Thursday, 5 November 2015

Little Bunting

Hi Peter,
Theo and I were on Tory today. On the boat out from Bunbeg were 10+ Great Northern Divers and Theo had brief views of 3 Minke Whales.  On return the usual flock of Barnacle Geese were on Inishbofin and numbered probably over 100 but difficult to estimate.
The list for the island as follows:
Barnacle Goose  1 north over west town
Kestrel  1
Fieldfare  c.6 
Redwing  60+
Song Thrush  c.10
Blackbird  c.6
Robin  1/2
Dunnock  1
Blackcap  3/4
Chiffchaff  6/7
Chaffinch  1/2
Goldfinch  1
Little Bunting  1 around the houses by the magic bush
Regards Chris

6th Island record. About 40+ Irish records mostly from Cork

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Melodious Warbler

Hi Peter,
Theo and I were on Tory on 15th and 16th October, celebrating my 60 years birding! List as follows:
Red-throated Diver  1 over west town
Heron  1 on beach on 16th
Brent Goose  2 west from south lake
Teal  12 south lake
Sparrowhawk  1
Kestrel  1
Peregrine  1
Merlin  1
Buzzard  1
Golden Plover  2 on 15th
Arctic Skua  1 west from Greenport
Swallow  2 on 16th (Anton)
Robin  1/2 west town
Song Thrush  3
Redwing  3 on 16th
Fieldfare 1 on 16th
Melodious Warbler  1 in hotel tree
Chiffchaff  2
Yellow-browed Warbler  1 in magic bush
Spotted Flycatcher  1 on 16th
Goldfinch 5  
Snow Bunting  1
Regards Chris

I am fairly sure Melodious Warbler is a new species for Tory .

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Robert Vaughan early October 2015

i Peter,
long time no see, I hope things are well and you will make it up to
Tory over the autumn, I am sure you are kept busy at home though!
I had a great start to the week on Tory but things quietened down and
the last few days were a real struggle to dig out anything new.
I arrived on the 30 Sept and there were a lot of birds about, easterly
winds over the preceding and coming days brought a lot of movement,
but by the 3 the winds had shifted and would remain un-productive.

