Black Rock, 19th August 2016 (David O'Connor).

An adult bird, and the 19th record for Co. Kerry.

Lesser Yellowlegs, Black Rock, 19th August 2016 (David O'Connor).

Lesser Yellowlegs, Black Rock, 19th August 2016 (David O'Connor).

Lesser Yellowlegs, Black Rock, 19th August 2016 (David O'Connor).

Curlew Sandpipers, Black Rock, 19th August 2016 (David O'Connor).

Yellow-legged Gull, Black Rock, 18th August 2016 (David O'Connor).

Yellow-legged Gull, Black Rock, 18th August 2016 (David O'Connor).

Yellow-legged Gull, Black Rock, 18th August 2016 (David O'Connor).

Yellow-legged Gull, Black Rock, 18th August 2016 (David O'Connor).

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Little Stint, Blennerville

Juvenile Little Stint (with Dunlin), Blennerville, 8th August 2016 (Kilian Kelly).

Juvenile Little Stint, Blennerville, 8th August 2016 (Kilian Kelly).

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

GPS tracking of Kerry Barn Owls

Readers of this blog will be well aware of the impact that major roads have had on local Barn Owls with, for example, 14 Barn Owl casualties recorded on the 13.4km stretch of the Tralee Bypass in just two years. BirdWatch Ireland and Transport Infrastructure Ireland have been undertaking a two-year project to try to find out how and why Barn Owls might use or interact with these major roads, and ultimately to address how best to prevent and/or reduce such casualties in future.

Part of this project was to put GPS data loggers on individual owls to track their movements in incredible detail, and several of those owls have been tracked in Co. Kerry.

Adult Barn Owl ready to be released, with the GPS tag in place, July 2016 (M.O'Clery, under licence from NPWS).

The GPS data loggers capture the birds' position, height and speed every few seconds, showing exactly where the birds hunt, roost and rest. 

So, how have Barn Owls been interacting with the major roads in their home ranges? The findings so far have been striking. Have a close look at the image below, tracking part of the movement of a female Barn Owl whose nest in north Kerry is about 2km distant...


 The image above shows the tracking of a female Barn Owl hunting along the grass verges of the Tralee to Listowel road near Kilflyn, crossing the road three times in just a few minutes. Red dots show where the bird was stationary (perching/perch-hunting), orange is slow (hunting) flight, yellow is faster flight (J.Lusby/M.O'Clery, under licence from NPWS).

Of three Barn Owls tagged in Kerry so far, two had major roads in their home territory. In both these, the birds actively hunted for extended periods along the grassy verges of those major roads.

And in an even more striking example, the video below tracks the movements of a female Barn Owl from a nest site just outside Castleisland, Co. Kerry, in late July. The video starts with a view of her nest site, but we join her nearly 2km away, at a farmyard where she has been sheltering from torrential rain for four hours. It is now 1.30 a.m. and, as the rain finally lets up, off she goes. We can track her movements as she perches on trees and hedges and then, she arrives at the Castleisland Bypass...

Video showing the movements of a female Barn Owl along the Castleisland Bypass, Co. Kerry. The GPS device was scheduled to record one fix every five seconds - yellow fixes are where the bird was flying at speed, orange fixes indicate slower hunting flight and red is where the bird was stationary (J.Lusby/M.O'Clery, under licence from NPWS/BTO).
(You can click on the 'four arrows' symbol, bottom right, to see a full screen version of the video)

On one night she hunted along a 1km stretch of the Bypass for 55 minutes, crossed the road six times, and even perched on the central median for 17 seconds! The dangers to the Barn Owl are obvious, however this information also highlights the suitability of road-side grassy verges for foraging. On this occasion  she does does not successfully capture prey, and moves on to forage elsewhere to try and provision the three chicks which are back at the nest site.
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Lots more on this, and more to come, on the Irish Raptor Blog HERE

Monday, 8 August 2016

Couple more photos of the SemiP

The adult Semipalmated Sandpiper, found on the 6th August, was again present at the morning and evening high tide roost on the 7th.

Adult Semipalmated Sandpiper, top left, with Dunlin and Ringed Plover, Reenroe Beach, 7th August 2016 (M.O'Clery).

Adult Semipalmated Sandpiper, Reenroe Beach, 7th August 2016 (M.O'Clery).

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Adult SemiP and Little Stint at Reenroe beach

Adult Semipalmated Sandpiper with Dunlin, Reenroe beach, 6th August 2016 (M.O’Clery).

Adult Semipalmated Sandpiper, Reenroe beach, 6th August 2016 (M.O’Clery).

The 46th county record, the fifth in August and only the fourth adult to be recorded in Kerry (with thanks to Ed Carty for stats).

Juvenile Little Stint, Reenroe beach, 6th August 2016 (M.O’Clery).

Juvenile Little Stint, Reenroe beach, 6th August 2016 (M.O’Clery).