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

Seatrack Update: mid Sept 2012

This coming weekend (Sat 15th/Sun 16th Sept) sees the fifth Seatrack survey of the season taking place, with a start time of 08:00am. If you would like to take part then get in touch with Niall Keogh at for details.

The previous early September survey revealed the beginnings of both diver & tern migration along with a good passage of Sooty Shearwaters. Small numbers of Great Northern & Red-throated Divers were reported right around the coast along with the second project record of Black-throated Diver which was seen passing Annagh Head. Furthermore, six species of tern were recorded, most notably 10 Black Terns from Carnsore Point and vast numbers of Sterna terns off Clogher Head.

Weather patterns over the next few days are likely to suit Atlantic coasts best as strong SW, W & NW winds prevail, calming for the weekend with SE winds predominating along the South coast on Sunday.

Best of luck to all this weekend,

Niall Keogh
Seatrack co-ordinator 

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

Saturday 1st September 2012

Bloody Foreland, Co. Donegal (Ralph Sheppard & Chris Ingram)
6 S & 6 N Manx Shearwater, 5 S Sooty Shearwater, 1 S Common Scoter, 1 S Great Northern Diver, 2 S Red-throated Diver, 1 S Great Skua (Bonxie), 1 N Skua sp (Arctic/Long-tailed), 1 S Black Guillemot, 12 S Whimbrel & 12 S Bottlenose Dolphin.

Annagh Head, Co. Mayo (Dave Suddaby)
1 S Balearic Shearwater, 12 S Sooty Shearwater, 2 S Great Northern Diver, 1 S summer plumaged Black-throated Diver, 5 S Great Skua (Bonxie) & 4 S Arctic Skua.

Bridges of Ross, Co. Clare (Niall T. Keogh)
1,056 W Manx Shearwater, 113 W Sooty Shearwater, 300 W Fulmar, 26 W Storm Petrel, 2 W Common Scoter, 6 W Great Skua (Bonxie), 1 W Pomarine Skua, 1 W Arctic Skua, 3 W juv. Sabine’s Gull, 7 W Puffin & 1 Lapland Bunting.

Galley Head, Co. Cork (Colin Barton)
711 W Manx Shearwater, 5 W Sooty Shearwater, 1 W ‘Blue’ Fulmar, 5 W Great Skua (Bonxie), 1 W Pomarine Skua, 2 W Arctic Skua, 562 Auk sp (Guillemot/Razorbill) & 32 W Puffin.

Ram Head, Co. Waterford (Andrew Malcolm)
94 W Manx Shearwater, 1 W Arctic Skua & 36 W Sandwich Tern.

Brownstown Head, Co. Waterford (Paul M. Walsh & Jonathan Bulfin)
6 E & 45 W Manx Shearwater, 6 E Common Scoter, 2 E Great Skua (Bonxie), 1 W Arctic Skua, 2 E & 24 W Sandwich Tern & 8 W 'Commic' Tern.

Carnsore Point, Co. Wexford (Kieran Grace)
340 E & 285 W Manx Shearwater, 1 W Red-throated Diver, 1 W Great Skua (Bonxie), 1 E Arctic Skua, 4 W & 1 M Black Tern, c.150 M Roseate Tern, c.20 W & C.200 M ‘Commic’ Tern & 3 W Whimbrel.

Wicklow Head, Co. Wicklow (Steve Newton)
80 N Manx Shearwater, 8 N & 8 S Common Scoter, 3 S Great Skua (Bonxie), 1 S Arctic Skua & 56 S Sandwich Tern.

Coliemore Harbour, Dalkey, Co. Dublin (Brian Porter & Katherine Keogan)
2 S Manx Shearwater, 1 N & 1 S Great Northern Diver, 2 N Light-bellied Brent Goose & 4 M Harbour Porpoise.

