Outing Report

Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow - 8th September 2013.

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South Dublin members scanning the Flooded Field at Kilcoole. Picture by Niall Hatch.

South Dublin members at Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow, 8th September 2013 (picture: Niall Hatch)

After the summer break it was time to get the show on the road again with our first outing of the new season taking us to Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow. By 10:30 about 25 has gathered in the station car park to be greeted by Stephen McAvoy and Niall Hatch. Niall announced that Sean Hogan would lead a beginners group while the remainder should go with Stephen and Niall. The weather was looking good; partly cloudy with a light westerly breeze and best of all, the rain showers had stopped.

Kilcoole outings begin in the car park and looking up we could see plenty of Swallows and some House Martins. They were feeding non-stop, fueling up for the long trip ahead. Also present were some Greenfinch, Blackbird, a Song Thrush on a wire, a Collared Dove and another that would shortly depart our shores, a Willow Warbler.

A Greenfinch among the greenery at Kilcoole. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Greenfinch at Kilcoole, 8th September 2013 (picture: Colum Clarke)

As we were crossing the railway lines we noticed a Goldfinch sitting on top of some brambles. Once across we turned south along the grassy path but were soon stopped in our tracks as a Wheatear was spotted on the railway fence. It lingered for a while before flying off. We then proceeded to a point where we could get a clear view over the Flooded Field, which is a BirdWatch Ireland reserve. On top of some gorse was a Reed Bunting, showing itself very well. Elsewhere there were Wren, Stonechat, a male Pheasant sitting tight in the grass and plenty of Wood Pigeons; in stubble fields, sitting in trees and in flight, a flock of Linnets, a Moorhen and a Mute Swan; a Water Rail was heard but we had no luck locating it.

All this time there were big numbers of Swallows and House Martins in the air and while scanning through them Stephen McAvoy spotted a Sparrowhawk way off to the south. It obliged by heading north and some decent views were had, especially through scopes. Later on during the morning, another Sparrowhawk was spotted high to the west but we could not decide for certain if it was the same or a different individual.

A very agile Reed Bunting in the Flooded Field at Kilcoole. Picture by Joe Geraty.

Reed Bunting at Kilcoole, 8th September 2013 (picture: Joe Geraty)

We next moved further south along the grassy / sandy path until we were looking into Webb's Field. More Reed Buntings were spotted straight away and a Sedge Warbler, which soon disappeared. Then a female Kestrel was spotted sitting on a post. It didn't seem to be in a hurry and hung around allowing everyone to get good views of it through scopes. We also saw Meadow Pipit's, a single Skylark, a female Pheasant, a Stock Dove in flight with 3 Wood Pigeons and more Swallows and House Martins overhead.

Joe Geraty was scanning a stubble field further off when he suddenly shouted Hen Harrier! He had brief views of a Ringtail as it flew low across an open gate before it flew out of sight behind hedges and trees. Unfortunately that was all that was seen of it and despite our best efforts, we could not refind it. We had better luck with Buzzard; at first a single bird was seen soaring nonchalantly way off to the west. Later Fianna MacGinley was scanning when she saw what may have been a Sparrowhawk flying low from left to right, then lost it, subsequently picking up another bird of prey that flew in the direction of the Sugarloaf where it joined with 3 others and she realised that all 4 birds were Buzzards, what a sight! They moved right towards the Little Sugarloaf, at which point they disappeared quite suddenly. During this time two of them were sparring in the air, quite a spectacular, if brief show.

Mute Swan at Kilcoole, a picture of elegance. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Mute Swan at Kilcoole, 8th September 2013 (picture: Colum Clarke)

On moving further south we were able to get clearer views of the many channels and pools in Webb's Field where there were good numbers of wildfowl and waders as well as Grey Heron and Little Egret. Along with a couple of Mute Swans, there were Wigeon, Teal, Mallard and Shelduck. While scanning some channels further off Sean Geraty picked up 3 Shoveler in the company of a Wigeon.

There were Curlew and Redshank sitting on 'islands' between the channels. A Dunlin flew close overhead as it headed in to the marsh and later an Oystercatcher calling loudly was seen to fly in. There were plenty of Lapwings too, both on the ground and in the air.

A view over Kilcoole Marsh with the Little and Big Sugarloafs in the distance. Picture by Dick Coombes.

A view over Kilcoole Marsh towards the Wicklow Mountains in the distance (picture: Dick Coombes)

The great variety and number of birds that we saw in and around the marsh was not repeated out to sea or on the shore-line. Soon after we crossed the tracks a group of between 20 and 30 Gannets and about 10 Kittiwakes were seen, but they were distant and difficult to see clearly. Some Cormorants were about, mostly in flight and there were Shags sitting on the sea far out. Apart from the Kittiwakes the other gulls seen were some Black-headed, Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. The beach area was quiet with just a Pied Wagtail that was fly-catching near the water's edge noticed.

Some More Pictures

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Reed Bunting. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Some more of the pictures taken on the outing by Joe Geraty, Colum Clarke and Niall Hatch.
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A different Reed Bunting. Picture by Colum Clarke
Stonechat. Picture by Joe Geraty
Sedge Warbler. Picture by Colum Clarke
South Dublin members at Kilcoole, 8th September 2013. Picture by Niall Hatch

On arrival back in the station car park some House Sparrow were spotted flying down from brambles to a small stream, clearly enjoying themselves, splashing water everywhere as they washed and preened. Then someone shouted Buzzard and sure enough there was one high to the west, which was soon joined by a second. Its not possible to be certain but most likely they were part of the group of 4 that were seen earlier.


Just as we were about to head off Niall Hatch got a brief view of an unstreaked Acrocephalus warbler diving in to some Fuchsia behind the car park. The general consensus was that it was a Reed Warbler. Despite much searching it was not refound, although we did enjoy the consolation of a Chiffchaff, the final bird to be seen on a great outing.

Joe Hobbs

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