Friday, 3 April 2015

March: In like a lion, out like a lamb…or did we get that backwards?


We have seen the end of March, and Spring is in full swing throughout Dublin Bay. Our schedule of bi-monthly surveys have allowed us to see all the changes that happen across the month, and at this time of year, Dublin Bay becomes an airport terminal, with passengers arriving a departing from far and wide.

In the past few weeks, bird numbers throughout the bay have been steadily decreasing, as waterfowl, waders and gulls take flights to their breeding grounds. The Teal will end up in Iceland, northern Europe and Russia; the Knot will head for Greenland and Canada, after staging in Iceland or Norway; and the Black-headed Gulls will spread out again right across northern Europe.


On the ground, the sound of wee-oo-ing Wigeon is replaced by the coor-eee of Whimbrel passing through on their way northwards having wintered on the West African coast. On Bull Island, singing Skylarks nearly drown everything else out, but what a welcome sound it is. And there has been a Meadow Pipit singing his heart out over the spit at Merrion gates too.

These days, the project team open our inboxes each morning in anticipation of getting emails from northern climes, bringing news of Dublin-ringed Oystercatchers, Redshanks and Bar-tailed Godwits en route to, or on, their breeding grounds. Last week, we heard from Ian Durston from Nairn in Scotland who has one of our birds breeding in the field next to his house. XI has taken up residence in a stubble field in Cawdor, Nairn and seems to have paired up, so it may not be too long before he hears the pitter-patter of tiny …cockle-stabbers.

XI and mate in Nairn, Scotland Ian Durston

The Brent Geese are preparing for their imminent departure, before re-fuelling in Iceland, crossing the Greenland Icecap and finally arriving in Artic Canada. Soon there won't be sight nor sound of them until they return in September. But now we're on standby for the arrival of the breeding terns. Sandwich Terns tend to take an earlier flight than the rest, and handfuls have been seen already, but it’s the Common and Arctic Terns that we’re waiting for. Their harsh and rasping screechy calls will herald the onset of summer fieldwork, and trips to the Port to ring the chicks and monitor the breeding success of the colony. 

So, there's plenty to see in Dublin Bay - it's an ideal time of year to get out and see migration for yourself, to observe the comings and goings of spring

4 comments:

  1. Which part of Dublin bay is best..sorry I only get a quick hour in the mornings..thank you

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Andrea,

    Where do I start? The west pier in Dun Laoghaire can be good for Purple Sandpipers and flocks of small waders on passage from Iberia and western Africa.

    The sand spit at Merrion gates is a great spot on a rising tide as all the waders and gulls are pushed towards you as they head up for their high tide snooze.

    The walk along the Great South Wall to the Poolbeg lighthouse can be rewarding too. This time last year, we had a colour-ringed Dunlin along here, which had been ringed in Mauritania. This is also a great spot to look out for Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns, which will be flooding in soon.

    The wooden bridge area at the southern end of Bull Island is always worth popping in to too. Some of our colour-ringed redshanks are still around, but will be heading north soon.
    Further north, the Bull Island causeway is always great. The ducks and most of the Brent Geese are gone now, but there are still handfuls of Curlew and Whimbrel and loads of gulls.

    Finally, Sutton is a good spot too. When the tide is low, there are plenty of Redshank, Curlew, Whimbrel and Turnstone picking around on the rocks.

    That should keep ye going! Enjoy.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Andrea,

    Where do I start? The west pier in Dun Laoghaire can be good for Purple Sandpipers and flocks of small waders on passage from Iberia and western Africa.

    The sand spit at Merrion gates is a great spot on a rising tide as all the waders and gulls are pushed towards you as they head up for their high tide snooze.

    The walk along the Great South Wall to the Poolbeg lighthouse can be rewarding too. This time last year, we had a colour-ringed Dunlin along here, which had been ringed in Mauritania. This is also a great spot to look out for Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns, which will be flooding in soon.

    The wooden bridge area at the southern end of Bull Island is always worth popping in to too. Some of our colour-ringed redshanks are still around, but will be heading north soon.
    Further north, the Bull Island causeway is always great. The ducks and most of the Brent Geese are gone now, but there are still handfuls of Curlew and Whimbrel and loads of gulls.

    Finally, Sutton is a good spot too. When the tide is low, there are plenty of Redshank, Curlew, Whimbrel and Turnstone picking around on the rocks.

    That should keep ye going! Enjoy.

    ReplyDelete