Clare Bird Sightings

Loop Head Bird Observatory 1987

Loop Head
Bird Observatory

By Phil Brennan
Over the past 10 years, the Bridges of Ross on the Loop Head Peninsula, has become established as one of Ireland’s best seawatching sites. In 1985 it showed its potential as on observation site for migrant land-birds, and 1986 proved that the records of the previous year were no mere ‘flash-in-the-pan’.
This success has not been without its difficulties, however. Coverage has often been sporadic and mainly confined to weekends, due to the lack of accommodation for most visitors. Distances were also a problem, with most of the regulars living over 60 miles away, at least. It was with great good fortune, therefore, that the Burrows and Sides families allowed the rental of Kilbaha Cottage for the 1987 autumn season. This made it possible to run Loop Head on bird observatory lines, for the first time.
The seabird colonies at the Head were counted twice during the summer and a Heligoland trap was also completed. From August 25th to November 14th, 49 days coverage was achieved. October received the most attention, with only four days missed.  The end of August had five days coverage, September nine and early November ten.
Bird ringing took place on 29 days. Some seawatching visits may have gone un-noticed. About 22 people in all stayed in the house, but well over 49 visited. Without a resident warden, it was very important to get experienced watchers and ringers to man the site. The people who filled this role made the season a success, despite rather thin pickings for some of them. The group who travelled all the way from Languard Bird Observatory in Suffolk and those who came long distances within Ireland deserve particular credit.
Weather Patterns:
This autumn confirmed the importance of S/SE winds for Loop Head. However, it was W/SW winds that dominated for most of the time. S/SE winds occurred at the following times:
End August           ………….          30th, 31st.
September           ………….           1st, 2nd, 19th, 27th to 30th.
October          ………….                1st to 4th; 28th to 31st
November          ………….            1st to 7th 

It is a rather interesting co-incidence that these winds predominated at about at about the same time each month. The site was not manned, unfortunately, on the first two days in September. Some birds of interest were present every time S/SE winds were recorded. The south-easterlies in late Sept/early Oct and in late Oct/early Nov were the results on each occasion of High pressure areas crossing the Atlantic eastwards and eventually producing a S or SE swirl of wind over Ireland, extending at least as far as Biscay. The exceptions to the rule were Lapland Bunting and the Wryneck that turned up in unlikely conditions. For seawatching, the season as a whole was very disappointing. Despite excellent sightings on Sept. the to 9th and Nov 8th, the frequently windy conditions at other times did not produce the usual good results. The mid-September winds that were so fruitful were part of an intense depression that was centered north of Scotland, bringing airs from deep in the north Atlantic. It may be that the winds at other times were of too local an origin to produce good seabird passage.

