Click on any of the main images for a closer view

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Not a Ring-billed Gull

Black Scoter, Rossbeigh, 27th January 2015 (KerryBirding).

Nice day for a white-winger

It's been a poor winter for 'white-winged' gulls so far, though a new (second winter) Glaucous Gull has turned up at Dingle today.

First-winter Glaucous Gull, Dingle 27th January 2015 (M.O'Clery).

First-winter Glaucous Gull, Dingle 27th January 2015 (M.O'Clery). 

A particularly vocal and aggressive bird, piling into and scattering the flock of Herring Gulls while scrapping for bread. 

Second winter Glaucous Gull, Dingle 27th January 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Second winter Glaucous Gull, Dingle 27th January 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Ring-billed Gull, Ross Castle

Second winter Ring-billed Gull, Ross Castle, 23rd January 2015 (Ed Carty).

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Chiffchaff collybita & tristis comparison


Comparison between colybita Chiffchaff and tristris Chiffchaff, Kerry, January 2015.

More on the ringing and ID of these birds soon...

Monday, 19 January 2015

Ross Castle Chiffchaffs and Siberian Chiffchaffs

There are now at least 25 Chiffchaffs at Ross Castle and, in parts of the woodland, Chiffchaff is actually the commonest species. Though wintering numbers have gradually increased in southern Britain and the south coast of Ireland in recent years (see the Atlas map below), the numbers now at Ross Castle are perhaps the highest ever recorded in Ireland in winter.

(Click on the map for a closer view).


And among the Chiffchaffs, a Siberian Chiffchaff has been present since December last. Since the recent icy weather there has been a gradual increase in the numbers of Chiffchaffs, and with them, at least two new Siberian Chiffchaffs.

Bird one: Siberian Chiffchaff. This individual has been present since December last, and can be picked out by the greyish patch on the upper mantle, just above the bend of the wing and visible on both sides (this photo taken today is a little overexposed, but you can still see the feature. See also the photo a couple of posts below, from Davey Farrar). 
Ross Castle, 18th January 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Bird one: This is a better view of the above bird, taken on 15th January. Note the greyish patch above the bend of the wing. (M.O'Clery).

Bird two: Siberian Chiffchaff. This individual is particularly 'frosty' white below and grey on the mantle, with the typical faint 'tobacco stain' brown on the ear coverts, a noticeably flared supercilium behind the eye, and only faint green edges to the wing feathers. This bird was heard to call several times, a slightly piping "Weet!", with just the slightest downturn at the end, and at one point was answered by another, unseen nearby in the foliage. Ross Castle, 18th January 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Bird three: Siberian Chiffchaff. This individual is notable for the particularly striking pale wing bar, though not quite as 'frosty' looking as the above bird. Ross Castle, 18th January 2015 (M.O'Clery). 

And this one? Not sure. Perhaps Bird two. Perhaps it's another one?

Chiffchaff, Ross Castle, 18th January 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Above, a regular Chiffchaff, at Ross Castle. Most Chiffchaffs present were straightforward colybita types, with generally overall greenish-olive and yellow tones, though some were notably pale, though not quite fitting with Siberian Chiffchaff. Changing angles and light make the full range of variation difficult to interpret, but certainly some seem to have paler 'northern' genes to them.

Chiffchaff, Ross Castle, 18th January 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Above, another colybita Chiffchaff. While all the Siberian Chiffchaffs showed blackish legs - including very dark, or black, soles to the feet - the bird above was one of the few colybitas to show all-black legs and soles. The Chiffchaffs more typically showed dark brown or blackish legs, but yellow or pale brown soles.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Ring-billed Gull, TBWC

First-winter Ring-billed Gull, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, 18th January 2015 (Ed Carty).

First-winter Ring-billed Gull, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre, 18th January 2015 (Ed Carty).

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Friday, 16 January 2015

A purple Purple Sandpiper

Purple Sandpipers are so named due to the purplish iridescence on feathers on the mantle, though this is extremely difficult to see in the field. Below, a nice photo showing this effect on the mantle feathers of a roosting bird.

Click on the images for a closer view

Purple Sandpiper, Rough Point, 16th January 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Purple Sandpiper, Rough Point, 16th January 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Purple Sandpipers, Rough Point, 16th January 2015 (M.O'Clery).

It used to be thought that Purple Sandpipers wintering in Ireland originated from the Icelandic breeding population, but it turns out they are from very much further away. Icelandic birds do indeed make landfall in Ireland each autumn, but continue on further south. The wintering birds, such as the 96 at Rough Point this afternoon, have flown from Arctic Canada. These birds have crossed the Atlantic on wing-power alone, and will do so again on their return migration in April or May.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Monday, 12 January 2015

Melanitta americana


Black Scoter, Rossbeigh,11th January 2015 (Tom Shevlin).

Glaucous Gulls and Iceland Gull

First-winter Glaucous Gull, Black Rock, 12th January 2015 (David O'Connor).

 
First-winter Glaucous Gull, feeding on cow carcass, Cromane, 12th January 2015 (Ed Carty).

First-winter Glaucous Gull, Cromane, 12th January 2015 (Ed Carty).

Adult Spoonbill, Cromane, 12th January 2015 (Ed Carty).

Adult Iceland Gull, Ferriter's Cove, 12th January 2015 (Michael O'Clery).

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Lots more Black Scoter pics

Below, a great series of photos from today of the Black Scoter near Rossbeigh, by Aidan Kelly. Note, in two of the photos, the bird seems to be calling. This was also seen on Friday last, when the male seemed to be obviously and frequently calling to other flock members. Anyone else noticed this behaviour? 

