Sunday, 11 February 2018

Ireland day one - Killybegs and Donegal

It has been a few years now since I ventured out to Ireland for a winter trip. And with school manic and plenty of plans for the rest of the year, I thought staying 'local' for the February half-term was the thing to do. I've done plenty of these trips previously, with some decent rewards, but have usually raced around from site to site. Today though, I just based myself at Killybegs with a brief sojourn a few kilometres up the coast and a visit to Donegal town.
juvenile Glaucous Gull Killybegs, County Donegal 11th February 2018
One thing that I'll say is Killybegs has become 'gentrified', if that's what you'd call it. Bar the odd whiff of that familiar fishy smell, it is no longer the case that your car is stunk out by fishy odours for days. A shame, but there are still plenty of gulls about here as today testifies. In fact, I saw around 50 white-winged gulls which comprised of 15 or so Glaucous Gulls (an adult, 2nd-winter and the rest juveniles), at least 35 Iceland Gulls (three adults, third-winter, three second-winters and the rest juveniles) plus a second-winter Kumlien's Gull on the estuary at low tide mid morning.
adult Glaucous Gull Killybegs, County Donegal 11th February 2018 

juvenile Glaucous Gull Killybegs, County Donegal 11th February 2018

juvenile Iceland Gull Killybegs, County Donegal 11th February 2018

2nd-winter Iceland Gull Killybegs, County Donegal 11th February 2018

juvenile Iceland Gull Killybegs, County Donegal 11th February 2018
Access these days has become a lot more restricted at Killybegs, and you haven't got the outfall which was here in the 90s when I first visited. Given this is still one of Ireland's largest fishing ports though, and its location in the northwest, it still obviously gets the birds. And it seems as ever to be criminally under-watched, as today exemplifies where I didn't see another birder.

juvenile Iceland Gull Donegal town, County Donegal 11th February 2018
Add to that haul a juvenile that flew over fields by the Wild Atlantic Way southeast of Kilcar and three nice juveniles in Donegal town centre, and you could say I'd certainly had my fill of white-winged gulls for the day.
juvenile Glaucous Gull Killybegs, County Donegal 11th February 2018

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