Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Bridges of Ross 30th & 31st August 2011

Date: 31st August 2011
Time: 07:35-10:35
Weather: Variable F2-3 E-NE, dry & dull but with relatively good visibility.
Observer(s): Niall T. Keogh

Manx Shearwater: 23 West & 245 East
Great Skua (Bonxie): 3 W
Arctic Skua: 1 pale phase adult chasing Kittiwakes
Sandwich Tern: 4 W
Common Scoter: 4 W
Fulmar: 16 W, 20 E & 5 Milling
Gannet: 100 W, 64 E & 3 M
Kittiwake: 5 W, 3 E & 4 M
Guillemot: 2 W
Razorbill: 10 W, 2 E & 4 M
Auk sp: 9 W & 20 E

Bottlenose Dolphin: c.6 travelling East close inshore.
Common Dolphin: c.10 feeding distantly offshore, travelling East.

As seems to be the case with relatively calm morning watches when winds are unfavourable, a few token Bonxies & Common Scoters can be expected along with Manxie passage in the 'wrong' direction. Dolphins save the day yet again! 

Date: 30th August 2011
Time: 16:30-19:30
Weather: F 1-2 N-NE, dry & dull but with relatively good visibility.
Observer(s): Niall T. Keogh

Manx Shearwater: 181 West

Common Dolphin: c.10 feeding distantly offshore, travelling East.
Sunfish: 1 

That's it!!!

Bridges of Ross, Day 11...starting to lose the plot! (Niall Keogh)
Evening light @ Ross Bay (Niall Keogh)
Dodgy Bottlenose pics (Niall Keogh)

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Brownstown Head Seatrack Update

Waterford based seabird volunteer, Paul Walsh, has sent on some of his Brownstown Head totals from the previous three Seatrack Target Weekend surveys so far this year. Although some surveys can be very quiet given that they are often conducted in conditions that are far from ideal (in terms of seawatching),  the benefits of sticking it out for the cause often materialise in the form of nice local movements of certain species or even a long awaited patch tick as shown by Paul's results below. 

For more Waterford info, check out the excellent Waterford Birds website with sections of interest on seawatching & pelagics which can be found here & here.

So best of luck to Paul & all the rest of the Seatrack volunteers who will be out recording from their respective headlands this weekend. There may well be some 'decent' winds along the west coast depending on what way the tail-end of Irene blows through.

Brownstown Head towers & lookout hut (Paul Walsh)
Brownstown Head 21st August 2011

Time: 07:00-09:00
Weather: F2 SW, vis good to excellent, mainly sunny, no rain
Observer: Paul Walsh

Manx Shearwater: 114 E, 199 W
Fulmar: 13 E, 22 W
Gannet: 290 E, 251 W
Kittiwake: 4 E, 21 W
Sandwich Tern: 14 E, 205 W
Commic Tern: 2 W
Razorbill: 1 W
Guillemot: 2 on sea
Large auk sp: 1 W

"A quiet morning, even by Brownstown-fair-weather standards, with not a scarcity or cetacean in sight. Minor highlight was a good westward movement of Sandwich Terns, especially (148) from 07:30 to 08:30."

Brownstown Head 6th August 2011
Weather: F1 SW, vis excellent, mainly dry (very occasional drops of light drizzle)
Observer: Paul Walsh

Manx Shearwater: 134 E, 54 W
Fulmar: E, 2W
Gannet: 301 E, 107 W
Common Scoter: 4 E
Whimbrel: 3 W
Kittiwake: 28 E, 37 W
Sandwich Tern: 26 E, 28 W
Razorbill: 2 E
Guillemot: 1 on sea
Large auk sp: 2 W 
Black Guillemot: 2 E (adult & juv separately)

Porpoise: 1 feeding

Pretty quiet!

Brownstown Head 23rd July 2011
Weather: F1-2 NW, vis excellent, dry
Observer: Paul Walsh

Cory's Shearwater: 2 W @ 08:55 & 08:57 (then joined up)
Manx Shearwater: 720 E, 60W & 60+ feeding/rafting
Storm Petrel: 1 W
Fulmar: 5 E, 3 W
Gannet: 117 E, 67 W
Great Northern Diver: 3 E together @ 09:44 (then an immature on sea next day)
Common Scoter: 3 E
Bar-tailed Godwit: 1 W
Pomarine Skua: 1 2nd/3rd-summer W
Arctic Skua:  1 E
Great Skua: 1 E
Mediterranean Gull: 1 juv W @ 07:30
Kittiwake: 68 E, 76 W
Roseate Tern: 2 adults E @ 07:26
Sandwich Tern: 38 E, 68 W
Razorbill: 3 E, 1 W
Guillemot: 1 E
Large auk sp: 2 E

Porpoise: 1 W

"For a calm morning, not a bad seawatch for Brownstown, including site-tick of Cory's Shearwater (only been waiting 34 years!). Roseate Terns, 2nd-ever Med Gull for Brownstown, an unseasonal GND flock, 3 skua species & Barwit site-year tick were other highlights of a diverse species list."

