Thursday, April 14, 2011

1990 Bird Report

Buff-breasted Sandpiper © John N Murphy

By Phil Brennan

The autumn of 1990 was most successful.  Coverage started early, on August 15th and visits were made on 48 days up to November 17th.  There was one spring visit.  Some small-scale tree planting was begun in 1989 and this was continued in 1990, mainly due to Declan Manley's provision of shrubs and young trees. Planting was done in Lillis's haggard, in the reeds at Kilbaha Cottage,  in the Sallow's (Marty's) and in Griffins (next to the orchard).  Let's hope they survive and provide badly-needed cover.

In both years, as in the preceding seasons, we were indebted to the Sides/Burrows family for the continued rental of Kilbaha Cottage.  Of course the hospitality of the people continues to be vital for the success of our birding and ringing, and by now, I feel we have become part of the autumn landscape there.  The tape-luring equipment sponsored by De Beers, Ireland, was very useful in both seasons.  In 1990 Aer Rianta, Shannon, became our second sponsor, the money mainly going towards the rings and badly-needed net replacements and more tape-luring gear.  In 1990, access was allowed to Gibson's and for this we are grateful.  My sincere thanks to all the birders who helped the venture.

Chronology 1990
With good coverage and favourable weather patterns, this year was one of the best so far.  A spring visit, on March 31st , showed that there was some Goldcrest passage, with 7 birds ringed.

The autumn started marvelously, with visiting seawatchers having the sites second Wilson's Petrel, four Long-tailed Skuas and a strong general seabird passage on August 15th.  A Sabine's Gull and a Great Shearwater followed on the 19th. The first Leach's Petrel (2) as well as a Great and Cory's Shearwater and another Sabine's were seen on the 29th.  Aug 30th produced a huge passage at sea, with 10,873 Manx Shearwater, 3293 Sooty Shearwater, a Great Shearwater, Sabine's Gull and a Leach's Petrel.  Leach's were prominent on Sept 5th, with 264 seen. 19 Sabine's Gulls were also counted, as well as 40 Whimbrel, 86 Great Skua, 96 Arctic Skua and 2 Great Shearwater.  Sept 6th also produced a strong passage, with 90 Leach's, 18 Grey Phalarope, 5 Sabine's and our first American waders in the form of 2 Buff-breasted Sandpipers.  A Ruff was seen on the 8th.

The period of good seawatching conditions was followed by lighter winds.   However, the only sign of movement on land were Spotted Flycatcher, Blackcap, Garden Warbler and a small Goldcrest influx in mid-month.  This all changed again on 19th, when 6 Long-tailed Skuas, 54 Pomarine Skuas, 75 Great Skuas, 33 Grey Phalarope, and a strong general passage pleased the visitors.  6 Brent Geese were seen on the 20th in light passage, and a single Long-tailed Skua on 23rd, with the autumn's first Hen Harrier on the same day.  Late September was quiet.  Redpoll, Siskin, garden Warbler were seen on the 30th.

Another Long-tailed Skua and 2 Sabine's Gulls were seen on Oct 6th.  The first Snow Bunting was seen the 7th.   Weather and coverage was poor up to the 13th, when 2 to perhaps 6 Little Buntings were located in the very windy south-westerlies and 20 Crossbills were in Kilbaha.  The 14th produced the first Yellow-browed Warbler, trapped in the orchard.  The sites's first Lesser Whitethroat was trapped in the reeds at Kilbaha on the 16th.  A Reed Warbler, a Yellow-browed Warbler and a Spotted Redshank were also seen.  The good birds continued to come with a Hobby at the Light on the 18th.  The movement of Corvids reached a peak of 2,000 Jackdaws and 500 Rooks on the 19th, with 250 Chaffinches present.  This was the first sign of good finch movement.  2 lapland Buntings flew over Kilbaha.  Another Yellow-browed Warbler appeared on the 20th, with the site's second Richard's Pipit the highlight of the day.

Corvid and Chaffinch movement continued in the following days,  with a Redstart ringed on 21st.  A Pied Flycatcher was at Gibson's on the 23rd.  Short-eared Owl and Black Redstart were seen on the 25th, with weather deteriorating for land-bird cover.  Another Black Redstart was seen on the 26th, but a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at the Bridges of Ross was the bird of the day.  Some miserable weather continued, though a surprise 16 Gadwall and 2 late Leach's Petrels passed Ross on the 30th.

