Saturday, 27 June 2015

Seabird Event: Gull watch on the Green

Gull watch on the Green: Tuesday 30th June 12:30-3pm at St Stephen's Green
In conjunction with Dublin City Council

Join us on Tuesday 30th June for a free event at St. Stephen's Green, Dublin City where BirdWatch Ireland staff will be present from 12:30 until 3pm to talk about gulls and our work with seabirds as well as the general bird life which can be found around the capital. Come along and learn more about the impressive and often misunderstood gulls that call Dublin City their home.

Herring Gull © Siobhan McNamara

Did you know? Gull Facts:
  • 22 species of gull have been recorded in Ireland of which seven breed here regularly.
  • Great Black-backed Gull is the largest species of gull in the world, weighing as much as 2kg and with a wingspan of over 150cm.
  • Lesser Black-backed Gulls are accomplished migrants. Birds breeding in Ireland may travel up to 3,000km to spend the winter in Morocco.
  • Many of our large gulls may live for over 30 years. One Lesser Black-backed Gull ringed as a chick in 1965 was found after it died: 34 years, 10 months and 27 days later.
  • Both Black-headed Gull and Herring Gull are 'Red List' species of high conservation concern in Ireland due to serious declines in their breeding populations.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Guided Boat Cruise: Seabirds of Dublin Bay Biosphere

To celebrate the launch of the new Dublin Bay Biosphere, Dublin Port Company is pleased to support a guided boat cruise which will be led by staff from the BirdWatch Ireland seabird team.

The cruise will visit some of the various seabird colonies located around Dublin Bay: Black Guillemots on the River Liffey near the East Link Bridge, the Common and Arctic Tern colony near Poolbeg Power Station and impressive numbers of cliff nesting seabirds at Howth.

Date: Saturday 27th June 2015 
Time: 08:00 am - 11:00 am
Departing from and returning to Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin City (near the Samuel Beckett Bridge)
Booking: please email or call 01 2223394
Admission: €5 per person or 10 per family of four (children must be accompanied by an adult)

Proceeds from the cruise will go to the BirdWatch Ireland Save Ireland's Seabirds Appeal.


Photos courtesy of Richard Nairn, Niamh Ni Cholmain and John Fox

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Lambay Island Seabird Survey

Staff from BirdWatch Ireland conducted a census of breeding seabirds on Lambay Island off North Co. Dublin between 2nd and 8th June 2015. The work was carried out as part of the national cliff nesting seabird survey commissioned this year by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Many thanks to The Trustees of the Lambay Estate Company for their hospitality and consent to survey on the island and to Skerries Sea Tours for transport.

Below is a series of pics detailing our recent survey work on Lambay. 

(all images © Niall Keogh)

Some examples of Lambay Island cliff nesting seabird colonies

A unusual looking yellow-billed Guillemot was seen. Other examples of this aberrant colour variation have been recorded on Bardsey, Isle of May, Bass Rock and Newfoundland.

Some seabird ringing was also carried out, here allowing for an up close and personal look at a stunning 'bridled' Guillemot. An approximate total of 1.3% of Guillemots in study plots showed this plumage variation.

Puffins on Lambay Island are limited in their distribution and breeding success due to depredation by rats. They seem to be holding on however with over 250 individuals recorded by the seabird survey team.

An adult Kittiwake found tangled up in marine litter was rescued by Niall Tierney and Dr Steve Newton.

A full census of the gull colonies inhabiting the centre of the island was also carried out. Lesser Black-backed Gulls prefer to nest in the lush swathes of bluebells (pictured here) whereas Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls prefer the more open cliffs and hill tops.

We observed this mixed pair of Lesser Black-backed Gull (left) and Herring Gull (right) building a nest together. It is not unusual to find mixed pairs of gulls at busy colonies across Ireland and Britain, especially when closely related species can often nest side by side. They are capable of breeding successfully and producing some confusing looking hybrids!

Most of the Shag nests recorded on the island were still incubating eggs or tending to young chicks. A small number of fully fledged juvenile Shags, such as this bird, were also seen.

Later in the week we were joined by Heidi Acampora (PhD student at GMIT). Dead seabirds such as this Great Black-backed Gull were collected to investigate for the presence of ingested plastic as part of Heidi's research project. See the Plastic Tides blog for more information.

We also recorded other wildlife inhabiting the island during our stay including the curious population of Red-necked Wallabies (introduced here in the 1950's) with up to 30 individuals seen on any given day. Here a mother wallaby is seen with her joey.