Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Coonagh Nature Reserve

The Coonagh Nature Reserve has been hosting County Limerick's first Glossy Ibis in the past few weeks. The bird is quite wary and generally can only be seen when it is flushed from its feeding area in and around the small pond located between the two large lagoons.  I could only manage a few distant flight shots on Sunday morning last (23/3/14) to add to the few distant shots from the previous week.  It was first found on 7/3/14 and has only been seen there twice since. The third shot below was taken on 14/3/14 while the bird was roosting on the southern shore of the Shannon at low tide, having just left the reserve.

Glossy Ibis
It's a quite time at Coonagh now that the visiting winter wildfowl have departed but evidence of spring is present in the arrival of small numbers of Sand Martins and a Wheatear.  Most of the remaining wildfowl have paired up and hopefully will stay on to breed.  There are at least three pairs of Gadwall, three pairs of Pochard and three pairs of Great-crested Grebes along with larger numbers of Tufted Duck, Coot, Little Grebe, Mute Swans and a few pairs of Mallard, Teal and non migrant Greylag Geese.

Gadwall Pairs

One of three pairs of Great-crested Grebes
Apart from the the spring migrants of the past week the site was also visited briefly by a female Hen Harrier, always a nice sight  to see on any birding trip.  A Jack Snipe has also been seen there on a few occasions recently.

Hen Harrier

Saturday, 8 March 2014

More Gulls

The exceptionally stormy weather brought large numbers and a good variety of Gulls to coastal areas in Ireland from Arctic regions this winter.  Smaller numbers penetrated further in land including a first winter Glaucous Gull in mid January here in Limerick City and a second winter Iceland Gull in early February. Glaucous Gulls have been relatively scarce in Limerick over the years, being out numbered over two to one  by Iceland Gulls.

First winter Glaucous Gull

Second winter Iceland Gull

The bad weather also brought in larger than normal numbers of Herring Gulls and a first winter Ring-billed Gull to the City, joining the long staying adult Ring-billed Gull.

First winter Ring-billed Gull (above) and first winter Common Gull (below) for comparison

The long staying adult Ring-billed Gull has spent at least the past five winters in Limerick City and it is most often found near the slipway at O'Callaghan's Strand.

Adult winter Ring-billed Gull
On a recent trip to Dublin I got an opportunity to see one of the rarer gulls that turned up in Ireland over the winter and pick up a new tick in the process, the second year Caspian Gull at Sean Walsh Park in Tallaght. It paid two short visits to the park while I was there but proved a bit tricky to photograph.

 Second year Caspian Gull