Thursday, April 14, 2011

1991 Bird Report

Black-headed Bunting © John N Murphy

By John N Murphy

Birding began early at Loop in 1991.   There were no spring visits but one of the earliest seawatches to date was carried out on 13th June.  This was followed on 17th July by the finding of the first mega rarity of the year.  A male Black-headed Bunting was located on the road half way between the Light and Walshe's Farm.  This augured well for the rest of the season. Little did we know that this would be the start of what was a good season at Loop Head for new species to this region.

A few additional seawatches took place in late July due to adverse weather.  But little of note was observed during these early seawatches.  The end of August saw the arrival of the next interesting passerine, when a  Melodious Warbler was found in Kilbaha on the 28th. The next day 1st September weather shifted to the south west more suitable for seawatching than land-birds.  One adult Long-tailed Skua was the highlight along with 40 Leache's Petrels, 2,300 Sooty Shaerwaters and 3 Sabine's Gulls.   

Passerine ringing did not begin the 7th September. The first day the nest were erected a Reed Warbler was caught and ringed at Lillis's and a Pied Flycatcher was trapped Marty Keanes place next to Walshes farm.  The following day another Pied Flycatcher turned up and was joined by a Garden Warbler.

Mid-September the weather tuned once more to the west and no land migrants showed up.  This weather pattern was prolonged and continued right into October. With this, seawatching did obviously pick up and over a two week period there were plenty of good birds including one Little Shearwater,  Long-tailed Skuas, 1,000's of Great Shearwaters, Sabine's Gulls, Leache's Petrels and a Forster's Tern on October 1st.

The first Snow Bunting appeared on 1st October and it was not till the 10th of the month that some good migrants arrived in Kilbaha.  A Red-breasted Flycatcher, Redstart, Garden Warbler and Blackcaps arrived on an Easterly airflow. Then on the 12th October only two days after the easterly fall, a Grey-cheeked Thrush was caught in Gibson's garden on North-easterly conditions?  Something no one would have expected. This was the third ever major North American vagrant to Loop Head and the first record of this species away from Cape Clear.

Needless to say, the weeks following the arrival of the Grey-cheeked Thrush were fairly slow and dismal.  Weather once again was a battle, and it was hard to work at net sites due to gusty wind conditions.  A few weeks had passed with a trickle of bird activity when on the 26th October a Yellow-browed Warbler was caught.  This was the last highlight of the Loop Head BO year,  rounding off what was a fairly productive season, even though the weather played havoc for the best part of a month.

Systematic List

Red-throated Diver
Two passed the Bridges of Ross on Sept 15th, 3 on Sept 17th.

Black-throated Diver
Two passed the Bridges on Sept 17th, with 2 more there on Sept 18th.

Great Northern Diver
One passed the Bridges on Sept 16th. 

114 were at Ross on 13th June, 300 per hour at Bridges on July 24th, 

Cory's Shearwater
One was seen on aug 29th.

Great Shearwater
700-1000 in one hour at Bridges on Sept 14th, 1 Sept 16th, 1 on Sept 17th, 1 on Sept 18th.

Sooty Shearwater
200 - 300 per hour at Bridges on Sept 14th, 20 Sept 15th, 1 on Sept 18th.

Manx Shearwater
There were 210 at the Bridges of Ross on June 13th, 660 per hour on July 24th, .

Balearic Shearwater
Two at the Bridges on Sept 16th.

Storm Petrel
40 were at the Bridges of Ross on the June 13th, 49 were at Loop Head on the night of June 16th/17th, 60 per hour at Bridges on July 24th, 3 on Sept 18th, .

Wilson's Petrel
A bird was seen very close in, at about 150m, on Aug 15th.  This is the second from the Bridges of Ross.  

Leach's Petrel
One was caught and ringed at loop Head on the night of 16th/17th June.  This was the first summer record and probably a bird that breeds on the island in Kerry.  40 at Bridges on Sept 14th, 2 on Sept 17th, 2 on Sept 18th, 

There were 28 at the Bridges on june 13th, 

Peak count, 25 on Nov 10th and 11th.

