Outing Report

Tolka River Estuary - 8th March 2015.

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South Dublin members alongside the Tolka River in Clontarf. Picture by Rachel Hynes.

South Dublin members in Clontarf, 8th March 2015 (picture: Rachel Hynes)

Twenty five of us turned up at the car park opposite The Yacht Club Pub in Clontarf expecting the balmy conditions of the previous day when the temperature had reached 18°C. Instead we stood in 8°C and contended with a strong wind-chill factor. But we are hardy birders so no one turned round and went home! Nothing much to see at the start but a number of Brent Geese and a lot of Black-headed Gulls, the latter in all stages of plumage.

After a while two Grey Herons were spotted perched in some trees across the water, easy to see as their white chests stood out against the dark green of the pines. Looking below them two Red-breasted Mergansers showed well when they were on the surface, but a little patience was required as they were busy fishing. Watching them, the white lower neck and perky hair style stood out well, as they swam upstream against the wind. And further along a Great Crested Grebe seemed to be following them, it's crown of coloured head feathers appearing to be ready for the breeding season. If you live near a lake with Grebes, do try and catch them doing their spectacular and elegant courtship dance during April and May. Someone looking up towards the arches of the bridge spied a Little Grebe but he proved quite elusive for some of us to spot.

A Peregrine Falcon surveys its territory from the Pigeon House. Picture by Rachel Hynes.

Peregrine Falcon, Pigeon House, 8th March 2015 (picture: Rachel Hynes)

Thinking there was little around we searched harder and on a shingle stony beach a stone moved... it alerted us to about one hundred Redshank roosting closely with some Greenshank. Such wonderful camouflage and except for the movement we might well have passed them by. Two Teal dabbled along the edge also.

The group moved on and found a good and welcome sheltered spot behind a clump of trees. From within the clump of trees the song of the Goldcrest was tantalisingly close but not visible. From this spot Goldeneye duck were seen, the male's white blob on his cheek very eye-catching. A Black Guillemot flew by with its rapid wing beats and white wing patch. Ten or maybe twelve Whimbrel flew overhead, very early migration we thought but they may well linger hereabouts while en route to their breeding grounds in Iceland or Northern Europe.

South Dublin members alongside the Tolka with the Pigeon House in the background. Picture by Rachel Hynes.

Alonside the Tolka River, 8th March 2015 (picture: Rachel Hynes)

Stephen McAvoy, who watches this area regularly directed us to the Pigeon House chimneys where a Peregrine Falcon was sitting on a wire half way up. There is a nesting platform for the Peregrines to breed on, attached to the chimney. We were fortunate to have quite a few gulls roosting on a small wall so some of the group kindly shared their ID skills on differentiating between Black-headed and Common Gulls. Small birds were hiding from the wind but we saw Linnet, Goldfinch, Pied Wagtail and on our return walk we watched a Buzzard being mobbed by a Hooded Crow.

It was a good morning out and for many of us a new spot to scope in future. Thanks to those who organised it and to our leaders on the day. It was also a pleasure to have some bird watching companions from north of the Liffey with us for the morning.

Aileen Prole

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