Great northern diver   1 adult summer south over the island on 6 Oct.
Red-throated diver     3 adults south 7 Oct of west end.
Fulmar                     30 plus on 7 Oct with one blue fulmar.
Sooty Shearwater      1 from ferry on 30 Sept and 1 7 Oct.
Manx Shearwater       3 from ferry on 30 and a few each day on sea watches.
Storm Petrel              An adult was found on the road by locals
over night on 1-2 Oct and released the following night, seemed to be
in good condition.
Gannet                     Several feeding from the harbour and moving
south each day.
Cormorant                less than 5 most days around the island, more off-shore
Shag                        usuall 4-5 in harbour with similar numbers
around the island.
Grey Heron               4- 2adults and 2 imms each day till 3rd, only
adults after that.
Mute Swan               2 adults and 2 juv west end, 2 adults east end
Pink-footed goose     5 flew west over west town late Oct 3, the same
flew east early Oct 4.
Barnacle goose        c. 20 east end on Oct 4.
Brent goose              1 Juv on 3 in west town was found hanging
from wires the following morning near the lighthouse, died later.
Mallard                     Roughly 20 between the harbour and lakes.
Shoveller                  Female on the sea by east lake on 3 Oct.
Wigeon                    3 east and west lakes, steadily grew to
double digits by end of stay.
Teal                        Roughly 15 between the lakes.
Tufted duck             1 female west lake throughout joined by a male
on the 8 Oct.
Buzzard                   1 adult behind west town throughout.
Sparrowhawk           atleast 3 during the week, 1 female flew to
mainland on Oct 3rd, new juv male Oct 5th. Seen everyday.
Kestrel                    1 each day at east and west end, 3 on 8
Oct, all seemed to be juvs.
Peregrine                 1 adult east end from 3 Oct.
Merlin                      3, juv male, juv female and adult female,
atleast 2 seen each day.
Water rail                 heard east lake on 3 and 6 Oct.
Ringed plover           3 on 30 Sept, 1 on 2 Oct and 2 Oct 6.
Golden Plover          1 on 30 Sept, 1 on 2 Oct, 9 on 3 Oct, 12 4 Oct,
small flocks after that daily.
American golden plover       1 on 4 Oct, flew over west town early am
with 4 golden plover, not re-located.
Purple sandpiper     1 on 7 Oct
Turnstone               Numbers grew from c. 12 to 50 from first day to last.
Dunlin                     1 on 30 sept, 2 on 2 Oct.
Redshank               Atleast 20, numbers seemed consistent daily.
Curlew                    Same as Redshank, about 20 mostly around
west town and lake.
Snipe                     flushed upto 10 most days, 1 taken by a
merlin on 8 Oct.
Jack snipe             1 on 30 Sept, 1 on 6 and 7 Oct.
Great Skua             1 on 5 Oct and 1 on 7 and 8 Oct.
Black-headed gull    1 first winter in harbour on 2 Oct.
Common gull           Atleast 20 each day, consistent numbers.
Herring gull             upto 75 some days around the harbour, numbers
fluctuated daily.
Lesser black backed gull    1 adult and 2 juv/1st winters most days.
Great black backed gull      c. 10, numbers seemed consistent daily.
Kittiwake                small numbers moving through daily.
Puffin                    1 from ferry on 30 Sept, 1 west end on 5 Oct.
Black guillemot      Several from ferry but only 3-4 east end most days.
Guillemot               Passed in small numbers daily, no counts.
Razorbill                Seemed to out number Guillemot, but no counts.
Feral Pigeon          c 20 between both towns.
Skylark                 c 10 till 2 Oct, only 1 or 2 subsequently.
Swallow                1 west town 2-5 Oct and 1 on 7 Oct.
Richards pipit        1 west end on morning of 1 Oct, 2 dropped in
behind football pitch at 1pm and remained to Oct 8 atleast, joined
here by a third bird on 4 Oct. 2 adults and 1 juv. Hard to know if it
was 3 or 4 birds.
Rock pipit             Outnumbered meadow, c. 50 around the island most days.
Meadow pipit         large numbers on 1 Oct, other wise seemed out
numbered everywhere by rock.
Red-throated pipit  1 heard from Anton's on 30 Sept, later located on
the beach by east lake, only seen briefly on the ground, first winter.
White wagtail        2 on 30 Sept, 2-3 on 4 Oct.
Pied wagtail         c. 15 most days.
Yellow wagtail       1 grey bird on 1 and 2 Oct.
Wren                   At least 20 birds most days.
Robin                At least 3 birds each day.
Wheatear             5 on Sept 30, 2-3 each day from Oct 3, one taken
by merlin 4 Oct.
Song thrush         minimum of 5, 2 fresh juvs. each day in West town.
Blackcap             12 on 1 Oct slowly fell throughout the remaining week.
Willow warbler     3-4 most days, seemed to be little movement.
Chiffchaff            5-9 most days, as with willow warbler, birds
were in similar spots each day.
Yellow-browed wabler  1 in Anton's 30 Sept west town. 1 flew into
Anton's east end from the east 3 Oct, heard once the following day.
Pied Flycatcher   1st winter male behind west town on 1 Oct.
Hooded crow       c. 7 around the island.
Raven                 Atleast 1 pair, maybe 2.
Chough               I think there are 5 birds, 1 lone bird around the
lighthouse, a pair at each town moving from cliffs to beach.
Starling               c. 250, numbers seemed consistent each day.
Tree sparrow       high count of 18 in east town, but many small
mobile flocks about.
Redpoll               A small flock over the lighthouse on 1 Oct never landed.
Linnet                15 to 4 Oct and a lone bird 7-8 Oct.
Goldfinch           19 until 7 Oct but none seen after.
Siskin                1 fly over west on 2 Oct.
Greenfinch          1 flyover east on 3 Oct.
Reed bunting       Adult male and 2 juvs behind the helipad daily, 1
Grace's 7 Oct.
Snow bunting      A lone flyover a few times on 3 Oct and 5 Oct.

