16th - 20th February 2008
(9 Iceland Gulls)
a brief break over half term Margaret and I decided to accompany Pete Marsh on a
five day trip to Ireland to look at some wintering gulls. We travelled from
Liverpool departing at 20.15 arriving in Cork 45 minutes later. We collected our
hire car with ease and made our way around Cork out to Ballycotton for our first
start the day we headed towards Youghal for one of our target birds, arriving at
Redbarn we wandered out onto the beach splitting up left and right to walk down
the tideline. We soon came across Meadow Pipits, Stonechats and a few Rock
Pipits. When to the west side we found the long staying Buff-bellied
Pipit present with a Rock Pipit showing well allowing us to examine
the subtle differences between the two. Also on the beach were Sanderlings
and many Hooded Crows.
1st winter Iceland Gulls
Youghal we headed north arriving at Galway shortly after lunch, as we pulled up
at Nimmo’s Pier amongst the feeding swans we could see one, two, three, four,
…. ten Iceland Gulls minimum sat on the shore waiting for some bread
along with many Common and Black-headed Gulls. Over the rest of
the day we counted a minimum of 2 adults, 2 2nd winters and 13 1st
winter Iceland Gulls in the area.
2nd winter Iceland Gull
Adult Iceland Gull
then bumped into Paul Hackett, who was photographing the gulls and had been for the last
few days. He kindly informed us of all the spots before taking us around to
the docks where the 1st winter American Herring Gull was
present sat on a roof top along side two Iceland Gulls and a probable 3rd
winter Kumlien’s Gull, the one with one leg! After having great views
of the American Herring Gull coming to bread we made our way back round
to Nimmo’s Pier where all the gulls had gone.
Herring, Iceland and American Herring Gull
American Herring Gull
3rd winter Kumlien's Gull
the tide was in we walked across towards the sea and viewed the rocky shoreline
where some of the Iceland Gulls were now roosting along with 6 Sandwich
Terns and the Forster’s Tern. Back at the swans the gulls had
returned with brief visits of 2 adult Ring-billed Gulls as the sun set.
the morning we remained around Galway spending most of the time at a misty
Nimmo’s Pier until midday when the sun started to shine. Iceland Gulls
were all around again and on arrival a different adult Ring-billed Gull
from the day before was sat on the shore edge. But then everything took to the
air and reason became clear when Margaret spotted an Otter climbing down the rocks
on the nearby wall dropping into the water being carried off by the strong
current. Few bird came and went when a familiar faced dropped in, the American
Herring Gull that showed superbly well among the gathered gulls. A quick
walk down the pier produced a single Common Sandpiper.
American Herring Gull
that we had taken enough photos we decided to leave the gulls in peace and made
our way down the coast stopping at Tralee quickly locating 2 adult Ring-billed
Gulls on a village pond with another on the estuary down the road. An
evening seawatch produced 7 Great Northern Divers.
stop of the day was Dingle Harbour where two 1st winter Glaucous
Gulls were present and an adult Ring-billed Gull made a brief fly
over along with 2 Choughs. Further around into the bay were a flock of
washing gulls containing four 1st winter Iceland Gulls and two
more 1st winter Glaucous Gulls with feeding Little Egrets
that were a common sight all around southern Ireland.
1st winter Glaucous Gulls
west brought us into Ventry Harbour with a flock of Pale-bellied Brent Geese
along the beach, 5 Great Northern Divers, 2 Black Guillemots and a
2nd winter Mediterranean Gull. Moving around to a pool and
marshy area in search of the long staying Black Duck but our efforts came to
nothing, well that’s not totally true as we did see Greenshank, several
Snipe and a Water Rail. Back on the beach a flock of roosting gulls
held our 5th Glaucous Gull (1st winter) of the day
along with a hybrid Glaucous X Herring Gull.
hybrid Glaucous X Herring Gull
was time to make tracks and we headed on down to the South Cork coast checking
sites around Clonakilty with nothing unusual being seen.
this was our final day we thought we’d better check out the bright lights of
Cork City ending up at The Lough. It was soon obvious that everyone came here to
dispose of their old stale bread with many Swans, Geese, Ducks and of course
some more Gulls being present. In fact the first bird we saw was a 1st
winter Ring-billed Gull lounging around on the lake edge.
1st winter Ring-billed Gull
scanning around the southern end produced a 1st winter Iceland Gull
and then further around the edge was a darker looking bird, ah the reason for
coming as it was the long staying 1st winter Kumlien’s Gull
that showed very well.
1st winter Kumlien's Gull
where was the adult bird? We headed north to get a few over the open water and
there sleeping in the middle was the adult ‘type’ Kumlien’s Gull
and frustratingly that is were it remained. Looking along the edge of the wooded
island resulted in a perched Cattle Egret.
admiring the feeding gulls yet another adult Ring-billed Gull made a very
brief visit before heading off to some rooftops. A sunny interval saw us
photographing the very obliging Pochards, Tufted Ducks and even some Shoveler
when we noticed the adult Kumlien’s had gone but where, sat on the
opposite banking preening it was and people were approaching from both sides.
There was nothing for it, and we ran and ran getting there just in time for a
few shots before the bird was flushed for a third time!
Adult Kumlien's Gull
our time was running out we made a quick dash out of Cork and around to Cobh where we got excellent views of a 3rd winter Glaucous
Gull. A half hearted attempt to find some Cattle Egrets was unsuccessful so
we travelled back to the airport for our flight at 15.50 back to Liverpool.
3rd winter Glaucous Gull
arrived back in England just at the start of rush hour however we were soon back
home where the holiday finished on a bad note, our mobile hard drive failed to
work! (2nd Holiday running!!) Resulting in the loss of many photo’s and
that’s why you couldn’t see any Pipit pics, luckily we still had some
photo’s mainly from the last day and also successfully recovered a few from
All Images taken by Margaret and Mark Breaks, Copyright - © Breaks Bird Photography