Thursday, January 11, 2018

Icelandic Redwing

I was back at Seafield, Quilty on the 8th January where the fields adjacent to the shore were full of Redwings and Song Thrushes, all along the coastline. While I was watching a first-winter Little Gull and some Tree Sparrows in a field where horses were feeding, I noticed this dark Redwing.  Within minutes of viewing it through the bins I was confident that it was an Icelandic Redwing Turdus iliacus coburni. It was only last year that I had a big discussion with fellow ornithologist, that I could not believe we had never fully identified this sub species in the county before.  I am sure that they have turned up here in the past, but this was the first confirmed record of the Icelandic race in the county. Note the overall darkness of the bird the clean white patch on the upper breast and the dark under-tail coverts. Apologies for the poor quality images but the bird was distant and the light poor.
 
Icelandic Redwing at Seafield John N Murphy

Monday, December 18, 2017

Pied Wheatear

I got down to Ballymacoda Beach in Cork during the middle of last week to see Irelands 4th Pied Wheatear.  I had missed the original bird found at Knockadoon in 1980 and the male bird at Loop Head in 1988 on my doorstep, and did not travel for the third bird. But this one was worth waiting for and gave excellent views for all who travelled to the Rebel county.
 
 Pied Wheatear, Cork John N Murphy

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Hawfinches Return

It was 1988/89 when I first saw Hawfinch in Ireland.  That winter Gerry Butler found a flock of 92 at the Curraghchase in Limerick. At the time I was ringing lots of birds and Tom Tarpey set up nets early one winters morn and we managed to catch a couple of these chunky finches.  I subsequently had one visit my bird table when I lived in Shannon Town two years after the mass invasion of the late 80's.  Since then birds have been found on and off at the Curraghchase with possible  breeding suspected.  This year with the masses coming through Britain and western Europe, it was only a matter of time before they showed up at the Curraghchase. I'm delighted they have done so as they really are a mighty bird.  We still only have three records for Clare, but given the numbers about this year, I'm sure one or two will pop up in gardens over the winter. Here are a few long range shots of birds in the Curraghcahse from last week.
 
Hawfinch at the Curraghchase John N Murphy


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Still no White-billed Diver

I travelled to Finvarra Point in North Clare yesterday to try and see the adult White-billed Diver that Eric Dempsey found during the week.  Two hours at the Martelloe Tower and still no joy. This is the third time a bird has been found from this location, the same spot where myself and my buddy  Finbarr located the Pacific Diver some years back.  I have been searching for over 30 years for White-billed off the north Clare coast and memories of long winter days with an old friend Andy Smith searching for this Arctic visitor flood back to mind on every visit.  Here are a few shots of the many Great Northern's that accumulate off Finvarra Point. There were also 19 Black-throated Divers far off shore.
Great Northern Diver off Finvarra Point John N Murphy

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Twite bring in the winter

I was out and about yesterday in the misty wet rain and got as far as Clahane near Liscannor Bay.  There were over 50 Rock Pipits feeding the roadside on high tide and a small mixed flock of finches with three lovely Twite among'st them.  Here are a few shots of the birds that I took out the window of the car in the miserable conditions.
 
 Twite at Clahane John N Murphy

Monday, October 30, 2017

Radde's Warbler

I was birding Loop Head Lighthouse and Headland early this morning when I located a Radde's warbler along a hedgerow near the west bank.  The bird was elusive for the first hour and skulked away but later in the day it displayed very well for all who came to view it. This is a first county record of this rare Siberian vagrant to Clare.
 
Radde's Warbler at Loop Head John N Murphy

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Birding Rosslare Port

I was working in south Wexford during the week and I had the opportunity to visit Rosslare Port for half an hour to search for a few stray migrants.  There was a Common Redstart along the seawall with two Black Redstarts, three Northern Wheatears, five Swallows and a White Wagtail.

 Black Redstart John N Murphy
Common Redstart John N Murphy
Wheatears at Rosslare John N Murphy