Surprisingly no redwing heard or seen and for the first time, not a
single eider around the island or mainland.
Fingers crossed I will get out again in a few weeks, and hopefully see
you out there sometime soon,
All the best,

Yellow wagtail, richards- juv and adult and juv female merlin with snipe.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Chris Ingram 26th September and 1st Octobet

th/26th September: 
Heron  1 both days
Brent Goose  1 passing east
Canada Goose  1 flew past from east with 2 Mute Swans but not seen subsequently in west
Wigeon  4 on east lake 2 on south lake
Teal  7 on east lake, 10 on south lake
Kestrel  1 male both days
Sparrowhawk  1 female both days
Merlin  1 female on 25th
Curlew  21 at south lake on 25th
Lapwing  11 around south lake on 25th
Song Thrush  2 juvs by well area on 25th
Robin  1 magic bush
Linnet  c.10 around island
Lapland Bunting  6 by heli-pad on 26th (Dennis Weir)
Also 2 Bottlenose Dolphins just out of Magheroarty on 25th
1st October with Theo Campbell and Ralph Sheppard:
Red-necked Phalarope and juv Puffin from boat
Heron  2 
Wigeon  2 east lake
Teal  4 east lake
Kestrel  2, 2 circling together and one heading for mainland
Sparrowhawk  1
Snipe  1
Swallow  1
Richard's Pipit  2 around football pitch
Yellow Wagtail  1 on beach
Robin  1
Song Thrush  1
Blackcap  2
Chiffchaff  2
Willow Warbler  1
Pied Flycatcher  1 magic bush
Linnet  6
Goldfinch  4
Also a Wall Brown (2nd Tory record), a Red Admiral and c.5 Peacocks
2nd October with Theo Campbell:
Heron  2
Kestrel  1
Snipe  1
Richard's Pipit  2 still
Blackcap   8+
Chiffchaff  c.6
Linnet  6
Goldfinch  8
Willow Warbler  3
Also an Arctic Skua and a pod of 7/8 Bottlenose Dolphins from boat

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Red necked Phalarope

Chris informed me he had Red necked Phalarope from the ferry on the ferry trip over today.. The third island record since the first  four yeas ago.

Red throated Pipit

A fall on Tory yesterday.. best

 Red throated Pipit Tory first
Richard's Pipit
Yellow browed Warbler
Pied Flycatcher
Spotted Flycatcher
Jack Snipe
Yellow Wagtail

Rob Vaughan via Chris and Gerard

Anton had a Whinchat and Spot fly a few days ago also

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Derek Brennans photos

Derek Brennan 18th19th September

Iceland gull 1
Wheatear 4
Sooty shear 1
Arctic Skua 1
Puffin 3
Teal 16
Wigeon 3
Heron 3
Lapwing 14
Lapland bunting 1
Reed bunting 1
Willow warbler 3
Lesser whitethroat 1 (back of mickeys garden)
Whinchat 1 (East)
Rosefinch still at mickeys.
Kestrel 1

Kestrel 1
Sparrowhawk 1
Merlin 1
Lapland bunt 1
Willow warbler 2
Chiffchaff 1
Lesser whitethroat still at mickeys.
Rosefinch still at mickeys.
Spotted fly at mickeys.
Whinchat (west)
Meadow pipit everywhere (min 300)
Redstart at antons house (which I'm sorry to have missed - looks like a cracking male).

Also had a bird on 2 occasions beside graces house. Theres a little drainage ditch to the left of the house that you step over when walking towards the back garden. Twice, I had a fleeting glance of the arse end of a small rail. It ran into cover on both occasions. I'm assuming water rail, but who knows!


Saturday, 12 September 2015

Todds Canada Goose

From Chris....

Hi Peter,
Theo and I were on Tory on 19th and 20th August.  The woodpecker had gone and there was little else on the 19th apart from 2 Herons, a Kestrel and a Willow Warbler.  However a late afternoon visit to south lake produced a juvenile Ruff and a very brief American Golden Plover, which landed and immediately flew off and out to sea.  It was identified solely on call.  On the 20th was the resident Buzzard, 2 Whimbrels and a Black-tailed Godwit.
Ralph Sheppard, Theo and I were on Tory on 10th September. The list as follows:
Sooty Shearwater  5 from boat.
Manx Shearwater 5/6 from boat
Puffin 2 from boat
Heron  1 east lake
Canada Goose  Flew into the beach  and from its behaviour seemed to be a new arrival. From 
                            Ralph's photos we consider it to be a Todd's Canada Goose, b.c. interior
Hen Harrier  female type seen briefly on a few occasions in reeds around east lake area
Sparrowhawk  1 seen on a few occasions around the island
Chough  A pair near west town, not an easy bird to find on Tory this year
Swift  3 around west town
Swallow  10-15 around the island
Robin  1 magic bush
Chiffchaff  1 in Grace's garden
Yellow-browed Warbler  Eamonn reported he saw one in his garden on 6th
White Wagtail 2 adults
Rosefinch   1 with the sparrow flock around east town.  It was photographed by Micky's 
                  daughter in their garden on 6th.
Regards Chris   

Theo Campbell

Hi Chris ,below is a list of birds recorded by myself with Richard Smith ,Roger Murray on Tory,5th and 6th September.

