Saturday, 2 July 2016

Dalkey's Terns

I'm back in Dublin for the week for the sole reason of taking care of my folks following my mother's hip replacement (now back at home and thankfully making a very speedy recovery). I had a very brief window of time to pop down to Coliemore Harbour and scope the tern colonies on Dalkey Island.

Dalkey Island from Coliemore Harbour - 30th June 2016

For several years Birdwatch Ireland have been putting out nest boxes on the adjacent Maiden's Rock and Lamb Island. Both Arctic and Common Terns breed there and Roseate Terns have bred in the past. More detail here
On Wednesday evening I popped down for an hour and by chance met with Noel Keogh (father of intrepid Celtic Explorer and Cahow finder Niall Keogh). We both scoped the terns out on Maiden's Rock where there was a mix of Common and Arctic Terns. Mostly seemed to be Arctic Terns but there as so much activity it was tricky to make any sort of a count. I could see chicks so some birds have bred. Unfortunately, the fifty or so Arctic Terns that were present on Lamb's Rock last week had since abandoned the area - possibly due to disturbance - rats and goats cause problems and the general public can cross onto that island at low tide.
This year sadly there are no breeding Roseate's present. However across Dublin Bay on Rockabill Island its been a record year with 1,556 breeding pairs. Rockabill is the Europe's largest Roseate Tern colony - more detail on the superb Rockablog
Also around Coliemore Harbour there are several pairs of Black Guillemots nesting in the harbour walls. I'm ashamed to say I used to take these fine birds for granted but with only occasional views of non-breeding birds off the Norfolk coast, I've begun to appreciate how smart they actually are. I went back with the camera for an hour on Friday evening and despite poor light, I managed some shots of a pair that were sitting on the harbour wall, preening and calling (maybe to entice young birds from the nest??).

Black Guillemots, Coliemore Harbour, Dalkey, Co. Dublin
I also had a couple of Ravens overhead, three Common Scoter, several Gannets and a steady movement of Manx Shearwaters on the far side of Dalkey Sound between the island and the Muglins Lighthouse.

Panoramic of Maidens Rock, Lamb and Dalkey Islands and around to Coliemore Harbour

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