Sunday 29 January 2017

Kumlien's Gull 26.1.17

I first found this lovely looking first-winter Kumlien's Gull in Rossaveel Harbour last Monday evening. The light was rapidly fading which meant for some extremely poor photography conditions. Even in the poor conditions it looked like an impressive gull. My first views of it was of sitting on top of the fish processing factory and it was face onto me. The gorgeous near solid dark velvet chocolate brown coloration on the head and breast gave off a distinct New World odour, almost smiths-like. I returned two days later to try for better shots. It was in the very same spot and quickly came into bread. The wind was near gale force on the day which along with my position made it very difficult to get good open wing shots and the bird would always fly straight towards or away from me. I don't often see first-winter Kumlien's as dark as this. I've included another dark first-winter I had at Clifden Harbour back in January 2009 for comparison.

Original views on Monday 24th Jnauary. 

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Dark first-winter Kumlien's Gull, Clifden Harbour, January 2009.

Thursday 26 January 2017

Black Redstart, Waxwing & Recoveries

A few more shots from the last two weeks or so. Black Redstart that I had on the shoreline at the end of the Murlach laneway near Ballyconneely on 14th January. I had a Black Redstart here on 29th November so I'm presuming it's the same individual.

A few record shots of a lone first-winter Waxwing that was near Maam last week. It was very vocal and mobile I assume as there were no berry holding bushes or trees in the area. I later had presumably the same bird flying by about a kilometre up the road.

Two interesting recoveries during the week also. First was a Kestrel chick we ringed last summer at Errislanan which turned up in a moribund state and in very poor body condition at Pembrey, Carmarthenshire, UK on 11th November. It was handed in to Gower Bird Hospital but was too far gone and had to be put down unfortunately. It had moved a distance of at least 440km between the two sites. This is our first Connemara Kestrel recovery outside of Ireland (John Lusby has had a recovery of a Kerry bird turning up in France however). This bird had come from a brood of four chicks and was the third smallest. The youngest chick was actually too small to ring. This was one of two clutches that we ringed on the 22th June and both were very late nesters. Amazingly a chick from the other nest we ringed that same day was controlled on Cape Clear Island, Co. Cork on 25th October!
Irene O'Brien at the Errislanan Kestrel site, 22nd June 2016.

Big and small Errislanan Kestrel chicks, 22nd June 2016.

Another recovery of sorts was a Mediterranean Gull that I had in Kilkieran Harbour on 7th October 2016. It had been ringed on Lady's Island Lake, Co. Wexford as a chick. Amazingly this same bird was re-sighted afterwards on 16th December 2016 and 9th January 2017 at Funchal in Madeira! That's a distance of 2370 km between Connemara and Madeira. Coincidentally this bird was part of a county record gathering of twelve Mediterranean Gulls at Kilkieran at the same time. I've visited every now and then since but the birds disappeared shortly after this but only today I had a flock of 19 birds sheltering at the outflow from seaweed processing factory with a large number of mainly Black-headed Gulls. All of the Meds today apart from two second-winters were adults, no first-winters for some reason?
2X2N Mediterranean Gull, Kilkieran Harbour, 7th October 2016.

Wednesday 18 January 2017

Limerick Caspian Gull

I decided to twitch the second-winter Caspian Gull that was in Limerick city for the previous two days. The bird was photographed by Geoff Hunt on Sunday. It was identified from photos of several gulls that Geoff uploaded onto the UK Gulls Facebook page. I arrived down for first light. It took a while for most of the gulls to arrive back onto the river. The tide was also high which left none of the river bank exposed. I started by Saint Michaels Rowing Club where the bird had been seen over the last two days. I then moved up along the river as far a Thomond Weir where most of the gulls were initially. I was pleasantly surprised to come across an adult Yellow-legged Gull. Quite a small bird but with a pristine clean white head and underparts along with a red orbital ring and bright, thick bill. After a few hours and several trips up and down the river there was no sign until I got a call from joh Murphy who had the gull at the usual spot at 11.30. The bird quickly disappeared and after a while we decided to have a quick look for a flock of Waxwings at a nearby housing estate. No joy on that front either. We headed back into the city and while I was telling an inquisitive passer-by what we were up to, the bird flew in. It greatly appreciated the slices of bread which I produced. It didn't spend too much time on the concrete slipway but when present was quite approachable. I probably didn't hang around for more than 40 minutes only to disappear back into the ether of city buildings. This is obviously the first record for county Limerick with the only other west coast records being a first-winter at Termoncarragh Lake, Co. Mayo on 28th February 2006 and a third-winter at Killybegs, Co. Donegal from 13th to 14th March 1998.
There are only thirteen accepted records for the Republic of Ireland so they are still quite a rarity here. Looking through the list of Caspian Gull reports for Ireland on the Birdguides archive I was quite surprised at the amount of unsubstantiated records reported over the last seventeen years or so, probably more than total of accepted records. The total absence of proper documentation for most of these reports is quite disappointing I must say.

Adult Yellow-legged Gull in the early morning misty gloom.

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, phone-scoped. 
Adult Yellow-legged Gull, phone-scoped. 

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, phone-scoped. 

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, phone-scoped. 
Adult Ring-billed Gull

208P colour ringed Black-headed Gull, most likely a bird from Lough Mask, Co. Mayo.

Monday 16 January 2017

January 17 Gulls

A few shots from the last few weeks, mostly gulls unsurprisingly given the time of year.

Norwegian ringed Black-headed Gull, Loughrea, 1st January 2017. Ringed in Oslo on 22nd July 2013. Seen several times during each summer near ringing site but not outside of  Norway or during the winter months.

Polish ringed Black-headed Gull, Loughrea, 1st January 2017. Ringed on 29th May 2011. First re-sighting of the bird.

Third-calendar Lesser Black-backed Gull at Waterside, 8th January 2017. Nearly as rare as Ring-billed Gull here during the winter.

Third-calendar Lesser Black-backed Gull at Waterside, 8th January 2017. 

Third-calendar Lesser Black-backed Gull at Nimmo's Pier, 8th January 2017. 

Fourth-winter argentatus Herring Gull, Waterside, 8th January 2017. 

Fourth-winter argentaus Herring Gull, Waterside, 8th January 2017. 

Ring-billed Gull, Waterside, 8th January 2017. Very dull bare part coloration. Not one of the regulars in the city area. One of four individuals recorded so far this winter.

Adult leucistic Black-headed Gull, Nimmo's Pier, 8th January 2017. Long returning bird.

Adult leucistic Black-headed Gull, Nimmo's Pier, 8th January 2017. Long returning bird.
First-winter Iceland Gull, Rossaveel, 10th January 2017.

First-winter Iceland Gull, Rossaveel, 10th January 2017.

First-winter Iceland Gull, Rossaveel, 10th January 2017.

First-winter Iceland Gull, Rossaveel, 10th January 2017.

Little Egret, Sruthán Pier, 10th January 2017.