Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Seatrack Update: Early November Survey


This coming weekend (Sat 3rd/Sun 4th Nov) sees the final Seatrack survey of the season taking place, with a start time of 08:30amPlease note that Saturday 3rd Nov will be the priority day so as to complement other FAME surveys being conducted by our partners along the Western European seaboard, also on that date. If you would like to take part in this international seabird census then get in touch with Niall Keogh at seatrack@birdwatchireland.ie for details.

We are now into
Little Auk season so be sure to keep an eye out for these charming plankton feeders this weekend. They have become surprisingly rare in Ireland in recent years but are still likely to be found on late autumn/early winter seawatches along the West coast when favourable weather conditions prevail. A large Northward movement in The North Sea took place on Monday when some 4,903 passed The Farne Islands alone!

The forecast for the next few days looks good along the West coast with moderate-strong West & Northwest winds coming from a low pressure off the Atlantic coast of Scotland with some draw further to the North. Winds will be strongest on Thursday & Saturday but weakening into Sunday. Could be the last good seawatch of the season?!

Best of luck to all this weekend,

Niall Keogh
Seatrack co-ordinator

Little Auk © John Murphy
Some mid October Seatrack sightings as follows: (E = East, W = West, S = South, N = North & M = Milling)

Saturday 20th October


Bloody Foreland, Co. Donegal (Chris Ingram)
15 S & 1 N Eider, 78 S & 141 N Barnacle Goose, 8 S & 2 N Red-throated Diver, 3 S & 4 N Great Northern Diver, 1 S Great Skua (Bonxie) & 6 S Bottlenose Dolphin.

Dursey Island, Co. Cork (Derek A. Scott, Kieran Finch, Paul Rowe, David Cooke & Connor Finch)
1 S Sooty Shearwater, 1 S Storm Petrel, 1 N Common Scoter, 413 S Kittiwake, 899 S Guillemot/Razorbill, 1 N Great Skua (Bonxie), 1 N Pomarine Skua, 2 N Puffin, 2 S & 7 M Harbour Porpoise.

Galley Head, Co. Cork (Colin Barton)
19 W Sooty Shearwater, 3 W Manx Shearwater, 7 W Common Scoter, 3 W Great Skua (Bonxie), 1 W Mediterranean Gull & 274 W Kittiwake.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Seatrack Update: Late October Survey

This coming weekend (Sat 20th/Sun 21st Oct) sees the seventh and second last Seatrack survey of the season taking place, with a start time of 09:00am (crazy to think we were getting up for a 06:25am start back in July!). If you would like to take part then get in touch with Niall Keogh at seatrack@birdwatchireland.ie for details.

The previous early October survey was rather quiet, mostly due to a combination of light winds & a fall of rare North American landbirds in Co. Galway which no doubt drew attention elsewhere! Saying that, Sooty Shearwater, Sabine’s Gull & Long-tailed Skua were all still picked up from Annagh Head in Mayo. On the East coast, the predominance of auks, Gannets, Kittiwakes & sea duck was notable compared to the almost complete absence of shearwaters. A single Balearic Shearwater was seen passing West at Carnsore Point, making an otherwise dead quiet morning of surveying worthwhile.

The forecast for the weekend looks as if calm conditions will prevail along the East coast on Saturday with moderate Southeast winds on the West followed up by moderate Northeast winds on Sunday in the East.

Best of luck to all this weekend,

Niall Keogh
Seatrack co-ordinator



Some early October
Seatrack sightings as follows: (E = East, W = West, S = South, N = North & M = Milling)

Friday 5th October 2012

Annagh Head, Co. Mayo (Dave Suddaby)
61 Sooty Shearwater, 36 Great Skua (Bonxie), 7 Pomarine Skua, 8 Arctic Skua, 4 Long-tailed Skua & 1 Sabine’s Gull.

Saturday 6th October 2012

Bridges of Ross, Co. Clare (Paul Troake)
1 M Manx Shearwater, 1 W Diver sp., 1 W Red-breasted Merganser, 4 W Light-bellied Brent Goose, 136 W Razorbill/Guillemot & 10+ M Common Dolphin.