The Season’s Progress

The end of August was disappointing, with even the expected Willow Warblers very scarce, as the were to remain for the rest of the Autumn. Two Garden Warblers on Aug 31st were the only birds of note. September started well and 22 Leach’s Petrels and 4 Sabine’s Gulls on the 6th. Visiting seawatchers again did well on the 12th when a Lapland Bunting was found. It was the seawatch of that day that made the journey worthwhile, with 26 Sabine’s, 126 Bonxies, 94 Leach’s Petrels and 32 Artic’ Skuas. Good numbers of Sabine’s Gulls were again recorded on the following two days, and the 16th saw 2 Black Terns. The SE winds on the night of the 18th brought Pied Flycatcher and the site’s first recorded Turtle Dove. The following days produced nothing of interest, but a Wryneck on the 26th improved this picture.
Sept. 29th saw the first falls of Goldcrests, falls that were to continue up to Oct. 9th. Goldcrests were very scarce in ‘85/’86, but this period had daily numbers of 15 to 40. The SE winds at this time were somewhat neutralised by regular rain, but when this stopped, one of the best periods of the season began. From Oct 4th to 10th, Richard’s Pipit, Scarlet Rosefinch, Whinchat, Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Roseate Tern, Balearic Shearwater, Sabine’s Gull, Leach’s Petrel, Iceland and Glaucous Gull, Pintail, Snow Bunting and Garden Warbler were recorded. A large amount of effort in seawatching at this time did not produce the results normal in such windy weather, and the strong trans-Atlantic winds failed to result in any arrival of the American birds that were seen elsewhere.
Until the next period of SE winds (from Oct. 28th), the observers present had a lean time, with regular Garden Warblers and Snow Buntings among the few highlights. There were the inevitable wry comments about the health of the local Dunnock population!  The end of the month produced the first evidence of the oncoming winter, with the arrival of Fieldfare, Redwing, Brambling and Blackcap and with especially good numbers of Song Thrushes from the 27th onwards. The same day produced a Spotted Flycatcher and a late Whitethroat was seen on the 28th. A Hobby and two Black Redstarts were seen on Nov. 1st, giving hope that all was not yet over. Siskin appeared and Blackcap Chaffinch, Brambling and Song Thrush were more common, with 140 of the latter seen on the 7th. that day will be best remembered however for the sightings of Red-rumped Swallow, Ring Ouzel, Siberian Chiffchaff and the continued presence of the Hobby.
The season ended with seawatches  that included Little Gull, 12 Great Northern Diver in one count and Black-throated Diver. The late October Spotted Flycatcher was still present on Nov. 14th.
In all 137 species were recorded from May to November. A most welcome addition to this list was Corncrake, which had not been heard in the area for some years. It was also satisfying to see the healthy state of the local Chough, Peregrine and Raven populations. The formerly fairly common Tree Sparrows were almost totally absent, however.


My thanks to all those who made the ’87 autumn season so successful.
Special thanks
–         to the Burrows and Sides families for the generous use of Kilbaha Cottage 
–         to the caretaker Michael Bonfil and Mrs. Bonfil for being so tolerant of all our

          comings   and goings;
–         to Tony Mee and John Murphy for all their work, especially on the trap;
–         to the Languard BO group
–         to Ken Perry;
–         to David Duggan,
–         to Gerard Duane,
–         to Tom Tarper,
–         to Philip Buckley,
–         to Gerry Butler, 
–         to Ewart Jones for all his encouragement;
–         To all the people who visited and contributed their records;
–         To all the land-owners who allowed access to their property
–         to all the people of Kilbaha for their hospitality and
–         to the Donnelly family for same;
–         and special thanks to my wife, Noreen
Ringing totals, Loop Head, 1987






Storm  Petrel     1   1
Sparrowhawk     1   1
Merlin     1   1
Redshank     1   1
Woodpigeon 3       3
Swallow 16 15 1   32
Meadow Pipit   4 23 4 31
Rock Pipit 1   5   6
Grey Wagtail     2 1 3
Pied Wagtail 3 4 7 2 16
Wren 3   7   10
Dunnock     15   15
Robin 17 7 15   39
Whinchat     2   2
Stonechat 1 4 10 1 16
Blackbird 10 11 12 2 35
Song Tthrush 10 5 15 7 37
Redwing     6 1 7
Sedge  Warbler 3       3
Whitethroat 1 3     4
Garden warbler 2   4   6
Blackcap   1 6 3 10
Chiffchaff     6 3 9
Willow Warbler 2 2 3   7
Goldcrest 2 6 44   52
Spotted Flycatcher     1   1
Pied Flycatcher   1 1   2
Coal Tit   1 2   3
Blue Tit 6 8 10   24
Great Tit 3 1 17   21
Magpie     2   2
Starling     1   1
House  Sparrow     1 1 2
Chaffinch     9 5 14
Greenfinch     2 1 3
linnet 3   11   14
Reed Bunting 6 8 19 1 34



