Outing Report

Shanganagh Park, Shankill, Co. Dublin - 10th January 2016.

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South Dublin members who were on the Shanganagh Park outing. Picture by Eleanor Keane.

South Dublin members, Shanganagh, 10th January 2016 (picture: Eleanor Keane)

Our first outing of 2016 was to Shanganagh Park near Shankill, County Dublin. Shanganagh Park covers a large area with a mixture of playing fields, wooded areas and open meadows with access to the sea. It is in the management of Dun Laoghaire - Rathdown County Council who encourage any efforts at enhancing the biodiversity in the area. It borders Woodbrook golf club on its southern end and is bisected by the Bray to Shankhill dart line. It was a cold bright sunny morning with snow on nearby hills when about thirty participants including a good number of small children came on our walk with our leader Eleanor Keane.

Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Chaffinch on a Shanganagh Park feeder. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Finches on Shanganagh feeders, 10th January 2016. (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

After a group photograph at the entrance we made our way to some nut and seed feeders which were erected in late October have since been refilled regularly by South Dublin Branch of BirdWatch Ireland. This is the second year that the feeders have been in position along with an explanatory board with pictures of birds you are likely to see. It has been quietly successful and has provided the general public, a number of whom, joined us on our walk today, with close views of many species. The finch family attended in abundance this morning with many Greenfinch, who have made a recovery from the trichomoniasis affliction of recent winters which caused a huge drop in their numbers. They were jostling for feeder space with Goldfinch and Chaffinch. Many finch as well as three dainty Collared Dove were also ground feeding, hovering up the seeds dropped from the feeders.

Blackbird in Shanganagh Park, Shankill. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Blackbird, Shanganagh Park, 10th January 2016. (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

We then moved on to the open fields where we saw a numbers of Blackbirds, Song Thrush and assorted finches including Linnet feeding on the wet ground. In parts it was very wet and squelchy underfoot but we were not deterred. We heard and saw a Song Thrush in splendid voice. Many Robins serenaded us and Blackbird alarm calls were a background to it all. We spotted a Mistle Thrush high on a tree basking in the winter sunshine, and Woodpigeons feeding on the ground.

Some of the group were lucky enough get good views of a Jay. The Jay a member of the crow family has a reputation for being a very shy bird in this country and so is not easily spotted. It is much more colourful than other members of its family, having an overall ginger /cinnamon look with striking white and pale blue wing patches in flight. It also has a distinctive raucous call which is the usual indicator of their presence since their flight is usually silent.

Goldfinch, female Siskin and Great Tit on Shanganagh feeder. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Trio of birds on Shanganagh feeder, 10th January 2016. (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

Eventually we arrived at the access point to the beach and sea, the tide was full in so no beach walking possible today. It is a really superb place to take a quite shore line walk on an optimal tide. A few Herring Gulls were overhead, several Black-headed Gulls bobbing about on the tide line and a lone Cormorant were all that was to be seen.

Time as always was racing on so we made our way back to the entrance. Passing the feeders for a second time we again saw the Goldfinch, Greenfinch, and Chaffinch, looking particularly resplendent in the sunshine. We got our first Blue, Great, and Coal Tits of the day. Linnets and a single female Siskin were loitering, awaiting a turn on the feeders. The female Siskin is not as colourful as the male and lacks his black cap and bib but is still a delightful little bird to see. Other birds seen included Magpie, Rook, Jackdaw and a pair of Buzzard high in the sky.

Mr. Rook keeping an eye on proceedings at Shanganagh Park. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Rook, Shanganagh Park, 11th January 2016. (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

Everybody, despite some ending up with soaked and muddied footwear were delighted with the trek, particularly some of the younger folk who took great delight in splashing through the many water pooled paths. Quite a few newcomers said they would love to come on our outings again, so were encouraged to do just that.

Mary Fitzgerald

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