Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Survey "work"

While you were all slaving away in your offices yesterday, the Dublin Bay Birds team was out surveying in Dublin bay, where the sun was splitting the stones. There is no better way to count waders, than with Skylarks providing the tunes and with Swallows acrobatically chasing overhead. As I stood on the causeway in my tee shirt with my ice-cream, I wondered if I should have brought sun cream. Then I pinched myself, and started my work

There have been big changes around the bay since last month’s count. The Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler and Pintail have all gone, and the Brent Geese are fervently fuelling up for their imminent departure. The Oystercatcher numbers have more than halved since last month, and the Bar-tailed Godwits have all but disappeared. There are still plenty of Black-tailed Godwits around, but now, sporting their tomato soup-coloured glad rags, they really stand out on the mudflats. There are also lots of Redshanks around now too, but these ones are likely to be birds that have wintered further to the south, who are on their way northwards.

Black-tailed Godwit in breeding plumage Shay Connolly

I stopped in at Merrion Gates to read some Oystercatcher rings on my way to back to the office, and was delighted to hear the grating kerrick calls of Sandwich Terns over the strand. These harsh calls foretell the arrival of their Common and Arctic cousins, who will be arriving back to their breeding platforms in Dublin port in the coming weeks.  

Sandwich Terns in breeding plumage Shay Connolly

Just two of our radio-tagged birds, Redshanks AN and AP, remain from the eleven birds we tagged in January. We got some great data from them before they left, and now the job is to get this data out of notebooks, mapped and moulded into something useful!