Six was the highest count in the year.

Grey Heron
Recorded most days in autumn, with five the peak count.

Mute Swan
One flew westwards over Kilbaha on Nov 5th.

Whooper Swan
Seven flew eastwards over Killbaha on 4th Nov.

Brent Goose
Three records, one Sept 5th, with 6 on Sept 6th and Nov 2nd.

4, on Sept 9th, was the 2nd site record.

16 passed Ross on Oct 30th.  This is the first site record.

Present after Oct 2nd.  40, on Oct 26th, was the best count.

30, on Oct 18th, was the best count.

Common Scoter
Three at Bridges on Sept 18th, .

Red-breasted Merganser
Two passed the Bridges on July 24th.

1 at Kilbaha on Aug 28th, 1 Sept 16th.

Hen Harrier
Female on August 28th.

Recorded on 14 days; peak of three birds.

1 -2 on the headland on August 27th & 28th.

One was seen at the Light on Oct 18th.  This is the 2nd record.

Recorded on 12 days; peak of two birds.

One record.

150 were recorded on a seawatch on Sept 19th.  Up to 60 daily.

Ringed Plover
Regular, 34 at Ross Bay on Nov 7th was a peak count.

Golden Plover
55 on Oct 6th was the first sighting.  14 to 54 regularly from Oct 13th to 24th. No records thereafter in contrast to other years.

Grey Plover
2 on Nov 11th was the only record.

No records before Oct 13th when 4 seen.  Up to 60 daily to the end of October.  90 to 150 regular after Nov 6th.  Peak of 320 on Nov 7th.

One was seen on Aug 29th.

One was seen on Aug 29th and 12 on a seawatch on Sept 5th.

One was seen on Sept 8th.

4 on Aug 15th and 6 on Nov 7th were the only records.

30-  40 daily, peak of 144 on Sept 9th.

Grey Phalarope
Five passed the Bridges on Sept 14th, 1 on Sept 17th, 20 on Sept 18th, .

Regular, with no more than 10 in a day.

Three records of single birds, on Sept 9th, Nov 7th and 11th.

Few up to Oct 16th.  4 to 16 regular thereafter.  Peak of 25 on Nov 11th.

Green Sandpiper
Two at Kilbaha on August 27th with one remaining to 28th.

Three records of single birds, on Oct 21st, Nov 4th and 5th.

Bar-tailed Godwit
Three were seen on a seawatch on Sept 5th.

4 on Aug 15th was the first recorded.  There were six records of 1 to 3 birds.  40 were seen on Sept 5th on a seawatch at Ross.

90 were seen on Aug 30th and 100 were recorded on three days in late October and early November.

Great Skua
Two at the Bridges on July 24th,  70 on Sept 14th, 10 on Sept 16th, one on Sept 17th, 15 on Sept 18th, one on

Pomarine Skua
5 adults at Bridges on Sept 14th, 3 on Sept 17th, 12 on Sept 18th. 

Arctic Skua
Two passed the Bridges on July 24th, 20 on Sept 14th, 1 on Sept 15th, 1 on Sept 16th, one on Sept 17, 6 on Sept 18th, .

Long-tailed Skua
One adult at Bridges on Sept 14th, one immature on Sept 17th, two immatures on Sept 18th, .

Little Gull
One juvenile at Ross on September 15th, 2 juveniles on Sept 17th, 2 juveniles on Sept 18th, 

Sabine's Gull
There were 3 juveniles at Bridges on Sept 14th, two juveniles on Sept 15th, 1 juvenile on Sept 16th, 

Black-Headed Gull
64 the peak count for Sept/Oct.  Up to 92 recorded in early November.

Common Gull
Fourteen records, with a peak of 10 on Oct 21st.

Lesser Black-backed Gull
Seen on only two days, both in September. However, Sept 5th produced an unusual count of 35 birds.

Herring Gull
Bred. 20 was the peak count on Sept 8th.