I guess I was the only birder to leave Co. Galway this morning!” (ed. the Kingbird had gone anyway so you were saved the hassle!)

Carnsore Point, Co.Wexford (Niall T. Keogh)
1 W Balearic Shearwater, 4 E & 1 W Common Scoter, 19 W Light-bellied Brent Goose, 1 E Teal, 2 E Red-breasted Merganser, 1 E & 1 W Red-throated Diver, 72 E & 65 M Kittiwake, 302 E & 244 W Razorbill/Guillemot, 7 E & 40 W Sandwich Tern, 2 Grey Seal & 5 Harbour Porpoise.

The Balearic Shearwater was heading purposefully West at 09:44am. No Manixes or Fulmars seen! Many birds way far out towards the horizon line were left unidentified due to haze & strong glare. Plenty of Porpoise action throughout.

Wicklow Head, Co. Wicklow (Steve Newton)
14 N & 1 S Common Scoter, 15 S Light-bellied Brent Goose, 2 S Red-throated Diver, 2 M Great Skua (Bonxie), 11 M Arctic Skua, 65 M Gannet, 140 M Kittiwake, 50 N Auk & 11 Harbour Porpoise.

No shearwaters, no terns and a few auks (50) heading N early on. Only excitement was 2 Bonxies (milling) and 11 dark phase Arctics harassing a feeding frenzy of 140 Kittiwakes! Otherwise local traffic of Cormorants and a few Shags, very loose flock of 65 Gannets milling/foraging throughout the 3 hrs and max count of 11 Porpoises.


Sunday 7th October 2012

Coliemore Harbour, Dalkey, Co. Dublin (Niall T. Keogh, Katherine Keogan & Brian Porter)
24 N & 1 S Common Scoter, 27 N & 9 S Light-bellied Brent Goose, 3 N Wigeon, 2 N & 2 S Red-throated Diver, 10 M Mediterranean Gull, 5 M Sandwich Tern, 9 M Black Guillemot, 110+ M Razorbill/Guillemot, 1 Grey Seal & 3 Harbour Porpoise.

Very slow going. Only real sightings of note were good numbers of rafting auks & dip-feeding Black-headed Gulls early on. Again, no Manxies or Fulmars seen.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Seatrack Update: Early Oct Survey

This coming weekend (Sat 6th/Sun 7th Oct) sees the sixth Seatrack survey of the season taking place, with a start time of 08:35am. Please note that Saturday 6th Oct will be the priority day so as to complement other FAME surveys being conducted by our partners along the Western European seaboard, also on that date. If you would like to take part in this international seabird census then get in touch with Niall Keogh at seatrack@birdwatchireland.ie for details.

The previous mid September survey saw the beginning of a turnover in species composition, typical for the latter half of the seawatching season. Manx Shearwaters were well represented on the West coast but present in low numbers or almost absent from sites along the East & South. Sooty Shearwaters held their own throughout with triple figure counts at several locations, typical for the time of year whilst a total of 8 Balearic Shearwaters were noted. Furthermore, Leach’s Petrels were far more numerous than Storm Petrels, skuas outnumbered terns, auk passage picked up, quite a few Grey Phalaropes & divers put in an appearance and some Long-tailed Skuas, Sabine’s Gulls & Little Gulls were also seen.

The forecast for the weekend looks as if calm, anti-cyclonic conditions will prevail on Saturday with a chance of moderate-strong South East winds along the South coast on Sunday.

Best of luck to all this weekend,

Niall Keogh
Seatrack co-ordinator



Some mid September Seatrack sightings as follows: (E = East, W = West, S = South, N = North & M = Milling)

Friday 14th September 2012

Black Head, Co. Clare (Paul Troake)
1 W Balearic Shearwater, 800 W Manx Shearwater, 1 W Leach’s Petrel, 1 E Great Northern Diver, 1 Great Skua (Bonxie), 1 juv W Pomarine Skua, 15 Arctic Skua, 2 W Arctic Tern, 500 W Gannet, 150 W Kittiwake & 700 W Razorbill & Guillemot.

