Shannon Airport Lagoon Monday 12th July 2004.
Shannon Airport Lagoon Monday 12th July 2004.
Compiled by John Rattigan on behalf of the Clare Branch of BirdWatch Ireland.
Other data included here come from observers personal records that were not submitted to the web site. The report lists species of special interest recorded in the county during the year. A full list of contributors can be found in the appendix to this report and includes birders from Clare and other parts of Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Poland, Sweden, Finland and USA who made observations in the
county during 2005.
Offshore, a Little Shearwater, four Fea’s Petrels and twelve Wilson’s Storm Petrels added some spice to birding off the Bridges of Ross in the Autumn, while other lucky observers had another Little Shearwater and a Wilson’s Storm Petrel at sea, 22 nautical miles north-west of Loop Head. Off the north coast of Clare, Black-throated Divers were observed in Galway Bay as usual, though numbers were not high, while an Eider was seen off Finvarra Point. Other rare ducks found in the county included several Ring-necked Ducks during the Winter months and early Spring, while a Garganey was a nice find in the Autumn. Little Egrets continue to grow in numbers in the county with a record thirteen found together at Shannon Airport Lagoon. Gulls are always well watched in Clare, though there were no major rarities found during the year. The only Neararctic gulls reported were Ring-billed Gulls, several Iceland, Glaucous and Sabine’s Gulls put in appearances between Quilty and Loop Head. Several Mediterranean Gulls were also seen. Apart from the Rough-legged Hawk, the only other rare raptor species found in the county a was Marsh Harrier. There were four records in the county in August and September, though they probably all refer to the same bird. It was an excellent year for Nearactic waders with a Semipalmated Sandpiper, a Baird’s Sandpiper and up to three Pectoral Sandpipers all found at Shannon Airport Lagoon, while White-rumped Sandpiper’s were observed at Poulnasherry Bay and Quilty. Four Long-billed Dowitcher’s were recorded, two at Shannon Airport Lagoon and two at Doonbeg. Lesser Yellowlegs was also found at Doonbeg. While for some the well-watched Citrine Wagtail and the briefly-seen Arctic Warbler were the show stopping passerines of the year due to their extreme rarity, for many others the year will be remembered for the irruption of Waxwings that took place during the Winter of 20042005. A flock of up to 30 birds was seen regularly around Ennis and brightened up many a dark winter day until they returned north in April.
The sequence followed is that of Professor K.H. Voous’ "(1977). Some records within this report may not have yet been accepted by the Irish Rare Birds Committee (I.R.B.C.). For rare species with bracketed numbers e.g. Red-necked Phalarope (1,1), the first number stands for record of occurrences within the county Clare to date and the second one for number of occurrences within the year covered by this publication, 2005.
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata
September singles on 1st, 3rd, and 7th, three on 15th, 19th and 20th, six on 23rd, two on 25th,
three on 5th April and seven on 30th December: ten were seen on the 26th January, with six
Querrin: three on 13th February.
with six there on 22 November and three on 13th February.
Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica
Aughinish Island: two on 21st January
Aughinish to Finavarra Point: a total 42 were seen between these two locations on the
two on 21th January: twelve on 22nd January a total 42 were seen between these two locations
on then 20th November and was the highest daily tally recorded during the year.
Ballyvaughan: three at Bishops Quarter on 14th January. Two were present off the pier on 22nd January.
Two were present off the pier on 22nd January. 30 were seen on 12th February,
50 on 5th April and five on 30th December. one, summer plumage on 4th April.
Eight birds were present on 30th December. eight on 22nd November.
One, Seafield on 16th November. One on 30th December
Common winter visitor and passage migrant.
: two on 21st January: twelve on 22nd January: a total 42 were seen between these two locations on the: three at Bishops Quarter on 14th January. Two were present off the pier on 22nd January.: 30 were seen on 12th February, 50 on 5th April and five on 30th December.: one, summer plumage on 4th April.: eight birds were present on 30th December.: eight on 22nd November.: one, Seafield on 16th November.: one on 30th December
Ballyvaughan to Black Head: only three on 12th February, increasing to 28 on 5th April.
Black Head: a pure albino bird was recorded on 12th and 13th February; 50 were seen there on 4th April.
a pure albino bird was recorded on 12th and 13th February; 50 were seen there on 4th April.one in summer plumage on 23rd September. A single bird was seen there on 1 October.: two were present in the bay on 26th December. three on 14th November.: two on 30th December.
11 on 13th February.
Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena
Poulnasherry Bay: one was seen on 23rd January (Maeve & Christy Meehan).
Fulmar Fulmaris glacialis
Bridges of Ross: one blue phase bird on 19th September.
Cory’s Shearwater Calonectis diomedea
one blue phase bird on 19th September.
At least 840 were recorded during the Autumn passage on seventeen dates between
19th July and 23rd September.
50 on the 18th August and 41 on 4th of the month.
At Sea: several seen from a boat 22 miles N of Loop Head, 23rd August.
Great Shearwater Puffinus gravis
between 19th July and 2nd October. High counts were 1,700 on 2nd October, 330 on 29th August
At Sea: 300, seen from a boat 22 nautical miles N of Loop Head, 23rd August.
Bridges of Ross:
Kilkee: six at Illaunonearaun on 11th August.
Four birds were the most recorded in a single year in the county.
14th August (Christophe Gruwier), 24th August (John N Murphy), and 25th August (Aidan Kelly).
One was seen from a boat 22 miles N of Loop Head (Kieran Cronin, et al) on 23rd August,
Bridges of Ross: 8,000 on 31 August; 15,000 on 24 August; 27,000 on 13 August.
8,000 on 31 August; 15,000 on 24 August; 27,000 on 13 August. 1,500, 2 September.
Mediterranean Shearwater Puffinus yelkouan
Regular passage migrant.
Bridges of Ross:
September: singles on 1, 19 and 20, two on 3, 23 and 25.
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus
singles on 1, 19 and 20, two on 3, 23 and 25.
Kilkee: 20, Illaunaneareann, on 11 August.
Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicusCommon passage migrant.
July: 25 on 19 July.
September: 100 on 23.
At Sea: one, 22 miles N of Loop Head, 23 August (Kieran Cronin ).
one, 22 miles N of Loop Head, 23 August (Kieran Cronin ).one on 30 (Colum Flynn, Owen Foley).
Three were feeding with Storm Petrels, on 23rd (Stan Nugent, Paul Milne, John N Murphy, John Rattigan).
August: single birds on 12 (John N Murphy), on 18 (John N Murphy), on 20 (Owen Foley, Harry Hussey),
September: one on 5 September (Carol Inskipp, Tom Inskipp). one on 5 September (Carol Inskipp, Tom Inskipp).
Regular Autumn passage migrant.
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Regular winter visitor.
Scarse winter visitor.
Winter visitor in small numbers.
Barnacle Goose Branta leucopis
Winter visitor and passage migrant.
Small numbers were observed at Carrowmore Point and Doonbeg during the winter.
Doonbeg: 300 in a field near the bay on 29th January.
Winter visitor and passage migrant.
Bridges of Ross: a flock of nine flew south, 3rd September. Two were seen on 28th.
Bridges of Ross: a flock of nine flew south, 3rd September.
Two were seen on 28th September.
108 on 6th March was a high number for North Clare.
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Scarce winter visitor, rare breeder.
Bridges of Ross: three passed on 30th August.
Wigeon Anas penelope
Teal Anas crecca
Green-winged Teal Anas creca carolinensis
Common winter visitor.
Common resident and winter visitor.
The numbers wintering in Liscannor Bay have declined significantly in recent years.
Regular winter visitor
Common winter visitor.
Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
; one, on 27th November (Phil Brennan).
Hen Harrier Circus cyancusScarce resident and passage migrant.
Rare North American vagrant.
Peregrine Falco pereginus
one The Fodry on 7th November.
Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
Whooper Swans at Tullagher Bog.
A shift in wind direction about 8th of the month to strong gale and storm-forced north and south Westerlies produced excellent conditions for a trip to the Bridges of Ross in search of wrecked seabirds. Little Auks were always on the cards and did turn up in small numbers, but no one expected a Pied-billed Grebe on the Loop Head peninsula. After a sea watch at the Bridges of Ross on 11th December a search of the headland and Kilbaha were inevitable. At Cloghaun Lough just east of Kilbaha a Pied-billed Grebe was found feeding within a flock of Teal. This was again a first county record and remained to 13th giving good views during its brief stay. This was for many county birders the icing on the cake to what was overall a memorable ornithological year.
One on 25th February (C. & M. Meehan).
Jan Feb Mar Oct Nov Dec
56 1,967 167 10
Jan Feb Mar Oct Nov Dec
1,500 905 235 nc nc 780
520 182 nc nc 300 nc
230 425 200 nc nc nc
382 nc nc 480 1,000 1,000
Two males and one female at Shannon Airport Lagoon on 2 July.
below shows the peak winter monthly counts for the top county locations.
