Saturday, 13 January 2018

Eyrephort Glossy Ibis

I got a call from Martin O'Malley on Thursday morning to say that he had an unusual bird near his house. He began to describe a bird with a long curved bill, black-brown in colour and fairly big in size. Glossy Ibis immediately popped into my head. I was only the other side of Clifden town so I took the short trip out to the end of the Sky Road to have a look. When I met Martin on site he was fairly happy it was indeed an ibis. The bird was feeding on small flashes of water around a holiday home. It later flew close to the road and seemed very relaxed even though we were as close to 20 metres to it at some stages. I've seen the species in around half a dozen countries but these were probably my best ever views of the species. The sun came out for a period which produced some decent shots. The bird seemed to be doing well with earthworms regularly being caught.
A Glossy Ibis was also reported out on Inishmore over the Christmas period. Several others were reported away from the usual southern counties which usually get the majority of records especially during the winter. Several ringed birds have now turned up in Ireland in recent winters and most have been from the Cota Donana in Spain. They must be one of the few southern species that turn up here during the winter. After the Inishmore record this will be the seventh county record.


















Glossy Ibis from Dermot Breen on Vimeo.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

White-beaked Dolphin & Leatherback Turtles

I came across a dead male White-beaked Dolphin while out walking the shoreline down at Aillebrack last Sunday on the first day of 2018. This is only the second time I've encountered this cetacean species stranded on the Connemara coastline, I've never seen them alive. The species is a rarely encountered dolphin species in Ireland and is usually only found far offshore. They seem to be a cold water species and it's been possible that they will retreat further north in distribution with rising sea temperatures.

Another unusual stranding recently was a Leatherback Turtle which was present on the beach at Carrownishy Strand north of Roonagh Lough just across the border in Mayo back in November. Quite a large specimen. I also found very old remains (just the carapace) of another Leatherback on the shoreline at Renvyle Head in August. Not much of it left by the stage I saw it!

White-beaked Dolphin, Aillebrack, Ballyconneely, Co. Galway, 1st January 2018.

White-beaked Dolphin, Aillebrack, Ballyconneely, Co. Galway, 1st January 2018.

White-beaked Dolphin, Aillebrack, Ballyconneely, Co. Galway, 1st January 2018.

White-beaked Dolphin, Aillebrack, Ballyconneely, Co. Galway, 1st January 2018.

Leatherback Turtle, Carrownisky Strand, Co. Mayo, 13th November 2017.

Leatherback Turtle, Carrownisky Strand, Co. Mayo, 13th November 2017.

Leatherback Turtle, Carrownisky Strand, Co. Mayo, 13th November 2017.
Leatherback Turtle remains, Renvyle Head, Co. Galway, 30th August 2017. 
Leatherback Turtle remains, Renvyle Head, Co. Galway, 30th August 2017. 


Monday, 1 January 2018

Adult Kumlien's Gull Omey Island

New Years resolution - must blog a bit more regularly! The old blog postings have slipped a small bit especially in the latter half of 2017. To remedy this here a few shots of an apparent adult Kumlien's Gull that I had on Omey Island on 20th December. I first had it on the east side of the strand and latter had it on the rocks in the small bay just west of Fahy Lough. A reasonably pale adult. It's tempting to speculate if this actually the same bird that I had here in January/February 2016 as a second-winter?
http://dermotbreen.blogspot.ie/2016/01/omey-kumliens-and-news.html
However this bird doesn't show any signs of immaturity which one would expect for a fourth-winter. This has been my one and only "white-winger" of the winter so far, fingers crossed for a few more along with a Connemara Ross's or Ivory?

I also had a flock of at least seventeen Twite on the island, my first time seeing them on Omey. Again I would love to know where these birds are coming from, I'd doubt if they are Irish. One wintering Chiffchaff also seen in a tiny reedbed on the island.

Adult Kumlien's Gull, Omey Island, 20th December 2017.

Adult Kumlien's Gull, Omey Island, 20th December 2017.

Adult Kumlien's Gull, Omey Island, 20th December 2017.

Adult Kumlien's Gull, Omey Island, 20th December 2017.

Adult Kumlien's Gull, Omey Island, 20th December 2017.