Bridges of Ross, Co. Clare (Niall T. Keogh et al.)
All birds heading W: 1 Balearic Shearwater, 123 Sooty Shearwater, 1,000 Manx Shearwater, 1 Blue Fulmar, 32 Leach’s Petrel, 8 Common Scoter, 18 Red-throated Diver, 71 Great Skua (Bonxie), 4 Pomarine Skua, 39 Arctic Skua, 3 juv Long-tailed Skua, 1 adult Sabine’s Gull, 35 Sandwich Tern, 28 Arctic Tern, 20 Grey Phalaropes & 5 Puffin.

Saturday 15th September 2012

Bloody Foreland, Co. Donegal (Chris Ingram, Frank Turpin & Gareth Doherty)
6 W Sooty Shearwater, 145 W Manx Shearwater, 1 W Eider, 4 W Common Scoter, 9 W Red-throated Diver, 5 W Great Northern Diver, 26 W Great Skua (Bonxie), 15 W Arctic Skua, 2 W Skua sp., 2 W Sandwich Tern, 1 W Common Tern, 5 W Arctic Tern, 2 W Black Guillemot & 1 W Puffin.

Black Head, Co. Clare (Paul Troake)
32 W Manx Shearwater, 1 M Leach’s Petrel, 4 W Common Scoter, 1 E Great Northern Diver, 3 M Grey Phalarope, 3 W Great Skua (Bonxie), 3 W & 1 M Arctic Skua, 1 W Sandwich Tern, 4 W Arctic Tern & 2 W Black Guillemot.

Bridges of Ross, Co. Clare (Niall T. Keogh et al.)
All birds heading W: 1 Balearic Shearwater, 87 Sooty Shearwater, 700 Manx Shearwater, 13 Leach’s Petrel, 3 Common Scoter, 39 Light-bellied Brent Goose, 4 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Northern Diver, 23 Great Skua (Bonxie), 1 dark Pomarine Skua, 17 Arctic Skua, 2 juv Long-tailed Skua, 12 Sandwich Tern, 9 Arctic Tern, 2 Grey Phalarope, 800+ Razorbill & Guillemot & 5 Puffin.

Dursey Island, Co. Cork (Kieran Finch, A. Mee, C. Finch & D. Cooke)
392 N Manx Shearwater, 10 S & 174 N Sooty Shearwater, 4 N Common Scoter, 1 N Arctic Skua & 8 M Harbour Porpoise.

Helvick Head, Co. Waterford (Colum Flynn, Sharon Hogan & Daniel Weldon)
1 Balearic Shearwater, 4 Manx Shearwater, 4 Pomarine Skua & 12 Arctic Skua.

Brownstown Head, Co. Waterford (Paul M. Walsh)
2 W & 2 E Manx Shearwater, 1 W & 3 E Common Scoter, 1 W Great Northern Diver, 3 W Great Skua (Bonxie), 1 W Arctic Skua, 1 W juv Sabine’s Gull & 6 W Puffin.

Carnsore Point, Co. Wexford (Kieran Grace)
334 W & 134 E Manx Shearwater, 1 W & 1 E Common Scoter, 1 Teal, 1 W Red-throated Diver,  5 W Great Skua (Bonxie), 2 W Arctic Skua, 40 M ‘Commic’ Tern, 300 W & 105 E Gannet, 348 W & 113 E Razorbill & Guillemot.

Clogher Head, Co. Louth (Ger Murray)
16 M Common Scoter, 80 S Light-bellied Brent Goose & 4 N Red-throated Diver.

Sunday 16th September 2012

Annagh Head, Co. Mayo (Dave Suddaby)
26 Sooty Shearwater, 29 Great Skua (Bonxie) & 1 Lapland Bunting.