Early November was generally disappointing.  This period usually produces some surprises.  However, Sabine's Gull, Yellow-browed Warbler, the site's first Long-tailed Tits, late Willow Warbler, Whooper Swan, Bullfinch, good numbers of Chaffinch and Hen Harrier were seen at this time.

Systematic List

Red-throated Diver
Six records, from Aug 29th to Oct 27th.  2 seen on Sept 5th and 6th.

Great Northern Diver
Three records of single birds, from Oct 21st to Nov 10th. 

800 per hour were seen on Aug 15th.  3795 were counted on Sept 6th, with 707 the peak hourly count.

Cory's Shearwater
One was seen on aug 29th.

Great Shearwater
Six records.  Four were seen Aug 15th.  Single birds were seen on Aug 19th, 28th, 29th, 30th and there were two on Sept 5th.
An unidentified 'LARGE SHEARWATER' not definitely recognisable as Cory's or Great, was seen on Aug 29th, and two were seen on Sept the 5th.

Sooty Shearwater
Good numbers wee recorded.  3293 were counted on Aug 30th, and 640 the previous day.  In September, the highest count was 146 on 5th September.

Manx Shearwater
Very strong passage was recorded on several days in August and September.  The highest counts were 10,873 on Aug 29th, with and average hourly rate of 1672 birds per hour.  2000 P.H. passed on Aug 15th, 400 P.H. on Sept 5th and 1432 was the days total on Sept 6th.

Balearic Shearwater
An exception 12 were counted on Aug 29th.  Two were seen Aug 28th and Sept 5th.  A single bird was recorded on Sept 19th.

Storm Petrel
500 per hour passed on Aug 15th.  %0 were counted on Oct 30th.

Wilson's Petrel
A bird was seen very close in, at about 150m, on Aug 15th.  This is the second from the Bridges of Ross.

Leach's Petrel
A reasonable season, with 390 recorded.  275, on Sept 5th, was the best day's count, and 90 were seen on 6th. Two late birds were seen on Oct 30th.

The best counts were 1479 on Aug 30th, 1783 on Sept 6th (hourly rate of 349 P.H.),  3809 on Sept 19th.  500 P.H. were counted on Oct 2nd.

Peak count, 25 on Nov 10th and 11th.

Six was the highest count in the year.

Grey Heron
Recorded most days in autumn, with five the peak count.

Mute Swan
One flew westwards over Kilbaha on Nov 5th.

Whooper Swan
Seven flew eastwards over Killbaha on 4th Nov.

Brent Goose
Three records, one Sept 5th, with 6 on Sept 6th and Nov 2nd.

4, on Sept 9th, was the 2nd site record.

16 passed Ross on Oct 30th.  This is the first site record.

Present after Oct 2nd.  40, on Oct 26th, was the best count.

30, on Oct 18th, was the best count.

Common Scoter
Three records, from Aug 29th.  7 was the peak, on Sept 19th.

Recorded on 10 days. all records were of single birds.

Hen Harrier
Six records of single birds, One was seen in September, two in October and three in November.

Recorded on 14 days; peak of three birds.

One was seen at the Light on Oct 18th.  This is the 2nd record.

Recorded on 12 days; peak of two birds.

One record.

150 were recorded on a seawatch on Sept 19th.  Up to 60 daily.

Ringed Plover
Regular, 34 at Ross Bay on Nov 7th was a peak count.

Golden Plover
55 on Oct 6th was the first sighting.  14 to 54 regularly from Oct 13th to 24th. No records thereafter in contrast to other years.

Grey Plover
2 on Nov 11th was the only record.

No records before Oct 13th when 4 seen.  Up to 60 daily to the end of October.  90 to 150 regular after Nov 6th.  Peak of 320 on Nov 7th.

One was seen on Aug 29th.

One was seen on Aug 29th and 12 on a seawatch on Sept 5th.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Two flew in from the sea at loop Head on Sept 8th.  A single bird was at Ross on Oct 26th.  These are the first site and county records.

One was seen on Sept 8th.

4 on Aug 15th and 6 on Nov 7th were the only records.

30-  40 daily, peak of 144 on Sept 9th.

Grey Phalarope
96 birds seen as follows... 5 on Aug 15th, 3 on Sept 5th, 42 on Sept 6th, 33 on Sept 19th, 6 on Sept 23rd and 7 on Oct 30th.