Great Black-backed Gull
Bred.  65 was the peak count, on Oct 26th.

130 were seen off the Bridges of Ross on June 13th, 90 per hour on July 24th.

Sandwich Tern
Few seen; all were recorded from Sept 5th, to Sept 19th.  20 on Sept 19th was the peak count.

Common Tern
Three records; 1 on Sept 5th, 8 on Sept 8th and 3 on Sept 19th.

Arctic Tern
Seen on six days; highest numbers were 60 on Aug 15th, 45 on Sept 5th, 34 on Sept 6th and 76 on Sept 19th.

Black Tern
One juvenile was seen off Ross on Sept 15th.

No census of colonies.  16 were observed at the Bridges of Ross on June 13th.

No census of colonies.  44 were observed at the Bridges of Ross on June 13th.

Auk Species
Best counts were 530 on Sept 19th and 250 on Sept 23rd.

One swimming in the sea at Bridges on July 24th.

Rock Dove
Four records up to end September, with a high of 7.  Regular after Oct 14th, with a peak of 20 on Oct 22nd.

Seen on 8 days, with a peak of 3.

A good autumn! Highest counts were...  30 on Sept 9th, 53 on Sept 30th, 30 on both Oct 16th and 19th.  60 was the peak on Nov 2nd.

Bred. 200-250 on Aug 28th.

Short-eared Owl
One was at the Sallows on Oct 25th.

Meadow Pipit
Highest counts... 500 on Sept 8th, 180 on Sept 15th, 300 on Sept 30th and oct 19th.  90 was the highest daily count after Oct 20th.

Rock Pipit
Under recorded.  The peak count was 25 birds.

Grey Wagtail
Resident. Seen almost daily, with 5 the highest count.

Pied Wagtail
Resident. 45 on the shoreline in Kilbaha Harbour on Aug 28th.

Resident.  25 on Nov 11th was the highest count.

Resident. 28 were present on Nov 3rd.

Resident.  30 was the highest day's count.

Black Redstart
Only one recorded.  A single bird was seen in Kilkbaha on Oct 21st.

A juvenile male was trapped in Lillis's haggard on Oct 21st.

Up to 30 counted daily, with a peak of 40 on Oct 22nd.

Mostly seen singly.  5 were present on Oct 2nd.  The latest bird was seen on Oct 24th.

Grey-cheeked Thrush
One was caught and ringed at Gibson's garden, Kilbaha on 10th October.  This was first for Clare and only the fourth for Ireland.  Previous three birds were all found on Cape Clear in Cork.

8 was the highest count up to Oct 14th.  Up to 20 were regular thereafter.  30 were counted on Oct 19th and nov 4th.  many of the late birds were obviously migrants with visible movements eastwards along the peninsula noted.

The first was a single bird, on Oct 16th.  Seen almost daily after that, in small numbers. 30, on Oct 19th, was the highest count.

Song Thrush
Bred.  Very small trickle of migrants.  Peak of 12 on Nov 4th.

The first bird was seen on Oct 16th.  The peak was 80 on october 19th.

Mistle Thrush
Bred.  2 seen almost daily after Oct 20th.

Grasshopper Warbler
Summer visitor.  No summer census.

Sedge Warbler
Present at Kilbaha in summer.  3 in reedbed at Kilbaha on Aug 28th.

Reed Warbler
One caught and ringed in Kilbaha on Sept 7th.

Melodious Warbler
One in the sallows at the back of Keatings Pub on Aug 28th.

Lesser Whitethroat
One was trapped in the reeds at Kilbaha on Oct 16th.  This is the first site and county record.

Garden Warbler
Three records, Two were trapped at Kilbaha, on Sept 15th and 30th.  A third was killed at the Light and found freshly dead there on Oct 21st.

18 records, as follows...