Jan Feb Mar Oct Nov Dec
1,600 350 250 100 100 600
2,100 500 100 200 300 1,000
4,300 500 5,000 1,000 3,000 5,500
Two at Liscannor Bay on 15 January.
Earliest record was one at Ballyvaughan on 30 March. Peak migration was in late April with largest counts being 48 at Cappagh, Kilrush on 29 April. 130 at Lough O’ Grady on 2 May. 30 at Lurga Point on 1 May. 18 Shannon Airport Lagoon on 13 May. 48 at Poulnasherry Bay on 14 May with 84 at Quilty the same day.
Passage at Loop Head was as follows. The first bird went through on 7 July. There was a build up in late August of 80 on 23, 18 on 25, five on 27 and 135 on 29. Passage continued with 15 on 3, 96 on 4, 32 on 6, five on 10, 12 on 12 and three on 18 September. The last bird was recorded on 10 October.
18 56 35
122 97 25
shows monthly totals of Great Skuas past the Bridges of Ross.
214 132 19
68 376 72
One male at Stonehall, Newmarket-on-Fergus from 5 to 10 January. One at Kilrush Town on 4 January. One male at Shannon Town on 22 January. One male and one female at St. Michael’s Villas, Ennis on 23 January. Two at Pine Grove, Ennis on 20 September. One male and three females at Kilrush throughout December. One male and one female at Ballycasey, Shannon on 14 December to end of month. One female at Clonmoney on 14 December. One male at Kilkee on 15 December. One male at Lough Gash on 22 December.
One male heard singing at Core, Scariff on 30 March, 29 April and 1 May. One singing male at Ministers Cross and two at Castle Lake, both Sixmilebridge on 10 April. Two males at Hurlers Cross, Clonmoney on 13 April. One male at Cratloe Woods on 27 April. Two at Kilrush Woods on 2 May. Two males at Magherabawn on 1 June. One male at Raheen Woods on 3 June. Singles at Lough O’ Grady on 13 June, 7 and 9 July.
One at Loop Head on 12 April. One male at Loop Head on 19 October, with one female there on 23.
1974 – 1996 1997 1974-97
Pulli = pullus or young in nest. Species that appear with and asterisk * before them might have been birds ringed outside of Clare. Pulli = pullus or young in nest.
is self explanatory, giving the place, country and co-ordinance where bird was first ringed on line one, line two the place, country and co-ordinance where bird was located, line three consist of the distance and direction the species flew.
Anavatn, N Iceland as juvenile on 18/08/96 (birds mother 4XL).
L. Foyle – N Ireland on 29/10/96, Farrihy Lake – Clare on 28/01/97, Corofin – Clare on 05/02/97, River Foyle – N Ireland on 06/04/97,
Skjalftavatn, N Iceland as an adult on 04/08/96.
R. Foyle – N Ireland on 29/10/96, Corofin – Clare on 5/2/97,
Anavatn, Jokuldalur, E Iceland as an adult on 17/08/88.
L. Swilly – Donegal on 15/01/93, Farrihy L. – Clare on 22/01/95,
Anavatn, Jokuldalur, E Iceland as a juvenile on 15/08/95.
L. Donnell on 13/12/96 and on 22/02/97, Tullabrack – Clare on 23 & 26/02/97.
Adults (a pair both ringed on same date & same location).
Skjalftavatn, N Iceland as an adult on 05/08/95.
These two birds spent from 05/11/95 to 21/02/96 at Drumcliff, Ballyallia Lake – Clare. They then returned 24/11/96 at the same location until 27/02/97.
Rangalon, Iceland as a juvenile on 15/08/95.
Norfolk – England on 06/01/95, Dundrum Bay – Down on 01/02/95, Blindwell Turlough – Galway on 25/03/95, Rangalon – Iceland on 22/06/95, Saenautavatn – Iceland on 15/08/95, Lancashire-England on 20/10/95, Norfolk – England on 21/10/95, L. Swilly – N Ireland on 04/01/96, Saenautavatn – Iceland on 18/08/96, Norfolk-England on 24/10/96 and Corofin – Clare on 05/02/97.
Right Wing: Orange Finding Details. Date.
Blue Lough Donnell, Clare. 18/10/97.
White over Orange over
Black over knee date
Yellow over Blue
White over Red Liscannor Bay, Co. Clare. 26/01/97.
