Friday, 16 December 2016


It's great to see the continued growth of the Buzzard population locally here in Limerick and the surrounding areas.  2016 has brought the largest number of records of the species in County Limerick, with reports coming from 29 different locations around the County.  The birds have been most visible in March and early April when presumed breeding pairs were displaying and again in   the autumn months of October and November when juvenile birds have been more prominent. They now appear to be well established throughout the eastern and central parts parts of the County. 

The first winter bird above was photographed in Curraghchase, one of the most reliable locations in the County for the seeing the species.  The Country's motorway network also produces many sightings; the first winter bird below has been seen on sereral occasions in the past few months near the M7/M20 intersection.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Radde's Warbler

I spent several hours last Monday (10/9/2016) waiting for a glimpse of the Radde's Warbler that was found at Brownstown Head the previous day.  My reward was a two second glimpse of the bird when it briefly poped up from the brambles in the densely wooded garden where it was residing.  A new tick, but not entirely satisfactory due to the very brief sighting.  So when three new birds turned up elsewhere, including two at Barry's Head in Cork later in the week, I got another opportunity to try again for a better view.

The two birds at Barry's Head were favouring bramble patches in the yard of a derelict farmhouse and were showing reasonably well at times after they were found on Saturday.  I paid a visit to the site, very conveniently close to the Eastern Stonechat site, on Sunday and got to see both species.  It was great to get some good views of the Radde's.  One of the birds, which had been trapped and ringed elsewhere, showed quite well of a few occasions allowing me to get the following shots.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Eastern Stonechat

This first winter male Eastern Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus maurus or stejnegeri) was found at Barry's Head, Nohoval, Co. Cork last Tuesday (11/9/2016), one of several eastern migrants to make it to Ireland this month.  It stuck around all week so I go a chance to catch up with it on Sunday.  It is quite spectacular bird in the field and stands out very well from the local Stonechats (Saxicola rubicola), with which it was loosely associating.  It was somewhat reminiscent of Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) in certain views, expecially when the pale supercillium was evident.

The local male Stonechats, including this one below, did not appear to be overly concerned about the visitor on their patch.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Today (2/9/2016) was my first opportunity to make the long trip down to west Cork for the Rose-breasted Grosbeak found at Garinish last Thursday by Tony Lancaster.  I was a bit concerned setting out that the bird might have departed into Staurday night's clear sky and the absence of any updates on the bird while I travelling wasn't helping matters. However the first birders I encountered on arrival at the site were already on the bird so my concerns were immediately dispelled. The bird was a little distant at first but it eventually moved back to the garden where it was originally found and gave us some very good views while it fed on honeysuckle berries.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Lapland Buntings

Lapland Buntings have turned up in higher than normal numbers this autumn.  Loop Head, Co. Clare, has held 20 or more birds for the past few weeks and many of the birds have been quite approachable.  I got these shots last Sunday (25/9/2016), from a flock of six birds feeding in the heather just east of the lighthouse.

Loop Head also attracts lots of migrating Wheatears and there were several birds in the area again last Sunday, however this young bird below at Rinevilla near Carrigholt, proved more obliging for the camera.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Royal Tern

Mayo's Royal Tern of last week became Kerry's Royal Tern yesterday(23/8/16) when Davey Farrer located the bird first seen at Roonagh in Co. Mayo on 16/8/16, at Beale Strand in north Kerry.  Davey has a great record with rare Tern finds including the fabulous Elegant Tern in the same area in September 2013.

The bird was easily confirmed as the Mayo bird as it was also a second summer plumaged bird carrying an injured right leg.  It is a third record of the species for Ireland and only the second live bird.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Solitary Sandpiper and Least Sandpiper

Cloghaun Lough, Kilbaha on the Loop Head peninsula came up trumps earlier in the week with two rare Nearctic waders.  The peninsula regularly attracts the less rare trans Atlantic waders like Pectoral Sandpipers, Buff-brested Sandpipers and American Golden Plovers and and has also had scarcer species like Lesser Yellowlegs and even an Upland Sandpiper.  However Cloghaun Lough was more noted for scarcer duck and occasional European waders so the occurrence of the Solitary Sandpiper found by John Murphy last Monady and the confirmation of Least Sandpiper identification. the same day was an exceptional occurrence.  I paid a visit there on Tuesday evening and was pleased to catch up with both birds.

Solitary Sandpiper
Solitary Sandpiper 
Solitary Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

Monday, 28 March 2016

King Eider

I got an opportunity to catch up with one of the two wintering King Eiders in the country last week (20/3/2016) when I made it up to Sligo with Tony Mee to see the spectacular male that has been in the Cullamore-Ballyconnell are since last January.   It was associating with a small group of Common Eiders just off the rock ledges at Ardmeen, Ballyconnell.  

The flock was initially a little wary of us and swam off southwestwards along the coast line but they eventually turned back and passed by us giving some excellent views.  As the terrain didn't lend itself  to bringing along the heavy camera gear I had to settle for a few record shots with small camera.

Male King Eider

King Eider with male Common Eider

King Eider with male and two female Common Eiders

We also got some nice views of the Common Eiders, a species we don't get to see too often in the southwest.

Common Eiders