Wednesday, April 13, 2011

1989 Bird Report

Yellow Wagtail © John N Murphy

By Phil Brennan

After the marvelous autumn of 1988, the succeeding year proved most disappointing.  Coverage in '89 was poor, with observers present on only 27 days, from September 11th to November 15th.  Fifteen days were covered in October. Despite this reduced effort, I doubt that much was missed.

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 1989
A September with virtually none of the usual gales and an entire autumn with very few southerlies or south-easterlies was a sure recipe for little of interest on either sea or land.  That only one species new to the area was recorded is ample evidence of a poor season. 

Very little seawatching was done, with only one day, September 16th, producing a reasonable passage of Leach's Petrels, skuas and a few Sabine;s Gulls.  Bad weather and unsuitable winds lasted through September, ruling out coverage of the usual areas for land-birds.  September 30th, however promised an improvement, when a Yellow Wagtail was at the light at dawn, and a Red-breasted Flycatcher and a Turtle Dove were later found at Kilbaha, with Goldcrests plentiful.  The day was rounded off with10 Snow Buntings, also at the Head.  October 1st produced an Ortolan Bunting, heard over Kilbaha, as well as a Redstart.

On 4th October a Spotted Crake, a first for the area, was found dead on the cliffs at the Head.  Whinchat, Redstarts, and Black Tern were seen in early October, but mid-month was a disaster due to returning bad weather.  Coverage was almost continual from Oct 22nd to Nov 15th, and the ringing totals were good despite some truly horrible days.  There were several days with gale-force winds, reaching a vicious force 10 on Oct 28th.  "You've got to be joking" was Dave Borton's only entry under 'Observations' in the log for that day.

Good corvid movements were recorded in late October and good numbers of Chaffinches were ringed.  Early November was again very poor, though Blackcap and Song Thrush were relatively very common on the few good days.  An Eider was found in the harbour on 13th and remained until coverage ended on the 15th.  Ironically, some perfect 'migration weather' came in late November, when the migration season was over!

Systematic List

Red-throated Diver
Three records, from Oct 7th to Nov 3rd.  3 seen on Oct 22nd.

Great Northern Diver
Five records. From Sept 16th to November 5th. 3 seen on Sept 16th and Oct 30th.

The best passage was 800 per hour on Aug 12th.

Great Shearwater
One was seen on Aug 12th.
An unidentified 'LARGE SHEARWATER' not definitely recognisable as Cory's or Great, was seen on Aug 29th, 1990 and two seen on Sept 5th.

Sooty Shearwater
A poor season. 58 was the best count, on Aug 12th, and 42 were seen on Aug 16th.

Manx Shearwater
Best counts were 1500 per hour on Aug 12th and 500 P.H.  on Aug 26th.  302 was an early count, on July 28th.

Storm Petrel
Few seen. One was attracted to the Light on the night of Oct 30th.  Two late birds were recorded on Nov 4th.

Leach's Petrel
In all, a very poor season, with only 47 recorded.  38 was the best count, on Sept 19th.  3 late birds were seen on Nov 4th.

100 per hour were seen on September 16th. A late count of 55 P.H. was recorded on Nov 3rd.

Peak count, 20 on Aug 12th.

Six was the highest count in the year.

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

3 at Cloghaun Lough on Oct 1st.

Small numbers seen from Sept 2nd.  14 was the peak, on Oct 4th.

25 on Sept 24th, was the best count.

Common Scoter
Seen on four days from Aug 12th.  10 was the peak, on Oct 13th.

A female or immature bird was present in Kilbaha harbour from Nov 13th to 15th.

Long-tailed Duck
A male was seen off Ross on Oct 7th.

Recorded on 10 days. Peak of two birds.

Recorded on 8 days; peak count was two birds.

Recorded on 8 days all single sightings.

One heard on July 9th.

Three records of single birds.

Spotted Crake
One was found dead on the cliffs at the Head on October 4th.

Peak count of 100. Mostly 20 - 70 recorded daily.

Ringed Plover
Bred. Regular with a peak of 20 on Sept 16th.

Golden Plover
10 on Sept 3rd was the first sighting.  25 to 60 irregularly seen in October.  Recorded almost daily after Oct 21st, peaking at 430 on Oct 31st.

Single birds seen on Aug 30th and Sept 1st.  30 to 150 regular from Oct 22nd, peaking at 160 on Nov 2nd.

11 on Sept 16th was the only sighting.

One was seen on Aug 26th.

Five records in September, peaking at 21 on the 2nd.

Present on July 9th.  Up to 40 daily, peaking at 100 on Nov 3rd.

Purple Sandpiper
Four records involving up to 4 birds, in October/November.

Phalarope Species; 
Single birds, probably Grey Phalaropes, were recorded singly on 12th and 26th and Sept 16th. 

Regular, usually less than 12 in a day; peak of 30 on Oct 1st.