Red over White
Red over Yellow Co. Clare.
The south and eastern shores are low lying cobbled bolder and sandy beaches at Coonnaluinga, Port Tobacco Cove and Coonabaud. Along this shoreline, the cliffs rise to a height of 15 to 20 feet. A small ruined house and church on this height overlook Port Tobacco Cove facing east towards Lurga Point. Craggaun Rock lies just off the island to the Northeast and Mattle Island 2km to the south. High cliffs to the western side rise to nearly 100 feet between Carricklea and Gorraun Rock. The sea has eroded a puffing hole near Coosnadread and another spectacular one called Taylor’s Hole north of the watch house (old telegraph tower) at Iffinbeg. The centre of the island rises to a hill of about 150 to 200 feet above sea level with gentle slopes, descending east and westwards. The only other high ground on the island is an area north east of Goolar Bay, which slopes gently southwards.
During visits since the early 1990’s, the main priority has been to monitor and count the breeding colonies of gulls. Four species in all breed on Mutton, these being Common, Herring, Lesser Black-backed and Great Black-backed (see distribution map on the following page). There were once small colonies of Terns recorded during the 1970’s and Cormorants also bred. But now both these species have deserted with Cormorants breeding on nearby Mattle Island to the south and no sign of any terns breeding in the surrounding area. Another seabird species, which did breed up to recent times, were Storm Petrels. Searches in early summers of 1990, ‘93 and 1995 were fruitless. Even with the aid of tape lured singing petrels and two night-time efforts to catch and ring, no birds were found or believed to be breeding. Shags and Fulmars frequent and loaf on the cliffs to the western end of the island. Both probably do breed though nesting was not observed. Caves on this western side also play host to breeding Black Guillemots with seven pairs recorded in 1990. Since this count there have only been on average of two pairs per annum during recent visits.
Mutton is of huge importance to a flock of 200 – 300 Barnacle Geese, making the island a nationally important site for this species. Occasionally figures reach high enough for international status of importance. This is also the most southerly feeding site in Ireland for such large numbers of this species. There is only one other site further south in this country that gets a tiny number annually. This is the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve. Mutton’s birds arrive in October and depart for breeding grounds in Greenland during late March early April. It is also of importance for Purple Sandpipers, which feed on Lurga Point and the beach at Seafield. This species traverse between the mainland and island during tidal cycles.
The brown rat Rattus norvegicus probably first appeared on Mutton island during the 16th Century after the Spanish Armada fleets were wrecked near Mal Rock and other rocky shelves of this coastline. Rats might have also reached the island from the mainland by swimming or walking during times of extremely low tides. Locals informed me that it is possible to walk a sand bank to the island in such conditions. For as long as anyone can remember, brown rats were always present on the island and it was only after I visited in May of 1990, that I realise the extraordinary large numbers present. On this overnight stay while surveying the island under spotlights for breeding seabirds, large concentrations of rats were observed pouring out of holes and crevices throughout. These vermin must have a huge detrimental effect on breeding bird populations, and would possibly do most damage to burrow nesting species like Storm Petrels or Manx Shearwaters, if they were present. Worldwide studies have shown that rats predate nests in many isolated islands as food source eating eggs and young as well as adults in some cases. My personal belief is that brown rats are one of the main causes for falling breeding gull numbers on Mutton Island. I also believe that they are the main reason for the desertion of Storm Petrels to nearby Mattle Island. On Mutton rats live a relatively undisturbed life with few predators to effect populations. The presence of Ravens, the odd passing raptor, or visiting humans is the only treats affecting their lives. I believe that rats have an all year round food supply, eating vegetation, seeds, plant roots, seaweed and any small invertebrate found on the shoreline. They must also eat eggs and birds especially sick or injured individuals. I have seen on the island remains of dead goats, hares and rabbits stripped of their flesh by rats. Occasionally dead mammals such as seals and dolphins get washed ashore. These carcasses would keep rats fed for weeks, eating their hosts from the inside out. Other food sources include mammal and Barnacle Geese droppings, all of which graze the island in winter. Both eat tons of grass, leaving behind thousands of nutrient enriched droppings giving a wealth of food supplies for rats.
Norman F I. 1975. The Murine rodents Rattus Rattus, Exulans, and Norvegicus as avian predators. Atoll Research Bulletin No.182. The Smithsonian Institute.
Norman F I. 1975. The Murine rodents , , and as avian predators.