Swords, Rogerstown and Skerries


If you thought birding just could not get better you should have been at the Tolka Branch outing last Saturday ( 23 September 2006). The wet and uncertain weather brought some fabulous birds inshore at Skerries and some new to Dublin birding!  A Pomarine Skua 22 Arctic Skuas 1,000's of Manx Shearwaters,  two female/immature Goosanders, a Black Tern and, to top it all, two wonderful Leach's Petrels provided a thrilling finale.  


  The dull and damp day with showers did not dissuade 30 birdwatchers from joining us at  Swords, Rodgerstown and Skerries. Some new faces and the old stalwarts braved the weather for a truly excellent days birding with over 60 species recorded during the trip. Early highlights were a Kingfisher at Swords together with a Ruff. An adult and a juvenile Sandwich Tern gave good views and proved to be a “tick” for some of the group. Always thrilling to see a new bird! No small waders at Swords but we did see about 150 Black-tailed Godwits, small numbers of Redshank, Lapwing  and 200 Black-headed Gulls. Among the gulls we were able to pick out two Common Gulls – an adult and a juvenile.  
Black-tailed Godwits

An excellent opportunity to compare the gulls and observe their features. Four Teal were also present as well as those perplexing and curiously coloured hybrid Mallard that frequent the north side of the Swords estuary with the Mute Swans.



   At Rodgerstown, a fly over by a Buzzard put up a range of smaller waders. The four Green Sandpipers were thankfully oblivious to the raptor and gave very good un-interrupted views from a distance of about 20 meters.  Among 50 + Dunlin we identified two Curlew Sandpipers.   
Green Sandpiper
From there the hardy ones continued on to Skerries where strong winds brought lots of seabirds close inshore. Those who arrived early at the site (while others stopped for food!) were rewarded with close views of two Arctic Skuas. Over the following three hours, those who stayed on were rewarded with 20 more Arctic Skuas with a Pomarine Skua also appearing just offshore. Some of the skuas were chasing the big mixed flocks of terns and gulls that were moving south.
  Sandwich Tern   Common Gulls   Grey Wagtail  
Among these flocks we found a lovely Black Tern and five Little Gulls, including one adult with beautiful black underwings.  Also heading south were two wonderful Goosanders…cousins of the commoner Red-breasted Mergansers. They were the highlight of the day until…a petrel was discovered slowly flying south. Long wings, a narrow white band on the rump, dark underwings, typical gliding flight…a Leach’s Petrel…with a second just behind. These are indeed a truly rare bird off the east coast and gave great views as they battled their way south. It was one of those Tolka days!


© Copyright, Tolka Branch, Birdwatch Ireland 2006