Magheraroarty.......2 Whimbrel,1 sickly looking Gannet in Harbour close to Pier .

12 Manx Shearwaters en route .

South lake 5th sept ,1 -1st winter Glaucous gull
4 Mute Swans (family party)
1 Teal
1 Whimbrel
2 Golden plovers
2 Ringed Plovers
2 Dunlin
1 female Sparrowhawk
35 Oystercatchers
1 Wheatear
5 Lapwing

Harbour,1 Redshank,
35 Turnstone
3 Ringed Plover .

West Town 
c6 Swallows
4 Pied wagtails 
1 White wagtail

6th Sept

2 juv Knot
5 Redshank
51 Turnstone
1 female Sparrowhawk
4 Pied Wagtails 

"Magic bush"
1 Chiffchaff
c8 Linnets
Max 10 Swallows 
1 Robin

front of Hotel,1 Robin,(different from magic bush bird)

1 Buzzard

South lake 
7 Teal 
4 Mute swans
30 Meadow pipits
1 Heron (AD)
12 Ringed Plover
1 Dunlin
1 Tufted duck
8 Mallard
16 Curlew

All the best ,Theo .

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Chris Ingram and Theo Campbell 13th August

Theo and I were on Tory on 13th and 14th August.  List as follows:

Storm Petrel  2 from boat over on 13th
Heron  1 at  south lake both days
Common Buzzard  1 on 14th
Kestrel  1 male on 14th
Corncrake  An adult with 6 downy young beside the road in west town
Golden Plover  2 over west town on 14th
Lapwing  1 on 14th
Dunlin  c.12 on west beach and 3/4 by south lake
Curlew   3 east off east end and a few by south lake
Green Sandpiper  1 on south lake on 13th
Redshank   6 on west beach
Turnstone  40-45 on west beach
Arctic Skua  A pale phase skua was on west beach on or around 9th/10th was  presumably
                      this species from descriptions given by islanders and boatmen.
Black-headed Gull  1 off west beach on 13
Common Gull  1 off west beach on 13th
Herring Gull  An adult with an un-marked ring on its right leg.  Also a badly oiled 1st year bird 
                        and 2 other partially oiled 1st years on west beach
Arctic Tern  2 at south lake
Puffin   Still c.10 on sea in east
Chough   Just one calling on 14th
Swallow   25/30 feeding in both east and west
Goldcrest  1 in west on 14th
Chiffchaff  1 in east on 13th
Willow Warbler   1/2 on 13th and 3/4 on 14th
Wheatear  c.10 both days
Linnet  7 in east on 13th
Regards Chris

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Michael Cunningham

Trip to Tory 26.06.15 to 27.06.15
Magheroarty Pier
Corncrake Calling 5pm 26.06.15
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Auk? + Tern?
Black Guillemot
Common Gull
Corncrake Traonach
Black-headed Gull 3 Rock Pipit
South Lake on the western end of the island
Tufted Duck 5
Mute Swan 2 ad + 2 Juv
Mallard 4
Common Gull
Common Tern ~20 inner primaries translucent
Ring Plover
Starlings ~20
East end 27.06.15
Tree Sparrow 1
Shag ++++
Lapwing 3
Rock Pigeon
Raven 2
Rock Pipit
Gannet Shalladagh Scaladóir Razorbill
Cormorant +++
Shag Calliagh oow Dark Lady Cailleach Dhubh
Shag Vivign? Fulmar Shoak Mara Sea Hawk Seabhac Mara Black Guillemot
Lesser Black-backed Gull 20
Greater Black-backed Gull 1
Great Skua 3
Wheatear Hovering
Puffin 3-400
Herring Gull
Pied Wagtail
Manx Shearwater   Canog Dhugh Scréachóg Reilige Shrill voice bird:Grave
Great Northern Diver Lesser Black-backed Gull
Eider Duck 2 females in Harbour

A Scream from the Grave!
Southwest Donegal Bird Watchers

Tory Island is perhaps the most remote settlement on the far western edge of Europe. It is frequently cut-off from the mainland by severe winter storms... but it is a place of magic that has spawned its own unique culture and folklore. It is wild place of extreme beauty and friendly people that has drawn us back time and time again; we are already looking forward to our next visit!

