Saturday, 31 August 2013

Sandwich Terns

I paid a visit to north Kerry today in search of migrant waders.  My first stop was at Blackrock Strand. There was a strong westerly wind coming in off the sea making birdwatching quite difficult.  It didn't matter a lot as there was a complete absence of Dunlin and smaller waders.  From there I moved on to Carrahane hoping for some better variety.  I arrived about an hour before high tide however as it was a neap tide much of the sand in the bay remained uncovered. There was a large flock of Dunlin present along with three Curlew Sandpipers, an adult and two juveniles. Once again the wind was quite strong here so I kept the camera in the back pack.  A small flock of six Golden Plover on the machair looked like they were recent arrivals, the vanguard of the autumn passage.

I decided to move northwards towards Shannon Estuary in the afternoon in the hope of getting more sheltered birding, making Beal Strand my next stop.  This can be a good spot for small waders, terns, divers and even the occasional skua. I was a bit late for the high tide however there was a small flock of Dunlin feeding in the hollow around the stream outlet.  There were small numbers of Sandwich Terns hanging around with the gulls.

Adult winter Sandwich Terns ©Tom Tarpey

My next stop was Ballylongford Bay.  There was no sign of the Black Duck that had been frequenting the area earlier in the month.  I came across a pair of Whimbrel in very fresh looking plumage, however they seemed to be unduly nervous and quickly flew off. 

My final stop was at Tarbert Bay. The tide had receded quite a bit by the time I arrived so the birds were well scattered across the mud flats. This is usually a good spot for Mediterranean Gulls and sure enough I came across two birds close to the pier road.  There was also about half a dozen Little Egrets feeding close to the road.

Adult winter Mediterranean Gull ©Tom Tarpey

Little Egret ©Tom Tarpey

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