Adult Kumlien's Gull, Omey Island, 20th December 2017.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Lesser Whitethroat & Yellowlegs

Alex Ash found this juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs in the small turlough at Kilmurvey on 5th October. Still a finds tick for me and I drove past the site twice just beforehand. The water levels were extremely low and the favoured pool couldn't even be seen from the road. The pool was no more than ten metres in diameter. This turlough very rarely has any birds in it even when fully flooded. Despite this it was the site of the 2015 Hudsonian Godwit and previously has had a brief Blue-winged Teal in 2008, both found by the Punkbirders (Rich Moores & Dan Brown). The yellowlegs was the only island tick for me during the week and another great American wader for the island list making it the tenth Yank Wader for Inishmore. The Nearctic wader list for the island now includes - American Golden Plover (just one surprisingly), Semipalmated Sandpiper (2 both on Kilmurvey beach), White-rumped Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper (2), Pectoral Sandpiper (2), Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, Hudsonian Godwit and Spotted Sandpiper. Can't be too many offshore islands with a comparable list, Inishbofin has only two for example. Anyone know what the Cape Clear Island Yank wader list stands at?
The Lesser Yellowlegs went missing the following day and wasn't relocated again until 8th October at Loch Dearg. It was later seen flying into another small turlough between the Seven Churches and Creig an Cheirín. It was a particularly difficult spot to access due to the maze of small fields with high stone walls and large patches of brambles. Cathal Forkan managed to find a way in and was treated to point blank views.
















222Z Common Gull, ringed as a chick on Lough Mask, Co. Mayo, 3rd June 2006. First seen by myself on Inishmore on 7th October 2007. Has been seen on Inishmore several times since and also back on the breeding colony on Lough Mask. 
Harbour Seal, looked nice and fat, no need for "rescue".



Blackpoll Ridge, Seven Churches with Niall Keogh and Joao de Brito.

Loch Dearg, Seven Churches where the Lesser Yellowlegs spent its time later in its stay.

Bun Gabhla Willow patch where my Red-eyed Vireo resided. The water levels rose from nothing to two or three foot in depth overnight on the last day.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Red-eyed Vireo Inishmore 2017

Back from my annual October trip to Inishmore. Thankfully there were a up to seven other birders out on the island vary in stay from one to five days. Things got off to a good start when Alex Ash found a juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs on the first day 5th October, more on that in a following post.

Two days later I began my day up at the extreme west side of the island as I usually do at Bun Gabhla village. I scanned the mixed Willow/Fuchsia/Bramble/Ivy patch for a few minutes but didn't see anything of note. I then walked in closer to the Willows and began to give a short blast of Red-eyed Vireo and Blackcap alarm calls through my small speaker, still nothing. After a while I left the patch and headed up the road to check a nearby patch of Brambles. After this I was passing by the original patch and gave it one last check and quickly picked up a grey warbler type making its way through the Willows. My initial thoughts were Lesser Whitethroat. Thankfully it hopped out into the open onto Brambles and revealed itself to be a Red-eyed Vireo! Rain quickly came in so I decided to round up the troops. I brought out my car out the island for the week as we were based halfway up the island at Gort na gCapall. The car made life a lot easier in the evening when going for pub food and generally getting round the fifteen kilometre long island.
The vireo proved to be rather elusive for the next few hours but when the rain stopped and the sun came out the bird became much more active. It remained until the following day when I managed to obtain these shots. It was particularly active on the second day and seemed to be easily getting food amongst the vegetation. It also flycatched by flying vertically up into the air after flying insects.

This is the fifth county record, all coming from Inishmore and Inishbofin. Previous records as follows;
One, Inishmore, Aran Islands, 3rd 1995 (Tony Mee)
One, Inishmore, 15th and 16th October 2000 (Sean Doherty).
One, Inishbofin, 26th and 27th September 2005 (Steve Dodgson).
One, Inishbofin, 29th September to 3rd October 2016 (Anthony McGeehan).

This wasn't the end of the story with Red-eyed Vireo however. During the last few hours on the island on 11th October John Murphy and myself decided to give Kilronan Woods one last look before heading back to the house to pack up and leave the island. Hugh Delaney had a calling Yellow-browed Warbler earlier in the day in the woods. While looking for the YBW John had a Red-eyed Vireo fly across the pathway and land only metres away from him in a Sycamore. I managed to see it with him a minute later in the same tree. It then disappeared for a few minutes. I then had it in an Ash tree and subsequently John had had it in an Ivy-clad Sycamore. Despite coming onto the scene in rapid order Hugh missed the bird and it was never seen again. We all left the island shortly afterwards at 1700hrs. Unfortunately both John and myself didn't have our cameras with us when we first had the bird and it proved too quick for us in the subsequent sightings.
There's already been one REV in County Kerry and two in County Cork so far this Autumn.