Monday, 29 July 2013

Seatrack Update: late July 2013 survey

The first Seatrack survey of the year took place on Sat 20th/Sun 21st July. With calm weather prevailing, a major passage of seabirds was not to be expected! Saying that, some nice sightings were logged from the various headlands surveyed right along the coast from Donegal to Dublin.

Perhaps most often thought of as being a winter visitor, some Common Scoter actually begin to arrive at post-breeding moulting sites around the Irish coast in mid-summer & a July seawatch can often reveal quite a few passing by. This was certainly the case during the Seatrack survey in question with many observers reporting flocks on the move. Another species which undergoes a strong post-breeding movement at this time of year is Mediterranean Gull, several of which were seen from sites in Leinster, on the move from breeding colonies in North West continental Europe (France/Belgium/Netherlands etc.) to traditional staging areas such as South Dublin Bay.

With the Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwater being the focal species of Seatrack, it was good to get one logged on the first survey session of the year, seen heading South past Kilcoole on the evening of the 20th. This bird, in the company of a light passage of Manx Shearwaters, was most likely moving between feeding areas around frontal systems at either end of the Irish Sea. A handful of 'Near Threatened' Sooty Shearwaters were noted from Bloody Foreland & Dursey Island, with an impressive Southward movement of over 7,600 Manx Shearwaters at the latter also.

The next Seatrack survey takes place this weekend (start time 06:45am), with a priority date set for Saturday 3rd August, to complement long running seawatching surveys being undertaken by FAME partners along the West coast of continental Europe. The current forecast gives a low pressure breaking against the South West coast from Wednesday, lasting until Saturday morning when some decent, local seabird movements may linger on for those seawatching between Cork & Wexford or potentially a more active passage along the West coast between Mayo & Clare.

If you would like to take part in this international seabird census then get in touch with Niall Keogh at for details on how to take part.

Some July Seatrack sightings reported so far as follows: (E = East, W = West, N = North, S = South & M = Milling)

Saturday 20th July

Bloody Foreland., Co. Donegal (Chris Ingram)
1 N + 1 S Sooty Shearwater, 81 N + 63 S + 200 M Manx Shearwater, 4 N + 1 S Storm Petrel, 2 S Common Scoter, 2 S + 1 M Great Northern Diver, 2 S Diver sp., 1 N Great Skua (Bonxie), 3 S Arctic Skua, 2 N Sandwich Tern, 4 N + 10 S Arctic Tern & 8 N Puffin.

Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow (Niall T. Keogh)
1 S Balearic Shearwater, 370 N + 170 S Manx Shearwater, 25 S Common Scoter, 1 N Red-throated Dover, 2 N Sandwich Tern, 9 N Common Tern, 1 N (juvenile) Mediterranean Gull, 4 N + 1 S Puffin, 2 M Black Guillemot, 2 N Harbour Porpoise & 3 M Grey Seal.

Sunday 21st July

Dursey Island, Co. Cork (Derek A. Scott & Joanna E. Scott)

1 S Sooty Shearwater, 109 N + 7,617 S Manx Shearwater, 1 N Great Skua (Bonxie), 1 S Common Gull, 1 N Basking Shark & 10 M Harbour Porpoise.

Galley Head, Co. Cork (Colin Barton)
199 W + 493 E Manx Shearwater, 15 W Common Scoter & 1 W Great Skua (Bonxie). 

Ram Head, Co. Waterford (Andrew Malcolm) 
560 W + 171 E + 150 M Manx Shearwater, 58 W Common Scoter & 11 W Great Skua (Bonxie).

Brownstown Head, Co. Waterford (Paul M. Walsh) 
85 W + 460 E Manx Shearwater, 62 W + 11 E Common Scoter, 2 W Great Skua (Bonxie), 1 E + 10 W Sandwich Tern, 1 M (adult) + 3 W (2 adults + a juvenile) Mediterranean Gull & 7 W + 1 E Puffin. 

Carnsore Point, Co. Wexford (Kieran Grace) 
138 W + 174 E Manx Shearwater, 6 E + 86 W Common Scoter, 1 E Little Tern, 100+ M 'Commic' Terns & 5 E Puffin. 

Wicklow Head, Co. Wicklow (Steve Newton) 
44 N + 50 S Manx Shearwater, 4 N Sandwich Tern & 3 S (adult + 2 juveniles) Mediterranean Gull. 

Coliemore Harbour, Dalkey, Co. Dublin (Stephen McAvoy) 
253 N + 4 S Manx Shearwater, 11 N + 8 S Common Scoter, 6 N + 4 S Sandwich Tern, 1 S Black Guillemot, 2 N + 2 S Puffin, 2 N Tufted Duck, 1 M Harbour Porpoise & 1 M unidentified Shark sp. (not Basking Shark).

Common Scoter © Mark Carmody

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