Watching your local wildlife, even the familiar characters that surround you every day, is a rewarding and worthwhile experience. But it's always exciting when something a little out of the ordinary shows up.That happened here on the West Cork coast a few days ago, when news broke that a local birder had found an adult Rose-coloured Starling (Pastor roseus) near Galley … [Read more...] about Rose coloured starling on holiday in West Cork
I've always had a soft spot for buzzards.I grew up on the North Wales coast, where buzzards were relatively common. I'd hear their lofty mewling calls as I walked to meet the school bus in the morning, and would watch them soaring overhead in the afternoon as I returned home. They were a mainstay of my wildlife-watching education -- a fundamental component of my … [Read more...] about Buzzards on patch… what a buzz!
As a heritage specialist with the wonderful Heritage in Schools scheme I get to visit some fabulous schools in some amazing places. One of the most interesting recent visits was to the school on Bere Island off Castletownbere in West Cork.As always it was a privilege to talk to the children (and their teachers) about their local wildlife, and to get out and show … [Read more...] about Eagles, orchids, seals and exploring nature with children… what’s not to love?
Under the banner of Operation Godwit an international team of scientists has been studying the Icelandic black-tailed godwit since the 1990s. Unique combinations of colour rings placed on the birds' legs on their breeding grounds in Iceland and on their wintering grounds in Western Europe allow individual birds to be identified, and mean that when birdwatchers around Europe … [Read more...] about Cork school children contribute to international godwit study
For many a budding birder, myself included, gulls can be an absolute nightmare!There's just so much plumage variation across the different year classes, and lots of potential overlap between species in sub-adult gulls that accurate identification can be extremely taxing, and scanning gull roosts in (inevitably) low light in an attempt to pick out something different soon … [Read more...] about Ross’s Gull: this little beauty makes even gulls seem sexy!
Given clear views on the ground adult crow species generally present few ID problems... but throw juveniles into the mix, and birds in flight at distance, and they become surprisingly tricky.There are clues you can use to identify crows accurately even in these situations. In this video the BTO run through the common crow species -- all of which breed here in Ireland, with … [Read more...] about Know your crows — how to identify corvids with the BTO
I was born in London but whenever anyone asks me where I’m from my stock answer is always that I am a black, Afropean, child of the earth and Honorary Irishman. I particularly cherish the ‘Honorary Irishman’ bit of my epithet because I really do feel a close affinity with the Emerald Isle. When I first came into this world my early days were spent in northwest London, initially … [Read more...] about The Urban Birder in Ireland
Ireland's Wildlife has teamed up with premium Czech optics manufacturer Meopta to bring you a series of four articles focussed on Beginning Birdwatching.Launching later this month, the series looks at why we watch birds; the relationship between birds, habitats and seasons in Ireland; bird identification basics and choosing the right birding equipment. It is aimed squarely … [Read more...] about New beginning birding series in association with Meopta Optics
I love wildlife, and I love walking. Best of all I love walking where I can watch wildlife and share what I see with other interested people. It was on one of these wildlife walks on the stunning West Cork coastline (see the photo -- no exaggeration) that I had one of those "eureka" moments. "Why not offer guided wildlife and nature walks through the Ireland's Wildlife … [Read more...] about New wildlife walks get you closer to nature
Sunday was an exciting day.A late-night exchange on Viber as Saturday drew to a close had me scrambling to get organised for a very early start the next morning. It was half-past midnight by the time I was ready. I set the alarm for half-past-four, and proceeded to not get any sleep for four hours. Yikes!What on earth had possessed me?One of these... that's … [Read more...] about Early start for Ireland’s first Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius mongolus)
The BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) has produced a superb series of bird ID videos to help birders tell commonly confused species apart. The latest instalment in the series tackles the differences between black redstart and the rarer (in Ireland) common redstart.The most likely time to encounter either of these birds in Ireland is on passage during spring and autumn … [Read more...] about Bird Identification: telling black redstart and common redstart apart
If you're a birder in Britain or Ireland then chances are you already know about the upcoming publication of "Bird Atlas 2007-2011".The culmination of one of the most ambitious citizen science projects ever undertaken, Bird Atlas brings together data on bird populations collected by tens of thousands of dedicated volunteers across the British Isles. It has been described … [Read more...] about Bird Atlas 2007-2011 — save 33% before 31 July
Brian Caffrey, co-ordinator of BirdTrack for Irish partner organisation, Birdwatch Ireland, introduces this new tool for recording and managing your personal bird records, and contributing to a body of data that helps inform bird conservation on a local, regional, national and international level.BirdTrack (www.birdtrack.net) is an exciting project that looks at … [Read more...] about BirdTrack… a smart new way to record the birds you see
One of the most appealing things about nature is that you never really know what to expect. Every time you venture outdoors there's a sense of heightened anticipation as you wonder what you might encounter.In Ireland at least that sense of the unknown tends to include the weather. This morning, for example, it was snowing. Snow... and it's nearly April. Nuts! But the cold … [Read more...] about Join us for a spring wildlife extravaganza this April
Yesterday I dropped everything and went hightailing down to Mizen Head -- Ireland's most southerly point -- with a birding friend for an opportunity that was just too good to miss.Ducks.Yes, that's right, ducks. And pretty unusual ducks at that.While the two chaps in the photo (a very dodgy-scoped effort taken hand-holding my ancient 2MP iPhone3GS camera up to the … [Read more...] about American black duck… maybe I’m going quackers…!
Every winter our resident blackbirds, song thrushes and mistle thrushes are joined by an influx of visiting northern European thrushes: fieldfare and redwing.The birds usually start to arrive from late September / early October, and stay until early March... with some lingering a little later.Redwing are songthrush sized, and are possible to confuse with song thrush if … [Read more...] about Know your Winter Thrushes: Fieldfare and Redwing ID from the BTO
Two secondary school students from Co. Cork are in the process of conducting an intriguing experiment to ascertain how birds are influenced by colour, and how that affects their foraging and feeding habits.Jemma Dearden and her friend Gill Blackburn, who are currently in the transition year at Loreto Convent Secondary school in Fermoy, were short listed to attend the BT … [Read more...] about Are birds influenced by colour? BT Young Scientist needs your help
The influx of waxwings continues, with reports of these striking birds coming in from all over the country.I finally managed to hook up with a small flock in Clonakilty, County Cork over the weekend... and what a lovely lot they were too. Here are a few photographs.The waxwing irruption seems to have been prompted by a combination of a good breeding year (boosting … [Read more...] about Waxwing invasion of Ireland continues