September: 2 on 15th.     October: 2 on 16th        November: 1 on 3rd
                     1 on 19th                      1 on 19th                            1 on 5th
                     1 on 29th                      2 on 20th                            3 on 6th
                                                          1 on 22nd                           1 on 7th
                                                          1 on 25th
                                                          1 on 26th

38 birds seen, 5 in September, 29 in October, 4 in early November.

Willow Warbler
8 on Aug 27th and 28th, 6 Sept 15th.

Spring... 7 ringed on March 31st.
Autumn... peak counts were 2o on Sept 16th, Oct 13th, 23rd, 24th and 25th.  
Numerical breakdown was as follows;

Sept: 62     Oct: 154     Nov: 38

Spotted Flycatcher
10 bird-days, involving 5 to 6 birds, from Aug 31st to Oct 19th.

Pied Flycatcher
One caught and ringed at Kilbaha on Sept 7th with a second bird being caught on Sept 8th.

Coal Tit
Single birds were seen on Sept 15th/16th and Oct 21st/22nd.

Blue Tit
Usually up to 25 per day regularly counted.

Great Tit
Up to 10 recorded daily.

Up to 45 recorded daily. 

Recorded almost daily, with a peak of 8 on Oct 14th.

From 17th/18th Oct, big movements were observed.  300 were seen on Oct 18th, a massive 2,000 on 19th, 300 on 21st, 600 on 22nd, 200 on 25th.
In November there were 500 on the 2nd, 800 on the 3rd, 400 on the 5th, 150 on the 6th.
This year more Rooks than usual were moving with the Jackdaws.  Birds moved S or SW in the Kerry direction on Oct 19th.  60 on oct 25th went west very high but returned.  100 -150, on Nov 3rd, flew due west, rising to about 1000-5000 feet and disappeared from binocular vision westwards.

Far more present than in any previous year.  Peak counts were as follows... Oct; 500 on the 19th, 200 on 21st, 150 on 22nd.  Nov; 100 on 2nd, 200 on 3rd, 100 on 4th, 150 on 5th, 200 on 6th, 100 on 7th.

Hooded Crow
Maximum of 20 on three days in late October and early November.

1 - 5 usually seen daily.  9, on Nov 6th, was the highest count.

More present in September than usual, with 800 on the 9th, 1000 on the 15th and 500 on 16th.  Late Oct numbers normally ranged from 70-250, with 400 on the 26th.  300-500 were recorded on five days in early November.

House Sparrow
Up to 45 recorded daily.

Tree Sparrow
Three at Kilbaha on Sept 8th.

The only September records were 2 and 3 on the 29th/30th.  October passage was thin until the 19th, when 250 appeared.  200 to 220 were seen daily from Oct 21st to 25th, and reasonable conditions permitted good trapping, with 154 ringed.  100 was the peak count on 2nd and 5th Nov.
A female, ringed in Cleveland, England, on 25.3.90, was caught on Nov 4th.  Presumably this bird was on its way back to Europe when ringed.

Recorded on 10 days, an unusually high incidence for the area. There were 2 records in Sept, 5 in Oct and 3 in Nov.  8 to 12 were seen on Oct 18th - 20th, otherwise 1 to 2 birds involved. 

Commoner than usual, with 14 records between Oct 15th and Nov 10th.  10 to 12 were seen on Oct 20th-25th.

Present on 9 days.  The earliest were 3, on Sept 30th. Most were seen from Oct 14th onwards, with a maximum of 3 in any day.

Up to 80 in early Sept, building to 120 by Sept 29th.  30 to 180 (on Oct 14th) was the October range.  Numbers declined after Oct 22nd and 50 was the peak thereafter.

Seven records, from Sept 15th onwards, 5, on Oct 26th, was the maximum in a day, otherwise 1-3 seen.

Lapland Bunting
Two were seen flying over Connolly's on Oct 19th.

Snow Bunting
Scarce.  1-2 seen on six days from Oct 7th onwards.

Reed Bunting
25 again the daily maximum.

Black-headed Bunting
One adult male was on the Lighthouse road on the morning of June 17th and was last seen in the same area the following day June 18th.  This was only the fourth Irish record of this species.