Outing Report

Avondale House, Co. Wicklow - 12th April 2015.

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South Dublin members assemble in the car park at Avondale House. Picture by Stephen McAvoy.

South Dublin at Avondale, 12th April 2015 (picture: Stephen McAvoy)

The morning certainly was not the kind of day most of us would leap out of bed, open the curtains and say "yes, let's go bird watching"!! It was very windy, the skies were black and the rain was lashing down. But when did that ever deter the members of South Dublin BirdWatch Ireland? At 10:30am a group of twenty met at Avondale House near Rathdrum, and thankfully the rain had stopped and the wind had eased.

The morning was an ideal time for people to either learn or brush up on a good number of bird songs, and whilst still in the car park we could hear Coal and Great Tits calling and so all of us could be sure how to differentiate between the two. In fact all four members of the tit family were seen, adding Blue and Long-tailed Tit later in the morning.

Also in the car park we observed Rooks nesting in high trees, with some sitting on the nest. We had good views of Robins, a Song Thrush and many Chaffinch as we moved towards the house. Here two pairs of Jackdaws were busy building their nests in the chimney pots. We remarked on how fortunate those home-makers were as there can't have been any wire in place to prevent them nesting there. There will be messy fireplaces soon!

South Dublin members at altitude. Picture by Stephen McAvoy.

Seeking higher ground at Avondale, 12th April 2015 (picture: Stephen McAvoy)

Further on along the higher path we admired the wonderful variety of conifers and saw Goldcrest and fleeting glimpses of Siskin. Then a Chiffchaff called, but was difficult to see, however always a great sound to herald the spring. A little later as we continued down towards the river we heard a "mewing" call and whilst we wondered exactly who it belonged to a Sparrowhawk flew into view and circled around the area. Our leader, Stephen McAvoy, thought it a female judging by the size. A few of the group had not managed to see the bird, but she duly obliged by flying past again and this time we all got a sighting. We realised how quiet it had become as all the other birds had very wisely stopped singing, but gradually they began again....the "all clear" being sounded. Two Jays were also seen in this area.

Bullfinches were heard briefly as we began to walk towards the river but flew away as a train thundered over the bridge. The river yielded excellent views of a pair of Dippers and Grey Wagtail, and a Blackcap was spotted further along the path. Stephen our leader spotted a group of Lesser Black-backed Gulls flying in the distance. As we climbed up the steps back towards the house we all agreed what a great morning it had been, well worth turning out for, and the bird of the day was the calling Sparrowhawk as many of us had never heard that before. Several people noted that it had been quite a time since they had visited Avondale....too long in fact as it is a real gem. On that happy note the group of birders went their separate ways, some to have a reviving tea/coffee break, in the café at Avondale House.

List of birds observed during the outing: Sparrowhawk, Pheasant, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Dipper, Dunnock, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Siskin, Goldfinch

Ruth Mann

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