Single birds were seen on Sept 2nd and Oct 7th.

1 to 10 daily.  Peak count of 36 on Oct 3rd.

three were attracted to the Light in bad weather on the night of Oct 30th.  One was seen Nov 2nd.

3 seen on July 9th.  An exceptional 302 and 206 were recorded on seawatches on July 27th and Aug 12th respectively.  16 were seen on Sept 16th.  There were eight records of 1 to 3 birds.

40 to 50 were regular with peak of 90 on September 3rd.

Common Sandpiper
Single birds were recorded at Ross on July 19th and 23rd.

Great Skua
Recorded on nine days from Aug 12th to Nov 3rd; 68 birds seen.  31 were counted on Sept 16th, otherwise 1 to 13 seen.

Pomarine Skua
The only records were single birds seen on Aug 12th and 26th.

Arctic Skua
Recorded on six days, from Aug 12th to Oct 7th with a total of 34 birds seen.  The peak count was of 19 on September 16th, and 1 to 5 birds were otherwise seen.

Sabine's Gull
A very poor year with only 6 reported, as follows.... 3 on Sept 16th, 2 on Oct 7th, 1 on Nov 4th.

Black-Headed Gull
150, on July 9th, was the peak count.  Generally less than 25 daily, with 70 on Oct 22nd.

Common Gull
150, on July 9th, was the peak count.  Generally less than 25 daily, with 70 on Oct 2nd.

Lesser Black-backed Gull
Eight records, with a peak of 14 on Aug 12th.

Herring Gull
Bred. 40 was the peak count, recorded Oct 29th and Nov 5th.

Great Black-backed Gull
Bred.  50 was the peak count, on Oct 22nd.

No checks were carried out on the breeding colonies at Loop Head.
Peak hourly rates of passage were recorded at Ross.. 100 P.H. on Aug 26th; 300 P.H. on Sept 22nd; 550 P.H. on Nov 3rd.

Sandwich Tern
Seen irregularly from Aug 12th to Sept 16th.  Highest counts were 41 on Aug 26th, 67 on Sept 3rd and 57 on Sept 16th.

Common Tern
Two records; 2 were seen on Aug 12th and 1 on Aug 16th.

Arctic Tern
One on Sept 16th was the only record.

'Comic' Tern
40 were seen on Aug 26th.

Black Tern
One was seen off Ross on Oct 7th.

No census of colonies.  40 were seen off Ross on Oct 28th.

No census of colonies.  50 were seen off Ross on Oct 7th.

Auk Species
100 were seen on Oct 28th and there were 60 per hour on Nov 3rd.

One, on Aug 12th, was the only record.

Rock Dove
Probably bred in cave below turret at Kilbaha.  Irregular throughout the autumn, with peak of 11 on Aug 3rd and Oct 1st.

Scarce breeder.  No more that 2 or 3 seen on any one day.

Collared Dove
Spring... 8 were in Kilbaha on May 10th. No autumn records.

Turtle Dove
Single birds were seen on Sept 30th.

22 on Nov 2nd was the highest count.  20+ were seen on Oct 8th.

Bred.  Over 100 were seen on Sept 2nd, with 45 on Sept 24th.  The latest was a singleton on Oct 22nd.

House Martin
2 were seen on July 9th.

Meadow Pipit
Numbers lower than usual. 200 was the peak count, on Sept 30th.  100 were seen on Sept 3rd, Oct 4th and 23rd. No more than 60 per day after Oct 27th.

Rock Pipit
60 was the peak count, on Oct 23rd.

Yellow Wagtail
One was at the lighthouse on dawn on Sept 30th.

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

Pied Wagtail
Resident. No White Wagtails see.


Resident. Seldom counted.

Resident.  30 was the highest day's count.

Three or four records. One was at the conifers opposite Lillis's on Oct 1t.  This may have been the bird seen in Gibson's on Oct 7th and 8th. A male was at the Light on Oct 4th and a different bird was trapped in the Sallows on the same day.

One was at the Light on Oct 14th.

Present in good numbers, with up to 35 normal daily.  50 were counted on Oct 1st.

An exceptional 25 were counted on July 10th.   The autumn peak was of 7 on Oct 4th.  None were seen after Oct 7th.

Up to mid-October, 10 was the most seen daily. 4 to 20n daily after Oct 22nd.

The first was a single bird, on Oct 23rd.  Scarce in November; 120 on Nov 4th was the only sizeable count.

Song Thrush
Bred.  No migrants appeared until Oct 25th/26th, but no more than 10 seen at this time.  50 arrived with other thrushes, on Nov 13th and 20 were seen on the following day.

12, on Oct 22nd, was the first record.  150 were seen on Nov 13th and Nov 15th.

Mistle Thrush
Bred.  5 appeared on Oct 26th and 2 to 4 were present in mid Nov.

Grasshopper Warbler
Summer visitor.  No summer census.