Regular, with no more than 10 in a day.

Three records of single birds, on Sept 9th, Nov 7th and 11th.

Few up to Oct 16th.  4 to 16 regular thereafter.  Peak of 25 on Nov 11th.

Three records of single birds, on Oct 21st, Nov 4th and 5th.

Bar-tailed Godwit
Three were seen on a seawatch on Sept 5th.

4 on Aug 15th was the first recorded.  There were six records of 1 to 3 birds.  40 were seen on Sept 5th on a seawatch at Ross.

90 were seen on Aug 30th and 100 were recorded on three days in late October and early November.

Great Skua
Recorded on twelve days from Aug 6th to Oct 30th.  282 birds were seen.  36 were seen on Aug 30th, 37 on Sept 6th and 75 on Sept 19th.  86 on Sept 5th was the peak count.

Pomarine Skua
Recorded on eight days, from Aug 15th to Oct 6th, with a total of 78 birds seen.   54 was the peak count, on Sept 19th,  otherwise 1 to 5 birds were involved in the seawatches. 

Arctic Skua
Recorded on eleven days, from Aug 15th to Oct 30th, with a total of 211 birds seen.  A very good 98 birds were counted on Sept 5th.  15 - 20 were seen on five days, and there were five days when 1 to 7 were recorded.

Long-tailed Skua
Twelve birds reported, (some records probably outstanding!).  Four juveniles were seen on Aug 15th.  Six on Sept 19th involved five juveniles and one adult.  Another juvenile was seen on Sept 23rd and the last was on Oct 6th.  This rates with 1984 and 1988 as one of the best years for these elusive birds.

Sabine's Gull
Recorded on nine days, from Aug 19th to Nov 2nd, with a grand total of 34 birds seen.  Most records were of one or two birds, but 5 were seen on Sept 6th, while the peak for the season was 19, on Sept 5th.

Black-Headed Gull
64 the peak count for Sept/Oct.  Up to 92 recorded in early November.

Common Gull
Fourteen records, with a peak of 10 on Oct 21st.

Lesser Black-backed Gull
Seen on only two days, both in September. However, Sept 5th produced an unusual count of 35 birds.

Herring Gull
Bred. 20 was the peak count on Sept 8th.

Great Black-backed Gull
Bred.  65 was the peak count, on Oct 26th.

No checks were carried out on the breeding colonies at Loop Head.
Peak hourly rates of passage were as follows... 500 P.H. on Aug 15th; 120 P.H. on Sept 5th; 600 P.H. on Oct 26th; 420 on Nov 5th.

Sandwich Tern
Few seen; all were recorded from Sept 5th, to Sept 19th.  20 on Sept 19th was the peak count.

Common Tern
Three records; 1 on Sept 5th, 8 on Sept 8th and 3 on Sept 19th.

Arctic Tern
Seen on six days; highest numbers were 60 on Aug 15th, 45 on Sept 5th, 34 on Sept 6th and 76 on Sept 19th.

Black Tern
One was seen off Ross on Aug 15th and there were two on Oct 27th.

No census of colonies.  No more than 10 positively identified on seawatches.

No census of colonies.  31 were seen off Ross on Sept 6th.

Auk Species
Best counts were 530 on Sept 19th and 250 on Sept 23rd.

Four records... 6 on Aug 15th, 1 on Sept 5th, 4 on Sept 6th and 2 on Sept 19th.

Rock Dove
Four records up to end September, with a high of 7.  Regular after Oct 14th, with a peak of 20 on Oct 22nd.

Seen on 8 days, with a peak of 3.

A good autumn! Highest counts were...  30 on Sept 9th, 53 on Sept 30th, 30 on both Oct 16th and 19th.  60 was the peak on Nov 2nd.

Bred. 300 seen on Sept 29th was unusually high.  100 were recorded on three days up to Sept 16th.  Late records were 1 on Oct 19th and 2 on Oct 21st.

Short-eared Owl
One was at the Sallows on Oct 25th.

Meadow Pipit
Highest counts... 500 on Sept 8th, 180 on Sept 15th, 300 on Sept 30th and oct 19th.  90 was the highest daily count after Oct 20th.

Richard's Pipit
One was found on the first road towards Horse Island on Oct 20th.  This is the second record for this site.

