Outing Report

Killiney Hill, Co. Dublin - 8th May 2016.

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South Dublin members assemble in the Burmah Road car park. Picture by Niall Hatch.

South Dublin Members at Killiney Hill, 8th May 2016 (picture: Niall Hatch)

Our May outing was undertaken in conjunction with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and took us to the beautiful setting of Killiney Hill, which is part of Killiney Hill Park, a public park since 1887.

About 35 South Dublin members met at 10:30 in the car park at the top of Burmah Road, where branch chairman Frank Doyle greeted everyone before handing over to Niall Hatch who led the outing. Leaving the car park we followed one of the many winding paths through the woodland, eventually joining another high above the Vico Road where we had fabulous views over Killiney Bay before returning by a different route to our starting point.

To begin with the skies were heavily overcast but that soon burned off and we enjoyed the best day of the year so far in flat calm conditions and bright sunshine. Jackets and coats were soon discarded.

Treecreeper in a familiar pose on Killiney Hill. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Treecreeper, Killiney Hill, 8th May 2016 (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

Woodland birding can often prove frustrating with a maximum of bird song heard, but a minimum of birds seen. At first this was the case as Wren, Blackbird, Robin, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Blue and Great Tit songs and calls reached our ears but proved difficult to pin down. Then, just as we were about to move on we heard the familiar 'tsee tsee' call of a Treecreeper flying in to land on a tree right in front of us. It immediately began to probe the bark for insects as it spiraled upwards around the tree in characteristic mouse-like movements.

We pushed on ever upwards until we cleared the woodland and found ourselves surrounded by gorse. A Chiffchaff was singing high in a distant tree and we were able to get it in the scopes. Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler are near identical Phylloscopus warblers, so it helps that their songs are so different when it comes to their identification. We also saw a a couple of butterflies nearby, a Holly Blue and a Speckled Wood. We next turned on to a path leading downwards that offered panoramic views over Killiney Bay.

Chiffchaff proclaiming territory on Killiney Hill. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Chiffchaff, Killiney Hill, 8th May 2016 (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

Scanning across the bay we noticed lots of bird activity. There were a dozen or so Gannets, some on the surface and some plunge-diving from a height, pulling their wings in at the last moment as they entered the water. Terns, both Sandwich and Common were busy fishing and we we could hear their raucous calls as they flew about. An occasional Cormorant came into view and the usual collection of gulls were mooching about on the lookout for an easy meal. Small groups of auks, too distant to identify specifically, were gathered on the flat calm sea. Then a fin was seen and for a while we got typical views of a Harbour Porpoise as it broke the surface from time to time.

We continued downward, soon arriving in a wooded area where we heard Blackcap singing its beautiful melody; it is surely one of the finest of Irish songsters. As we listened to the Blackcap a Grey Squirrel popped out to inspect us. Then Jim Noonan spotted a Jay as it flew across our path and settled high in a tree. Fortunately it hung around long enough for everyone to get views. Although not rare, Jays are often elusive, preferring to frequent the tops of high trees, so its not a bird that we often encounter on our outings so we took time to enjoy this one.

Harbour Porpoise and gull on Killiney Bay. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Harbour Porpoise, Killiney Bay, 8th May 2016 (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

By now we had dropped down much closer to the bay and even better views of the birds could be enjoyed and the Porpoise put in another brief appearance for good measure. A Jay flew from some trees carrying food, no doubt for chicks. Difficult to be certain but this was probably our second individual on the day. Two Jays on a South Dublin outing is rare event indeed. A couple of Bullfinches dashed across our path, no doubt a pair, their white rumps very obvious in the bright sunshine and a foraging flock of Goldfinch leapfrogged through the greenery, giving their cheery call as they moved along.

A third species of butterfly, a Small Copper, was spotted by Jim Noonan, who was on a roll, as it basked on a rock oblivious to the assembled admirers. This beautiful butterfly seems to prefer rough and open places, making parts of Killiney Hill ideal for it.

Some More Pictures

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Small Copper basking on Killiney Hill. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Some more pictures taken on the day by Gustavo Zoladz, Eleanor Keane and Niall Hatch.
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Teacher, teacher! Great Tit in some gorse. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.
Sandwich Tern takes a dive. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.
Another view of the Small Copper basking on its rock. Picture by Eleanor Keane.
All eyes on a Treecreeper. Picture by Eleanor Keane.
South Dublin members on Killiney Hill stop for a Chiffchaff. Picture by Niall Hatch.
Just one more picture needed. Picture by Niall Hatch.

As we wound-up everyone agreed it was a great outing. We really could not have wished for a better day or a finer selection of bird to watch and hear. We headed back to the car park well satisfied with out efforts.

Joe Hobbs

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