Outing Report

Sandycove and Bulloch Harbour - 10th March 2013.

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The small harbour at Sandycove looking towards Dun Laoghaire East Pier. Picture by Marcelino Sherlock.

Sandycove Harbour on a better day (picture: Marcelino Sherlock)

Yet another challenging day for a birding outing, our third this year. We were led by Stephen McAvoy and Niall Hatch. Gale force easterly wind from which there was no place to hide, made for spectacular seascapes in all directions. As the sea washed down all the stone surfaces in Sandycove and Bulloch Harbour, we had the pleasure of getting close up sightings of Turnstone and Purple Sandpiper and before most had arrived, a pair of Redshank. The Purple Sandpipers have a high tide roost on rocks, to the right of the Forty Foot bathing area but it was not a good place to be this morning, hence the close up views. Its an ill wind....

Sandycove regulars, two Mediterranean Gulls. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Mediterranean Gulls already showing dark hoods in March (picture: Colum Clarke)

The Mediterranean Gulls of Scotsman's Bay obliged us with close views, most in full breeding plumage, and a second year Mediterranean Gull did a demi tour of the little harbour for us. A pair of Mallard, were hiding in the harbour, a local lady who feeds them daily informed me that the female has a broken wing. However there is not really anything that can be done for her, and hopefully she will survive with the help of her benefactor. A ribbon of undulating Brent Geese flew over, on their way to Kilcoole one would assume, and soon will be heading on to their breeding grounds, in Canada, and scatter across the vast tundra region, to breed.

A pair of Raven did a brief fly over, so fast that not many saw them. The local House Sparrows, very sensibly stayed indoors! However a pair of Linnet entertained us for a few minutes the male sporting a pinkish chest. Some Hooded Crows were also in attendance in the Scots Pine close to the Harbour, and Oystercatchers were seen at Newtown-Smith grassy area where there are usually good numbers of Starlings and Pied Wagtail to be seen.

Brent Geese, soon to be departing our shores for Arctic Canada. Picture by Colum Clarke.

A skein of Brent Geese over Sandycove (picture: Colum Clarke)

We also saw three Cormorants flying over almost in air display formation, heading we decided to a nice quite pond if such could be found. Out to sea Stephen spotted a Skua, and some Kittiwake, and at Bulloch Harbour there were plenty of Great Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls enjoying surfing the high winds, their usual high tide roost rocks being awash. Niall pointed out some Mediterranean Gulls and a Common Gull, and there were a large number of Black-headed Gulls in the calmer but swell affected harbour.

Purple Sandpiper and some Turnstones find a sheltered spot out of the wind. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Purple Sandpiper and some Turnstones (picture: Colum Clarke)

There was a spectacular height of sea spray constantly breaking over the rocks to the north-east side of the harbour, (behind the Western Marine building) a sight to behold and well worth getting out there to experience. Another sight that amazed was the number of swimmers taking their daily dip. It cannot have been their easiest day to keep an unbroken year round record. There were also many 'wet suited' swimmers taking the plunge, seeking a thrill in the very rough sea.

Some More Pictures

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Great Black-backed Gull rides the surf. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Some more pictures taken during the outing by Colum Clarke.
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Turnstone lunching al fresco. Picture by Colum Clarke.
Sandycove, Joyce Tower and part of the Forty Foot viewed from Scotsman's Bay. Picture by Marcelino Sherlock.

We had about twenty five people at one stage which was a good number for such a cold day, but it did dwindle a little after the first hour. Unfortunately it was not the best morning for Gull ID tips, as most were constantly in the air and the high winds made any communication very difficult. It is not just Birding that requires dedication to the task or thrill, when the weather is daunting.

Eleanor Keane

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