From Aug 25th to Nov. 8th, 468 birds of 37 species were ringed. Ringing took place on 32 days, but due to adverse weather, 10 or more birds were trapped on 18 days in all. Ten ringers and trainees visited the site in ’87.
A Helgoland trap was built over the old bog road near the sallows in May/June. It is 18’ at the mouth and about 60’ long. It caught fairly well in Aug/Sept, but disappointed in October. However, it trapped a good variety of species, including Sparrowhawk . It seemed to have a preference for Dunnocks, unfortunately, 8 to 10 nets, mainly ‘sixties’, were normally operated and the trapping area extended from Kilbaha Cottage to the trap gully.  Though several were seen, no major rarities were trapped. However, birds such as Pied Flycatcher, Siberian Chiffchaff, Merlin and Whinchat added to the quality. Goldcrest was the bird of the autumn, with 52 ringed in a succession of ‘falls’. Numbers of Song Thrush, Garden Warbler, Blackcap and Stonechat were good. Willow Warbler numbers were disappointing.
No effort was made to catch Storm Petrels due to lack of amplification equipment. One tape-lure effect with Meadow Pipit showed good potential for this species in future years.

Many Thanks to the ringers for all their efforts

Great Northern Diver: 2 singles, in Oct; 12 on Nov. 8th (in 1½ hrs.), 2 on 11th & 3 on 14th.
Black-Throated Diver: One bird, on November 14th.
Diver SPP: One unidentified diver was seen on Oct. 15th.
Little Grebe: One, at Cloghaun Lough, Oct 31st.
Fulmar: Generally scarce. The October numbers on seawatches varied from 3 to 151, but 1257 were counted on Nov 8th in 1½ hours. Counts of 300 and 600 were had in late Sept. and 2335 on Nov 11th was the highest count.
Manx Shearwater: 2280 in an hour on Aug. 25th was the best count, with 346 on Aug 26th and 300+ on Sept 6th. Recorded regularly in small numbers in Oct.  – seawatches with a best count of 33. 15 were seen on Nov. 8th
Balearic Shearwater: One was seen off the Bridges of Ross on October 6th.
Sooty Shearwater: 180 per hour were counted on Sept 12th and 100 o the 6th. The Mid-October counts produced a best of 33 (twice). 50 were counted in 1½ hours on Nov 8th and 4 on Nov. 11th
Storm Petrel: Very few recorded. A single bird was seen on Aug. 27th, 3 on Sept. 6th, one on Oct 3rd, 2 on Oct. 8th, one on Nov. 11th. The Oct. 3rd bird was found on a trawler after fog.
Leach’s Petrel : Seen on seven days, with a very good count of 94 on Sept. 12th.  22 were seen on Sept 6th, with 3 to 5 seen on the other four occasions. There were four September and two October records, with one in November.
Gannet: The strongest passage was on Oct. 7th, when 5850 passed in 6 hours. 1122 passed in three hours on the previous day. 200 or more were counted on 12 days in October. 364 were seen in 1½ hours on Nov. 8th.
Shag: Regular in small numbers. Highest count of 14.
Cormorant: Seen on most days. Highest count of 14.
Grey Heron: Seen on most days. 5 was the highest recorded.
Mute  Swan: Two records, each involving two birds, at Cloghaun Lough, on Oct. 5th and 10th.
Whooper Swan: One in Kilbaha bay on Oct. 11th.
Brent Goose: Two sightings. 5 on Oct. 5th and 10 on the 7th.
Barnacle Goose: Five sightings in all. 3, 15 and 35 were seen on Oct. 7th, 8th and 9th respectively, with one on Oct. 15th and 10 on Nov. 14th.
Grey Goose SPP: 16 unidentified grey geese were seen on Oct. 6th.
Wigeon: One record, on October 6th.
Teal: Seen on 15 days. Maximum of 15. Cloghaun Lough the main haunt.
Mallard: Seen on 22 days. 10 birds or less usually observed; peak 35.
Pintail: 5 were seen on Oct. 8th, the only record.
Tufted Duck: A single male was present on Oct. 27th.
Common Scoter: There were four sightings, with a maximum of four.
Red-Breasted Merganser: Two (females or immatures) were in Kilbaha Bay on Oct. 7th
