Outing Report

Tolka River Estuary - 6th September 2015.

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South Dublin members alongside the Tolka Estuary. Picture by Niall Hatch.

South Dublin members in Clontarf, 6th September 2015 (picture: Niall Hatch)

The Tolka River rises east of Dunshaughlin in Co. Meath and reaches Co. Dublin near Mulhuddart continuing through the linear Tolka Park before entering Dublin Bay between the East Wall and Clontarf. The Tolka Estuary is a rich mudflat area on an ebb tide when it is well used by winter waders and gulls.

The 18 keen birders, who arrived on Sunday morning, were not disappointed. The troupe was led by Niall Hatch. It was a cool, dry and dull morning but thankfully calm. At two hours before low water there was a vast expanse of mudflat, which at first glance appeared deserted apart from 'white' birds. However on closer inspection it produced waders of all sizes so very well disguised they would not have been seen by the many walkers, runners and cyclists who pass close by.

In fact one of the remarkable sights of the morning was a man on a unicycle who passed close to us, beautifully balanced. The sight caused us to wonder how he managed to stop and dismount without falling over.

South Dublin members alongside the Tolka Estuary with the Port of Dublin in the background. Picture by Niall Hatch.

South Dublin members in Clontarf, 6th September 2015 (picture: Niall Hatch)

There were large numbers of Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank. Gulls included a small number of Lesser Black-backed, Great Black-backed and Black-headed among the now infamous Herring Gulls who have been getting some bad press this summer. A number of Little Egret and Grey Heron were feeding. Some Woodpigeon and a Grey Heron were roosting in the trees across from us. We searched in vain for the local Peregrine who likes to perch on one of the high towers close to the port. Subjecting the area to even closer scrutiny some Knot, Dunlin and Ringer Plover were detected.

A few Starlings and gulls were busy going through the seaweed searching for food, as well as the ever present Hooded Crows. This area will host Brent Geese in huge numbers, by early October. It is also a reliable place for wintering Teal and Widgeon, Red-breasted Merganser, and on our last visit some Goldeneye Duck were seen. It was a poor day for small birds but we did spy a pair of Pied Wagtail in the carpark.

A large group who were walking to support St Michael's House came along and their leader spotting Niall, asked him for a few words on the birds that may be seen in the area. Niall obliged with aplomb and he took the opportunity to talk about the plight of our breeding Curlew despite the large number of them present in the estuary. He got a round of applause from all, as well as thanks from our own group. The success of outings like this depend so much on the leader ensuring that everyone gets some new titbits of information, or an identification tip, as well as the generous sharing of the available telescopes by the branch members.

Eleanor Keane

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