As we arrived for the Friday evening ferry at Magheroarty Pier, a Corncrake was calling from a nearby field. A smile of recognition crossed the face of a few of those who were taking their luggage from the car park, as they listened to its mechanical tones. The increased in Corncrake numbers in recent years has been a bit of a good news story, but the population is still low compared to historical levels.

 The winds were light but there was a considerable swell, making the crossing uncomfortable for a few of the more sensitive souls onboard. On the crossing, we noticed Lesser Black-backed Gull, Fulmar, Black Guillemots, a variety of auks and a Tern of some description. The piping of an Oystercatcher, on the rocky shore of Tory, signalled the end of the ordeal for a few of the passengers who had turned a distinct shade of green!

Our arrival was greeted by the screams of Gulls, Terns and the rasp of the Corncrake. A Skylark attempted to make itself heard above the din but the Swallows, Rock Pipits and Wheatears got on with business without any such fuss.

Sadly I have to report that there was no camping this year. After my report on last year’s camping experience, nobody was willing to camp with me. I had to bow to intolerable pressure and sign into the hotel too... I hope my street-cred hasn’t been terminally damaged!

Once we got booked in, we headed for a walk around the ‘South Lough’ on the western side of the island. We noticed that the Common Gull, as its name suggests, was quite common on Tory; there was a fair number of Black-headed Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls too. Back in 2013, I camped on the island of Roaninnish, which is essentially a Gull breeding colony, and I noticed that there was about 20 Greater Black-backed Gulls for every one Lesser Black-backed Gull; however on here Tory, that ratio seemed to be reversed, with the Lesser Black-backs in the majority.  This might have something to do with differences in behaviour or simply time of year.

On the lake itself there were Mallard, Tufted Duck and a pair of Mute Swans with 2 signets.

It’s a poor day that you don’t learn something new. As I have mentioned previously, Common and Arctic Terns are very hard to tell apart, so much so, that they collectively referred to as ‘Comic’ Terns (Common, Arctic... Com-ic). We learned that you can easily distinguish which is which, by the translucency of their wing feathers. If you imagine that your arms are the wings of a Tern, with feathers coming out the back of them; then if the feathers emerging from the elbow region are translucent, the species is Common Tern. If the feathers are translucent right out to the end of the ‘fingers’, the species is Arctic Tern. We noticed about 20 Common Tern.

On the way back to the hotel we noticed a Ringed Plover, a few Lapwing and a small flock of about 20 Starlings.

A sense of place is a funny thing... I remember as a child moving from England to a place called Meentinadea, that was 5km from Ardara. My parents had been raised in rural Donegal and now they were back among their own people, in their own culture, speaking their own dialect, surrounded by familiar things, and sights and sounds; they were at home. Us kids soon picked up on that sense of belonging and, as the years passed, the place just seemed to seep into us too. And it was with a sense of loss that we had to move from Meentinadea, first to Cronkeerin and then to Stormhill, where my father had bought a farm. Stormhill was only 2km from Ardara. I had a feeling it was far too close to those brash ‘Townies’... that was a bit rich coming from a kid who had lived in the centre of Birmingham city until he was 10! But by that stage I really did feel like I was a country kid.

A sense of place and belonging is strong in Donegal people but I think it is particularly strong in island communities. Arranmore and Tory are inhabited the whole year round but islands like Gola, Owey, Innishkeeragh, Innishfree, Rutland and Innishmeane, are  only inhabited in the summer. I’ve often spoken to islanders who winter on the mainland, and many of them cannot wait for the sea to settle in the springtime, so they can get back onto their island. It is as if the island has a part of them, and they are reunited with that missing part when they are back on their island; it is only then that they are whole!

I was speaking with one of the islanders, called Anton Meehan, who has a great love of the beauty and wildlife of his island. Anton was saying that, when he was young, it was common for children to be given baby Puffins or Sea Gulls to be raised as pets. He had been given both as a child but found that Sea Gulls made better pets, as they would stay with you so long as they were provided with a ready supply of food. Puffins, on the other hand, would make off at the first opportunity - if they got into the sea, that would be the last you would see of them. He was also saying that in those days, it was common for the islanders to eat seabird’s eggs and Puffins. There were no Playstations or Sugar Coated Frosties in those days!

