Outing Report

Blessington Lakes, Co. Wicklow - 6th December 2015.

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Greylag Geese and a single Bar-headed Goose at Blessington. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Greylag Geese at Blessington, 6th December 2015 (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

In spite of Storm Desmond's unruly visit to Ireland, on Friday and Saturday last, there was a fine turnout of keen birders for our trip to Blessington on Sunday 6th December. Not a drop of rain to be seen, and the day was calm and bright as we set off in convoy.

The main target species for the day was the flock of Greylag Geese, which arrives annually to spend the winter close to Blessington Lakes. These geese are true migrants from Iceland, as distinct from their feral cousins living all year around in various parts of the country. The large flock gave excellent views, both on the ground and in short sorties overhead. Among them was a Bar-headed Goose, apparently on unofficial leave from a collection on Lambay Island. This bird got great attention, as its normal habitat lies north or south of the Himalayas.

Male Goldeneye at Three Castles. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Goldeneye, Three Castles, 6th December 2015. (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

We moved on then to park the cars at Three Castles. Our rather muddy walk towards the lake had an unexpected detour around a fallen Larch, an obvious casualty of the weekend storm. The lake itself provided very good views of Goldeneye, distant Mallard and Teal, and big numbers of Curlew resting on the shore or flying strongly over the lake. These Curlew flocks probably included considerable numbers of winter visitors from Scotland and Scandinavia. A solitary Grey Heron watched us from its perch in the surrounding woodland. Various corvids mooched around, while an occasional Coal or Blue Tit flitted through the branches overhead.

Adult and immature Whooper Swans near Mount Seskin. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Whooper Swans, near Mount Seskin, 6th December 2015. (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

We then travelled via Manor Kilbride, the N81 and Brittas village, to the valley west of Mount Seskin in Co. Dublin. This location is another traditional wintering site for Icelandic Greylags. On this occasion the main focus of our attention was devoted to a small flock of Whooper Swans, which included some immature birds. This flock is part of the annual winter migration of Whoopers from their breeding grounds in Iceland. Close by, a large flock of Starlings was found to be accompanied by numerous Fieldfares and a few Redwings foraging through the fields. Some rose-tinted Linnets on the nearby hedges rounded off a very satisfactory day list. Who said the weather never improves in Ireland?

We were delighted to be joined on our trip by Eanna Ni Lamhna, who contributes regularly to media debate on the welfare of birds and on nature topics in general.

Greylag Geese and Bar-headed Goose (middle bird) in flight at Blessington. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Greylag Goose and Bar-headed Goose, Blessington, 6th December 2015. (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

This was our last outing of the year. We hope all our members have enjoyed their time spent with us and we look forward to seeing you all again in 2016 when we have more trips planned.

Frank Doyle

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