Hen Harrier: Seen on seven days … Aug – 1, Oct – 2 and Nov – 4. All were females or immature birds and were seen singly, with the exception of a sighting of two on Nov. 7th.
Sparrowhawk: Seen on 22 days. Two wee seen on three days, the rest singly.
Hobby: First located near the lighthouse on Nov. 1st, this bird remained in the same area until last seen on Nov. 7th.
Kestrel: Present in summer. Seen on 29 days, usually singly, but two birds were seen on seven days.
Merlin: Recorded on 14 days, mainly single records, with 2 seen once.
Peregrine: A male was present at the seabird colony on June 16th. In the autumn, birds were seen on 14 days, mainly singly. Three were seen on Oct. 5th and two on Oct. 9th. One was seen to make a kill at sea during a seawatch on Oct. 3rd.
Pheasant: Heard on three days.
Corncrake: One was reported calling in June by local people between Kilbaha and Fodry. This was the first heard in the area for several years. Another bird was heard near Cross.
Moorhen: Recorded on 15 days; peak of 6; all at Cloghaun Lough.
Coot: A single record of one at Cloghaun Lough on Oct. 14th.
Oystercatcher: Recorded daily. Peak counts were …. 92 on Aug. 27th…..130 on Oct. 8th, 170 on Oct. 10th….. 235 on Nov. 14th. The counts usually involved 20 to 50 birds.
Ringed Plover: Two pairs nested. In the autumn, birds were present on 23 days, with a maximum of 14 on Oct 4th.
Golden Plover: no September sightings; recorded on 15 days thereafter, with counts generally of 30 to 70, but with 170 on Oct. 9th.
Grey Plover: One record., of a single bird, on Oct. 4th.
Lapwing: Recorded on 22 days. Highest numbers were in early November when counts of 175 to 650 were had, peaking at 1100 on Nov. 14th. 60 was the highest October count and there were no August records.
Knot: Present on three days in early October, with 8 being the peak count.
Sanderling: one bird was in Kilbaha harbour from Oct. 2nd to 6th.
Purple Sandpiper: Seen on 6 days, 10 being the maximum count.
Dunlin: remarkably scarce. Heard twice at the end of August and three were seen on Oct. 8th.
Snipe: Scarce in September (3 records) but seen almost daily thereafter, usually involving less than 15 birds. The maximum was 45 on Oct. 8th.
Woodcock: One record, of a single bird, in a field near the lighthouse, on Nov. 4th.
Bar-tailed Godwit: One record. A single bird, on Sept. 19th /20th.
Whimbrel: Nine were seen on May 16th. Recorded on 6 days in autumn, with a maximum of 4 on Sept. 12th.
Curlew: Seen on most days, with highest numbers in October. Over 100 were counted on 11 occasions. 200 were seen on Oct. 4th and 9th.
Redshank: recorded most days; peak of 12.
Greenshank: One record; a single bird, on Sept. 6th.
Turnstone: Seen daily; probably under-recorded. Maxima of 90 and 120 in October. Usually 20 + present
Great Skua: Seen on most seawatches (19 day-records), as follows…
          End Aug   …  2 days (2 and 7 seen)
          Sept.            …  3 days (12 on two days and 126 in 7 hrs on the 12th)  
          Oct.             …  13 days (max. of 29, mainly in the first half of the month)
          Nov.            …  2 days (in the first half, with 8 on the 8th and 13 on the 11th)
Artic Skua: Recorded on 12 days as follows:
          End Aug   …  2 days (counts of 2 and 7)
          Sept.            …  3 days (32 on 12th was the best count) 
          Oct.             …  7 days 1 to 12 per day (none after the 10th )
Pomarine Skua: Recorded daily. Peak counts were ….. 92 on Aug. 27th…..130 on Oct. 8th, 170 on Oct. 10th….. 235 on Nov. 14th. The counts usually involved 20 to 50 birds.
Black-Headed Gull: Seen daily; usually less than 40. Highest numbers in early October, with peaks of 200 and 150 on 5th and 6th October.
Little Gull: One bird was seen off the Bridges of Ross on Nov. 11th.
Common Gull: Regular, in small numbers; highest count of 15.