Monday, 29 August 2011

Bridges of Ross 29th August 2011

Time: 06:30-12:00
Weather: F2-3 N, dry & bright, turning F2 N-NE sunny & hazy later.

Sooty Shearwater: 2
Manx Shearwater: 61
Storm Petrel: 1
Great Skua (Bonxie): 7
Arctic Skua: 3 (incl. 1 juvenile)
Little Gull: 1 1st cal-year
Sandwich Tern: 10
Arctic Tern: 6
Common Scoter: 2
Peregrine: 1 juvenile

Common Dolphin: 2+

Manxie passage seems to be almost grinding to a halt! The Kittiwakes were getting a hard time with the Arctic Skuas kleptoparasitising them as well as the juvenile Peregrine which was doing it's best to try & catch one.

UK birder Graham Speight was kind enough to provide some additional sightings from his stay at The Bridges over the past few days so I've updated each blog entry since Thursday with his totals. While I'm at it, I must give a shout out to all the observers both from Ireland & the UK, who kept up the recording effort & submitted totals to the log each evening over the past week, so a big thank you to the following: Joe Adamson, John Archer, Richard Bonser, Dan Brown, Alan Clewes, Geoff Clewes, Andy Clifton, Malcolm Goodman, John Gregory, Chris Heard, Mikey Hoit, Keith Langdon, Tom Lowe, Eanna O'Flynn, Dan Pointon, Ashley Powell, Mark Powell & Neal Warnock. Apologies to anyone I may have omitted!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Bridges of Ross 28th August 2011

UPDATED: 29th August

Time: 06:10-20:20
Weather: F2 NW in the morning, turning F3 N-NW in the evening. Dry & bright.

Sooty Shearwater: 8
Manx Shearwater: 280 (15:30-19:45)
Grey Phalarope: 1
Great Skua (Bonxie): 17
Arctic Skua: 65 (incl. 5 juveniles)
Long-tailed Skua: 2 adults (Niall T. Keogh & Neal Warnock)
Sabine's Gull: 2 adults
Sandwich Tern: 20
Arctic Tern: 21
Puffin: 5
Common Scoter: 6
Wigeon: 1

Hard going all day until about 17:50, when skua passage started up at an excellent rate for August (numbers recorded today are more typical of mid-September). The Arctics were going by in groups of 3-5 with one group of 10 seen also. Nice to see some juveniles mixed in there too. One cracking adult Long-tailed went by at close range at 18:42 with another seen late on, at 20:15, circling high with 2 Arctic Skuas, seemingly looking for a nearby bay to roost in. Awesome!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Bridges of Ross 27th August 2011

UPDATED: 29th August

Time: 06:15-19:15
Weather: F4 NW in the morning, slacking to a F3 but persisting NW throughout the afternoon.

Balearic Shearwater: 3
Manx Shearwater: 2150+ [1200 (06:15-12:20) & 950 (14:00-19:15)]
Sooty Shearwater: 23
Storm Petrel: 2
Great Skua (Bonxie): 42
Pomarine Skua: 1 pale phase adult
Arctic Skua: 39
Sabine's Gull: 1 adult & 1 juvenile (first juv. of the season)
Sandwich Tern: 26
Arctic Tern: 59
Puffin: 13
Common Scoter: 3
Whimbrel: 49

Despite blowing NW overnight there was little or no passage of Gannets, Kittiwakes or Fulmars & fewer Manxies than expected during the morning seawatch. Certainly quite a few terns & skuas later on however. Many seawatchers (including myself) bunked off for some sneaky wader twitching around the county during the afternoon where a Semipalmated Sandpipier at Doonbeg & a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Shannon Airport made for some welcome distractions! One of the Balearics seen this morning was really quite pale but a Balearic none the less.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Bridges of Ross 26th August 2011

UPDATED: 29th August

Time: 06:15-19:40
Weather: F2 N-NW in the morning, turning F4-5 N in the afternoon & persisting for most of the evening. Dry & bright throughout with some spray starting to blow in as the day progressed. Cold!