Clogher Head, Co. Louth (Brendan Sheils & Ger Murray)
500+ S Manx Shearwater, 10 S & 19 M Common Scoter, 1 S Great Northern Diver, 1 N Great Skua (Bonxie), 1 N & 3 S Arctic Skua, 2 N Little Tern, 32 N & 5 S Sandwich Tern, 1 N Roseate Tern, 84 S Common Tern, c.500 M Arctic Tern, 100+ S ‘Commic’ Tern, 1 N Black Guillemot, 2 S Puffin, 8 S Light-bellied Brent Goose & 5 M Harbour Porpoise.

Sunday 2nd September 2012

Bridges of Ross, Co. Clare (Niall T. Keogh, Chris Jones & Rob Innes)
3 W Balearic Shearwater, 627 W Sooty Shearwater, 1 W Leach’s Petrel, c.30 W Storm Petrel, 18 W Great Skua (Bonxie), 1 W Pomarine Skua, 7 W Arctic Skua, 109 W Sandwich Tern & 7 W Puffin.

Carnsore Point, Co. Wexford (Noel Keogh & Brian Porter)
1,370 W Manx Shearwater, 2 W Great Skua (Bonxie), 2 W Arctic Skua, 1 W juv. Long-tailed Skua & 10 W Black Tern.

Clogher Head, Co. Louth (Brendan Sheils)
4 S Balearic Shearwater, 5,000+ S Manx Shearwater, 1 S Sooty Shearwater, 1,500+ S Gannet, 1 N Arctic Skua, 10 S Skua sp. (prob. Arctic), 29 S Sandwich Tern, 1,000+ S Common Tern, c.200 S Arctic Tern & 3 M Bottlenose Dolphin

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Bridges of Ross 9th Sept 2012

Time: 07:20-09:00 & 16:40-19:45
Weather: F2-3 S-SW, overcast, mist & rain, poor vis (am). F3-4 W-SW, sunny, dry & clear (pm).
Observer(s): Niall T. Keogh, Noel Keogh, Kris de Rouck & Wout de Rouck.

Balearic Shearwater: 1
Sooty Shearwater: 136
Manx Shearwater: 233 (pm)
Storm Petrel: 14
Leach’s Petrel: 3
Light-bellied Brent Goose: 4
Red-throated Diver: 2 summer plumage
Great Skua (Bonxie): 16
Pomarine Skua: 1
Arctic Skua: 3
Arctic Tern: 7

Whimbrel: 31
Bar-tailed Godwit: 8
Dunlin: 14

Ocean Sunfish: 1

Absolutely dead this morning but picked up nicely in the late afternoon. As seems to be the case this year, low numbers of Manx but a good spread of other species. Lovely views of the Sooties in particular today, some in excellent light.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Bridges of Ross 8th Sept 2012

Time: 07:15-10:25 & 12:00-18:35
Weather: F2-3 SW, overcast, bright, clear & dry (am). F2-3 W, sunny, dry, hazy & warm (pm).
Observer(s): Niall T. Keogh, John ‘Brick’ Dempsey, ‘Er’ Neill Hunt, Barry ‘Bazzo’ McCarthy, Paul ‘Tropical’ Thomason, Noel Keogh & Joe Adamson.

Balearic Shearwater: 2
Sooty Shearwater: 59
Manx Shearwater: c.240
Fulmar: 350+
Storm Petrel: 3
Leach’s Petrel: 6
Red-throated Diver: 6 summer plumage
Great Skua (Bonxie): 17
Pomarine Skua: 1 pale subadult
Arctic Skua: 6
Kittiwake: c.140
Arctic Tern: 2
Sandwich Tern: 67
Puffin: 4
Black Guillemot: 2

Teal: 8
Common Gull: 8 juv./1st-w
Chough: 10
Merlin: 1
Peregrine: 1

Bottlenose Dolphin: c.8 present throughout the day, showing very well.
Ocean Sunfish: 3

On such a calm, warm & hazy afternoon, it felt like we were in with a chance of a Cory’s. Instead we got a most unexpected run of Leach’s Petrels! Weird.

