Saturday, 23 January 2016

Cattle Egret

It's often the case that something unusual turns up when you are least expect it.  I stopped for a quick look at the flooded Groody Valley on the eastern side of Limerick City late last Saturday afternoon to see what birds were still hanging around there.  The floods had attracted large numbers of gulls and some additional Lapwing, Little Egrets and smaller numbers of other wildfowl.  I was thinking that a Glossy Ibis might be a possibility given the recent influx of the species to the country and with the flood waters now largely gone there was some nice pools remaining and lots of very soft ground.  The first birds to come into view 200m away in the distance were two small white egrets beside a Cormorant sitting close to the edge of the Groody river.  I was surprised to see that one had a fine stout yellow bill and was in fact a Cattle Egret.

This is the third record for the species in the County, following on from the pair seen at Loghill in north west Limerick in January 2008 and a single bird, presumed to have been one of the original pair, a few kilometres to the east at Mount Trenchard, Foynes in March of that year.  These birds were part of an unprecedented influx of the species to Ireland and Britain in the winter of 2007-2008. The second record was one of five birds on the Camoge flood plain at Grange on 15/2/2013 followed by a report of two birds at nearby Lough Gur on 26/2/2013, presumably from that original group.

I was only able to get a few long distance records shots(last two below) in the poor light with a compact camera on the Saturday.  I managed to get a bit closer in better light later in the week.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Glaucous-winged Gull

West Cork turned up trumps again with the Glaucous-winged Gull that was found there a few weeks ago, following on from the wonderful American Bittern at Castlefreke last month.  Fortunately it has stayed around so I finally got an opportunity to take a trip to Castletownbere to see it last Tuesday. The bird wasn't immediately visible at the harbour when I arrived but it appeared shortly after some bread was presented to the local gulls.

The bird seemed to favour the tops of the street lights on the road to the east of the harbour and it retreated there each time the bread was gone.  I was surprised how timid it was when competing with the Black-headed Gulls for food.  It tended to hang back and seem to get very little of what was on offer.  It was also harassed by one of the Herring Gulls on one occasion.  Even though it moved around a few times while I was there it spent most of the time sitting on the water or perched on top of street lights so I didn't get much opportunity for flight shots.