South Dublin Branch - Outing Report

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

Dawn Chorus Day - 8th May 2022.

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The early bird catches the worm! Niall Hatch welcomes South Dublin members to our Dawn Chorus outing on Killiney Hill Park. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

South Dublin Members, Killiney Hill, 8th May 2022 (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

The Dawn Chorus has always been a favourite and well attended South Dublin branch event. So we had high hopes of today's outing, coming a full three years after our last, the long absence the result of interruptions caused by the Covid pandemic.

About 45 South Dublin members met up on a very pleasant morning in Kiliney Hill car park, where on arrival a few foxes could be seen at some distance off, their night's work just about coming to an end. The weather was fresh with clear skies and light winds, perfect conditions for picking out bird song. Niall Hatch welcomed the attendees and shortly thereafter the dawn chorus kicked-off with a Blackbird singing in the distance, promptly followed by a Robin.

Male Bullfinch in an Ash Tree on Killiney Hill. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Bullfinch, Killiney Hill, 8th May 2022 (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

We set out heading south, pausing from time to time to listen, the chorus was obviously gaining momentum. By sunrise we had reached the summit of Killiney Hill where we saw a Long-eared Owl that gave us very good views as it flew over some gorse, eventually disappearing behind the tree line.

After a while the chorus was in full swing, with Song Thrush, all four tit species, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Treecreeper, Goldcrest and Jay among those species seen and heard by the group. We then moved on to the path that overlooks the Vico Road and saw two Ravens perched in a Pine Tree and from time to time Jays and Bullfinches were evident. By now, it seemed that much of the singing had ceased and most birds getting on with filling their bellies.

Out to sea we noticed plenty of activity, especially the spectacle of two Gannets plunge diving close in to the shore. Also seen were Cormorants, about ten terns, Harbour Porpoise and a Grey Seal.

Male Sparrowhawk looks very annoyed at our presence. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Sparrowhawk, Killiney Hill, 8th May 2022 (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

As we headed back to the car park we came across some Corvids that were becoming quite agitated and making a lot of noise, a sure sign they had spotted a bird of prey in the vicinity. We fixed on their location and soon spotted two raptors in the distance but the views obtained were brief and not clear enough to identify them, but more than likely either Sparrowhawk or Peregrine Falcon was involved. Then a stroke of luck and while we were still debating what we had just seen, a beautiful male Sparrowhawk was observed perched in a Pine Tree.

Some More Pictures

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Gannet lift-off from Killiney Bay. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Some more pictures of birds taken on the day by Gustavo Zoladz.
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One of our most beautiful songsters, a male Blackcap on Killiney Hill. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.
Song Thrush, the pale tips to the greater coverts possibly indicate a juvenile? Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.
Niall keeping a sharp look-out from the summit. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

We finished up about 06:30, having enjoyed two-and-a-half hours of great birding on Killiney Hill Park and everyone agreed it had been well worth getting up at the crack of dawn. What a pleasure to be able to once again add a Dawn Chorus outing to our schedule of events after three years missing.

Gustavo Zoladz

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