Outing Report

Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow - 7th April 2013.

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Not a migrant but still a welcome sight! Stonechat at Kilcoole. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Stonechat at Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow, 7th April 2013 (picture: Colum Clarke)

On Sunday the 7th of April 2013, the South Dublin Branch met for its annual trip to Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow to look for arriving spring migrants. Although the first returning Swallows, Sand Martins and Wheatears had been recorded by the middle of March, the weather leading (including snow and widespread frosts) up to the Outing had put a dampener on thoughts of spring. Despite the cool and blustery conditions on the day, a healthy crowd showed up punctually at 10.30 and we quickly made our way south along the beach.

Grey Heron takes flight. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Grey Heron, Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow, 7th April 2013 (picture: Colum Clarke)

Our first stop was at the nature reserve, where Mallard, Teal and Grey Heron (above) gave good views, while a Chiffchaff was heard singing from a stand of gorse at the far border. This site is good for Water Rail, and it was no surprise when one was heard calling, albeit briefly. While watching the birds in the reserve, a number of Brent Geese flew overhead (below), giving close views to all as they made their way to Webb's Field.

Offshore, a few Red-throated Divers, Cormorants and Auks were seen. We also noted our second spring migrant in the form of three Sandwich Terns flying north quite close to shore.

Pale-bellied Brent Geese over Kilcoole. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Brent Geese, Kilcoole, 7th April 2013 (picture: Colum Clarke)

From here we then walked the short distance to Webb's Field, which as usual held good numbers of ducks and Brent Geese. However, the real highlight was the group of around 100 near summer-plumaged Golden Plovers (below). At one stage, the flock moved to within 50 meters of the railway track and allowed all fantastic views of this stunning wader.

A sight for sore eyes, summer-plumaged Golden Plovers in Webb's Field. Picture by Joe Geraty.

Some of the Golden Plovers in Webb's Field, Kilcoole, 7th April 2013 (picture: Joe Gerety)

A Little Ringed Plover had been seen on a flash in the field the previous day, but try as we might, we could not turn any one of the dozen or so Ringed Plovers we observed into that rarer species. We also enjoyed good views of Little Egret, Little Grebe and a single Black-tailed Godwit. Several Skylarks were also seen performing their amazing song flights.

A final scan out to sea added Manx Shearwater and Gannet to the day list, but unfortunately these birds were only visible to those with telescopes.

Some More Pictures

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Majestic Mute Swans. Picture by Joe Geraty.

Some more of the pictures taken on the outing by Colum Clarke and Joe Geraty.
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Golden Plovers. Picture by Colum Clarke.
Black-tailed Godwits. Picture by Colum Clarke.
Little Egret coming in to land. Picture by Colum Clarke.
Teal, Black-tailed Godwit and Ringed Plover. Picture by Colum Clarke.
Pale-bellied Brent Geese in flight. Picture by Joe Geraty.

Although this was probably the first ever April outing to Kilcoole without any Swallows, Martins or Wheatears, we still managed to see a good range of species and the Outing was enjoyed by all.

Stephen McAvoy

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