South Dublin Branch - Outing Report

Bluethroat - Ballycotton, Cork (photo: Paul & Andrea Kelly)

KIlcoole, Wicklow - 6th October 2019.

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Some of the South Dublin members taking part in the October outing to Kilcoole. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

South Dublin Members in Kilcoole Train Station car park, 6th October 2019 (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

The Paul Simon song says 'The Autumn winds blow chilly and cold' but happily the branch autumn visit to Kilcoole was under a blue sky and a gentle breeze. Frank Doyle, Gustavo Zoladz and Eleanor Keane led the twenty or so keen birdwatchers who came along, with grateful 'spotting' assistance from Pat Twomey and Mike Bowtell. As often happens it was a slow start, but with all eyes peeled it soon picked up. With the sea on our left, the marsh, Webb’s Field, and water courses on the right, not to mention the distant trees and far off hills it was a challenge to keep up with the sightings.

A winter plumaged Guillemot loafing on the Irish Sea off Kilcoole beach. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Guillemot, off Kilcoole beach, 6th October 2019 (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

First on the sea were up to six Red-throated Divers, some distant and a few up close which gave good views of the grey colour and the red striped neck still visable. We also had Gullemot, Shag, Cormorant and several majestic Gannet soaring and diving, always a sight to behold. On the land side a distant Kestrel being mobbed by Corvids, and shortly after that a Buzzard having the same experience held our attention for a while.

Not long after a juvenile Peregrine Falcon showed well as it sat on one of the many posts and preened. It then did a fly past sending a shiver of apprehension through the many birds on the ground who all flew up briefly but soon relaxed and landed again.

Look out, there's a Peregrine about. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Peregrine Falcon, Kilcoole, 6th October 2019 (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

A flock of up to about 1,000 Goldfinch were picked up through Pat’s telescope in the not too distant trees. Is was a thrill to see so many small birds give an arial display. Mike alerted us to two Stock Dove feeding on the ground, close to the Peregrine post. So nice to get a good look at them rather than trying to pick them out as they fly with a group of Woodpigeon.

Up to twenty Curlew flew in and landed at the water’s edge where some Lapwing were also popping their heads up for brief glimpses. Their distinctive pee-wit sound is always enchanting. As we proceeded we added Grey Heron, Little Egret, Shoveler, Little Grebe, Mallard and Wigeon, a few Sandwich Tern, Meadow Pipit and a Skylark. A lone elegant Greenshank gave a few appearances before disappearing from view in to a dyke.

The long hind-claw confirms this is a Meadow rather than Tree Pipit. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Meadow Pipit, Kilcoole, 6th October 2019 (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

A distant little bird obligingly perched on a wire fence proved to be a Whinchat, which one does not usually find at Kilcoole. No doubt they are preparing to leave for winter quarters south of the Sahara. Five Wheatear flitting along the shingle showed well. They also winter in sub-Saharan Africa. Wheatear are a regular presence in this area in late spring and again in September October as they prepare to head to warmer climes. We also had some Stonechat, year round Irish residents.

A narrow grassy spit held a few waders including two Common Snipe, which once seen through a scope were easy to see with bins. They look rather comical with their exaggerated long bills. As they remain so still the appearance given is of woodcut carvings. There was also a brief appearance of a pale sandpiper but it proved very elusive and its identity could not be confirmed.

Some More Pictures

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Cormorants really have a great life. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Some more pictures of birds taken on the day by Gustavo Zoladz.
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Lapwings in the marsh grass. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.
Snipe at Kilcoole, not always easy to pick out. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.
A Wren among berries, a bird that is staying at Kilcoole. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.
Northern Wheatear on the shingle, a bird that is not staying. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

A few hardy members walked a little further than most and were rewarded with a Redshank and a flyover of three Brent Geese. Just the beginning of the hundreds of Brent that feed in the Kilcoole fields over the winter. It was a lovely way to spend a beautiful October morning.

Eleanor Keane

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