Lots of birders are now making the journey from all over Ireland to twitch this bird, but with the continuing awful weather, it is proving an ordeal for many, but half decent views are possible once the conditions improve, even if only briefly. This has certainly been helped by most, if not all, the Rossbeigh scoter flock remaining together in more or less the same area for the past few days.

Thanks to Aidan for the images.
(You can click on any of the photos for a closer view)

This and all the below photos, Adult male Black Scoter with Common Scoter, near Rossbeigh, 11th January 2015 (Aidan Kelly).

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This and all the photos above, Adult male Black Scoter with Common Scoter, near Rossbeigh, 11th January 2015 (Aidan Kelly).

Better photo of the Black Scoter

Black Scoter, near Rossbeigh, 10th January 2015 (Seamus Enright).

The long-awaited first record for Ireland, though there have been eight in Britain so far. This adult male is with the main scoter flock (of just 60-70 birds) at Rossbeigh, and though the weather was appalling again yesterday, most who travelled to see the bird have had decent views. The map in the post below shows where it has been present for the last three days, only moving about 100m or so from the original area below the cliff. More photos from Seamus can be seen HERE.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Continental Cormorant, Cromane


First-year Continental Cormorant, Cromane, 10th January 2015 (Michael O'Clery).
Click on the '4-arrows' symbol on the bottom right for the full HD version.

First-year Continental Cormorant, Cromane, 10th January 2015 (Michael O'Clery).

The fifth record for Kerry, hot on the heels of an adult at Ross Castle just before Christmas, with other records at Kerry Airport (late December 2014), Cromane (2012) and the first, at Lough Gill (2002-2003) (with thanks to Ed Carty).

First-year Continental Cormorant, Cromane, 10th January 2015 (Michael O'Clery).


First-year Continental Cormorant, Cromane, 10th January 2015 (Michael O'Clery).

First-year Continental Cormorant, Cromane, 10th January 2015 (Michael O'Clery).

Black Scoter

(Email sent to Kerry birders this evening)

"Yesterday, Davey Farrar was on his way out to Reenard when he stopped at ‘Mountain Stage’, near Rossbeigh, and saw a scoter which showed a lot of yellow on the bill. We (DF and M.O'Clery) both went back today and searched for an hour before finding it again in the small flock of scoter there (just 70-80 birds). The upshot of it all is that we are both sure that it is a Black Scoter. Weather today was atrocious, so we were watching it at long range and in very difficult conditions, but together, over three hours or so, became convinced that we were indeed looking at the real thing.

MOC tried to get a few photos - conditions were appalling - see photos below. Although these photos just about show the large area of yellow on the bill, through the telescope there were additional features which don’t show up on these images. We showed the photos to Killian Mullarney who kindly commented:

"Thanks again for the photos Michael. As I stated earlier, it is difficult to reach a definitive conclusion on the evidence of the photos alone, but from what I can see they do indeed suggest a Black, and your impression of it looking good in the field is very significant. The second photo in the series is probably the best. I attach the first photo, with an arrow to the slightly worrying hint of a knob-like swelling at the base of the bill, but this may well be photographic artefact."

The additional features mentioned, which don’t show up so well on the photos, include:

The large swelling on the upper bill, resembling a small orange ball, 'glued to the forehead' of the bird, consistently rounded-looking from front and side.

Thin black line along the ‘cutting edge' of the bill.

Distinct and even black tip (culmen) on the bill.

Face on, the yellow on the bill also looked curved and even, again like an orange ‘ball’ stuck on the forehead - no hint of a small ‘knob’ or bump along the bill’s upper profile at any time.

Over time, we were sure that there were also subtle but distinct differences in ‘jizz’, particularly a stockier build to the neck and head, making it look overall a good bit chunkier-looking than nearby male Common Scoters. The head and neck looked slightly more akin to a Surf Scoter profile than a Common Scoter.

There have been a number of claims of Black Scoter in Ireland over the years, and we are aware that hybrids and aberrant birds can throw up all sorts of permutations, and with that in mind we feel the cautious approach would be to announce it as a bird showing all the characters of Black Scoter, and none of the characters of a hybrid/aberrant bird! Bit of a mouthful, but this bird would cause quite a stir, and anyone travelling to see it might bear that in mind!

Bottom line, we think it’s the real thing, and would encourage you all to go and try see it and decide for yourselves.

The really awful part of it is that the weather forecast, not just for the next day or two, but the whole week ahead, is shite - gale force winds, large swell, etc. Viewing conditions are not likely to improve any time soon, but we might be lucky and get it closer in, when it’s not lashing rain.

Check out the map below, for a precise location of where it was seen yesterday and today.

All the best for the moment, Michael"

You can click on any of the main images below for a closer view

Black Scoter (left), 'Mountain Stage, near Glenbeigh, 9th January 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Black Scoter, 'Mountain Stage, near Glenbeigh, 9th January 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Black Scoter (left), 'Mountain Stage, near Glenbeigh, 9th January 2015 (M.O'Clery).

Annotated photo, courtesy of K. Mullarney, but see text above

Map showing area where the bird was seen initially yesterday, and again today (M.O'Clery)

Friday, 9 January 2015

Med. Gull, Tralee

First-winter Mediterranean Gull, Fels Point, Tralee, 9th January 2014 (Ed Carty).

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Black-necked Grebe showing well

Black-necked Grebe, Reen Pier, Ballinskelligs Bay, 3rd January 2015 (Pat McDaid).

Black-necked Grebe, Reen Pier, Ballinskelligs Bay, 3rd January 2015 (Pat McDaid).

With a sighting at Brandon Bay in September last, and another yesterday in Ballylongford Bay, Black-necked Grebe has recently been seen more often than Red-necked Grebe in Kerry. The latter has become decidedly rare over the past two to three winters at the usual site at Sandy Bay/Tralee Bay.