Saturday, 28 June 2014

Roof-nesting gulls: a request for records

Regular listeners to the Mooney show on RTÉ Radio 1 will already know all about the the Herring Gull family nesting on the RTÉ studio roof in Donnybrook, south Dublin (link to the Mooney show live camera Herring Gull NestWatch here).

Herring Gulls (with pale blue-grey backs and pink legs) and Lesser Black-backed Gulls (slate grey-black backs and yellow legs) have been nesting on rooftops in coastal towns and in Dublin City Centre for many years, but it seems that the habit is spreading and BirdWatch Ireland wants to track it. 

We are asking you to tell us if you know of any roof-nesting gulls near you. 

We need a postal address (or GPS coordinates), the type of building (office, factory, residence, church, etc.), the species of gull and whether or not you can see a nest and/or chicks. 

Please report your sightings to Dr. Stephen Newton, Senior Seabird Conservation Officer, at

Roof nesting Herring Gull (Photo: Darragh Owens)

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Update on BirdWatch Ireland's East Coast Tern Colonies - June 2014

BirdWatch Ireland is responsible for the protection, management and monitoring of terns at 5 key east coast colonies. Terns are small, graceful seabirds that make spectacular plunge-dives to catch small fish. Five tern species nest in Ireland:

Roseate Tern, surely one of Ireland's most graceful-looking birds
(Photo: Billy Clarke)

Now, in late June, the first chicks are hatching at most colonies so it is well worth paying a visit to one of them in the coming weeks:

Baltray, Co. Louth: 70-100 pairs of Little Terns

The colony is located at the Haven, on the north side of the mouth of the River Boyne. Drive past the entrance to Baltray Golf Club and proceed down a very poorly surfaced road to a locked gate. Park, cross the stile and walk on the track through the dunes. When you see signs warning signs (electric fences and requests to keep dogs on leashes) try to locate the warden or a volunteer  near the colony and they will give you an update. Read more on the Louth Nature Trust Little Tern Blog.

Rockabill Island, north Co. Dublin: Roseate, Common and Arctic Terns (probably at least 2,500 pairs)

This is the largest single colony of Roseate Terns in Europe.  You can follow the work of our two resident wardens via their popular "Rockablog". Landing on the island is not allowed during the nesting season, but Skerries Sea Tours run trips out to the island to view the spectacle from the boat at a safe distance.

Dublin Port: Common (400-500 pairs) and Arctic Terns (50-70 pairs)

This colony is on old ship mooring "dolphins" in the River Liffey.  It is best viewed from the Holyhead (Wales) ferries! Updates about the terns and waders of Dublin Bay are posted on our Dublin Bay Birds Blog.

Dalkey Island, south Co. Dublin: mostly Arctic Terns (40 pairs) plus one pair of Roseate Terns

Public viewing with the experts from BirdWatch Ireland's South Dublin Branch, every Tuesday evening in July (i.e., 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd & 29th) at Coliemore Harbour in Dalkey, from 18:30 to 20:00.  For more details on the Dalkey Tern Project, please see the BirdWatch Ireland South Dublin Branch website.

Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow: 108 pairs of Little Terns

The colony can be reached by an easy 15 minute walk south along the coast from Kilcoole Railway Station carpark. When you see signs and the blackboard with recent bird news, look out for a warden and they will be happy to show you the birds. Please see the wardens' Kilcoole Little Tern Blog for more information.

Dr. Stephen Newton
Senior Seabird Conservation Officer
BirdWatch Ireland