Saturday, 23 July 2016

A week cruising the Shannon

My parents were celebrating a very special anniversary this year so at the end of June the family hired a boat on the Shannon in the West of Ireland and we spent a week cruising.  Needless to say along the way there were some birds and I managed to get a few photos;

At the very start we had a visit from this Mute Swan with the family, including one catching a lift on mum or dads back.
Dotted all along the river were our old friend the Grey Heron.  These amazing birds seem to be everywhere.
And another!

A long distance shot catching a couple of Tufted Duck and Black Headed Gulls.  All along the river there are small islands that are packed with birds.
Just so you know there is other wildlife, this I think is an Irish Hare, a good deal redder than those seen elsewhere.  Maybe this is where the red haired Irish comes from.
A Red Breasted Robin singing sweetly in the trees next to the monastery ruins at Clonmacnoise.
This I think is a Greenfinch.  I have enhanced the photo a good deal, it was very overcast and raining at the time, all I could see looking at it was a blackish bird.
Great Black Backed Gulls were all along the river and are actually very large birds when you see them up close.
And another!
On a couple of occasions I heard the Pheasant in the distance but only managed to see this one.

Cormorants (Great) were also pretty common all along the river.
Another very common bird all along the river was the Hooded Crow.  These were to be seen singly and in small groups pretty much everywhere.

The Black Headed Gull were also a common sight, this one actually tackled a Great Black Backed Gull for access to this fish and won, well for a short time!

And another.
Also dotted along the river were some Whooper Swans, these are showing as rare in the area for the time of year around this area but I have to say they were not rare at all during my visit.
And another
I visited the ruins at Clonmacnoise, an ancient Irish monastery  , to catch up with a bit of my countries history, but as I was walking up the hill from the river was this Thrush seeking out lunch in the grass
All around the ruins were pairs of Jackdaws.  Many appeared to be nesting in gaps in the walls of the ruins.
Actually, something I have never noticed before, who knew they had blue eyes!!
A small group of Starlings perched on the top of the round tower.

A very camera shy Chaffinch in the trees near Banagher.  He was singing loudly, but did not like me taking photos.
Also near Banagher was this female Blackbird with a little breakfast.
OK a rubbish shot but it was taken from a moving boat!  There were quite a few Reed Buntings along the river but very difficult to get a decent shot of them.
A Redshank along the bank, there were also quite a few of these spaced out along the river.
I am not great on juvenile Gulls but I think this is a 2nd winter Great Black Backed Gull.
The Pied Wagtail was another very common bird along the river, I counted 18 in one particular spot chasing each other around the shoreline.

At Lanesborough I notices a good deal of high speed bird activity which initially I thought were Swallows, however on close inspection I saw they were almost all House Martins.  Later on I found a group of 5 nests at the roof line of a riverside building.  There were young in there but could not really get a good view.

At the rear of the building there was one pair still in the process of building their nest.

And yes, there were some Barn Swallows too, I was not totally off the mark.  These are nesting under the bridge with 4 young.  There were others but further along the bridge.

Behind the building with the Martins, as a field with scrub which was very much to the delight of this Redpoll, feeding on the seeds.
As was this Bullfinch.

And this Goldfinch.  There were not many of any of these three birds , although the field was large so there may have been more.  By now it was raining so I did not stay.

Can you see me??
Usually easier to hear than see, the Wren was very well represented all along the river.
The Great Tit was a  common sight along the river also.

Some were still feeding young.
I did not see very many Blue Tits along the river until Dromad where there were quite a lot.

Modern cameras are really wonderful things.  It was almost twilight when I took this and all I could really see was a black bird on a twig but having brightened and cropped it a bit, turns out to be a beautiful Greenfinch.

Not spent very much time birding in Ireland, but definitely thing it is on the agenda for another visit soon. 

Saturday, 16 July 2016

A visit to the zoo - Martin Mere

I had the chance to spend some time birding during a hectic return trip to Ireland and the UK and finally managed to get over to the wildlife centre at Martin Mere in Lancashire.  The site is very well laid out with a track running the length of the Mere with hides all along to allow you to spot wild visitors to the area.  The other side is a kind of bird park with wildfowl from all over the world to look at.  I spent a long time in the hides and will report separately on sightings there.  However I thought you might like to see some holiday snaps from the zoo side. :)

Cape Teal

Greater Flamingo

Ferruginous Duck

Marbled Teal

A local pinching a free meal

Red Breasted Goose


Red-Breasted Goose


Red-Crested Polchard

Argentine Ruddy Duck

Bar Headed Goose

Ruddy Shelduck

Black Swan

This is the best view I got of this Crane, it hid from me !!

Cape Barren Goose

Avocet another bird seen both in the display and outside

White Faced Whistling Duck

African Comb Duck

Andean Goose

Southern Screamer

Lesser White-fronted Goose with little ones



Shelduck and family
Eurasian Crane

Bewick's Swan




Tufted Duck
Views on the wild side of the mere will follow soon.

© Bernard Bracken