A trip up to the Fodry this afternoon in search of American waders proved fruitless on that front but a flyover, calling Lapland Bunting and a juv. Sabine's Gull following a trawler offshore made it all worthwhile.

Bottlenose Dolphin (video grab) © Niall Keogh

Friday, 7 September 2012

Bridges of Ross 7th Sept 2012

Time: 07:30-10:30 & 12:00-19:00
Weather: F2-3 W-SW later F3 W, sea mist at first then clear, bright & dry (am). F2-3 W, sunny, dry & good vis (pm).
Observer(s): Niall T. Keogh, John ‘Brick’ Dempsey, ‘Er’ Neill Hunt, Barry ‘Bazzo’ McCarthy & Paul ‘Tropical’ Thomason.

Balearic Shearwater: 1
Sooty Shearwater: 114
Manx Shearwater: 322 (am)
Fulmar: 97 (am)
Storm Petrel: 1
Leach’s Petrel: 2
Common Scoter: 2 (male & female)
Light-bellied Brent Goose: 26
Red-throated Diver: 4 summer plumage
Great Skua (Bonxie): 16
Pomarine Skua: 1 dark subadult
Arctic Skua: 4
Sabine’s Gull: 1 juv.
Kittiwake: 55 incl. 32 juvs.
Arctic Tern: 7
Sandwich Tern: 74
Puffin: 1

Knot: 1
Chough: 2
Merlin: 1

Common Dolphin: up to 25 in the morning.
Bottlenose Dolphin: 5+ in the afternoon.

A nice spread of species today but painfully slow passage wise this afternoon. Good rush of Sooties in the first hour and a few bits of interest (close juv Sab’s in particular) in the eve.

Bonxie © Niall Keogh
Comfort is a high priority on the headland! © Niall Keogh
Cutting edge birding as ever from John  © Niall Keogh
Seatrack volunteer, Andrew Malcolm was down at his local watch site at Ram Head in Co. Waterford this afternoon. Very little seabird or cetacean action but he did have a nice Osprey fly over!

Osprey  © Andrew Malcolm

Thursday, 6 September 2012

First Grey Phals @ Bridges of Ross 6th Sept 2012

Time: 07:00-16:50
Weather: F3-4 SW, clear, bright, dry & cool (am). F4-5 SW, sunny, dry, hazy & warm (pm).
Observer(s): Niall T. Keogh, John ‘Brick’ Dempsey, ‘er’ Neill Hunt, Barry ‘Bazzo’ McCarthy & Paul ‘Tropical’ Thomason.

Balearic Shearwater: 2
Sooty Shearwater: 82
Manx Shearwater: c.400
Fulmar: c.500
Storm Petrel: 2
Common Scoter: 7 males
Red-breasted Merganser: 4
Light-bellied Brent Goose: 10
Red-throated Diver: 2 summer plumage
Grey Phalarope: 4
Great Skua (Bonxie): 12
Pomarine Skua: 2 pale adults
Arctic Skua: 8
Sabine’s Gull: 2 adults & 1 juv.
Kittiwake: 53 incl. 28 juvs.
Common Gull: 4 juv./1st-w
Black Tern: 2
Arctic Tern: 35
Sandwich Tern: 9
Puffin: 1

Whimbrel: 14
Dunlin: 4
Sanderling: 14
Greenshank: 1
Chough: 2
Merlin: 1
Kestrel: 1

Common Dolphin: 2+ in the morning.
Bottlenose Dolphin: 7 in the afternoon.

Slow passage but a nice variety of scarce species today (Pom, Balearic, Sab's, Black Tern etc). The Grey Phalaropes were the long awaited first of the season (first sightings in 2011 were as early as 24th August).

Grey Phalarope © Jerry Cassidy