Outing Report

Booterstown Marsh and Merrion Strand, Co. Dublin - 12th February 2012.

little egret

Little Egret, Booterstown Marsh. 12 February 2012
(picture: Pat Twomey)

There was a large and enthusiatic turnout of experienced and novice birders for the February outing to Booterstown Marsh and Merrion Strand. The light was good and with milder breezes than of late all was set for a rewarding session of wader identification and general renewal of acquaintances.

The group moved along the main road to the best vantage point at the north end of the marsh and had very good views of Black-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Greenshank, Knot and Dunlin, with plenty of Teal for colour contrast. One Little Egret (right), some Moorhen and Black-headed Gulls moved in the background, Siskins and Long-Tailed Tits busied themslves in the Alders, and a Kestrel and a lone Curlew made brief flyovers. The Water Rail and Snipe, which had made an appearance on the previous morning for the I-WeBS counters, were keeping a low profile, but there was plenty of advice available on where to spot such well-camouflaged residents of the marsh.

In due course the group moved to the 'best bird-hide in Dublin', i.e. the pedestrian bridge at Booterstown Station (courtesy of Irish Rail). From this elevated spot both the spread of Merrion Strand and all corners of Booterstown Marsh could be easily scanned. The tide had filled considerably since our arrival and many hundreds of Bar-tailed Godwits were now within easy reach of bins and scopes. Further out, in the direction of Howth, there were scattered flocks of Great-crested Grebes bouncing in the waves, while some Red-breasted Mergansers moved steadily towards the South Bull. In the meantime the Godwits were joined by substantial flocks of Knot and Dunlin, while a lone Pale-bellied Brent Goose was the only sign of the great flocks of geese which are visiting the Dublin area this winter. Towards Sandymount, the Black-headed Gulls were now assembled in numbers, and among them a Ring-billed Gull was spotted by a keen observer.

Many questions were asked and hopefully well answered, and much bird lore was dispensed gratis before the group dispersed. True to form, the local Kingfisher made a brief flashing appearance just as the location of its favourite perch was being disclosed to departing birdwatchers.

Frank Doyle

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