Bridges of Ross, Co. Clare (Niall T. Keogh et al.)
All birds heading W: 4 Balearic Shearwater, 223 Sooty Shearwater, 3,100 Manx Shearwater, 45 Leach’s Petrel, 3 Storm Petrel, 3 Common Scoter, 6 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Northern Diver, 19 Great Skua (Bonxie), 1 Pomarine Skua, 5 Arctic Skua, 3 juv Long-tailed Skua, 2 Little Gull, 1 Sanwich Tern, 22 Arctic Tern, 1 juv Black Tern, 35 Grey Phalarope, 3 Puffin, 1 American Golden Plover (in adjacent field), 3 Common Dolphin & 2 Ocean Sunfish.

Monday 17th September 2012

Wicklow Head, Co. Wicklow (Steve Newton)

1 N Manx Shearwater, 4 S & 1 N Common Scoter, 3 S & 1 N Red-throated Diver, 1 S Arctic Skua, 6 S Sandwich Tern, 1 Otter & 5 Harbour Porpoise.

Arctic Skuas at The Bridges of Ross, Sept 2012 © Kris De Rouck
Bonxie at The Bridges of Ross, Sept 2012 © Kris De Rouck
American Golden Plover at The Bridges of Ross, Sept 2012 © Kris De Rouck

Monday, 1 October 2012

Nationwide Roseate Terns: Watch Online

In case you missed the special Nationwide programme about BirdWatch Ireland's Roseate Tern conservation work on Rockabill that was shown on RTÉ One last Friday, or indeed if you'd like to see it again, you can watch it online at...


Rockabill Roseate Terns © Maeve Maher-McWilliams

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Rockabill Roseates on TV

As reported back in August, many of our tern colonies were hit hard this summer by a combination of poor weather and predation. The colony of Roseate Terns breeding on Rockabill, off Skerries in North Dublin has been going from strength to strength however. This is due to a combination of determined wardening along with the provision of hundreds of specially constructed nestboxes, the result of which being an all time high of 1,200 breeding pairs of this threatened seabird species in 2012.

Lots of birdwatchers contact us to ask if they can visit Rockabill to see the tern colony for themselves. It's off limits to visitors however, but thanks to the team from RTÉ's Nationwide we are at least able to bring you the next best thing: this Friday's programme will include a special feature about the tern colony. Nationwide presenter Ann Cassin came over to Rockabill in July to see the chicks take their first flight, and the programme will also showcase the great work of BirdWatch Ireland and NPWS staff and volunteers, with contributions from our Fingal Branch and Balbriggan Community College students who make many of the tern nextboxes for us.

Tune in to Nationwide on RTÉ One at 7:00pm this Friday, 28th September as we bring you all the sights and sounds (if sadly not the smells!) of this incredible seabird colony.



Roseate Terns on Rockabill, August 2012 © Niall Keogh

Monday, 17 September 2012

Final Morning @ Bridges of Ross 17th Sept 2012

Time: 07:00-11:30
Weather: F5 W, generally overcast but good vis. Some brief squalls (am).
Observer(s): Niall T. Keogh, Noel Keogh, Jason McManus, Gordon McAdam & Mark Gibson.

Sooty Shearwater: 201
Manx Shearwater: 403
Leach’s Petrel: 16
Storm Petrel: 3
Common Scoter: 6 males + 2 females
Red-throated Diver: 3 summer plumage
Great Skua (Bonxie): 28
Pomarine Skua: 1
Arctic Skua: 2
Long-tailed Skua: 2 juvs. (Mark Gibson & Gordon McAdam)
Kittiwake: 8 incl. 4 juvs.
Arctic Tern: 1
Sandwich Tern: 10
Grey Phalarope: 3
Puffin: 2

Whimbrel: 10
Raven: 1 at sea heading West!
Chough: 9

Common Dolphin: 5-8 incl. one juv. milling/feeding.

A nice Sooty passage along with a couple of awesome skuas this morning made for a pleasant end to my annual extended seawatching session at The Bridges of Ross.

Despite the winds being in our favour for the past couple of weeks, there was no repeat of the 2011 Sabine’s deluge, Manxies were well down on previous years and overall, rare seabirds were at a premium. Saying that, 2012 brought other highlights in the form of decent numbers of Sooties, Balearics & Poms, some excellent juvenile Long-tailed Skuas, the much sought after Barolo’s Shearwater, several North American waders and the most Leatherback Turtles I’ve ever seen in a single season. Awesome!