Sedge Warbler
Present at Kilbaha in July.  No summer census.

Garden Warbler
Only one, at the Light, on Oct 1st.

20 records, most late in the season, as follows...

September: No Records.     October: 1 on 1st        November: 2 on 13th
                                                             4 on 22nd                         6 on 14th
                                                             4 on 26th                          1 on 15th
                                                             1 on 27th
                                                             1 on 30th

43 birds seen, 8 in September, 26 in October, 9 in early November.

Willow Warbler
3, on Sept 30th, was the solitary record.

One early record, on Aug 12th.  Peak counts were 40 on Sept 30th and 30 on Oct 1st.
Numerical breakdown was as follows;

Aug:1     Sept: 51     Oct: 79     Nov: 24

Spotted Flycatcher
One, on Oct 4th.

Red-breasted Flycatcher
One was in the area between Crotty's and Gibson's on Sept 30th.

Pied Flycatcher
One, on Oct 1st.

Coal Tit
Three records, one on Sept 24th, 2 on Oct 4th and 1 on Oct 8th.

Blue Tit
Usually up to 20 seen daily, with 40 seen on Oct 1st.

Great Tit
Up to 8 recorded daily.

Up to 25 recorded daily. Nested in guttering of church and on electricity poles.

Recorded almost daily, with a peak of 8 on Sept 30th.\

Bred.  Movements noted from Oct 22nd.  100+ recorded on seven days.  500 on Oct 23rd, 200 on Oct 26th, 300 on Oct 30th, 200 on Nov 1st and 250 on Nov 3rd were the highest counts.  The October counts involve westward movements over Kilbaha.

In October, peak movements were 70 on Oct 22nd, 60 on Oct 26th, 100 on Oct 30th with 120 on Nov 13th.  The first three of these counts coincided with Jackdaw movements.

Hooded Crow
Up to 30 present on three days in October.

Bred.  1 to 9 usually seen daily, with an unusual high of 35 on Oct 26th, a day of good corvid movement.

200-350 normal from Sept to Nov, peaking at 500 on Oct 30th.

House Sparrow
Up to 30 recorded daily.

Tree Sparrow
Breeding reported from three sites within the recording area.  Recorded on six days in Oct/Nov.  5 seen on Oct 1st was the maximum count.

Early records were one on Aug 12th and two on Sept 30th.  The first significant day.  600 were present on Oct 26th and 180 on the 30th.  These latter two counts were in timing with Redpoll and Brambling arrivals.  80 was the peak for early November.

4 were present on Oct 26th and single birds were seen on Nov 13th and 15th.

Three records; 3 on Aug 12th, 5 on Oct 1st and 3 on Oct 7th.

Two records.  12 birds arrived with other finches on Oct 30th. One was seen on Nov 12th.

The only record was of 2 birds on Oct 30th.

80 were seen on Aug 12th.   In Sept/Oct, numbers were normally in the range 15 to 64, with peak of 100 on Oct 1st.  Scarce in Nov.

Recorded on six days after oct 4th; 30, on Oct 26th, was the peak.  15 were seen on Oct 30th, with 1-3 otherwise seen.

Snow Bunting
Seen on nine days from Sept 16th to Oct 31st.  1-3 birds normally encountered, with a maxima of 10 on Sept 30th/Oct 1st.

Ortlolan Bunting
One was over the Kilbaha Cottage area on Oct 1st.

Reed Bunting
Up to 25 seen daily.


Ringing Report

The autumn of 1989 was generally very poor for ringing, all due to adverse (perverse?) weather.  Only 484 birds were ringed.  Even when good numbers of, for instance, Chaffinch, were present, relatively few were caught.  Goldcrest numbers were down.  Two summer sessions at the Bridges  produced reasonable catches of Storm Petrel.  One of the petrels was to turn up in August 1990 on the east coast of Scotland.  Redstart was the rarest bird caught and the trapping of five Tree Sparrows reflected their improved breeding success, though passage can't be ruled out.

Ringing Totals for 1989

Storm Petrel             146
Swallow                        1
Meadow Pipit              5
Rock Pipit                    1
Pied Wagtail                3
Robin                         24                        
Redstart                       1
Stonechat                   16
Blackbird                   21
Song Thrush              11
Redwing                     13
Blackcap                     14
Chiffchaff                   16
Willow Warbler           3
Goldcrest                    50
Coal Tit                        3
Blue Tit                      31
Great Tit                      6
Jackdaw                       9
Rook                             3
Starling                         7
House Sparrow            3
Tree Sparrow              5
Chaffinch                   66
Brambling                    4
Linnet                           7
Redpoll                         8
Reed Bunting               7

Grand Total             484


231476     Storm Petrel      22.7.89     Loop Head
                                          11.8.90     Girdleness, Grampian, Scotland

2314530   Storm Petrel      26.6.88     Loop Head
                                           20.7.89     Lundy Island, Devon, England

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