Birds Ringed loop Head
Storm Petrel 7 180 156 34 1 59 447
Cormorant           1 1
Sparrowhawk     1 1 1 1 4
Merlin         1 1 2
Curlew Sandpiper           1 1
Dunlin           6 6
Curlew           1 1
Redshank         1 1 2
Woodpigeon       1 3 1 5
Swallow   2   15 32 11 60
Tree Pipit     1       1
Meadow Pipit     5 6 31 41 83
Rock Pipit       1 6 4 11
Grey Wagtail       3 3 5 11
Pied Wagtail       8 16 10 34
Wren   1 11 8 10 6 36
Dunnock     15 17 15 5 52
Robin   1 34 25 39 43 142
Redstart     1       1
Whinchat         2   2
Stonechat     5 8 16 25 54
Wheatear           1 1
Fieldfare     1     3 4
Blackbird     28 16 35 46 125
SongThrush     10 5 37 36 88
Redwing     2 1 7 7 17
Mistle Thrush     2       2
Grasshopper Warbler           1 1
Sedge Warbler         3   3
Whitethroat         4   4
Barred Warbler     1       1
Garden Warbler     2 1 6 6 15
Blackcap     2 1 10 11 24
Wood Warbler       1     1
Chiffchaff     6 6 8 14 34
Tristis Chifchaff         1   1
Willow Warbler     1 20 7 8 36
Yellow-Browed Warbler     1 1   2 4
Spotted Flycatcher     2   1   3
Red Breasted Flycatcher           1 1
Pied Flycatcher     3   2 1 6
Goldcrest     6 1 52 64 123
CoalTit     54   3 5 62
Blue Tit     40 8 24 58 130
Great Tit     33 10 21 19 83
Treecreeper     1       1
Magpie     4 1 2 4 11
Jackdaw           1 1
Starling       22 1 22 45
House Sparrow     2 5 2 11 20
Tree Sparrow     2     5 7
Chaffinch     13 13 14 127 167
Brambling     1       1
Bullfinch           1 1
Greenfinch         3 1 4
Goldfinch           4 4
Siskin     3     5 8
Redpoll Lesser           3 3
Redpoll  Mealy     4       4
Linnet     4 13 14 42 72
Reed Bunting     22 27 34 64 147
Rustic Bunting     1       1
Little Bunting           1 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler       1     1
Yearly Totals