With all this on offer in a relatively ‘quiet’ year it’s no wonder then why The Bridges continues to attract birders from across Europe. Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Guernsey, France, Belgium & Finland were all represented by folk travelling here in order to witness the spectacle that is seabird migration. So, many thanks goes to those intrepid maniacs who I met over the past few weeks for their company & witty banter which kept the spirits up & momentum going during some of the particularly long, dull afternoons! I’m sure I’ll be seeing you all out here again soon. And I can’t go without acknowledging the support of the local community on Loop Head. They kept us fed & watered, gave us beds to sleep in, allowed us access to their lands & put up with our never ending collective will to wish bad weather upon the area!

So now it’ll be an autumn of continuing the Seatrack project for myself at East coast sites such as Dalkey in Dublin & Carnsore Point in Wexford but I’ll be keeping a close eye on those weather charts. Fancy a bit of Pomarine Skua passage in October so I do...

Pomarine Skua © Niall Keogh
Juvenile Long-tailed Skua. The mother of all 'record' shots but you get the idea. Cold plumage tones, long black tail feathers, pale collar & slim, tern-like structure. What a bird! © Niall Keogh

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Bridges of Ross 16th Sept 2012

Time: 07:00-11:05 & 12:45-19:25
Weather: F5-6 SW, heavy mist & almost nil visibility at first, then clearing F4 W (am). F4 W-NW, sunny, dry & good vis (pm).
Observer(s): Niall T. Keogh, Noel Keogh, Jason McManus, Gordon McAdam & Mark Gibson.

Balearic Shearwater: 4
Sooty Shearwater: 223
Manx Shearwater: c.3,100
Leach’s Petrel: 45
Storm Petrel: 3
Common Scoter: 3 males
Red-throated Diver: 6 summer plumage
Great Northern Diver: 1 summer-winter plumage
Great Skua (Bonxie): 19
Pomarine Skua: 1 pale phase adult
Arctic Skua: 5
Long-tailed Skua: 3 juvs. (Niall T. Keogh & Noel Keogh)
Kittiwake: 29 incl. 15 juvs.
Little Gull: 1 1st cal-year & 1 2nd cal-year
Arctic Tern: 22
Sandwich Tern: 1
Black Tern: 1 juv.
Grey Phalarope: c.35
Puffin: 3

American Golden Plover: Adult type bird with 13 Golden Plover in the horse field at 18:25pm (Noel Keogh). Presumably the same bird as earlier in the week.
Kestrel: 1
Raven: 2
Chough: 13

Common Dolphin: c.3 heading West in the evening.
Ocean Sunfish: 2

The first hour & a half this morning was shrouded in heavy mist, with little or no seabirds visible during that time. A perfect opportunity to snooze, eat biscuits & talk nonsense! After the mist lifted there was a welcome return to decent numbers of shearwaters. Amazing how much of a difference a constant trickle of Manxies makes to your concentration levels compared to the void that was afternoon passage during previous days. Grey Phalaropes were a nice feature of the afternoon & evening including one group of 10. Some serious nasty skua action also with the Pomarine nailing a Leach’s followed up by a Bonxie tackling into a Fulmar, killing it & eating it!


Less than ideal seawatching conditions! © Niall Keogh
"More skuas for the people!!!" © Niall Keogh

Leach's Petrels © Niall Keogh

Pomarine Skua © Niall Keogh

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Seatrack @ Bridges of Ross 15th Sept 2012

Time: 07:00-11:00 (Seatrack survey) & 14:30-19:00
Weather: F3-4 W, overcast & some spells of misty rain (am). F3-4 W, overcast, excellent vis & dry (pm).
Observer(s): Niall T. Keogh, Noel Keogh, Jason McManus, Gordon McAdam & Mark Gibson.

