Friday, 26 June 2015

June 2015

A few more pics from a very busy few recent weeks between Golden Plover, Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine, more seabird surveys, etc. Mixed season for a lot breeding birds. The very cold and wet May seemed to have a bad affect on many species.
Peregrines had a very strange season. In general they had their poorest year in recent years. However we had three successful pairs in West Galway. Despite the fact that there are several traditional sites in West Galway I only came across the first successful pair two seasons ago with just the same pair being successful again last year. The pairs in the quarries in East Galway had a particularly poor year. The handful of pairs that managed to raise chicks only had ones and twos. Taken all together the productivity rate was well below what it should be for a self-sustaining population. Here's hoping for a better season in 2016.
On the Kestrel front they didn't seem to fair as badly but we just didn't have the time to visit the same number of nests that we normally would.
I found three Merlin pairs this summer each producing four chicks each. One brood were only days away from fledging so were far to big to attempt to ring.

Sandwich Tern (one of two) head found in a Peregrine nest, the only known successful coastal breeding pair this year in the entire county that we know of.

On the bog counting Golden Plover.

Roundstone Bog fording spot.

Killary Harbour
Had Merlin breeding on one of these islands this year, can you guess which one?

Kestrel nest site right beside a busy road.

Irene abseiling down for a clutch of five Kestrel chicks.

North Mayo coastline with the Stags of Broadhaven offshore. Heather cliffs here have breeding Twite, an increasing rare species in Ireland.

Portacloy, Co. Mayo.

Porturlin, Co. Mayo.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Seabird Survey 2015

Its been a hectic few weeks here lately with a lot of survey work. I haven't taken a huge amount of photos for the last month or more now. We spent three full days out on the RHIB last week doing seabird surveys. We managed to cover Duvillaun, Clare Island, Caher Island, Inishdalla and Mweelaun Island in Co. Mayo and Davillaun and Inishark with a brief stop-off at High Island in Co. Galway. Thankfully we finally managed to get the first decent spell of settled weather here this year just in the nick of time for the boat work. Clare Island held large numbers of Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes, Fulmars and a Gannet colony that is rapidly growing in size. The cliffs here are vast and at their highest reach around the 400 metre , 1,300 feet mark.

Another highlight was Caher Island which is well known for its seventh century early Christian monastery. There are still plenty of craved stone crosses on the island. An annual pilgrimage to the island by local people takes place on 15th August of each year. There were good numbers of Arctic Terns on Inishdalla also totalling around 300 individuals along with a single Little Tern.

Gannet colony on Clare Island.

Gannet colony on Clare Island.

Common Guillemots and Razorbill colony, Clare Island.

Common Guillemots and Razorbill colony, Clare Island.

Oystercatcher, Caher Island.

Oystercatcher, Caher Island.

Rock Pipit, Caher Island.

Sea stack Clare Island

The transport with Eoin and Aonghus.

Stone cross Caher Island

Stone crosses  Caher Island
Stone cross Caher Island
Stone cross Caher Island

Not exactly sure what this item is/was but it was inside the old church on the altar. This offering of money must surely be an old Celtic pagan tradition that was incorporated into the Christian religion like many other "Irish Christian traditions".