Blue Fulmar: 1 intermediate phase
Manx Shearwater: 1850 (06:15-13:15) with very few birds seen in the evening
Sooty Shearwater: 18
Storm Petrel: 2
Grey Phalarope: 1
Great Skua (Bonxie): 11
Arctic Skua: 13
Mediterranean Gull: 1 1st cal-year
Black Tern: 1 juvenile
Sandwich Tern: 18
Arctic Tern: 60+
Black Guillemot: 1
Puffin: 6
Common Scoter: 3
Whimbrel: 19
Sanderling: 10

The weather didn't quite play ball today, with the wind staying Northerly for the most part & failing to switch to a true North-West as we had hoped for. As such there was no sign of the first Leach's Petrel of the season! The slack Manxie passage continues...

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Bridges of Ross 25th August 2011

UPDATED: 29th August

Time: 06:15-13:00 & 14:30-19:35
Weather: F3 SE for the most part today with some periods of moderate-heavy rain at times.

Balearic Shearwater: 2
Great Shearwater: 1
Sooty Shearwater: 18
Manx Shearwater: 1630+ [950 (06:15-13:00) & 680 (14:45-19:35)]
Storm Petrel: 34
Grey Phalarope: 1
Great Skua (Bonxie): 1
Pomarine Skua: 1 pale phase adult
Arctic Skua: 4
Sabine's Gull: 1 adult
Little Gull: 1
Mediterranean Gull: 2 1st cal-years
Black Tern: 1
Sandwich Tern: 8
Arctic Tern: 142
Puffin: 2
Common Scoter: 5
Whimbrel: 15
Sanderling: 20
Bar-tailed Godwit: 12

Not bad for a SE wind! There wasn't as much Manxie passage as in previous days so tough going for those who stuck it out, although saying that if I'd be well pleased if I had totals like this from my regular seawatching site at Carnsore Point in Wexford!!!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Bridges of Ross 24th August 2011

Time: 06:30-19:00
Weather: F2-3 W-SW with some light showers in the morning.

Balearic Shearwater: 3
Great Shearwater: 4
Sooty Shearwater: 80
Storm Petrel: 8
Grey Phalarope: 1 (first of the season) 
Great Skua (Bonxie): 10
Arctic Skua: 29
Little Gull: 1 juvenile
Black Tern: 1 juvenile
Sandwich Tern: 7
Arctic Tern: 56
Puffin: 6
Common Scoter: 4
Whimbrel: 20

Bottlenose Dolphin: 10-12
Leatherback Turtle: 1 heading west close inshore @ 18:30
Sunfish: 1

A surprising tally of Arctic Skuas for the day, some of which were hanging about chasing Kittiwakes & gulls feeding close inshore. The effects that a quick squall can have on seawatch were quite apparent today, with the Great Shears & majority of the Sooties appearing just after a few bands of rain. There was a big run of Mackerel in the evening, attracting in the Bottlenose Dolphins which showed very well, breaching actively on occasion. 

Views from the watchpoint (Niall Keogh)
Bottlenose Dolphins (Niall Keogh)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Bridges of Ross 23rd August 2011

Time: 06:30-10:30 & 16:00-19:00
Weather: F0-1 E in the morning with F1-2 SW later.

Sooty Shearwater: 18
Storm Petrel: 4
Great Skua (Bonxie): 2
Pomarine Skua: 1 pale phase subadult 
Arctic Skua: 2
Little Gull: 1 juvenile
Mediterranean Gull: 2 1st cal-years
Sandwich Tern: 52
Arctic Tern: 12
Puffin: 3
Black Guillemot: 1 juvenile
Common Scoter: 9
Whimbrel: 19
Teal: 4
Hen Harrier: 1 male quartering the fields behind the watch point
Chough: 2

Minke Whale: 1 close inshore heading west @ 07:05
Common Dolphin: 10-20
Bottlenose Dolphin: 10-12
Basking Shark: 1 off Loop Head
Sunfish: 1 off Loop Head

A very calm day with little or no passage for the most part. Even the Little Gull & the Pomarine Skua were the same birds as yesterday, hanging about with Kittiwakes feeding close offshore. A day for cetacean watching! 