Balearic Shearwater: 1
Sooty Shearwater: 87
Manx Shearwater: c.700
Fulmar: 89 (am)
Gannet: 363 incl. 3 juvs. (am)
Leach’s Petrel: 13
Common Scoter: 3 males
Light-bellied Brent Goose: 39
Red-throated Diver: 3 summer plumage & 1 juv.
Great Northern Diver: 1 winter plumage
Great Skua (Bonxie): 23
Pomarine Skua: 1 dark phase adult
Arctic Skua: 17
Long-tailed Skua: 2 juvs. (Niall T. Keogh, Noel Keogh & Jason McManus)
Kittiwake: 23 incl. 10 juvs.
Arctic Tern: 9
Sandwich Tern: 12
Grey Phalarope: 2
Puffin: 5
Guillemot: 485 (am)
Razorbill: 166 (am)
Auk sp: 135 (am)

Whimbrel: 1
Snipe: 1
Common Gull: 1 adult
Chough: 2

A similar rate of passage to previous days with skuas stealing the show yet again. The full spooned, dark phase adult Pomarine this morning was most welcome. A rare sight before October. This bird was contrasted in the evening by a fantastic ivory coloured juv. Long-tailed Skua which passed by at very close range. Tiny, fresh, scaly & pale. Stunning.

Dark phase Arctic Skuas © Niall Keogh
Juvenile Bonxie © Niall Keogh
Sooty Shearwater © Niall Keogh
Leach's Petrel © Niall Keogh

Juvenile Long-tailed Skua © Niall Keogh

Friday, 14 September 2012

Bridges of Ross 14th Sept 2012

Time: 06:55-11:30 & 12:45-19:10
Weather: F5-6 W-NW later F4-5 NW, bright, good vis & some showers (am). F3-5 NW, sunny, warm & spray (pm).
Observer(s): Niall T. Keogh, Noel Keogh, Brian Porter, Conor Foley, Jason McManus, Gordon McAdam et al.

Balearic Shearwater: 1
Sooty Shearwater: 123
Manx Shearwater: c.1,000
‘Blue’ Fulmar: 1 intermediate
Leach’s Petrel: 32
Common Scoter: 8
Red-throated Diver: 18 summer plumage
Great Skua (Bonxie): 71
Pomarine Skua: 4
Arctic Skua: 39
Long-tailed Skua: 3 juvs. (Jason McManus & Niall T. Keogh)
Sabine’s Gull: 1 adult
Kittiwake: 79+ incl. 30 juvs.
Arctic Tern: 28
Sandwich Tern: 35
Grey Phalarope: 20
Puffin: 5

Knot: 12
Golden Plover: 2
Dunlin: 2
Raven: 2
Chough: 4

Good passage this morning with lots of variety, slacking off in the afternoon & then livening up again in the evening. Still relatively low numbers of Manx but plenty of Gannets to make up the volume, including lots of juveniles. Much better views of the juv. Long-tailed Skuas today, two of which came by together at close range. Stunning beasts. Could well be birds of the season for me so far. Numbers of Bonxies & Arctic Skuas picked up from about 17:30pm with groups of 3-5 birds going by at regular intervals for an hour or so. An excellent tally of Red-throated Divers this early on in the autumn also. Great stuff altogether!

Massive swells today, some waves from which were breaking a bit too close for comfort! © Niall Keogh 

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Bridges of Ross 13th Sept 2012

Time: 07:00-10:15 & 11:30-19:10
Weather: F3 SW, overcast, clear & mild (am). F4-5 W then F5-6 SW, overcast, clear & mild (pm).
Observer(s): Niall T. Keogh, Noel Keogh, Brian Porter, Jason McManus, Gordon McAdam & Conor Foley.

Sooty Shearwater: 262
Manx Shearwater: c.800
Leach’s Petrel: 44
Storm Petrel: 11
Common Scoter: 16
Light-bellied Brent Goose: 242
Red-throated Diver: 2 summer plumage
Great Skua (Bonxie): 69
Pomarine Skua: 5
Arctic Skua: 20
Long-tailed Skua: 2 juvs. (Niall T. Keogh & Brian Porter)
Common Tern: 1 adult & 3 juvs.
Arctic Tern: 86
Sandwich Tern: 23
Black Tern: 1 juv.
Grey Phalarope: 4
Puffin: 10

Whimbrel: 3
Bar-tailed Godwit: 1
Buff-breasted Sandpiper: 1 in off the sea & headed West at 12:30 (Conor Foley)
Peregrine: 1
Chough: 12
Lapland Bunting: 1 male showing well in the horse field.

