Outing Report

Cabinteely Park - 7th December 2014.

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South Dublin members assemble in the car park outside Cabinteely Park. Picture by Niall Hatch.

South Dublin members at Cabinteely Park (picture: Niall Hatch)

In recent years Cabinteely Park has been the preferred venue for the branch's National Dawn Chorus Day outing. So it felt strange to be arriving at the car park in daylight and the more civilised time of 10:30am. Weather wise it was pretty good for the time of year; coldish with mostly clear skies and well sheltered from a fresh westerly breeze.

The twenty or so South Dublin members that took part were cordially greeted by Branch Chairman Stephen McAvoy, who was leading the outing. He announced that we would make an anti-clockwise circuit of the park beginning in the wooded area behind Cabinteely House. The only birds noted before we headed off was a small flock of Linnets moving around the car park. After that, away we went.

Bullfinch acrobatics in Cabinteely Park. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Male Bullfinch, Cabinteely Park 7th December 2014 (picture: Colum Clarke)

To begin with it was quiet, very quiet, with nothing moving and just the occasional faint cheep. We ventured deeper in to the greenery and waited. Soon, some movement in a nearby tree, bins up and a female Bullfinch came in to view, looking a little to the left and there was the male. They seemed content to stay put, so did we, and all got close-up views of this attractive finch.

We moved back on to the path, and soon we could hear some Long-tailed Tits. After a short while they began giving their trilling alarm call, something was amiss. Looking up a male Sparrowhawk dashed through the trees landing in a tall pine, where he gave us some decent views as he moved around the branches. He was clearly on the prowl for an easy meal but everything had gone to ground so after about ten minutes he moved off to try his luck elsewhere. We noticed numerous Wood Pigeons moving about high in the tree tops, then some Coal and Blue Tits were seen and heard, a lone Great Tit was nearby and Blackbird, Chaffinch and Wren came out, so things were looking up.

More acrobatics, this time a Great Tit. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Great Tit, Cabinteely Park, 7th December 2014 (picture: Colum Clarke)

Leaving Cabinteely House behind we headed off towards another wooded area adjacent to football pitches where some games were in full progress. Soon a flock of Goldfinches were spotted, moving through the tree tops, thankfully some descended to a less neck-wrenching height to allow easier viewing. A Treecreeper was spotted flying across the path, landing on a tree beside us. It made its familiar mouse-like hopping progress along branches looking for food, then flying on to the next tree to begin again. During our time there we had further intermittent views of Treecreeper and it is possible there were two birds involved. After a while we left them and the footballers behind and continued our park-circuit.

Little Egret and its yellow feet. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Little Egret, Cabinteely Park, 7th December 2014 (picture: Colum Clarke)

Cabinteely Park has much more to offer the bird watcher than woodland. The Cabinteely Stream flows through it and in recent years the Parks Department of Dun Laoghaire - Rathdown County Council have created a pond near the Bray Road entrance, both of which hold a variety of water-loving birds. We headed towards the stream and pond.

Crossing one of the stream's bridges we stopped to scan in both directions. The only bird noticed was a Little Egret that was busy fishing along the bank. Moving on the short distance to the pond we saw two Mute Swans (an adult and an immature), Black-headed Gulls and Mallard, including a rather strange looking domestic duck of some sort, all swimming on it. Around the edges were a few Moorhens and at the furthest point from us moving in and out of the reeds was a Little Grebe. A Little Egret flew overhead, probably the same bird that we had just noticed. We decided to head back to the stream and walk beside it through the park.

Grey Wagtail along the Cabinteely Stream. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Grey Wagtail, Cabinteely Park, 7th December 2014 (picture: Colum Clarke)

Almost at once a Sparrowhawk dashed past us and disappeared in some trees. It happened too quickly to determine if it was a male or female, but it may have been the bird we saw earlier. We could see 50 or more Black-headed Gulls that were spread out across the grassy areas adjacent to the stream. In their midst was a single Common Gull.

By the time we reached the next bridge we had completed three-quarters of the circuit. Within seconds a Grey Wagtail flew in and landed on an exposed rock about 20 feet from us, where it began feeding. Niall Hatch remarked that it must be the most erroneously named bird on the Irish List as its most obvious features are its yellow vent and yellow-green rump and not the greyish back! A Little Egret landed near the stream and walked across the grass before flying up in to a tree, all the while showing its brilliant yellow feet to good effect.

Some More Pictures

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Female Bullfinch. Picture by Colum Clarke.

Some more pictures taken on the outing by Colum Clarke and Niall Hatch.
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Linnet in the car park trees. Picture by Colum Clarke.
Goldcrest hiding in cover. Picture by Colum Clarke.
Blue Tit. Picture by Colum Clarke.
Immature Mute Swan on the pond. Picture by Colum Clarke.
Little Grebe shows itself on the pond. Picture by Colum Clarke.
Watching Bullfinches. Picture by Niall Hatch.
Grey Wagtail bridge. Picture by Niall Hatch.

We left the Cabinteely Stream behind and headed back up the hill to our starting point and so finish up the outing. On the way we noticed two Herring Gulls, an adult and an immature but little else of note. This was our last outing of 2014 and many ended it by heading to the Park Cafe for a hot cup of Java. Here's hoping for more good birds in 2015.

Joe Hobbs

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