Rock Pipit
Under recorded.  The peak count was 25 birds.

Grey Wagtail
Resident. Seen almost daily, with 5 the highest count.

Pied Wagtail
Resident. Up to 30 regular.  40 was the highest count, on Nov 2nd.

Resident.  25 on Nov 11th was the highest count.

Resident. 28 were present on Nov 3rd.

Resident.  30 was the highest day's count.

Black Redstart
Only one recorded.  A single bird was seen in Kilkbaha on Oct 21st.

A juvenile male was trapped in Lillis's haggard on Oct 21st.

Up to 30 counted daily, with a peak of 40 on Oct 22nd.

Mostly seen singly.  5 were present on Oct 2nd.  The latest bird was seen on Oct 24th.

8 was the highest count up to Oct 14th.  Up to 20 were regular thereafter.  30 were counted on Oct 19th and nov 4th.  many of the late birds were obviously migrants with visible movements eastwards along the peninsula noted.

The first was a single bird, on Oct 16th.  Seen almost daily after that, in small numbers. 30, on Oct 19th, was the highest count.

Song Thrush
Bred.  Very small trickle of migrants.  Peak of 12 on Nov 4th.

The first bird was seen on Oct 16th.  The peak was 80 on october 19th.

Mistle Thrush
Bred.  2 seen almost daily after Oct 20th.

Grasshopper Warbler
Summer visitor.  No summer census.

Sedge Warbler
Present at Kilbaha in summer.

Reed Warbler
One at Gibson's on Oct 16th.

Lesser Whitethroat
One was trapped in the reeds at Kilbaha on Oct 16th.  This is the first site and county record.

Garden Warbler
Three records, Two were trapped at Kilbaha, on Sept 15th and 30th.  A third was killed at the Light and found freshly dead there on Oct 21st.

18 records, as follows...

September: 2 on 15th.     October: 2 on 16th        November: 1 on 3rd
                     1 on 19th                      1 on 19th                            1 on 5th
                     1 on 29th                      2 on 20th                            3 on 6th
                                                          1 on 22nd                           1 on 7th
                                                          1 on 25th
                                                          1 on 26th

38 birds seen, 5 in September, 29 in October, 4 in early November.

Willow Warbler
Present on 18 days in all, seen on 9 days in Sept, 8 in Oct and 1 in Nov.  This last was recorded on Nov 4th.  Four was the peak count, on Sept 15th.3, on Sept 30th.

Spring... 7 ringed on March 31st.
Autumn... peak counts were 2o on Sept 16th, Oct 13th, 23rd, 24th and 25th.  
Numerical breakdown was as follows;

Sept: 62     Oct: 154     Nov: 38

Spotted Flycatcher
10 bird-days, involving 5 to 6 birds, from Aug 31st to Oct 19th.

Pied Flycatcher
Five sightings from Oct 16th to 25th, all apparently of the same bird.

Long-tailed Tit
Two birds were trapped in Lillis's haggard on Nov 4th, having being seen earlier moving eastwards at the Sallows.  This is the first site record for this species.

Coal Tit
Single birds were seen on Sept 15th/16th and Oct 21st/22nd.

Blue Tit
Usually up to 25 per day regularly counted.

Great Tit
Up to 10 recorded daily.

Up to 45 recorded daily. 

Recorded almost daily, with a peak of 8 on Oct 14th.

From 17th/18th Oct, big movements were observed.  300 were seen on Oct 18th, a massive 2,000 on 19th, 300 on 21st, 600 on 22nd, 200 on 25th.
In November there were 500 on the 2nd, 800 on the 3rd, 400 on the 5th, 150 on the 6th.
This year more Rooks than usual were moving with the Jackdaws.  Birds moved S or SW in the Kerry direction on Oct 19th.  60 on oct 25th went west very high but returned.  100 -150, on Nov 3rd, flew due west, rising to about 1000-5000 feet and disappeared from binocular vision westwards.

Far more present than in any previous year.  Peak counts were as follows... Oct; 500 on the 19th, 200 on 21st, 150 on 22nd.  Nov; 100 on 2nd, 200 on 3rd, 100 on 4th, 150 on 5th, 200 on 6th, 100 on 7th.

Hooded Crow
Maximum of 20 on three days in late October and early November.

1 - 5 usually seen daily.  9, on Nov 6th, was the highest count.

