Monday, 6 May 2013


I paid another visit to the Coonagh Nature Reserve on Sunday morning (May 5th) to check it out for new arrivals and was pleased to find a pair of Garganey.  This duck is a regular but scarce summer visitor to Ireland and can often be difficult to catch up it due to its discrete habits at potential breeding sites.  These birds were roosting on the grassy verge of the small middle lagoon and seemed to be relatively approachable. The species is quite rare in County Limerick, though maybe under recorded.  This was the sixth record for the County and the second for the site, the first being on a male on the same lagoon in mid May last year.  The birds eventually took to the wing and moved off into one of the many pools in  the willows on the south side of the upper lagoon.

Garganey  ©Tom Tarpey

Several Sedge Warblers have taken up residence on the site by now and the males were loudly advertising their presence.  Another recent arrival, a lone Whitethroat, was also making an occasional burst of song.  A single male Wheatear was also present.

Wheatear ©Tom Tarpey

There was a very large hatch of insects on the site, mostly Olives, and these were being mopped by the large flock of Black-headed Gulls present.  There was no sign of the Little Gulls that were present in the previous two weeks, though John Murphy did mange to find one there later in the day along with a fine summer plumage Spotted Redshank. 

One other species that I was surprised to see there on Sunday was Scaup.  A duck and two drakes were busily engaged on bouts of head bobbing, presumably some form of courtship display.  I had seen two pairs there in the early winter but had not seen athere in the past few months.  Most duck breeding in northern  or Arctic regions have moved on some time ago so these birds were a little bit of a surprise hanging around this late into the early summer.

Scaup ©Tom Tarpey

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