Sabine’s Gull: Recorded on seven days in all, as follows….
                Sept. 6th                4
                   11th                  26
                   12th                  13
                   14th                  11
                   17th                    1
            Oct. 7th                     1
                    9th                     1
The Sept. 11th count is the highest ever at the Bridges of Ross and is very high in a national context.
Lesser Backed Gull: Scarce; only recorded on eight days. The maximum was 5, Sept. 20th.
– one record. A 1st year bird, on Oct. 8th, at the Bridges of Ross.
Glaucous Gull: Three sightings involving single birds … an adult on Oct 8th. Less than 30 daily otherwise.
Black-Headed Gull: Seen daily; usually less than 40. Highest numbers in early October, with peaks of 200 and 150 on 5th and 6th October.
Great Black-backed Gull: Recorded almost daily with a maximum of 100 on Oct. 8th. Less than 30 daily otherwise.
Kittiwake: Recorded daily. 4200 in 5 hours on Oct. 7th was the best movement and 1074 in 1.5 hrs. on Nov 8th was also good. Other high counts were:   1550  on Oct. 6th  (4 hrs.)
                                                                                                                 2100  on Oct. 8th    (5 hrs)
                                                                                                                 2250  on Oct. 9th    (8.5 hrs.)
                                                                                                                 900 to 1000 on Oct. 10th (10 per hr.)
                                                                                                                 3215 on Nov. 11th.
Sandwich Tern: Seen on 5 days in late August and early September, maximum of 13.
Common Tern: Not specifically recorded. See ‘Commic’ Tern. 
Arctic tern: Recorded on four occasions in early October. 27 were counted on Oct. 7th and 1 to 4 on the other days. See ‘Commic’ Tern
‘Commic’ Tern: Unspecified Common or Artic Terns were recorded on five days, with 33 on Sept. 12th, the highest.
Roseate Tern: Two were seen off the Bridges of Ross on October 8th.
Black Tern: Two, both adults, were seen off the Bridges of Ross on Sept. 6th.
Guillemot: The colonies from Loop Head to Bird Island were censused in the summer. 4101 individuals were counted on May 16th and 2480 on June 29th. Recorded on most seawatches. See ‘Auk species’.
Black Guillemot: Few records. One was at the colony on May 16th. Single birds were seen on Aug. 25/2th and on Sept. 6th.
Razorbill:   A minimum of 33 nest sites was located at the colony in May –  Regular on seawatches. See ‘Auk Species’.
Puffin: Only recorded specifically on four days. See ‘Auk Species’.
Auk Species: The following were the highest counts of non-specified Auks:
            Oct. 6th and 9th  …..            1050
            Oct. 7th               ….             1200
            Nov. 8th          ….                 1410
            Nov. 11th        ….                   973
Rock Dove: present in summer. Seen on 13 days in the autumn, usually in small flocks. There was an increase in both numbers and sightings in early November. 17 was the highest count.
Woodpigeon: Irregular, in small numbers. Seen in 11 days –  max. of 6. 
Collared Dove: A single bird, on September 29th – near the orchard.
Turtle Dove: A juvenile flushed from the bushes a Kilbaha Cottage on the evening of September 19th.
Cuckoo: Several present in summer. No definite autumn record – though an unidentified bird seen on Oct. 3rd was probably of this species.
Red-rumped Swallow: This bird appeared near Lillis’ house mid-morning on November 7th and presented very good views for the following 1½ hours. It is probably the 4th Irish record of the species. Another was seen at Hook Head in Wexford on the following day.
Swallow:  20 were seen on May 16th. Recorded daily up to Oct. 13th and twice thereafter, on Nov 5th and 6th (single birds). Up to 100 were regularly present in late August. 40 to 50 were regular in the first half of September. No more than 10 were seen on any day in early October.
Sand Martin: One record, at Kilbaha, on Aug. 30th.
House Martin: One record, on Oct 5th.
Skylark:: Recorded on most days. There were no records of over 10 until Oct. 27th, when 17 were seen. In the first week of November 32 were seen in a day and some small flocks appeared to be arriving from an easterly direction.
Meadow Pipit: Present every day, sometimes in good numbers. No more than 60 were seen in Aug/Sept. the highest count was 500 on Oct. 4th, most of these birds frequenting the lighthouse area. Other good counts were had in October  – 300 on the 5th, 150 on the 6th and 204 on the 15th. Counts otherwise varied from 20 to 100, but the species was often under-recorded.
Richard’s Pipit: Found by lucky observers at the hay-stacks near the lighthouse on October 6th, it remained in the same vicinity until the following day. This is the first county record of the species.
Rock Pipit: Resident. Recorded daily in good numbers on the shore and also found regularly in farmyards. Frequently under-recorded, as all shingle areas were not always visited. Up to 100 were often counted in early October.
Grey Wagtail: Recorded almost daily, usually with 1 to 6 present.

Pied Wagtail: Recorded daily – 10 to 30 was usually the daily total.

White Wagtail: Present on 5 days in September. 6 were seen on the 6th, and single birds on the 19th, 20th and 30th.
Wren: Common resident.
Dunnock:  Common resident.
Redstart: There were two records both of female birds. The first was at the lighthouse on Oct. 5th and the other at the sycamore grove on Oct. 10th.

Black Redstart: Two were at the lighthouse on Nov. 1st, and single birds were seen there on Nov. 2nd and 4th.

