South Dublin Branch - Outing Report

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

Skerries - 7th November 2021.

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South Dublin members on the Skerries outing with the Irish Sea in the background. Picture by Ronan Browne.

South Dublin Members at Skerries, 7th November 2021 (picture: Ronan Browne)

Not a site often visited by the South Dublin Branch, but Skerries has a lot to offer in terms of birding. It is located on the east coast, just a 30 minute drive from Dublin with great views of the unihabited Colt, Shenick, and, further out, St Patrick's Islands, making them a great location for sea bird colonies. On clear days, Rockabill, which is home to the largest Roseate Tern Colony in Europe, annually wardened by BirdWatch Ireland staff, is also visible.

About 25 South Dublin members gathered in the Red Island car park at 11:00 on a very sunny, cool and windy Sunday morning. Once the customary socially distanced group photo was taken by Ronan, we headed towards the harbour. The strategy was to start birding from there and walk our way south finishing up opposite the islands. Our main targets on the day were Purple Sandpiper and Common Eider.

Great Black-backed Gull on the rocks at Skerries. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Great Black-backed Gull at Skerries, 7th November (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

Even before we started off the usual suspects began to show... a Great Black-backed Gull and a Grey Heron resting on rocks just offshore. In the distance we spotted a few Red-throated Divers that were diving, already wearing their winter plumage. And several Cormorants were coming and going flying low and straight.

On our way to the harbour Niall Hatch spotted a juvenile Whooper Swan, a delightful winter visitor to Ireland from Iceland, making its way to Skerries Bay, where it was subsequently relocated. A small flock of Rock Pipits accompanied us on our walk.

Purple Sandpipers making their winter home at Skerries. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Purple Sandpipers at Skerries, 7th November 2021 (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

There were ten Oystercatchers on the harbour pier who were sharing their resting place with a few Herring Gulls, and shortly after a flock of Ringed Plovers completed a few fly-arounds before joining them. It was at that point when Frank Doyle picked up the first Purple Sandpiper of the morning, nicely blended against the rocks, which was quickly joined by three more, that landed among a few Redshanks.

A single Little Egret, a few Turnstones and a few Pied Wagtails completed our list for the day, and we headed back to the car park with the sound of a very chatty Rook coming from one of the lampposts.

Some More Pictures

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Little Egret, a one time major rarity now a regular sight in Ireland. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Some more pictures of birds taken on the day by Ronan Browne and Gustavo Zoladz.
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Grey Heron biding its time on the rocks at Skerries. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.
No mistaking these Oystercatchers. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.
Redshanks and Ringed Plovers mingling. Picture by Ronan Browne.
The South Branch gets the seal of approval at Skerries. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.
South Dublin members at the Skerries Tidy Towns Sculpture with Colt and St. Patrick's Islands in the background and Rockabill further out. Picture by Ronan Browne.
Rockabill from Skerries, with the Rock on the right and the Bill on the left, separated by a 20 metre channel. Home to the largest Roseate Tern colony in Europe. Picture by Ronan Browne.

After a couple of hours of a very enjoyable birding event, we called it a day. No Common Eider this time...what better reason to pay another visit to the pretty village of Skerries later in the Winter.

Gustavo Zoladz

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