Shanganagh Park, Shankill - 8th September 2019.
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South Dublin Members at Shanganagh Park, 8th September 2019 (picture: Eleanor Keane)
September is the first outing of the season, and is one of "re-encounters". You get to catch up with fellow birders not seen during the summer months, and it is also the time of year when many species start reappearing, recovered following an exhausting breeding season.
This outing took us to Shanganagh Park, located near Shankill to the north of Bray, for the purpose of holding an "identification workshop". To begin with we spent some time sharing practical tips on how to find and identify birds, with the intention of putting them in to practice during our walk.
Robin, Shanganagh Park, 8th September 2019 (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)
The park is divided in two by the Dublin to Wexford railway line. The western side is busier with people playing sports, dog walkers, a children's playground etc., so we headed straight for the seaward side, where disturbance levels are significantly lower.
On our way, we came across the usual suspects that didn't take long to appear: Herring and Black-headed gulls, Rooks, Jackdaws, Magpies, a few Robins and Hooded crows. It was also nice to see some Barn Swallows around preparing for their autumn migration back to Africa.
Great Black-backed Gull, Shanganagh Beach, 8th September 2019 (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)
Once across the train tracks we noticed that the park becomes wilder and birding activity increases. We walked along some hedges and clocked some additional species: Goldfinch, Wren, Blackbird, Starling, Pied Wagtail, Blue Tit and Coal Tit. A large flock of twenty-plus Long-tailed Tit was spotted flying across our path, providing some with several but short views.
However, some other species that we usually take for granted were nowhere to be seen such as Chaffinch, Great Tit and Greenfinch among others. I could not help thinking about species that were taken for granted in Dublin 50 years ago and nowadays are a very rare occurrence, highlighting the importance of the conservation work undertaked by organisations like BirdWatch Ireland.
Ringed Plover, Shanganagh Beach, 8th September 2019 (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)
After 90 minutes we had spotted fifteen species and we decided to challenge ourselves to reach twenty. Heading to the beach for a last push we managed to add an additional five species to the day's tally with Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Cormorant, Great Black-backed Gull and a very distant Common Guillemot. All in all, a very pleasant outing that marked a successful opening of our birding season.