Whinchat: October 4th produced an arrival of five birds, the first two being located at the lighthouse and the other three in the trap gully (old bog road). Two of the latter were trapped.

Stonechat: Common. 20 to 50 were counted on most days, with 100 seen on Oct. 4th.
Wheater:  Scarce, being recorded on only five days in the autumn. Apart from a ‘fall’ of 11 on Oct. 4th, the other records were of single birds. The last record was on Oct. 10th.
Ring Ouzel: One was seen in the fields above the trap gully on Nov. 7th.

Blackbird: Rather scarce until October. 20 were counted on Oct. 6th. They only became more numerous in late Oct./early Nov. with the arrival of other migrant thrushes. 55 were logged on Nov. 7th.

Fieldfare: The first record, of two birds was on Oct. 20th. 75 were seen on Oct. 24th, and over 60 on Oct. 31st. Up to 200 were present in early Nov., when they were recorded daily.

Song Thrush: Present in small numbers, with no more than 8 in any day up to Oct. 27th, when 30 were logged. Thereafter, 10 to 55 were counted daily, with 140 o Nov. 7th.

Redwing: The first was seen on Oct. 4th. Present on a further 11 days in October and daily November. The peak count was 180 on Oct 31st and numbers were otherwise on 1 to 50.

Mistle Thrush: First recorded on Oct. 5th, a single bird. Two were seen on both Oct. 19th and 24th. 10 were present on Oct.31st, with the arrival of other thrushes. 1 to 5 were seen on six of the first eight days in November.
Wryneck:  First seen on Sept. 25th. What was possibly the same bird was seen also seen on Oct.1st and 2nd. This is the only record since one was found dead at the Loop Head lighthouse on Oct. 25th 1931.
Grasshopper Warbler: A male was singing in the valley at Fodry on May 30th and continued into June. No autumn records.

Sedge Warbler: Three singing males were found in the reed ditches at Kilbaha Pool on May 16th. Three were trapped in he reeds at Kilbaha Cottage on Aug. 30th/31st. .

Whitethroat: Probably bred in the trap gully. Recorded on three days in late August. Three were seen on Sept. 6th. A late bird was at the sallows on Oct. 28th.

Garden Warbler: Recorded on nine days in all, involving at least 10 individuals. The first two were trapped at the fuscia bushes, on Aug 31st. The others were seen singly in October, the last on Oct. 24th. Six were ringed.
Blackcap:  The first appeared on Sept 30th. Birds were present on six days in October and on seven in the first half of November. Four, on Nov. 5th, was the highest daily number. 10 were trapped.
Chiffchaff: No August or September records. Recorded on 13 days in October, usually singly or in twos, but 4 and 7 were seen on Oct 30th and 31st respectively. Seen daily in the first week of November, with numbers varying from 2 to 8.
A grey bird was in the Sallows from the fourth of November, and was trapped on the 7th. It was still present on the 14th. In the hand, it was identified as being a Siberian Chiffchaff, most likely of the ‘Tristis’ race.

Willow Warbler: Scarce. Present on 17 days, with no more than two on any day. Very sparse in August and September – only two seen in each month. The last was seen on Nov. 3rd. (2 present on May 16th)

Goldcrest: No records until Sept. 19th. Seen almost daily after that. 15 on Sept. 29th was the first sizeable arrival. 10 to 40 were seen daily up to Oct. 9th,when there were very obvious ‘falls’, and up to 11 were seen daily into early November. 53 were trapped.

Spotted Flycatcher: Two records, on Oct. 4th and 27th, this latter bird being still present until the very late date of Nov 14th.
Pied Flycatcher: Two records. Both were trapped, the first at Lillis’ house on Sept 20th and the other at the sallows on Oct.5th.
Coal Tit: Present on four days, starting with a single bird on Sept 30th. Four were recorded Oct. 1st and singles on Oct. 2nd and 5th.

Blue  Tit:  Present daily in small numbers, 14 being the peak count.

Great Tit: Recorded daily; 14 the maximum daily count.

