Outing Report

Arklow Ponds , Co. Wicklow - 10th May 2015.

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South Dublin members are greeted by Niall Hatch at the Arklow Ponds. Picture by Stephen McAvoy.

South Dublin members at the Arklow Ponds, 10th May 2015 (picture: Stephen McAvoy)

On Sunday the 10th of May, the South Dublin Branch visited the Arklow Ponds in search of late spring migrants where we were greeted by Niall Hatch who was leading the outing. Located on the northern edge of Arklow town, the site consists of several small ponds fringed by dense reed beds, bordered by some broadleaf woodland. The reedy fringes are particularly attrative to Sedge Warblers, as well as several pairs of Reed Warblers - this being the first site where the latter species bred in County Wicklow.

On our arrival, we were greeted by two or three Reed Warblers singing their distinctively rhythmycal songs, but the very windy conditions meant that both the Sedge and Reed Warblers stayed well hidden within the reedbeds. We only managed to get fleeting climpses of both species as they flew across the open water of the ponds between patches of reedbed. It was also interesting to watch several House Sparrows gathering nesting material and catching insects in the reedbed and these caused some initial excitement in our quest to see the elusive Reed Warblers.

Splendid looking male Mallard at Arklow Ponds. Picture by Stephen McAvoy.

Mallard at Arklow Ponds, 10th May 2015 (picture: Stephen McAvoy)

On the water, the Mallards, Mute Swans and Greylag Geese were busy leading chicks, most of which appeared only a few days old. A summer plumaged Little Grebe gave good views between diving for insects and Sticklebacks at the edge of a reedbed.

Quite a few Willow Warblers were singing in the woodland areas on the western side of the lake, while Swallows and Sand Martins were busy catching insects in the areas sheltered from the strong southerly winds. This shelter also allowed us to hear singing Wren, Blackcap, Blackbird and Goldcrest and a Sparrowhawk was seen briefly by two of our group.

Some More Pictures

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Moorhen navigates choppy waters at Arklow. Picture by Stephen McAvoy.

Some more pictures taken on the day by Stephen McAvoy.
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Please allow me to introduce myself! Greylag and Mallard at Arklow. Picture by Stephen McAvoy.
The Swan family of Arklow. Picture by Stephen McAvoy.
Cormorant in flight over the ponds. Picture by Stephen McAvoy.
A nice surprise was this 1st-summer Iceland Gull. Picture by Stephen McAvoy.
Sand Martin hawking over Arklow Ponds. Picture by Stephen McAvoy.
Arklow reed bed appreciation society on site. Picture by Stephen McAvoy.
Looks like Pat is on to something good. Picture by Stephen McAvoy.
Eleanor looking to sign up new members. Picture by Stephen McAvoy.

On our way back to the car park, we spotted a first-summer Iceland Gull which had joined the Herring and Black-headed Gulls looking for bread at the ponds. Slightly smaller than a Herring Gull with distinctly white wing-tips, Iceland Gulls are only scarce visitors to the east coast (see our NOTES page for an excellent paper by Dick Coombes on the identification of Iceland and Glaucous Gulls). Unfortunately, the bird flew off inland after a few minutes though the majority of the group managed to get good views.

This was a great way to end the Outing which had was attended by 20-odd participants despite the less than ideal weather conditions.

Stephen McAvoy

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