Up on The Mullet Yesterday

I had a meeting on The Mullet yesterday and was in a bit of a rush to get home afterwards. However, I still managed to get over to Termoncarragh for a half an hour of looking at a few birds. The highlight were two Kestrels, one of which flew across the little road right in front of my car, at no more than 2 metres off the ground.

It was another stunningly beautiful day and here are a few photos to give you an idea.

Peregrine from Finland

Just a short word to let you know that I was recently informed by a staff member at NPWS of a Peregrine Falcon that flew from Finland to Ireland this winter.

The female Peregrine, which was only born in Finland last summer, had managed to fly around 2,000 km, at an age of only perhaps 8 months. She was Finland’s first ringed Peregrine to be traced to Ireland. Extraordinary.

View truly wonderful professional photographs of Peregrine Falcons here.

Conall Brutally Killed

Conall, barely 10 months old, was recently found brutally killed in the mountains of the Sligo Leitrim border.

Not the first child of his kind to have his short life savagely ended in this disgusting way, serious questions must be asked of the supposed law enforcement authorities in this country and of those charged with the care of such a young male.

How can people who poison the likes of Conall still be out there, rather than in prison, where they clearly belong ? How many people are there willfully poisoning their neighbours in this fashion ? How difficult can it really be to apprehend and punish severely those who willfully poison others ?

The communities in which this type of scandalous act of killing occur, whether Sligo, Leitrim, Kerry, or wherever, are small. Johnny knows Mick and Mick knows Billy. Get out and catch them and spare our society these criminals, who have no compassion, much less love, for those we share this island nation with.

But more questions :

How can Scotland and Norway continue to send their children to our shores, to be put up against this wanton destruction ? How can their governments allow the exporting of their defenceless sons and daughters to another country where, seemingly, nothing or not enough is done to protect them ?

Shame on Scotland. Shame on Norway. Most of all, shame on Ireland. I am disgusted by all three of you.

Read more here. And here.

A Nice Story from Poland

Cows tapped to protect rare birds in Poland. 

Lesser Spotted Eagle

Lesser Spotted Eagle

 

Twenty five cows are to be handed over to farmers in eastern Poland to graze in the open, creating an ideal habitat for the Lesser Spotted Eagle, Polskie Radio reported on January 5. 

This is part of a project aimed at protecting this large Eastern European bird of prey, launched in Poland with funding from the EU and the National Nature Protection Fund. 

“The farmers are expected to breed the cattle and hand over the young to other farmers in the region. The programme focuses on improving the habitat of the Lesser Spotted Eagle in Bialowieza and Knyszynska Forests,” the radio said. 

The project, which costs about 4.6 million euro, also provides for erecting 300 wooden posts enabling the eagles to look out for prey in the open fields, mowing overgrown deserted fields and creating small water reservoirs. 

About 1,900 pairs of the Lesser Spotted Eagle nest in Poland. I’ve been lucky enough to see some on visits to Poland. 

This is a story quite reminiscent of the project underway for the last several years down in the Burren – http://www.burrenlife.com/ – Farming for Conservation. 

While it sounds like a nice project, I’d have two basic questions : 

1. How could 25 cows, 300 wooden posts and project management possibly cost € 4.6 m ? 

2. Won’t there be other birds and animals generally that will lose out by the mowing of overgrown, deserted fields ? 

[Original story from The Financial – www.finchannel.com]

Birds Recently Spotted

Winter can be a great time for bird watching in the West of Ireland. Here are three of the more interesting birds I’ve seen recently.

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

This bird does not ‘belong’ in Ireland, let alone the West. However, as I was driving south through Galway and its terrible floods the other day, a large white bird caught my eye in a flooded field at Kilcolgan. I stopped and observed the Great White Egret for 10 minutes, before continuing on my way. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera, so here is a picture from the UK’s RSPB website.

Barnacle Goose

Barnacle Goose

Barnacle Geese

North West Mayo carries internationally important numbers of this bird during winter, when they migrate south from Greenland. I saw five recently at Blacksod Bay, but, again, didn’t have my camera. The Iniskea Islands hold very large numbers of these during winter. Note the pale white / cream face on an otherwise black upper body head and neck.

Brent Goose

Brent Geese

Brent Geese

Again, the North West of Ireland holds important wintering flocks of Brent Geese. I saw three on the beach at Dromard, Co. Sligo recently. That day, I did have the camera. Click on the picture to increase its size and note the Brent’s distinctive thin white collar, which is visible on the bird on the left.

Blackbirds in Autumn

I’ve always liked autumn.

I love kicking up the brown, yellow and reddish leaves that cover the ground at this time of year and, let’s face it, doing so reminds me of being a child. But another great thing about autumn time is the way the birds are much more visible simply because of that same falling of leaves.

Blackbird

Blackbird

This morning, I’ve seen robin, wren, chaffinch and the wonderful blackbird. The blackbirds are very common in our garden, as they jump from ash tree branch to whitethorn top. They’ll happily perch on the outermost branches of the whitethorn, most often in pairs, their gorgeous yellow / orange beak and distinctive yellow ring around their eyes clearly visible against the low and pale autumn sun.

The other day, I noticed two in particular, clearly playing with eachother. As one would vacate a certain tree in favour of another, no more than 5 m away, so the second would follow almost immediately. I watched them circumnavigate the garden, in short hops, as if playing ‘follow the leader’ or ‘catch’.

Trip to Poland, March 2010

I first visited Poland in 2006 and have been bringing a small group there, in March, ever since.

The trip is a five-day journey into the wonderful National Parks of the Northeastern corner of the country. Biebrza (Beaver) National Park lies along the wide valley of the Biebrza River. It is a birder’s paradise, with many species to be observed. It is forest country and in March the river is swollen by the melting snow. It is picture postcard stuff.

Bialowieza National Park is world-renowned, both for its population of European Bison and its famous Strictly Reserved Area, where man’s intervention is nil. The park is home to some elusive Lynx, as well as the Wolf.

I bring a small group, limited to 9. You need to book your own flights, with Aer Lingus from Dublin to Warsaw return. I’ll take care of the rest. We stay in a locally owned pension, full board, sharing. We have the services of a brilliant local guide, a National Parks and Wildlife Service equivalent officer. He knows Biebrza so well, he even wrote the guide book on it.

On past trips, we’ve even been demonstrated the Polish method for regenerating their oak forests by a Forest Manager with the Polish Forestry Service.

It’s a great trip for walkers, bird watchers and general lovers of the outdoors.

If you might be interested in joining us in March 2010, for five days great walking and nature discovery, drop me an e-mail on info [at] tourismpure [dot] com.