Leatherback Turtle: 1 surfaced 7 times at 17:58
Otter: 2 juveniles around the mouth of the sea cave.

At last, a decent seawatch! Leach’s, Bonxies, Sooties & Brent all represented well but as yesterday, numbers of Manx, Gannets, Fulmars, Kittiwakes & auks were quite low so often long periods between quality.

The 2 juvenile Long-tailed Skuas were superb. Picked up at quite a distance but their slim build & dawdling flight style gave them away immediately. One was a dark phase whilst the other was a more classic looking intermediate/pale bird.

Find of the day goes to Conor who latched on to a wader out at sea which was bombing straight in & as it passed overhead we could clearly see it was a Buff-B! New bird?...I reckon so.


Brent migration in action! © Niall Keogh

Great views of a male Lapland Bunting whilst trying to relocate the Buff-B Sand. © Niall Keogh 

Many thanks to Jim Bowman for sending on a few pics from yesterday...

Preening Bonxie close overhead © Jim Bowman
"Where have all the seawatchers gone?" © Jim Bowman

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Bridges of Ross 12th Sept 2012

Time: 07:00-19:10
Weather: F4 W, overcast, spray & misty at a distance (am). F4-6 N-NW, sunny & spray (pm).
Observer(s): Niall T. Keogh, Noel Keogh, Kris de Rouck, Wout de Rouck, Brian Porter, Jim Bowman, Denis Carty, Jason McManus, Gordon McAdam et al.

Sooty Shearwater: 4
Manx Shearwater: c.300
Fulmar: 250+
Leach’s Petrel: 5
Common Scoter: 3
Light-bellied Brent Goose: 26
Red-throated Diver: 8 summer plumage
Great Skua (Bonxie): 20
Pomarine Skua: 2 juvs.
Arctic Skua: 49
Long-tailed Skua: 1 adult (Jim Bowman)
Sabine’s Gull: 1 juv.
Kittiwake: 35+ incl. 6 juvs.
Arctic Tern: 11
Sandwich Tern: 6
Black Tern: 1 juv.
Grey Phalarope: 13
Puffin: 6

Knot: 1
Whimbrel: 1
Golden Plover: 9
American Golden Plover: 1 adult/2nd cal-year type
Chough: 2
Lapland Bunting: 1

Bottlenose Dolphin: 2+ heading West in the morning.
Harbour Porpoise: 1 heading West in the morning.
Ocean Sunfish: 1

Passage of commoner species such as Manxies, Gannets, Kittiwakes, auks & Fulmars was very poor today but livened up by some nice tallies of Grey Phals & Arctic Skuas along with birds of note such as Black Tern, Leach’s Petrel, Sabine’s Gull & the first juvenile Pomarine Skuas of the season (one of which came past really close...beast of a bird). Unfortunately most of us missed out on the adult Long-tailed Skua whilst at breakfast but always nice to know a four Skua species day was had by some. The American Golden Plover then put in a re-appearance at 18:30pm in the horse field, this time accompanied by 9 Golden Plover and allowing for much better views than the other day (comparison of pics confirms this is indeed the same bird).

This morning’s Harbour Porpoise was my first ever at The Bridges of Ross in 11 years of seawatching here in Aug/Sept so that was cool. The Ocean Sunfish was also the biggest I’ve ever laid eyes on, perhaps as much as 3m long! So all in all, a good day for ‘Marine Megafauna’ too.


