Outing Report

Swords Estuary - 10th November 2013.

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South Dublin members scanning the Swords Estuary with the M1 fly-over in the background. Picture by Niall Hatch.

South Dublin members on the Swords Estuary, 10th November 2013 (picture: Niall Hatch)

It was a beautifully bright and gentle Autumn morning when a group of about twenty South Dublin Branch members met up for a feast of delights on the Swords Estuary, which is formed by the River Broadmeadow as it makes its way to the Irish Sea further out at Malahide.

The estuary is divided in two by a railway viaduct that carries the Dublin to Belfast rail-line. Under the EU Habitats Directive it is designated as a 'Special Area of Conservation' and it is an important wintering site for wildfowl and waders, especially Brent Geese. Overall you can find a variety of habitats there such as mudflats, muddy channels, grassy islets, salt marsh, salt meadow, rocky shoreline and a large sand spit in the outer estuary known as 'The Island'. Having parked in Woodie's car park quite close to the target area we ambled down to the water's edge of the inner estuary.

Four beauties! Lapwing at Swords. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Lapwing on Swords Estuary, 10th November 2013 (picture: Colum Clarke)

Stephen McAvoy and Niall Hatch led the group and soon we were seeing a great variety of waders. There were all the usual stars and being so close to us made for easy viewing and showed off their great plumage details. Lapwings in winter plumage were very notable, showing pale heads and spectacular iridescent colouring.

There were Black-tailed Godwit, some Curlew, Dunlin and a small flock of Golden Plover living up to their golden name. They flew up and around several times in tight formation, flashing their silver underside, always a delightful sight.

Golden Plover living up to their name. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Golden Plover over the swords Estuary, 10th November 2013 (picture: Colum Clarke)

Under the motorway bridge in the reeds were some Mute Swan and then Stephen spotted one yellow bill, a Whooper Swan in their midst giving brief glimpses as it straightened up. It eventually came out of the reeds and glided majestically on the water not far from us.

We got really clear views of a group of six Snipe all busily feeding at the water's edge. The light on them showed up their head stripes and long bills beautifully. More of them appeared later so a good number were there on the day.

Resident Mute Swan (behind) and Whooper Swan, winter visitor from Iceland, mingle at Swords. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Mute and Whooper Swans at Swords, 10th November 2013 (picture: Colum Clarke)

Next excitement was a Buzzard perched on a not too distant tree, there was a stubble field behind the line of trees and he made several forays to and from the tree. Then a distant large bird to the north was identified, again by Stephen as a Red Kite and then there were two and they gave a great aerial display as they came closer before heading off again.

A couple of Grey Heron, were picked out amidst the reeds and a pair of Little Egret were daintily feeding at the water's edge. Redshank were there in large numbers and two Greenshank did their catwalk show right in front of us.

A serene Black-headed Gull on Swords Estuary. Picture by Stephen McAvoy.

Black-headed Gull at Swords, 10th November 2013 (picture: Stephen McAvoy)

A large number of Brent Geese were present as well as large numbers of Mute Swan, Black-headed and Herring Gulls. Some Wigeon, Teal, Shelduck and further out on the estuary a large group of Red-breasted Merganser were enjoying aqua aerobics as they do! Then, even further out some Goldeneye were identified but we just got distant views. A good reason to revisit the area before they leave again in spring. There were also a group of Little Grebe bobbing up and down.

Some More Pictures

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Careful! Grey Heron coming in to land. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Some more of the pictures taken on the outing by Colum Clarke and Niall Hatch.
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Followed by a Redshank. Picture by Colum Clarke
On reflection, a Greenshank. Picture by Colum Clarke
Redshank and Greenshank on patrol. Picture by Colum Clarke
Snipe feeding at the water's edge. Picture by Colum Clarke
A flotilla of Red-breasted Mergansers with the railway viaduct in the background. Picture by Colum Clarke
Lapwing, Black-headed Gulls and a Great Black-backed Gull with crab on the menu. Picture by Colum Clarke
Great Black-backed Gull with 1st winter Herring Gull in persuit. Picture by Colum Clarke
Not safe for crabs! 1st winter Herring Gull with its lunch. Picture by Colum Clarke
Starling flying over the estuary. Picture by Colum Clarke
South Dublin members scanning Swords Estuary. Picture by Niall Hatch
South Dublin members assembled beside the notice board. Picture by Niall Hatch

There were fly-overs of Yellowhammer and a flock of Linnet. As we returned to the car park we got a variety of small birds, Blue and Great Tits and a group of very busy Long-tailed Tits as well as a few Goldcrest and Blackbirds. A good bird count in just over two hours. As always many eyes increases the number of birds spotted.

Eleanor Keane

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