Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Ireland day four - Kerry

I started off from Tralee in the half light this morning, having gleaned from the locals that Dingle hadn't been checked for a while. How times change, as I remember the days when this peninsular was relatively well covered and a couple of teams went out each year on their Irish winter trip. Today, it was just me and the Kerry birders seem much more Tralee and upper Iveragh based these days. And so I hit Dingle harbour and with the first couple of slices, came the first white winger - predictably a juvenile Iceland Gull.
juvenile Iceland Gull Dingle harbour, Kerry 14th February 2018
I then swung round to Milltown and the estuary there where gulls bathe, and had three further white wingers - a smart adult Iceland Gull that was snoozing most of the time, and an adult and relatively dark juvenile Glaucous Gull. There were a handful of Med Gulls here too, and compared to the north, a fair few Lesser Black-backed Gulls about as well.
juvenile Glaucous Gull Dingle harbour, Kerry 14th February 2018
Next up was Ferriter's Cove, again a classic site from the autumns gone by. Instead of there being any rare waders here today, the gull flock contained a further four wingers - two juvenile Glaucous Gulls and an adult and juvenile Iceland Gull. Walking out onto the sand, I got my feet soaked for the rest of the day for my troubles. Ventry was quiet, and so I headed back east - towards Tralee. And waiting for me at Tralee Bay Wetlands was another juvenile Iceland Gull along with the first Ring-billed Gull of the trip, this regular adult: -

adult Ring-billed Gull Tralee Bay Wetlands, Kerry 14th February 2018
It'd been a few years since I'd been in Ireland during the winter, and it showed. This was the first opportunity I'd had to see the first Black Scoter for the country, overwintering each year in the scoter flock at Rossbeigh, on The Iveragh. It didn't take me long to locate it, as my timing couldn't have been much better with decent light and the scoter flock reasonably close (for scoters). The bill shone out like a beacon and was slightly more orange than the yellow-billed Commons. Nice, and added to that, there was a female Surf Scoter too in the flock which was a real bonus. I then headed down the peninsular and into familiar territory of old - a chuck of the loaves by the quay at Cahersiveen produced two big juvenile Glaucous Gulls: -
juvenile Glaucous Gull Cahersiveen, Kerry 14th February 2018
And then at Reenard Point, just a couple of miles further on, there were three wingers, and all adults - one Glaucous Gull and two Iceland Gulls: -
adult Iceland Gull Reenard Point, Kerry 14th February 2018

adult Glaucous Gull Reenard Point, Kerry 14th February 2018
Checking Portmagee and Ballinskelligs produced little of note, save for a load of Great Northern and Red-throated Divers and a load of Common Scoters. A good group of gulls feeding in the surf at Waterville were checked but to no avail. And the last winger of the day was a big old white 2nd-winter Glaucous Gull, roosting on the distant sandbank at Inny Strand. I'm now in Kenmare, ready to hit some more sites tomorrow and pleased with the haul of 15 white wingers in Kerry, as well as the two yank scoter species and a Ring-billed Gull... and still not seen a birder this week!

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