Anton joined us on our walk on Saturday as we headed towards the cliffs on the eastern side of the island. Along the way, we spotted a Tree Sparrow, 3 Lapwing, 3 Chough, a Raven, a Rock Pipit and a pair of Rock Pigeons. We noticed a Wheatear hovering over a meadow; a behaviour in this species that I had never seen before.

Up along the cliffs, we got to within a few meters of nesting Fulmars; a lot of them were tending young.  On the water below, there was a vast array of Razorbills, Puffins, Black Guillemots and a few Guillemots. On the smaller rocks were endless numbers of Shags and Cormorants. Away out at sea, Gannets scanned the waters for an unsuspecting fish upon which to pounce.  A group of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Greater Black-backed Gulls, a few Common Gulls and a single Herring Gull, lazily basked on some stony ground near the cliff edge. Overhead 3 Great Skuas passed by; they always seem to have an air of menace about them. Their presence in the area is well established at this stage.

From here we went up to the ‘Wishing Stone’, a large block of quartzite, perched on the edge of a precipitous cliff. We kept throwing pebbles until we got three of them to land on the top of the stone – apparently you can then make a wish!

Just beyond the ‘Wishing Stone’ is a grassy slope that could be described as ‘Puffin Central’. My guidebook said that, in 2003, there were 1,400 puffins on Tory. Anton was saying that an accurate count hadn’t been done in years but my impression would be that there is at least that number. Last year, in late July, when all the adults and fledglings were out on the water prior to their departure, I got the impression that there were several thousands. Our boatman last year hadn’t seen as many in all his years.

The cliffs opposite ‘Puffin Central’ were crowded with Razorbills, Guillemots, Shags and Kittiwakes. Kittiwakes are quite similar in appearance to Common Gulls but they have sooty black legs and of course, they have their distinctive ‘Kit-ti-wak’ call.

Anton was saying that the Irish names of birds vary from place to place but he called the Gannet, ‘Scaladóir’, ‘Scala’ Translates as a ‘flash’ but ‘Dóir’ is uncertain, it might mean ‘Bull’. The Gannets dramatic dive are just like a flash, and it is the largest seabird we have, so perhaps it was referred to as a ‘Bull’ because of its size. The Corncrake is referred to as ‘Traonach’. In Irish, Traonaí refers to a sleepy person; I suppose you would be sleepy if you were kept awake by the incessant call of a Corncrake all night! The Fulmar was called ‘Seabhac Mara’, which means, ‘Sea Hawk’. The Shag was called ‘Cailleach Dhubh’, which has several possible translations ‘Black Girl, Black Hag or Black Nun’. Down on Arranmore, I hear someone refer to the Manx Shearwater as ‘Scréachóg Reilige’, which translates roughly as, ‘Scream of the Grave’. This is not surprising as they have the most eerie, blood-curdling cry, which they emit when they visit their nesting sites in the dead of the night.

On our way back to Magheroarty, we spotted several Manx Shearwaters, a Great Northern Diver, more Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a pair of female Eider Ducks in the Harbour.

In an attempt to try to do the island justice, we usually stay over-night on Tory; but the accommodation is so good, so reasonably priced and the proprietors so hospitable, that we are planning to stay for two nights next year.

On this outing we encountered 36 bird species, including, Black Guillemot, Black-headed Gull, Chough, Common Gull, Common Tern, Cormorant, Corncrake, Eider Duck, Fulmar, Gannet, Great Northern Diver, Great Skua, Greater Black-backed Gull, Guillemot, Herring Gull, Kittiwake, Lapwing, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Mallard, Manx Shearwater, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Pied Wagtail, Puffin, Raven, Razorbill, Ring Plover, Rock Pigeon, Rock Pipit, Shag, Skylark, Starlings, Swallow, Tree Sparrow, Tufted Duck and Wheatear.

Our next outing will be closer to home. On the 25th July we will visit St John’s Point. We will meet at the Dunkineely Community Centre (on the Inver side of the town) at 10am; we hope to see you there.