Monster Sunfish with Great Black-backed Gull in tow! © Niall Keogh

American Golden Plover © Niall Keogh

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Bridges of Ross 11th Sept 2012

Time: 06:50-18:00
Weather: F5 NW, good vis, overcast & showers (am). F5 NW later F4 W-NW, bright & light showers (pm).
Observer(s): Niall T. Keogh, Noel Keogh, Kris de Rouck, Wout de Rouck, Brian Porter, Tom Kilbane & Eamonn MacLochlainn.   

Sooty Shearwater: 14
Manx Shearwater: max. 750
Fulmar: c.475 (am)
Leach’s Petrel: 8
Storm Petrel: 1
Gannet: c.1,300 incl. 1% juvs. (am)
Common Scoter: 2
Light-bellied Brent Goose: 54
Red-throated Diver: 7
Grey Phalarope: 6
Great Skua (Bonxie): 28
Pomarine Skua: 1 pale subadult
Arctic Skua: 23
Sabine’s Gull: 2 adults & 2 juvs.
Little Gull: 1 juv./1st-w
Kittiwake: c.270 incl. 15% juvs. (am)
Lesser Black-backed Gull: 1 adult & 1 juv.
Arctic Tern: 16
Sandwich Tern: 10
Guillemot/Razorbill: c.1,900 (am)
Puffin: 3

Chough: 23
Lapland Bunting: 1

Bottlenose Dolphin: c.10 heading West in the evening.

After checking the forecast last night, we were hopeful that a good passage was due today given the NW winds but they largely failed to deliver. In fairness, we did have some really great views of Leach’s, Sab’s & skuas but the overall passage intensity was very slack, almost nil in the afternoon. The reality of it all was that the winds were blowing down directly from Iceland and not sweeping far enough out into the Atlantic before reaching Ireland, as a ‘classic’ low pressure would. The Arctic origin of these winds was definitely reflected in today’s species list & counts with the highest numbers of auks & Kittiwakes so far this season plus a few Grey Phals, Little Gull, Brent Geese etc.


Lapland Bunting © Niall Keogh
A small flock of Great Black-backed Gulls were tucking into some barnacles/mussels attached to a floating plank! © Niall Keogh

Monday, 10 September 2012

Nearctic Waders @ Bridges of Ross 10th Sept 2012

Time: 06:50-08:35 & 16:20-19:10
Weather: F4 N, overcast, persistent rain, poor vis at times (am). F1 later F3, excellent vis, warm & light showers sunny (pm).
Observer(s): Niall T. Keogh, Noel Keogh, Joe Adamson, Kris de Rouck & Wout de Rouck.

Sooty Shearwater: 41
Manx Shearwater: 240
Fulmar: 220+
Storm Petrel: 1
Leach’s Petrel: 3
Common Scoter: 1 female
Red-throated Diver: 2 summer plumage
Great Skua (Bonxie): 14
Arctic Skua: 3
Sabine’s Gull: 1 juv.
Kittiwake: 50 incl. 12 juvs.
Arctic Tern: 2
Sandwich Tern: 34
Guillemot/Razorbill: 415
Puffin: 1

Chough: 2
American Golden Plover: 1 adult/2nd cal-year+ type
Buff-breasted Sandpiper: 1 flyover

Bottlenose Dolphin: c.12 heading West in the evening.
American Mink: 3 between the car park & the watch point at 06:40am.

Northerly winds & persistent rain made for a miserable mornings seawatch. The lack of birds didn’t help either! Noel rather wisely decided to go look for waders down near The Bridges pool and he was duly rewarded by finding a moulting adult/2nd cal-year+ type American Golden Plover on the intertidal rocks at 08:35am! Those of us still seawatching in ‘The Hollow’ quickly abandoned our post and made it down in time to watch this bird for a few minutes before it took off at 08:48am, calling loudly and heading in a South Easterly direction. We decided then to go check out the local wader sites to see if anything else had come in. Before we could even get back to the car, a Buff-breasted Sandpiper flew over us at 09:05am, heading East! The same bird as last week or fresh in?

Continuing with the Nearctic theme, three Mink were seen running across the path by the blowhole early this morning as we made our way onto the headland. A less welcome component of the American fauna in this part of the world.


American Golden Plover © Niall Keogh