More present in September than usual, with 800 on the 9th, 1000 on the 15th and 500 on 16th.  Late Oct numbers normally ranged from 70-250, with 400 on the 26th.  300-500 were recorded on five days in early November.

House Sparrow
Up to 45 recorded daily.

Tree Sparrow
Recorded on nine days in Oct/Nov, with a maximum of 4 on Oct 14th.

The only September records were 2 and 3 on the 29th/30th.  October passage was thin until the 19th, when 250 appeared.  200 to 220 were seen daily from Oct 21st to 25th, and reasonable conditions permitted good trapping, with 154 ringed.  100 was the peak count on 2nd and 5th Nov.
A female, ringed in Cleveland, England, on 25.3.90, was caught on Nov 4th.  Presumably this bird was on its way back to Europe when ringed.

Recorded on 10 days, an unusually high incidence for the area. There were 2 records in Sept, 5 in Oct and 3 in Nov.  8 to 12 were seen on Oct 18th - 20th, otherwise 1 to 2 birds involved. 

Commoner than usual, with 14 records between Oct 15th and Nov 10th.  10 to 12 were seen on Oct 20th-25th.

Present on 9 days.  The earliest were 3, on Sept 30th. Most were seen from Oct 14th onwards, with a maximum of 3 in any day.

Up to 80 in early Sept, building to 120 by Sept 29th.  30 to 180 (on Oct 14th) was the October range.  Numbers declined after Oct 22nd and 50 was the peak thereafter.

Seven records, from Sept 15th onwards, 5, on Oct 26th, was the maximum in a day, otherwise 1-3 seen.

The second record of the species for the site came in windy conditions on Oct 13th. 20 birds were seen to come out of Lillis's haggard and fly into the fuscias.  This coincided with sightings at Poulnabrone, in the Burren, on the same day.

A male was trapped on Nov 4th, the 5th record to date.

Lapland Bunting
Two were seen flying over Connolly's on Oct 19th.

Snow Bunting
Scarce.  1-2 seen on six days from Oct 7th onwards.

Reed Bunting
25 again the daily maximum.

Little Bunting
Four were sheltering in a gale at loop Head on Oct 13th.  Two were later located on the afternoon of the same day at one of the ruins on the first road to Horse Island.  This is the second recording of the species here.


Ringing Report

In 1990, the total of 707 birds ringed reflected somewhat better weather and reasonable coverage at critical periods.  Only one Storm Petrel catching session took place, but this was done near the Head, the first such effort away from the traditional site at Ross. Goldcrest numbers were again lower, though the trapping of seven in late March indicated some spring movement.

Migrating Chaffinches dominated the ringing totals, and even though the peak daily totals were not high, the sampling was good.  The catching of an English-ringed Chaffinch was a boost.  From the date of ringing, it is a strong possibility that this bird was on its way back to Europe when ringed. Goldfinch and Greenfinch were well represented in the totals and numbers of Swallow, Reed Bunting were also up.  A Redstart and three Yellow-browed Warblers were trapped, one of these being our latest, on Nov 5th.  The 'best' bird was our first Lesser Whitethroat, trapped in the reeds below Kilbaha Cottage.  Long-tailed Tit was also a site first.  Tree Sparrows continue to be caught in small numbers, indicating continued breeding.

Ringing Totals for 1990

Storm Petrel                     88
Sparrowhawk                    2
Swallow                            40
Meadow Pipit                   31
Grey Wagtail                      1
Pied Wagtail                       6
Robin                                34                        
Redstart                              1
Stonechat                          14
Blackbird                          29
Song Thrush                     13
Redwing                              3
Mistle Thrush                     1
Lesser Whitethroat            1
Garden Warbler                2
Blackcap                           10
Yellow-browed Warbler   3
Chiffchaff                          12
Willow Warbler                  7
Goldcrest                           42
Spotted Flycatcher             2
Long-tailed Tit                    2
Blue Tit                              53
Great Tit                            10
Magpie                               10
Jackdaw                               3
Rook                                   12
Starling                                 2
House Sparrow                  10    
Tree Sparrow                      4
Chaffinch                         154
Greenfinch                           7 
Goldfinch                           10
Linnet                                 24
Bullfinch                               1
Reed Bunting                     44

Grand Total                     705


F767365  Chaffinch     25.3.90     Near Moosrsholm, Cleveland, England
                                     4.11.90     Loop Head

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