Monday, 22 August 2011

Bridges of Ross 22nd August 2011

Time: 06:30-19:45
Weather: F1-2 N-NW in the morning turning F1-2 W in the afternoon.

Barolo's Shearwater: 1 at 09:35 (Dan Brown, Tom Lowe, Keith Langdon & Mikey Hoit)
Balearic Shearwater: 8 
Great Shearwater: 7
Sooty Shearwater: c.225
Manx Shearwater: 800+ (07:15-10:15)
Storm Petrel: 5+
Great Skua (Bonxie): 6
Pomarine Skua: 1 pale phase subadult
Arctic Skua: 6
Little Gull: 1 juvenile
Sandwich Tern: 24
Arctic Tern: 11
Puffin: 5
Common Scoter: 8
Whimbrel: 5
Shelduck: 2 (Bridges of Ross Mega!!!)

Common Dolphin: c.10
Bottlenose Dolphin: 10+
Sunfish: 2+

Again today the Barolo's Shear gave most observers the slip with only a lucky few who were sitting down by The Bridge of Ross itself picking up on the bird whilst those in the traditional area ('The Hollow') missed out. Many of the shearwaters today (especially Greats & Sooties) seemed to be coming in well to the left of The Hollow.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Bridges of Ross 21st August 2011

Time: 06:30-19:00
Weather: F2-3 W-NW with light showers in the morning.

Barolo's Shearwater: 1 heading west at 08:45 (Dave Cooper)
Great Shearwater: 38
Sooty Shearwater: 512
Manx Shearwater: c.10,000
Storm Petrel: c.25
Great Skua (Bonxie): 21
Arctic Skua: 23
Long-tailed Skua: 2 adults (Niall T Keogh & Dan Brown)
Sabine's Gull: 8 adults
Mediterranean Gull: 1 3rd cal-year
Sandwich Tern: 11
Arctic Tern: 52
Puffin: c.12
Black Guillemot: 1
Common Scoter: 2
Whimbrel: 48

Common Dolphin: 2
Bottlenose Dolphin: c.6

Unfortunately the Barolo's Shear evaded all but the finder but otherwise it was an excellent day given the strength of the wind. Most likely the strong SW winds from the day before pushed birds in from the Atlantic with today's NW moving them closer to the coast. Some of the Great Shearwaters showed exceptionally well & were in quite good condition with nice fresh plumage. One Great Shear was fairly ragged along the trailing edge of the wing & on the primaries suggesting that is was a bird of a different age (a study on Great Shearwaters killed by long-lining off south west Ireland has suggested that the majority of birds in our waters may be adult males).

The Clare Branch of BirdWatch Ireland were also present this morning for their annual seawatch outing as part of Heritage Week. They were lucky in that a Great Shearwater flew past at very close range soon after they arrived! Furthermore, this morning also coincided with a BirdWatch Ireland Seatrack survey date so there were plenty of Manxies to be counted! Seatrack surveys will continue throughout the course of the autumn from headlands right around the country so watch this space for more updates from the project as the season progresses.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Seabird Action Plan Launched

BirdWatch Ireland's 'Action Plan for Marine and Sea Cliff Birds in Ireland 2011-2020' was officially launched on World Oceans Day (Weds 8th June 2011) by the Minister for Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan at the National Sea Life Centre in Bray, Co. Wicklow.
The Action Plan outlines a ten year initiative to monitor & conserve 38 species of bird which utilise Ireland's coastline & offshore water. It was released just as a recently published scientific paper revealed that up to 50,000 seabirds are killed off the southwest coast of Ireland every year as a result of longline fisheries.

A PDF copy of the Action Plan can be downloaded by clicking the image below

Press Release (click to download): Action Plan for seabirds launched as mass seabird deaths in Irish waters come to light

Left to right: Cllr. Stephen Stokes; Minister Jimmy Deenihan; Cllr. Sarah Wray; Alan Lauder (BirdWatch Ireland) & Pat Ó'Súilleabháin (National Sea Life Centre)
Left to Right: Caitriona Diviney (IWEA); Minister Deenihan; Alan Lauder; Steve Newton (BirdWatch Ireland) & Oscar Merne
Left to right: Gráinne O'Brien (BIM); Lorcán O'Cinneide (Federation of Irish Fishermen); Minister Deenihan; Alan Lauder; Peter Norton (Mountaineering Ireland) & Peadar O'Connell (BirdWatch Ireland)