Magpie: Recorded daily. 10 or more seen on most days, with a high of 35. Scarcity of nesting sites force the choice of some unusual sites, such as telegraph poles, very low sallows as well as wedging the nest between the guttering and the wall of the church.

Chough:  Recorded almost daily with between 2 and 9 usually seen. The best count was of 19 on Oct. 15th. Four were at the seabird colony cliffs on May 16th.

Jackdaw: Seen daily, with numbers varying considerably. 140 in October and 170 in November were the highest day-counts. A flock of 110 was seen flying high over the light on Nov. 3rd and later returned eastwards. In the past, Jackdaws have been seen flying out to sea.

Rook: Seen on most days, in small numbers. Apart from 66 on Oct. 15th, no daily count exceeded 26.
Hooded Crow: Found nesting in low bushes in summer. Seen every day, with 15 the maximum count.
Raven: Recorded almost daily. The highest daily count was 9.

 Starling: Recorded daily. 30 to 120 logged daily up to the end of October, with a peak of 300 on Oct. 9th.  Numbers in early November were consistently high, with 100+ present on most days, and a peak of 370 on the 2nd. This influx coincided with thrush arrivals.

House Sparrow: Recorded each day, with a maximum of 40.

Tree Sparrow: Similar status to 1986, with the local population remarkably scarce in comparison with 1984/85. Only two records, of three on Oct. 15th and one of  Nov. 2nd. No evidence of breeding..

Chaffinch: The only September record was of two birds on the 29th. Recorded, on 14 days in October and daily in early November. 14 was the highest day’s total until Oct 24th, when 50 were seen (Brambling appeared the same day). 23 to 50 was the normal daily tally in early November, with 70 seen on the 14th.  Many of those trapped were large birds of European origin.

Brambling:  Five records in all … singles on Oct. 24th and 27th. In November, there were 6 on the 2nd, one on the 7th and 2 on the 14th.

Greenfinch: Very scarce. Recorded on only six days (4 in Oct, 2 in Nov.), with a maximum of three birds.

Goldfinch: Present on three days (once in Sept. twice in Oct.) with a maximum of 3.
Siskin: Three records, involving single birds, in early November..
Linnet: Recorded daily. Only 4 four counts of 100 or more, with 10 to 60 more common. Highest numbers were all in October, the peak being on the 5th when 250 were counted. There was a noticeable drop after Oct. 13th with no more than 30 found daily thereafter. Bred locally.

Redpoll: Three records, involving single birds, in early November.

Scarelet Rosefinch:  A female or immature of this species was located near the sallow on October 6th. This is the first county record for the species.

Reed Bunting: Seen daily, with a maximum of 50.

Snow Bunting: Much more common than in 1985/’86. There were 15 records in all. The first bird was seen on Sept. 28th. In Oct, they were recorded om 11 days, mainly as singletons, but wit 6 on the 6th, 3 were present on both the 2nd and 3rd, with 2 on the 5th.
Lapland Bunting: One bird was located near the Bridges of Ross on September 12th.

                    P. Brennan                          D. Manley
                    P. Buckley                           M. Marsh
                    G. Butler                              A. Mee
                    S. Cromane                        T. Mee
                    D. Daly                                  K. Mullarney
                    G. Donlon                            J. Murphy
                    G. Duane                              M. O’Neill
                    D. Duggan                            D’ O’Sullivan   
                    M. Fellowes                        E. O’Sullivan
                    J. Grant                                K. Perry
                    H. Galvin                               S. Piotrowski
                    B. Haslam                             C. Raffles
                    E. H. Jones                           T. Tarpey
                    T. Kilbane                             A. Walsh
                    P. Leonard
Apologies for any omissions   
Records of rare birds in this report are subject to acceptance by the Irish Rare Birds Committee. Any further records from the 1987 or previous seasons would be very welcome.
Phil Brennan (Phone: 061 – 361317)
134 Tradaree Court,
Co. Clare
Jan 14th 1988

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