If you would like to join us, please bring warm clothing with a waterproof jacket, trousers, appropriate footwear and a packed lunch and flask. Bring binoculars if you have them. Telescopes and books are shared. For further information, contact us on (086)8058528 or (087)2770408 or at

All are welcome but you are reminded that we are an informal group without structure; each is responsible for their own wellbeing and safety.
Michael Cunningham

Puffin Count!
My guidebook said that, in 2003, there were 1,400 puffins on Tory.  Anton was saying that an accurate count hadn’t been done in years.  A photograph of ‘Puffin Central’ had 132 Puffins in view.  This did not take into consideration the birds in their burrows, those out at sea or those at other nesting sites. Last year, in late July, when all the adults and fledglings were out on the water prior to their departure, I got the impression that there were several thousands. Our boatman last year hadn’t seen as many in all his years.

Glenties / Fintown / Meenaroy / Chuchill / Gartan / Glenveigh / Falcarragh / Gortahork / Magheroarty

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Rough legged Buzzard ?

Anton sent me his latest installment of photos from the camera I gave him last year. It's always a little exciting looking through them to see if he has photographed anything good. Anyway a few nice photos of the Turtle Dove he found and a brief Black Redstart were nice but the best were the last two photos he took on the card. While walking around the lake he saw a Buzzard on a post and took a picture to record the date. When he went around for a closer look the bird had vanished and was not seen again. Fortunately he kept the photo...

It appears to show a Rough legged Buzzard.  It might be another first for Tory but something is telling me on was claimed a few years ago in October, I am not sure if the record was submitted or accepted by the Rare Bird Committee.

I'm not sure given the quality of the photo if Common Buzzard can be ruled out given there variable plumage. Comments welcome. .

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Mid June

Hi Peter,
I was on Tory on June 10th and 11th.  Anton had a Black Redstart early on 10th in his east garden. Apart from that there was a Spotted Flycatcher and 3 Chiffchaffs on 10th.  On 11th were the same (?) 3 Chiffchaffs, single Song Thrush, Collared Dove and Bonxie.  The highlight was 9 Bottlenose Dolphins close inshore in the harbour in view for over half an hour before moving off west.


Monday, 8 June 2015

Early June

In addition to Joe Adamsons Kumlien's Gull, Chris Ingram reportso the following

Hi Peter,

I was on Tory on 4th/5th June.  Seamus Feeney arrived with me on 4th and Joe Adamson came over on 5th. Sightings as follows:

Great Northern Diver  an immature off Greenport on 4th
Manx Shearwater  small passage offshore on 4th, continuous passage on 5th
Storm Petrel  1 offshore on 4th
Shelduck  immature on east beach on 4th
Peregrine  1 over harbour on 4th
Little Tern  at least 3 feeding offshore on 5th
Great Skua  2 off north of island on 4th2 near lighthouse on 5th
Curlew  1 in east on 4th
Whimbrel  2 at lighthouse on 5th
Dunlin  1 on east beach and one over west town on 4th
Turnstone  3 offshore W on 5th
Collared Dove  1 around west town both days
Cuckoo  1 near Anton's garden on 4th
Song Thrush  1 in east on 4th
House Martin  3 over west beach on 4th
Sedge Warbler  at least 6 on 4th
Chiffchaff  6 on 4th including singing bird in east, 1+ on 5th

Regards Chris

Friday, 5 June 2015

5th June

Anton reports the following

Pair of Shoveler on the lake
1 Blackcap
2 Chiffchaff
2 Linnet
and a Cuckoo all in his garden..

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Dusky Tree Sparrow

A few photos of the Tree Sparrow attached

Hi Peter,

Had a look at the blog and saw Rob mentioned the dusky-cheeked Tree Sparrow. 

Theo drew attention to it the day I was there, it was on the playing pitch behind Anton's. It was difficult to pin down as the 'flock' was moving around a lot. I fired off a few shots as I thought it was the best view we were going to get of it. We also considered a hybrid, on the poor views we had, but it appears to be just a darker bird compared with the other Tree Sparrow.

I won't waste your time with the Hooded Merganser shots I got. 


