waxwing

Outing Report

Killiney Hill - 18th May 2013.

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A happy band of South Dublin birders on Killiney Hill. Picture by Lucy Desiredo.

South Dublin members on Killiney Hill, 18th May 2013 (picture: Lucy Desierdo)

Killiney Hill has been a public park since 1887 when it was called Victoria Park, and was enlarged in the 1930's when Dun Laoghaire Corporation purchased the remainder of Dalkey Quarry and the lands at Burmah Road, bringing the total area up to 200 acres.

It is a wonderful place to walk and birdwatch or to just be. It was a real pleasure to have Michael Ryan, who knows the area so well, lead the walk this morning, along with Lucy Desierdo, who has a great ability to spot any bird that moves, and Robert Fennelly who has a background in Botany and so was able to give us some insight of the flora in the area. Twenty seven people assembled in the car park at 9am, full of enthusiasm on a cool and dry if slightly breezy morning.


Greenfinch giving it socks on Killiney Hill. Picture by Michael Ryan.

Greenfinch in song, 18th May 2013 (picture: Michael Ryan)

We set off on our tour through the wooded part of the hill and got good views of Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Robin, and several Wrens heard but not seen. Michael pointed out to us a young Elm Tree, and he and Robert, showed us how to identify any Elm Tree by noticing its asymmetrical leaf base, identifying which particular type is a little more difficult.

Onwards past the Tower Café, no time to stop, and up towards the Obilisk, a prominent local Landmark built in 1742 as an employment project by the then owner, John Mapas. On our upward walk we saw more Chaffinch, one female gathering nesting material, a bit late in the season, but with the spring we have had who knows. Robert informed us that the area at the top of the steps and to the right, as one ascends from Killiney village is a good place to see Purple Hairstreak Butterfly, Mid July / August is the time to watch out for them.


Chiffchaff in full view. Picture by Michael Ryan.

Chiffchaff on the Hill, 18th May 2013 (picture: Michael Ryan)

Chiffchaffs were calling and we got some clear views of a calling bird, for many a first view of this delightful summer visitor. Killiney is quite a good place for Chiffchaff but few Willow Warblers frequent the area, and we did not hear any calling this morning. While peering at a tree for Chiffchaff, a magnificent male Bullfinch gave us a great if somewhat brief showing, again a first for some of the group and a delight to see every time.

Overlooking the sea in at the Obelisk is a large, exposed granite outcrop, which Michael told us is a great place to see Greyling Butterflies in July / August. They like to rest on the granite and soak up the heat! They blend in so well with the granite as their name suggests, the area needs close inspection to spot them.


A Raven does a fly-by for the group. Picture by Michael Ryan.

Raven over Killiney Bay, 18th May 2013 (picture: Michael Ryan)

A Song Thrush sat up but remained silent. As we made our way along the 'Green Road' overlooking the Vico Road and Killiney Bay, there were some Great Black-backed, and Herring Gulls active but remarkably quite otherwise. Then at last a pair of Ravens did a fly by and some nice aerial turns. They have had a nest in the area and produced three young this year.

Next a Sparrowhawk made a brief appearance down below us. It felt like a different country on this eastern side of the Hill, out of that cool breeze. The birds appeared more freely in this warmer and almost sunny side. As we went to the 'wild area' at the seaside of the Vico Road we had great sightings and song from Linnet, Greenfinch and Blackbird and heard several Blackcap, but they remained hidden as they are wont to do. Some Long-tailed Tits put in an appearance, and we heard the distinctive Goldcrest song.


One of the elusive Killiney Whitethroats. Picture by Nuala Freeman.

Whitethroat, Killiney Hill, 18th May 2013 (picture: Nuala Freeman)

There have been a pair of Whitethroat in this area for the past couple of weeks, but were not coming out and as soon as most of the group moved further along, of course they appeared and were spotted by Lucy and the few who remained. However I can say that they are there every day and with some patience are easy to spot, as their scratchy song is quite catchy, as is their flighty behaviour and they sit up quite prominently when they sing. They are well worth waiting around for, as they are now relatively unusual to find in such an accessable area.

Cormorant and Shag could be clearly seen on the sea and on rocks at the water side. There were also Guillemot and Black Guillemot about and Gannets which had been closer to the coast and diving earlier, were now much further out. They come closer to the shore in my experience in rougher sea conditions. A Peregrine Falcon appeared briefly over the hill and disappeared, and can often be seen when walking in the area. We caught a fleeting glimpse of a Fulmar, a few are nesting in the area, having given up hope of seeing any.


Some More Pictures

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Greenfinch and Linnet, best of friends! Picture by Michael Ryan.

Some more pictures taken during the outing by Michael Ryan and Nuala Freeman.
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Linnet. Picture by Michael Ryan.
Chaffinch gathers some dog hair for its nest. Picture by Nuala Freeman.
The Raven has landed! Picture by Nuala Freeman.
Looking west from Killiney Hill towards Cherrywood and the Dublin Mountains. Picture by Michael Ryan.

It was now approaching midday and at last a Song Thrush gave a recital, to send us our on our way. Among birds we missed on the day were Treecreeper, Dunnock, Mistle Thrush, Great Tit (heard briefly) and Terns over the sea. A good reason if one is needed, to return there soon, with eyes and ears alert.


Eleanor Keane


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