Sunday, 31 May 2015

Robert Vaughan

Hi Peter,
sorry for the delay getting a short round up to you, been busy enough since I got back. A pretty miserable few days weather wise, constant strong wind and some heavy showers, but surprising fall on the second day produced my 2nd island cuckoo and a northern willow warbler. Not too sure about the redpolls, possibly Icelandic types, very buff and I think a bit too bright and large for meally, but sure they're all just redpoll's anyway! Just a summary of high counts,

Red throated diver, 1-2 most days of the west end.
Great Northern Diver, minimum 13 on 22 off west end towards horn head, similar numbers most days. 1 full summer in harbour 21st.
Cormorant, 2 west end lake, 23rd, several off west end.
Grey Heron, 1 west across the harbour on 23rd.
Mute Swan, pairs on each lake, one east end paired up with a canada goose!
Canada goose, one east lake each day
Brent goose, an adult west end 21 and 22.
Shelduck, female east beach each day.
Mallard, atleast 10 most days.
Tufted duck, 15 west end, 4 east end.
Eider, pair in the harbour most evenings and mornings.
Hooded Mergansers, pair till 23rd.
Buzzard, heard above west town on 23rd but not seen.
Peregrine, adult pair and 1st summer east end most days.
Merlin, female 22 west end.
Corncrake, 1 west lakes from 23rd, 7 west town, 3 east town, minimum count of singing birds, 2 more around Maheroarty on 25th.
Pheasant, 2 males, 1 in each town.
Ringed Plover, Atleast 8 pairs west end, several more along road to east end.
Golden plover, 3 around the lighthouse 22, 1 east end 23.
Lapwing, about 9 pairs from west town towards east end, a few more around west lakes.
Sanderling, 3 from the boat on 25.
Turnstone, small numbers scattered around the island.
Dunlin, small numbers, very few in the harbour.
Curlew, 1 in harbour from 22.
Whimbrel, 3 west end 24th.
Snipe, 3 drumming birds, several flushed most days.
Bonxie, 7 east end and 1 in harbour 24th, 2-3 west most days from east end.
Little tern, 2 west lake 23rd.
Common Tern, 3 from 24th.
Arctic tern, 1 on 24th,
Puffin, very few on cliffs, several large groups off the east end.
Black guillemot, a few pairs east end.
Collared dove, 1 east end 23rd.
Cuckoo, 1st summer male, West Town, 23rd, later on cliffs towards East Town.
Skylark, atleast 10 pairs on a walk around the west end, several more east end.
White wagtail, 2  on 22nd, 4 west harbour on 23rd.
Song thrush, a pair in west town joined by a 3rd from 23rd, 1 east end 22nd.
Sedge Warbler, 7 singing birds.
Chiffchaff, 4-5 most days from 22nd.
Willow warbler, 2-3 from 23rd, including a grey northern type East end.
Raven, 2 roaming birds.
House Sparrow, 1 male West town, trying to pair up with a dusky faced tree sparrow, possible hybrid but not seen well.
Tree sparrow, c. 20, several nests around west town.
Redpoll, 2 large buff and white birds, possibly Icelandic, bit too bright and large for meally?
Goldfinch, 1 West town on 23rd.

Chris Ingram

Hi Peter,

I was on Tory on 29th/30th May.  There was little there but here is my list:

Peregrine  1 over harbour on 29th
Corncrake  at least 4 singing west town and 2 singing east town
Golden Plover  1 over west town on 30th
Dunlin  1 over west town on 29th, 5 on east beach on 30th
Curlew  1 calling on 30th
Great Skua  2 on sea off east eating a seabird on 30th
Little Tern  2 on 29th (Anton said he had 12 but not sure which date)
White Wagtail  1 on west beach on 29th, 1 on east beach on 30th
Willow Warbler  c.4 on 30th
Redpoll  1 at west town on 30th. Bird resembled 'exilipes' but with lightly streaked rump so
                 probably closer to 'icelandica' than 'rostrata'

Regards Chris                                   

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Derek and Majella 22nd 23rd May

Hi Peter
a few sightings from last Friday / Saturday, myself and Majella

2 European Storm Petrel
3 Chough
4 Hooded Crow
2 Song Thrush
2 Greenland Wheatear
1 Reed Bunting
1 Willow Warbler
Sedge Warbler 10+
Dunlin 9
Curlew 2
Whimberal 1
12 Arctic Tern
Collared Dove 12 ( 1 taken by Peregrine)
1 Meally Redpoll
1 Sand Martin
20+ Puffins
11 calling Corncrakes

Looks like a good wader breeding season with good numders of Ringed Plover, Redshank, Oystercatchers, Lapwing and Snipe

all the best